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    Product Reviews

    Knife sets that make the cut

    Plus the latest variations in coffeemakers

    The Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Professional ‘‘S,’’ $290, was best overall for a seven-piece set. Pictured, the $600 Zwilling J.A. Henckels Perfection nine-piece set, which includes a santoku knife.
    The Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Professional ‘‘S,’’ $290, was best overall for a seven-piece set. Pictured, the $600 Zwilling J.A. Henckels Perfection nine-piece set, which includes a santoku knife.

    Can knives last a lifetime? Choose wisely and the next knife set you purchase could be your last - a promise some manufacturers back with lifetime guarantees.

    The Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Professional “S’’ seven-piece set, $290, was best overall, combining razor-sharp blades and ergonomic design. The Zwilling J.A. Henckels Perfection nine-piece, $600, gets you an excellent set that includes a santoku knife, a cross between a chef’s knife and a cleaver that some cooks prefer for chopping.

    From Wusthof, the Classic Ikon 8347, $400, and Trident Classic 8418, $350, were excellent at slicing through soppressata, dicing carrots, peeling potatoes, and more. Plus the manufacturer has good open-stock choices, should you want to add a cleaver or fillet knife. Like Zwilling, Wusthof offers a lifetime warranty, so damaged knives might be replaced free. Both manufacturers carry less expensive stamped knives, which can be prone to bending. Check model names carefully.


    The Ginsu Chikara set, $75, a Best Buy, combines excellent performance and low price, considering you get eight forged knives. It has a limited lifetime warranty.

    The high costs of ceramics

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    Ceramic knives are supposed to hold their edge longer, but the warranties usually are much shorter. Of five models tested, one did well enough to make the recommended list: the Kyocera Kyotop Damascus HIP. But $785 is a lot to fork over for five knives. The Kyocera was very good at cutting, but the recommended steel knives were better. The blades on the Laguna Collection, $200 for four pieces, lost their edge quickly. One of the blades snapped off its handle when testers tried to cut salami.

    Latest from the brew crew

    Coffeemakers that talk, brew two different coffees at the same time, and double as single-serve pod machines are among the latest variations. Consumer Reports tested 61 models. Its findings:

    Two bargains among drip models. All of Consumer Reports’ top picks reached 195 to 205 degrees for about 5 minutes, the industry standard for optimal brewing. The Cooks 780-2403 Energy-Saving (JCPenney), $50, and Mr. Coffee BVMC-SJX33GT, a Best Buy at $40, combine superb brewing and value.

    Added perks at a price. Paying more for Kenmore Elite 06906, $100, buys a freshness timer that tells you when the coffee was brewed. But you give up some brewing performance.


    You can choose to brew into a carafe or a travel mug with Hamilton Beach’s Scoop Two-Way Brewer 49980, $80. Hamilton Beach’s Stay or Go 45237R, $80, lets you brew two different coffees at once to fill travel mugs. Primula’s Speak N’ Brew SAB-3001, $80, lets you program the machine by voice. But none of these made Consumer Reports’ winners list.

    For the self-serve crowd. Brew-and-dispense coffeemakers don’t fill carafes or mugs. Instead, you take your cup to the machine. The Hamilton Beach BrewStation 47454, $80, and the Mr. Coffee BVMC-ZH1B, a Best Buy at $50, topped that group.

    If you want to grind and brew. Coffeemakers with built-in grinders usually let you grind beans in one compartment before loading them into another compartment for brewing. Better Homes & Gardens’ BHG Fully Automatic Thermal 10-cup Grind & Brew, $100, lets you throw in beans for one-step grinding and brewing. But its brew performance was mediocre.

    A better bet for connoisseurs: Krups Grinder & Brewer KM7000, a Best Buy at $130, which brewed superbly. But you might want to wait until the caffeine kicks in before you clean and reassemble its many parts.

    Consumer Reports writes columns, reviews, and ratings on cars, appliances, electronics, and other consumer goods. Previous stories can be found at