Cuisinart DCC 3200 Review: Programmable Drip Coffee Maker
Sleek and spaceship-like, the Cuisinart DCC 3200 is a popular coffee maker for those who enjoy drip brews. And with nearly 19,000 reviews on Amazon, it’s clear this machine is beyond just popular with some.
If you want a basic, low-cost coffee maker with a huge brewing capacity, this 14 cup coffee maker might be a great starter option.
Read on for our full Cuisinart DCC 3200 review. We’ll check out the pros and cons of this coffee maker and help you decide if it’s the right brewer for your household.
Cuisinart DCC 3200 Drip Coffee Maker Review
With a huge 70-ounce glass carafe, temperature-controlled hot plate, and delayed start timer, the DCC 3200 by Cuisinart is built for convenience. Perfect for small offices or anywhere that large amounts of caffeine are welcomed, if not essential.
- 70 ounce brewing capacity
- Self-cleaning mode
- Adjustable carafe temperature settings
- Struggles to reach a high enough brew temperature
- Non-removable water reservoir
Design and Machine Run Down
The Cuisinart DCC 3200 has a simple design. When you look at this 14 cup programmable brewer’s control panel, the whole thing is fairly simple.
With a brushed stainless steel housing, it looks sleek. It doesn’t come across as super tacky, and it’s certainly not as cheap-looking as other coffee makers in this price range.
It is mostly built of BPA-free plastic. Not the best, but no-one would expect premium build quality in this price range.
Right up-front and center, we have a blue backlit LCD. This screen displays not only the time but also the carafe hot plate settings and the programmable brew start timer.
Below this, we have five accented buttons that control some of the coffee maker’s features. These include the auto-clean function, strength controls, as well as brew start and brew off buttons. We’ll go into all of these in more detail below.
Holding a whopping 70 ounces, or 2070ml of brewed coffee, the carafe on the DCC 3200 coffee maker is a beast. Combine the carafe’s brewing capacity with the controllable hot plate, and you start to get an idea of who this drip coffee brewer is designed for—anyone wanting a large volume of hot coffee on demand.
You may have noticed that the water reservoir is no-where to be found on the DCC 3200. That’s because it is actually housed inside the unit, as is the included water filter. This means that the reservoir unfortunately isn’t removable. But, there is a little window on the side of the brewer to view how much water is inside the unit.
Now we’ve got an overview of the Cuisinart DCC 3200 coffee maker. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty. The guts of this coffee maker review!
Brew temperatures, programmable features, and controls— it’s all here.
Starting with the most important factor in all coffee makers…
The first thing a drip coffee maker needs to be able to do is brew with hot enough water. This isn’t because we need a piping hot coffee to drink. Though some people do love a coffee that could scald Satan himself, the reason we need hot water is to extract the coffee grounds properly.
If we use water that is the correct temperature, we’re pretty much 95% there, with a good cup of coffee just around the corner.
According to the Specialty Coffee Association, this magic temperature is between 197.6°F (92°C) and 204.8°F (96°C).
If the water drops below 197.6°F (92°C), we’ll most likely be under-extracting our coffee grounds. The water won’t be hot enough to dissolve as much of the coffee as we want it to. This might result in a weak and sour cup of coffee.
On the other end, if the water is too hot, we might end up extracting more than we want, possibly giving us a dry and bitter brew.
Now, this is where things get tricky. In researching for this article, I was searching for the exact brew water temperature of this Cuisinart coffee maker.
According to Cuisinart, the DCC 3200 uses “expert coffee-making technology” to brew at the perfect temperature. But Cuisinart doesn’t mention exactly what temperature this is.
This is something I simply must know! So I fine-tuned my research skills…
According to user reviews, when this 14 cup coffee maker is brand new, it will brew within a temperature range of between 198°F (92°C) and 202°F (94°C). This is a little low and doesn’t give too much leeway, but it is in the acceptable range.
However, it seems that as some Cuisinart brewers age, their heating elements become less effective. During the brewing process, temperatures have been known to drop to as low as 185°F (85°C). Not nearly hot enough to brew light roasted coffee grounds optimally.
If you are brewing dark roasted coffees, you might just get away with it.
An issue like this would most likely be considered wear and tear, and therefore not covered by the limited 3-year warranty offered by Cuisinart.
DC 3200 Filtration
Open the lid of the Cuisinart DCC 3200, and you’ll see the brew basket. The brew basket is fully removable, making it easy to use and clean.
This drip coffee maker comes with a gold-tone filter that sits in the brew basket. The filter is reusable. If you prefer heavier tasting cups of coffee, similar to a French press, you’ll dig this style of filtration.
The brew basket also accepts #4 sized paper filters. If you’re a fan of cleaner tasting drip coffee, similar to a V60, throw in a paper filter, and you’re good to go!
Brew Strength Control
On the control panel of the Cuisinart DCC 3200 coffee machine, in-between the clean and brew-off buttons, is the mysterious ‘bold’ button.
We all know that this magical button is supposed to brew a more flavorful coffee. But very few of us know exactly how the coffee maker does this. Even fewer of us question why not just make this the default!?
With drip coffee, if you want to brew a stronger cup, you have a couple of options. You can use more ground coffee, use hotter water, or brew for longer.
As with the brew water temperature of the coffee machine, Cuisinart is also rather shy about telling us what this ‘bold’ button does. Which one of these methods does the DCC 3200 use?
Again, I turned to my research and have discovered that the ‘bold’ button indeed brews the coffee for longer.
When engaged, the ‘bold’ button tells the DCC to brew slower. This allows the coffee and the water more time to do their thing.
It’s A Programmable Coffeemaker
One of the key features of this unit is the delayed start timer.
Using this timer, you can tell the coffee maker when to start brewing. So if you want a carafe of coffee ready when you get up, this programmable drip coffee maker has you covered.
While it is a handy feature, there are downsides worth considering if you are after the tastiest cup of coffee possible. Using a delayed start timer, you need to have coffee and water preloaded in the coffee maker. This means grinding your coffee beans the night before brewing.
I’m not going to beat this dead horse for too long, but as we all know, freshly ground coffee is always best. Grinding eight to ten hours in advance isn’t ideal. While the coffee might still taste great, it won’t taste as good as it could. It’s really up to each user to decide if the convenience is worth the flavor loss.
If you want to brew smaller amounts of coffee, you can use the 1-4 cup setting. Using this 1-4 cup setting on the control panel, the brewer will optimize its extraction time so that the coffee doesn’t come out too weak.
One thing this programmable coffeemaker is really lacking is brew size controls. What do I mean by brew size controls? Well, many drip coffee makers allow you to choose the amount of coffee you want to brew. Usually, you fill the water tank, and the brewer automatically uses the correct amount of water-based on your chosen size. Often, this will be anywhere from a full carafe all the way down to a single cup.
This particular Cuisinart coffee maker doesn’t offer this feature.
This means that the coffee maker will continue to brew until it runs out of water. If you want to brew a smaller batch of coffee, you need to add less water. If you add too much water, you need to find a way of removing some of it. Either that or you watch the device and turn it off when it has brewed to your desired amount.
Carafe and Hot Plate
Everyone has different ideas of the perfect temperature for a cup of coffee. Some love it piping hot, and some love it warm, ready to drink.
Many coffee makers come with thermal carafes, while others use a hotplate and glass carafe. There are issues with both methods. A thermal carafe keeps the pot of coffee too hot, while most hotplates continue heating the coffee to the point where it becomes stale and unpleasant.
The glass carafe of the Cuisinart DCC 3200 sits atop a hotplate. This hotplate operates differently from most other coffee makers I’ve seen. With low, medium, and high settings, you’ll be able to control the temperature of your brewed pot of coffee as it sits in the glass carafe.
Leaving the carafe on this hotplate will still cause the coffee to eventually go stale. But choosing the lowest heat setting should slow down how quickly the coffee goes bad.
The carafe on this 14 cup programmable coffee maker is made of glass, with a plastic and brushed stainless steel handle.
This device is very user-friendly. It was designed to be used by anyone – heck, even my grandma could roll with it. It’s not like an espresso maker where you need to learn how to use it to get the best results. The Cuisinart is more of a ‘plug and play’ kind of brewer.
All of the controls are right there on its face panel.
There is a viewing window to keep an eye on the water level, a reusable gold-tone filter, buttons that illuminate when they are engaged, and an LCD that displays the time, hotplate setting, and delayed start timer.
While the usability of the DCC is good, it does lose a couple of points based on a few things we’ve covered. Not being able to choose a brew size and the non-removable water reservoir make operation and maintenance harder than it could be.
This brings us to our next point…
Is It Worth The Money?
We’ve discussed a few different downsides of this Cuisinart coffee maker. The water temperature is the main issue. Is this excusable considering the price point?
If I were brewing light roasted coffee, no. The low brew temperature that may come within a few months of owning the brewer would turn me off. But If I was brewing medium to dark roasted coffee, considering the price, I might be willing to make an exception.
Check out other coffee makers in this price range. For example, we’ve got the Braun Brewsense, which is also sub hundred bucks, and It’s one of the best coffee machines for the money. This coffee maker made it into our list of the 8 best SCAA approved coffee machines.
The Braun will reach the temperatures we want, but it has a smaller brewing capacity than the DCC 3200.
When we look at all the coffee makers in the $100 price range, none are perfect. But if you decide what is important to you, whether it’s brew temperature, brew size, or brew-strength control, you will be able to find something to suit your needs. If brew capacity is your number one, this may be one of the best.
Ahhhh, now the time has come. Everyones least favorite part of owning a coffee maker— the cleaning!
This is a CRUCIAL step that shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s impossible to get the most out of any coffee using dirty coffee makers. I’m not just talking about leftover coffee grinds in the basket either— Oh, no!
Anything that our lovely coffee grinds touch will eventually become coated in coffee oils. This can lead to blockages and dirty tasting coffee. The same thing happens with water. Water leaves behind minerals that can harden over time, leaving us with yet more blockages and unclean-tasting coffee.
It doesn’t take much to remove both of these buildups from drip coffee makers. You can either use vinegar or a simple descaling solution to get rid of the gunk, leaving your brewer (almost) brand spanking new.
Cleaning this brewer is actually pretty simple with the use of the self-clean function.
On the control panel, there is a ‘clean’ button. Pressing and holding this button after adding your chosen descaling solution will take the device through a self clean cycle.
Essentially, this is just like brewing a carafe of coffee. The descaling solution will get into all the machine’s pipes, cleaning away any built-up minerals from the showerhead and the water tank, as well as the brew basket. Just be sure to remove the water filter before running through the cleaning process.
Other Interesting Features
Otherwise known as the impatient people feature, the brew-pause feature is awesome.
Brewing a full 70-ounce carafe of coffee can take around 15 minutes. No-one wants to wait 15 minutes for a cup of coffee, right?
This is a simple feature that allows you to remove the carafe during the brewing process. The coffee will stop flowing into the carafe, allowing you to pour a cup or two, before returning it to the hotplate.
3 Year Limited Warranty
A three-year warranty on a sub $100 coffee maker is good value.
It is a limited warranty, meaning certain things won’t be covered. But if something goes horribly wrong, you’ve got more than enough time to find out! If you decide to go for it and the heating element does start to die, you can always give the warranty a try.
Unfortunately, the warranty covers U.S consumer’s coffee makers only.
The DCC 3200 Isn’t For You If…
You Like Under Cabinet Coffee Machines
If you want a machine that can fit under your cabinets, this isn’t the machine for you.Because everything goes into this machine via the top, you’d have to slide the machine out every day. This would get old real fast! The brewers in Ninja’s current line-up are well priced and load in via the front or the side— much better for going under a cabinet.
You Enjoy Fruity Coffee
Lovers of light roasted coffee should probably look elsewhere.
Due to the fact that light roasted coffee is less soluble than dark roasted coffee, it requires hotter water for a decent extraction. Because of this machine’s issues with brew water temperature, it may not be able to brew light roasted coffees very well. In this price range, the Braun BrewSense Drip Coffee Maker might be a good choice.
You’re Not Measuring Water
This machine doesn’t measure the amount of water that it uses.
This means you need to add the correct amount of water for the brew cycle. I’m not such a big fan of this. If you are the kind of person that just wants to fill the water tank and brew a half carafe of coffee, this isn’t the machine for you.
The Final Verdict
The Cuisinart DCC 3200 is a large capacity, budget-friendly coffee maker.
It has plenty of features that make it good value for money. It won’t brew the tastiest coffee in the world, and it is missing a few bells and whistles. But if you’re in the market for a coffee maker that will brew loads of coffee in a fuss-free manner, this might be the machine you’ve been lookin’ for!