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Good but relatively inexpensive coffee maker?

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okello Feb 18, 2008 09:34 AM

All,

I am in search of a coffee maker for my house; I don't have one right now. The key characteristic is that it must be programmable so that it will begin brewing while I am asleep (this is a non-negotiable feature, so please don't suggest makers that are simply fast to brew). I don't think I am particularly picky about my coffee, but all else being equal I do enjoy good coffee and I'd prefer to seek out something that would make a decent cup. Given that I've survived to 33 without a coffee maker, though, I'm not inclined to drop much $$--maybe up to about $75 or so? Any recommendations?

Thanks,
Kelly

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  1. k
    Kelli2006 Feb 18, 2008 11:31 AM

    I have this Mr Coffee machine. It isn't fancy but it brews a good cup of coffee inexpensively. The gold filter basket is $20.00 extra, if that matters to you.

    http://www.mrcoffee.com/Product.aspx?... It's about $35.00 at BBB

    1. l
      lisa13 Feb 18, 2008 12:39 PM

      I have been using a cuisinart brew central machine for the last 6+ years and it is really, truly great. We have never had any issues with it, and it makes a fine cup of coffee. It is programmable in several ways (auto-brew, warming plate temp, auto-shutoff, small batch mode, etc). They are more reasonably priced right now than when I bought mine (I think they are making way for the newer version?). I think you can find them for less than $70?

      If you don't go for the cuisinart, I would at least hold out for a machine that uses a cone shaped filter as opposed to the flat bottomed basket shape.

      2 Replies
      1. re: lisa13
        JonParker Feb 19, 2008 12:12 AM

        Let me second the Cuisinart. I agree with everything lisa said, and will add that it has probably the smallest counter footprint of any machine around. The only real flaw is that the area where you pour the water in is kind of small, but you get used to it. I've been very happy with mine.

        I swore off Mr. Coffee after owning three machines that all failed within three days to two months. Their customer service was outstanding, and they cheerfully shipped me a new one each time it failed, but that's not much help when I'm stumbling around the house on Monday morning with no coffee.

        I'm pretty much a Cuisinart customer for life now. It's at the upper end of your price range, but you can use one of the Bed Bath and Beyond 20% off coupons to bring the price down a bit.

        1. re: JonParker
          whirlygirly Feb 22, 2008 09:24 AM

          3rd the Cuisinart rec. I got mine at Costco for around $60, I think.

      2. e
        EclecticEater Feb 18, 2008 11:20 PM

        Braun, only about $39. or less at discount, and/or Aerobie for something different and special for about $25. With Kenya AA from Zabars there is nothing like the Braun in the a.m. I also make lattes with the Aerobie, yummy and cheap with a $2. IKEA frother that looks almost exactly like the Aerolatte.

        1. m
          mexivilla Feb 19, 2008 05:56 AM

          I have an Oster which I bought at Sam's Club which has the timer, automatic shutoff, brew strength and temperature controls. It looks great and makes a good cup of coffee. On the other hand it does have a small area to add the water and the steam when pouring the last cup can reach your hand.

          1. m
            mlgb Feb 19, 2008 01:41 PM

            Suggest you check gevalia.com. In return for signing up for their coffee club, they have various offers ($14.95-$22.95) including 2 packages of coffee, and a SS programmable coffee maker. It's basically a risk-free trial with free coffee maker. Just be sure to cancel before your next order is due. (Of course they'd love you to continue).
            The maker I have now is theirs and it's been going for a long time. A standard gold filter (the cone shape) fits in it, I think I picked one up at Target or Cost Plus.

            1. ccbweb Feb 19, 2008 01:44 PM

              My wife and I have been using this one for a year and we've been very pleased.

              http://www.amazon.com/Black-Decker-TC...
              $60, thermal carafe, programmable, removable water tank

              1 Reply
              1. re: ccbweb
                mcel215 Feb 21, 2008 12:14 PM

                I have the same one, and I love it!

                I also have an electric perk by Faberware, but no timer.

              2. l
                LJBTampa Feb 22, 2008 08:11 AM

                I swore off Mr. Coffee after two different models had the filter basket overflow. I bought a Braun Aroma Deluxe for about $70 a few years ago and have been very happy with it.

                1 Reply
                1. re: LJBTampa
                  Cheflambo Feb 22, 2008 08:22 AM

                  I had a Cuisinart machine that also ground the coffee before brewing. Sounds like a great feature, but when that grinder started up at 6:30 am it was enough to wake the dead. If this is your idea of a great alarm clock, go for it. (It was also a bear to clean up). If you are going to brew more than one cup and have it sit for a while, definitely go for the carafe feature, as my (current) Black & Decker model will scorch it if left too long. Also look for one that shuts itself off. I agree with the others about the cone filter too -- the gold one is worth the extra $.

                2. jayt90 Feb 22, 2008 08:59 AM

                  The Krups FM-5 got a fine review from coffeegeek. It is around $95. at Amazon, $70 at Costco.

                  http://coffeegeek.com/proreviews/firstlook/krupsfmf5

                  http://www.krups.ca/All+Products/Coff...

                  1. Caroline1 Feb 22, 2008 02:12 PM

                    I used my Black and Decker thermal carafe coffee maker for fifteen or so years before replacing it with a superautomatic espresso machine. Still can't part with it, so it's on a pantry shelf. Completely programmable, and the carafe keeps the coffee hot for around three hours. It was around twenty or twenty five bucks back then. A web search shows me they have upgraded the carafe to stainless steel, and it's now just under fifty. Still, when you prorate the years of reliable service, a real bargain! And did I mention it makes really good coffee?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Caroline1
                      JonParker Feb 23, 2008 11:21 AM

                      That's amazing. I was actually using the B&D under=counter models, but they wuld quit and need replacing every two or three years. The last time I bought a new one my only criteria going in was no B&D.

                      My new criteria is no B&D and no Mr. Coffee.

                      1. re: JonParker
                        Caroline1 Feb 23, 2008 09:55 PM

                        (Reply to JonParker, just in case this post doesn't explain)

                        Then the obvious question is... Which one of us got the Black and Decker lemon..? '-)

                    2. s
                      sobriquet Feb 23, 2008 09:48 PM

                      I think it's a few bucks outside your price range, but look up the Zojirushi with a thermal carafe. I have one and am pleased with it. IMHO, the best you can get without spending $225.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: sobriquet
                        toodie jane Feb 27, 2008 03:44 PM

                        we're in the market for a new coffeemaker, so I've been reading these comments and seeing what the owner/reviewers say on Amazon.

                        The common thread is that

                        The carafes don't keep the coffee HOT

                        The carafes are easily mis-seated and overflow

                        The carafe lids are almost impossible to clean

                        can you comment on any of these problems? We don't want to sink more $$ onto an aggravating machine. Thank you

                        1. re: toodie jane
                          s
                          sobriquet Feb 27, 2008 09:17 PM

                          The coffee is hot enough to drink for hours. The trick is to preheat the carafe with hot water from the sink. You can also boil water in a kettle and preheat it with that - I've done that, too. Even without preheating, the coffee stays hot for a couple of hours.

                          Impossible to clean? I guess it depends on how picky you are. I consider myself rather particular when it comes to cleaning, and I haven't had a problem with the Zojirushi. I use a brush with hot water and soap, then just aim the faucet in the top spout where the coffee goes in. Cleans up in a minute or less. I use the same brush to scrub the inside of the carafe and stainless steel travel mugs.

                          The one thing I will say is that they CAN leak if you misalign them. The trick to the zojirushi is to not tighten the lid all the way. I keep the dot marker on the lid about 15 degrees from absolutely tight. Once I figured out that trick, it hasn't leaked once (it's been well over a year).

                          I won't use a coffee maker that has a hotplate. I'm using high quality beans, a conical burr grinder, and filtered water... only to scortch it? I think not.

                          1. re: sobriquet
                            toodie jane Feb 28, 2008 09:17 AM

                            I have a Zoji commuter vacuum thermos which I love--it keeps coffee HOT for up to 8 hours.

                            Based on its capability, I bought the Zoji carafe for the extra capacity. I was very dissapointed in it. Even prewarming it, it just doesn't have the same heat retention attributes as the vacuum thermos.

                          2. re: toodie jane
                            l
                            lisa13 Feb 28, 2008 04:10 AM

                            I have seen a thermal carafe overflow first hand and it is NOT pretty. My MIL has had it happen several times and its not just the liquid that comes out - its grounds too as the filter basket overflows, which makes for very difficult cleanup. It is very hard to tell when the carafe is misaligned (I think she has a cuisinart - not sure if this is the case with all of them) so short of sitting there watching it brew, it seems risky.

                            Edit: So far I have had no scorching problems with my "brew central" machine. I use the low setting on the warming plate and the coffee stays hot, but has never been burnt. OK, if you leave half a cup sitting in the pot for a while, it will taste unpleasant, but that is the only case where I have noticed any off flavor.

                            1. re: lisa13
                              Caroline1 Feb 28, 2008 07:29 AM

                              I did have my thermal Black and Decker overflow a few times, but in every case it was a user-booboo. There is a "seating ridge" in the base that will allign the carafe perfectly when the carafe is seated properly. I have to assume that's standard on all thermal carafe coffee makers. It's not a lot of fun to have to stop and mop the kitchen, but it does help you remember to make sure the carafe is seated properly next time. Besides, every kitchen deserves a good scrubbing every now and then. '-)

                        2. z
                          zin1953 Feb 28, 2008 05:21 AM

                          The finest drip coffee maker in the world is made by Technivorm -- http://www.technivorm.com/ -- due to the fact that brewing temperature and water/coffee contact time as well as holding temperature are in accordance with the critical requirements of the European Coffee Brewing Centre and the Specialty Coffee Association of America and the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe. That said, they run about $225 and do NOT come with a timer! ;^

                          )

                          That said, I'd agree with some of the above comments and take a serious look at the Cuisinart DCC-1200 12-Cup Brew Central Coffeemaker. You can take a look at it here -- http://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-DCC-1... -- but it's carried by many "brick-and-mortar" retailers as well.

                          I would also skip on Mr. Coffee . . .

                          Cheers,
                          Jason

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: zin1953
                            jayt90 Feb 28, 2008 06:19 AM

                            And the Technivorm is ugly as sin.

                            The Cuisinart DCC-1200 shares one central heater between the hot water tube and the warming plate. That results in a a 175F brewing temperature, and insipid coffee that stays too warm because it is unwanted.

                            1. re: zin1953
                              Caroline1 Feb 28, 2008 07:45 AM

                              You know, coffee and any one individual's likes and dislikes can't be mandated by Cofffee Brewing Centers, or Specialty Coffee Associations. They are data producing institutions that deal with "norms." While their information and endorsements may be interesting, they don't really allow that much for individual preferences.

                              The very best coffee in the world, in my opinion, is made by heating a porcelain cofffee server, bringing a pot of water to a simmer, grinding the coffee beans, putting them in the heated pot and pouring the water over the grounds. Stir and let sit while the grounds settle to the bottom and drink. GREAT coffee! Well, it is if you use great coffee beans.

                              But now that I'm older and like to be pampered, I have a Capresso machine that only requires that I push a button and it rinses itself, grinds my great beans, tamps them, steams them, and brews my coffee for me before scrubbing its own back in rediness for my next whim.. It is very good coffee. Excellent, as a matter of fact. But it is edged out by the old fashioned brewed fresh in a china pot coffee I used to make.

                              Coffee is an emotional involvement, and we all have to seek what gives us personal satisfaction. My mother loved her coffee percolated for fifteen minutes through a full basket of grounds. Made me sick, but it made her happy.

                              1. re: Caroline1
                                z
                                zin1953 Feb 28, 2008 12:02 PM

                                Caroline,

                                I agree ABSOLUTELY that "Personal Palate Preference" is the final arbiter of what is and isn't great when it comes to how things taste, what's delicious and what isn't.

                                For example, you love your Capresso, and I wouldn't use a Capresso machine if you gave it to me! I've never had what I would consider truly great espresso from ANY super-automatic espresso machine -- be it a full-blown commercial model or one designed for home use like your Capresso. Different storkes for different folks . . .

                                OTOH, I have had the coffee from a Technivorm Moccamaster -- and I thought it was outstanding. But that's just my opinion, and YMMV.

                                Cheers,
                                Jason

                              2. re: zin1953
                                s
                                sobriquet Feb 28, 2008 11:47 PM

                                That's the $225 machine I mentioned, but that's more than the OP wanted to spend. They do have a new model that's not quite as.. uh... boxy. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Sometimes retro can look modern in the right kitchen....

                              3. ipsedixit Feb 28, 2008 09:25 AM

                                I would just go to any Target, WalMart, KMart or Costco and pick up the cheapest model that has the one feature you absolutely must have -- i.e., programmable auto-brew.

                                Most coffee makers are pretty fungible and your chances of finding a "lemon" are equally likely among any of the established brands mentioned thus far in this thread -- e.g., Krups, Mr. Coffee, Black & Decker, Cuisinart, etc.

                                Having said alll that I would recommend you go to Costco to get the coffee maker because of their liberal return/exchange policy.

                                1. o
                                  okello Mar 2, 2008 12:30 PM

                                  Hi Folks--I just went out and got the coffee maker; went with a Cuisinart machine based on a few of those recommendations. Didn't get the thermal carafe, as it's more expensive and my main use will be before work when I'm not around long enough for the coffee to get cold.

                                  If I have any particular opinions after using the machine, I'll post here.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: okello
                                    z
                                    zin1953 Mar 2, 2008 05:59 PM

                                    Enjoy it!

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