In today’s GE Café coffee maker review I’ll be checking out a machine that’s intended for serious coffee connoisseurs. If you’ve checked out my drip coffee maker guide 2023, you’ll know that the humble coffee maker has come a long way recently.
In fact, a new crop of boutique machines has emerged to challenge people’s ideas of what a coffee maker can produce. Seriously, I’ve reviewed one or two models that have blown me away with the quality of coffee they can make.
With all that said, the GE Café Specialty Drip Coffee Maker is far from cheap. Costing $261.50, this machine requires a serious investment. So, is it worth it? All will be revealed in my GE Café coffee maker review!
GE Café Coffee Maker Review Overview
In case you were wondering, GE introduced the Café brand a few years ago to highlight a range of sleek, modern kitchen appliances. So, if you want to fully commit, you can outfit your kitchen with a fridge, stove, dishwasher and microwave to match your Café coffee maker. What’s more, all these appliances feature WiFi connectivity if that’s your thing.
One look at the GE Café Specialty Drip Coffee Maker is all it takes to know that the manufacturer paid a lot of care and attention to the machine’s design. Featuring solid stainless steel construction and fancy copper accents, this coffee maker is classy to say the least. While some might find the design a little too flashy, I’d say the Café coffee maker would enhance any kitchen.
Still, is a pretty face all you’ll get for the money? Absolutely not! The GE Café coffee maker is fully programmable and even allows you to adjust the water temperature for brewing. That, in particular, makes me very happy. As I already mentioned, this drip machine is WiFi enabled, which means you can adjust settings and brew time with the SmartHQ app. I’ll discuss that in more detail later.
Perhaps most importantly, the GE Café coffee maker has been certified by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) as an exemplary home brewer. As you might already know, that’s a really big deal and goes a long way to justifying that sizable price tag. Again, I’ll talk more about that later in this GE Café coffee maker review.
GE Café Specialty Drip Coffee Maker Features
If you’re thinking about investing this much money in a coffee maker, you’re going to want to know what’s going on under the hood. So, let’s continue this GE Café coffee maker review by delving into the machine’s many awesome features. Don’t worry, I’ll leave no stone unturned!
Size and Design
If you’ve spent any time shopping around for a high-performance drip machine, the Café coffee maker’s design will look familiar. One one side there’s a clear water tank mounted above the machine’s heating element. Below the water reservoir, you’ll find the user interface and a large LED display.
On the other side of the machine, the stainless steel thermal carafe sits below a large exposed brew basket. Overall, the stainless steel construction and sleek, elegant lines lend the Café coffee maker a modern, sophisticated vibe.
Although the machine is far from the largest I’ve reviewed, I wouldn’t call it compact. While you shouldn’t have a hard time finding space for it in your kitchen, you might run into problems trying to fit it under overhead cabinets.
SCA Certified Home Brewer
The GE Café coffee maker is one of a select few home brewers to have been certified by the SCA. This isn’t just empty marketing nonsense, by the way. The SCA subjects machines to a ton of in-depth testing to ensure they can brew coffee to the highest of standards.
If a coffee maker meets all the Golden Cup requirements, you know it’s capable of producing truly excellent results. As I mentioned earlier, this really helps justify the Café coffee maker’s price tag.
Regular Coffeeness readers will know I’m a sucker for coffee makers with a stainless steel finish. Still, depending on your kitchen decor, you might want something different. Fortunately, the Café coffee maker is also available in Matte Black and Matte White.
Actually, I have to say that the black version looks pretty darn cool. Plus, from what I’ve seen, the Matte Black and Matte White versions tend to cost a little less than the Stainless Steel finish.
In keeping with the GE Café coffee maker’s classy design, the user interface is simple and understated. There are three buttons and a selector dial, as well as an attractive LED display. Don’t be fooled, though – this minimalist user interface actually gives you a lot of options for programming your coffee maker.
From here you can adjust brew strength and brew temperature as well as program the auto start feature. All in all, I really appreciate the low-key design of this control panel. I mean, who really wants dozens of buttons, dials and flashing lights on their automatic coffee machine?
I’m accustomed to playing with apps during my super automatic espresso machine reviews. However, I think this might be the first drip machine I’ve reviewed that’s WiFi enabled. I’d say that aside from the SCA certification, this is the biggest reason why the Café coffee maker is so expensive. I’d also say that it’s likely to be the most decisive feature.
Plenty of folks will view the ability to control your coffee maker remotely as pointless. Others will welcome the opportunity to download another app and play with their machine from their phone.
Either way, the SmartHQ app allows you to conveniently schedule brew times and adjust settings. You can also set up voice commands with either Alexa or Google Assistant. Sweet!
What I find way more exciting than voice commands or apps is the ability to adjust the brewing temperature. I’ve seen plenty of coffee makers that claim to make pour-over style coffee. However, very few allow you to control the temperature of the water you’re brewing with. That’s a shame, seeing as water temperature is such an important variable in coffee brewing.
Fortunately, the GE Café coffee maker offers precision temperature control. You’re able to adjust brewing temperature within the ideal range of 185-205 degrees Fahrenheit (85-96 degrees Celsius), which is just fantastic. That way, you can get the best out of beans with a lighter roast profile by reducing the temperature. And next time, you can increase the temperature when you’re switching to a dark roast. That’s a win-win situation!
Custom Brew Strengths
Another layer of control you’ll get over the brewing process is the ability to choose between different brew strengths. Essentially, each setting adjusts the brewing speed and thus the contact time between ground coffee and water.
There are four brew strengths to choose from – Light, Medium, Bold and Gold. Incidentally, the Gold setting is the one that meets the SCA’s Gold Cup standards, so it’s probably the best bet. However, in combination with adjustable temperature, the brew strength options give you a lot of room to experiment.
As if adjustable temperature and brew strength wasn’t enough, you can also program the GE Café Specialty Drip Coffee Maker to brew anywhere from one cup to a full 10-cup carafe. What’s especially cool is that the machine subtly adjusts its brewing parameters, depending on the required brew volume. How awesome is that!
I’ve mentioned the Auto Brew function a couple of times already in this GE Café coffee maker review. It’s one of those things the app-loving contingent love the most – being able to remotely program their coffee maker to start at a certain time. Listen, I can appreciate the idea of waking up, stumbling to the kitchen and finding freshly brewed coffee.
However, I just can’t support the fact that ground coffee has been sitting in the brew basket all night. As I’m sure you know, coffee rapidly starts to deteriorate once it’s been ground, as oxygen does a real number on those delicate aromatics. I don’t mean to sound all preachy, but brewing coffee from freshly ground coffee beans is the only way to go!
The GE Café Specialty Drip Coffee Maker comes with an insulated thermal carafe which should keep your coffee piping hot for hours. I actually really like the carafe’s distinctive design, and the copper-accented handle looks very smart.
Incidentally, the Café coffee maker is available with a glass carafe for $279.00. Then again, I’d recommend spending the extra cash on the thermal carafe version. I mean, who really wants coffee that’s been slowly cooking on a warming plate?
When it comes to coffee filters I like to have options. That’s why I’m happy to report that you can use the included permanent filter or paper filters with this machine. The included micro-fine mesh filter is made from titanium-coated stainless steel, which sounds pretty serious.
Still, if you prefer a cleaner, sweeter cup of coffee, I’d recommend investing in some unbleached #4 paper filters to use with the Café coffee maker.
To be honest, I would have expected more than a paltry one-year limited warranty for a coffee maker costing close to 300 bucks. Still, that’s what’s on offer and that’s what you’ll get. I guess we should count on the fact that the Café coffee maker is really well made! Anyway, if something should go wrong within the first year, the manufacturer will either fix or replace your machine.
How to Use the GE Café Drip Coffee Maker
As sophisticated as this coffee machine is, it’s actually very approachable and intuitive. In fact, I’d say anyone could make a pot of coffee with the Café coffee maker without referencing the instructions. With that said, I’ll leave it to the user manual to explain setting up the app and programming the Auto Start function.
For the purposes of this GE Café coffee maker review I’ll give you a quick summary of how to make a carafe of delicious coffee:
- First things first, add fresh, filtered water to the reservoir. Make sure the brew basket insert is in the brew basket, then place the filter of your choice inside.
- Add freshly ground coffee to the filter. You can use the included coffee scoop to measure, but I recommend getting hold of a coffee scale if you don’t already own one. Oh, and if you don’t have a coffee grinder, consider investing in one. Check out my coffee grinder guide 2023 for inspiration!
- Now it’s time to select brew strength and temperature. Use the clearly labeled buttons for this.
- Once you’re ready to brew, use the Brew/Select dial to choose the number of cups you’ll be preparing. Then, simply press the dial to get the ball rolling.
That’s all there is to it! After a few short minutes you’ll have delicious hot coffee in the carafe. Pour yourself a cup of joe and enjoy!
GE Café Coffee Maker Cleaning
Coffee maker cleaning and descaling probably isn’t your favorite topic of conversation, so I’ll keep this brief. Suffice to say performing a few regular cleaning and maintenance tasks won’t just prolong the life of your machine; it’ll keep your coffee tasting its best.
At the end of each day’s use, I’d recommend cleaning all removable parts in warm, soapy water. That includes the filter holder, mesh filter and shower head. As for the carafe, a simple rinse should suffice. However, remember not to put the thermal carafe in the dishwasher. Trust me when I tell you that won’t turn out well!
The GE Café Specialty Drip Coffee Maker will let you know when it needs to be descaled via the digital display. Fortunately, the descaling process won’t take long, and you can just use a mix of water and white vinegar. Alternatively, a citric acid descaler will do the job nicely.
GE Café Specialty Drip Coffee Maker Specifications
Café Coffee Maker vs Others
Thus far, my GE Café coffee maker review has convinced me that this machine is something special. Still, there’s no getting away from that price tag. So, how does the Café Specialty coffee maker measure up in comparison to other SCA-certified coffee machines? Let’s find out!
Café Coffee Maker vs Moccamaster KBGV Select
It’s no secret that the Technivorm Moccamaster KBGV Select is my favorite coffee maker of all time. Still, its $359.00 price tag makes it even more expensive than the Café Specialty coffee maker.
To me, the Moccamaster is perfectly calibrated and offers unmatched consistency in brewing. There are no bells and whistles here – just a brew switch and a switch to select between a full or half carafe.
However, the Moccamaster has never disappointed me – it brews excellent coffee every time. As an added bonus, the Moccamaster looks amazing, and there are tons of colors to choose from. Still, if you’re dead set on WiFi connectivity and a wake up function, you might be better off with the Café coffee maker.
See Also: Moccamaster KBGV Select Hands-On Review 2023
Café Coffee Maker vs Breville Precision Brewer
Costing $329.95, the Breville Precision Brewer is certainly in the same ballpark as the Café coffee maker, price-wise. I’d say that if you count yourself among the nerdiest of the coffee geeks, the Breville Precision Brewer will really float your boat.
This awesome coffee maker offers even more adjustable features than the GE Café Specialty. You’re able to adjust flow rate, temperature, bloom time and more. There are also multiple brew styles, although I found that most of them weren’t worth bothering with. Ultimately, the Precision Brewer is very impressive and worth checking out.
Check Out: Breville Precision Brewer Hands-On Review 2023
GE Café vs Other Coffee Makers Comparison Chart
Verdict: GE Café Coffee Maker Review
Having reached the end of my GE Café coffee maker review, I’d say this automatic drip machine isn’t for everyone. Those of you who don’t care about connecting your coffee maker to the cloud or programming it to start automatically will be better off spending less money elsewhere.
However, I can definitely see the appeal of controlling this machine from your phone. Plus, there are enough functions to play with and settings to adjust to make this appealing to the snobbiest of coffee snobs. Personally, I’m just happy to see that drip coffee makers continue to get better and better. Still, whether this one could convince me to ditch my gooseneck kettle and Chemex coffee maker is doubtful!