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Blender Decision

lominator May 29, 2010 06:10 PM

I am currently in the process of replacing my old Breville Stainless Classic Blend Master blender which has been discontinued. I broke the bottom of the base and cannot find a replacement part. I was never all that satisfied with it in general for various reasons and am looking for an upgrade.

I've narrowed it down to the Breville BBL550XL and the KitchenAid KSB580. I've read good and bad reviews on both products, Any information or opinions on either would be appreciated before I take the the plunge and buy one. If you can suggest better blender in the general price range of these two, I'd be interested to hear your views.

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  1. goodhealthgourmet May 29, 2010 06:45 PM

    i've been playing musical blenders for years now, so i've had plenty of experience with all of the higher-end brands...except the Vita-Mix which, of course, is probably the one i need. i just refuse to give up that much counter space for something so ugly.

    get the KA.

    i tried the Breville more than once - ended up returning them because they leaked. the seal on the lid is also annoyingly tight, and it has a funny smell when you turn it on.

    i currently have the KA. the plastic pitcher is pretty much unbreakable which is great, i just wish the blades were removable for cleaning & sharpening. i've burned through a few of them - i use it at least once a day so the motor gets a workout - eventually it starts to smell like it's burning and that's when i take it back to the store...but i invariably end up replacing it with another KA because all the others i've tried (Breville, L'Equip, Cuisinart...) were even more of a disappointment!

    buy it at Bed, Bath & Beyond, use a coupon, and save your receipt - if it dies on you, they're terrific about replacements.

    1. Caroline1 May 29, 2010 07:16 PM

      The first blender I ever laid ieyes on was waaaaaay back in the 50s? Whenever it was, it was a Waring Blender in the home of family friends, I was a teen, and I was smitten by its "clover leaf"jar. When I grew up, there were "better" blenders on the market. I think I started with a six speed with a lighter-weight Lexan jar. Then there was a 12 speed. Then came the 16 speed with PULSE! They were hard to clean. They all had the blender mechanism in the bottom that screwed off for cleaning. And they all rusted! And occasionally leaked.

      Guess what? About five years ago, I bought an original design Waring Pro blender with the clover leaf glass jar and TWO speeds. No pulse. It just does a fantastic wonderful job with everything, the blades are integrated into the bottom ot the glass jar, the whole thing goes in the dishwasher and it never rusts OR leaks! I'm in love all over again..!

      Oh, and a little stressed. You can buy one here for a lot less than I paid for mine. <sigh>

      2 Replies
      1. re: Caroline1
        MikeB3542 May 29, 2010 10:30 PM

        My vote for general purpose blender would be the classic Oster or Waring. My experience with the Kitchen Aid was bad for sort of picky reasons, all having to do with the jar. First off, it was a messy pour. Second, the jar is short and squat, not funneling everything into the cutters -- the "classic" blenders have tall, skinny jars that taper. Of course, the classics have replacement parts and accessories pretty readily available. The styling is sweet if you're tastes are towards a retro look.

        1. re: MikeB3542
          goodhealthgourmet May 29, 2010 10:52 PM

          are you talking about the KA with the glass jar? the one the OP is considering (which i also own) has a plastic, tapered pitcher.

      2. roxlet May 30, 2010 01:11 AM

        I bought my husband the Vita Mix for Christmas a few years back, and he absolutely loves it. I haven't tried either the KA or Breville, but we have not had a single moment when we felt that it wasn't the right blender, and we know that it will last for a very long time. We went through a lot of blenders before it, and aside from the Vita Mix, the best one we ever had was one of the cheapest that they unfortunately stopped making and because it was cheap it burned out fast. We tried a new Waring, and in fact I have my mother's original Waring Blender from the 50s which I may try to sell on ebay since it is just collecting dust in the basement now. GHG it may be ugly, but this is one of the cases where ugly is beautiful (plus we have a special storage cabinet where all the appliances live so we don't have look at it until it comes out to play...)

        7 Replies
        1. re: roxlet
          goodhealthgourmet May 30, 2010 09:57 AM

          "(plus we have a special storage cabinet where all the appliances live so we don't have look at it until it comes out to play...)"
          i'm not so lucky :)

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet
            roxlet May 30, 2010 10:11 AM

            IThe storage cabinet was one of the great remodel ideas -- before that a hideous harvest gold refrigerator that looked like something someone won on a game show circa 1965 used to be in that spot. I was so happy to give that thing the heave ho!

            1. re: roxlet
              goodhealthgourmet May 31, 2010 10:23 AM

              i'm renting a house right now, and the owner is a builder. i told him that he needs to let me consult on his next residential project, because my kitchen was clearly designed by someone who's never set foot in one. don't even get me started on the bathroom...

              they were doing a Vita-Mix demo at my local Costco a few weeks ago, and i just stood there staring at the blenders, fantasizing about having a kitchen that would make it possible for me to own one ;)

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                roxlet May 31, 2010 11:14 AM

                It took me 13 years in our current house to finally get a great kitchen. I thought it would never happen, but good things come (eventually) to those who wait!

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                  Chemicalkinetics May 31, 2010 03:22 PM

                  Are you implying that your bathroom is designed by someone who has never set foot in one as well?

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                    goodhealthgourmet May 31, 2010 03:30 PM

                    not quite...it was designed by a bald guy with no use for anything besides a toothbrush and a hand towel.

                    the guy's a neanderthal - when i moved in he told me i needed a husband so that i could have him do the heavy lifting for me.

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                      Chemicalkinetics May 31, 2010 03:45 PM


                      Ha ha ha. Neanderthal? :)

                      I always have a soft spot for the Neanderthals. Considered that our ancesters have wiped them out. :) Did you feel guilty when you met him? Just kidding.

          2. penthouse pup May 30, 2010 05:56 AM

            I kept making excuses for my KA's lousy blending capability--after all, it was supposed to be so much better than my old Oster, and certainly cost twice as much. Well--the KA died prematurely, and I went to Amazon for a low cost Oster ($44 or so) and I am happy indeed to have bent back time--the old is better than what was new.

            1. s
              shallots May 30, 2010 06:47 AM

              I've never had the high end blenders, I continue to use my 35 year old and it continues to work, but that plastic won't last forever. I looked at new ones and they are too R2D2 looking. Then I started reading about immersion blenders and the idea appealed to me. I like only cleaning the blender stalk (and the container would have to be cleaned anyway) and since I bought a good immersion blender, my conventional blender has stayed put away.

              11 Replies
              1. re: shallots
                cajundave May 31, 2010 10:08 AM

                I too have been researching blenders as my 20 year old Krups mysteriously disappeared one day. Nobody is talking.

                I am leaning toward the Oster classic beehive. It is hard to get the specs, even on Osters website. If all blenders were rated in horsepower it would be a lot easier. So the next best thing is the rating for watts. That is the motors rating for maximum electrical power. I think the Oster classic beehive is 500 watts. Plus I like a removable blade and a glass jar.

                I once tried to make tahini from sesame seeds with a small food processor and the motor started smelling and actually started leaking a brown liquid. The motor just wasn't strong enough.

                That's why I am looking for maximum watts. I don't think all the different speeds and features matter that much. I do think that getting all metal parts in the gear and blade assembly would be nice though.

                1. re: cajundave
                  goodhealthgourmet May 31, 2010 10:26 AM

                  for the power to crush seeds, grin flour, etc., look into a Vita-Mix if you're willing to spend the $$ and use the space it takes up. the thing is a 1380-watt beast.

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                    cajundave May 31, 2010 11:08 AM

                    Yes the Vita mix is the king of blenders but at $335 I think my wife would have a seizure. Especially since I am going out today to buy a $500 Big Steel Keg grill/smoker today!

                    I really only make three things in the blender, salsa, hummus and chili sauces. So I'll probably stick with a lesser model.

                    How much was Costco selling the Vitamix for?

                    1. re: cajundave
                      goodhealthgourmet May 31, 2010 03:20 PM

                      @cajundave, i'm not positive, but i *think* it was around $349.

                      1. re: cajundave
                        Chemicalkinetics May 31, 2010 03:23 PM


                        Just between you and me, the $500 Big Steel Keg grill/smoker is more important. :D

                        1. re: cajundave
                          goodhealthgourmet Jun 3, 2010 05:56 PM

                          just checked the Vita Mix price today at Costco. either i was wrong, or the price has gone up - it was $395.

                        2. re: goodhealthgourmet
                          roxlet May 31, 2010 11:16 AM

                          My husband always says that he loves having a blender with a motor big enough to power a boat. It is a beast ghg!

                        3. re: cajundave
                          Bada Bing May 31, 2010 11:51 AM

                          I'm no engineer, but I do know that watts and HP numbers can be deceptive. Motor quality and efficiency is key. I recall a Cooks Illustrated test of stand mixers some time ago, and the most powerful motor was in a very expensive (like $1500) unit by Hobart that actually used half the watts of the competing models. It still wasn't CI's top pick, for bowl design (and cost) reasons. But the motor issue stuck in my mind. It was rated for something like 700-800 watts!

                          1. re: Bada Bing
                            cajundave May 31, 2010 12:40 PM

                            Hi Bada Bing,

                            Good point. I am an electrical engineer and if I could get the efficiency rating of the motors I would be a happy camper! If a motor was rated at say 500 watts, that just tells you how much power it is consuming from the wall outlet. Some power is lost through heat, the harder the motor is strained the more power is converted to heat.

                            If the motor is strained beyond it's limit the motor heats up and laminations and insulation in the wire melt and you can smell it.

                            So the question is how much power is converted to torque and horsepower which gets back to efficiency. This is overly simplified because motors are not my area of expertise.

                            I have never seen a rating of efficiency. That would give you a good indication of the motor design and quality. Consumer products usually don't give out that much info. I had a hard time just determining watts on Osters website.

                            I just mention watts because it's the only spec they do give you...usually. So we are left with trial and error, consumer reports and such and our fellow chowhounds.

                            I am skeptical about consumer reports reviews.

                            1. re: cajundave
                              Bada Bing May 31, 2010 01:00 PM

                              Cool that you've got the engineer's knowledge. I realize that I should have checked my memory at the outset, though. The Hobart unit was the N50 Stand Mixer, it retailed at $1800, and it was actually rated at 320 watts. But here's the Cook Illustrated short summary:

                              "Purrs like a kitten," said testers about this industrial-strength lion, as it calmly processed rustic dough, oatmeal cookies, and anything else we threw its way. Narrow bowl mouth (the narrowest) made it awkward to add ingredients, and turning off power to change speeds was a pain—but not as much as transporting the 55-pound beast."

                              The take-home point: this thing used half the watts of many other tested machines!

                              1. re: cajundave
                                Chemicalkinetics May 31, 2010 03:32 PM


                                Yes, power output would be a better than power input (consumption). Instead of listing the amount of electrical power consumed, it would be nicer to have the amount of power you get out of it. Sorta like cars. Even then, it is not the entire story, but it would have been much better. Of course, there is another layer of the problem. You can have two motors with the same power output and one is spun at a higher top speed and one is spun at a higher torque. As such, the slower motor performs better, especially for hard to grind grains. Oh my head is spinning now.

                        4. Master Jun 2, 2010 06:30 PM

                          I have a KitchenAid KSB5 that’s been abused for more than a dozen years and is still running strong, add the one year no questions asked replacement warranty, you can’t go wrong!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Master
                            Caroline1 Jun 3, 2010 09:08 AM

                            Ooooops! Thought we were talking mixers there for a moment, not blenders. I've never used a KA blender. Love my 35 year old mixer though!

                            1. re: Caroline1
                              Master Jun 3, 2010 05:49 PM

                              I've had a KA 5q commercial for 20+ years, like the blender, it just keeps going.

                          2. shaogo Jun 3, 2010 09:27 AM

                            In the restaurant business, we use a $125 Hamilton Beach bar blender. Two speeds, replaceable blades, perfect seals, stainless hopper. Base isn't retro and isn't a thing of beauty, however. And it's heavy; really heavy.

                            The industry's buzzing about Vita-Mix's offerings lately. They have lots of food and bar blenders available to the trade that're very expensive but have superb features/power/efficiency.

                            Breville I haven't heard of and KitchenAid ain't what it used to be. If you use a blender every day, get a bar blender. It'll be the last one you buy. We use ours, like, 10-15 times a day and it hasn't worn out in 10 years.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: shaogo
                              tvmovielover Jun 5, 2010 05:18 AM

                              I got a Hamilton Beach commercial blender at a kitchen supply store for about $65 (yearly sale price was closer to $100) several years ago and it has never let me down and as said above two speeds, replaceable blades, etc. Have not tried a Vita-Mix but Hamilton Beach professional line is pretty good if the price is right. Mine is not pretty but it does what I use if for.

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