Finally HOT coffee, great thermal carafe... but what's that smell?
Positive Product Points
- Really hot coffee when compared to other name brands in big box stores - Included travel mugs handy if you use them - Proper glass-vacuum carafe (no hotplate to burn your brew) - Carafe doesn't spill when pouring - Can brew into the carafe, one travel mug, or two travel mugs - Ships with water filter - Automatic shutoff after brewing - 1150 watt heating element
Negative Product Points
- Carafe is heavy, awkward handle, doesn't have a firm seat on the machine... slides around easily - Rubbery smell due to hose in the water resevoir - Time set (hours/minutes) buttons identical looking to on/off controls - No external water window (and no graduations on the thermal carafe obviously) - Drips after brewing cycle - Doesn't ship with a gold coffee filter - Must screw carafe lid tight so it fits in the unit
Basically, this is the first machine I've come across that actually brews HOT coffee... and I'm somewhat picky about this.
I've tried an Oster 12-cup autodrip that's identical to the Mr. Coffee unit with the indiglo-type pseudo-analog clock. If I make a pot in that machine I WILL BE required to microwave my mug afterwards... unless you want it to sit and bake on the hotplate to bring it up to drinkable temperature.
I've tried the Cuisinart BrewCentral which, as much as I absolutely loved the look of it, made hotter coffee than the Oster but still noticably cooler than the Hamilton Beach.
This machine has it's drawbacks (above): You've really gotta look deep inside the unit to measure water - better have it on a low table or be super tall yourself. I just happen to be over 6' but some people may find this difficult since there's no graduations on the thermal carafe (none of them do).
Another thing is a popular complaint about this specific model I believe -- there's an orange rubber hose in the water compartment that seems to have been not cured properly or whatever, and it just smells like rubber.
After about 15 cycles of hot water / vinegar / standard coffee brews, the water area still smells rubbery... I can't necessarily taste this in the coffee though and some people don't even have this problem at all.
The buttons on the front are usable enough, but I'd like the Clock Set feature to be something I'd have to make more of an effort to do since we don't need to set the time on a regular basis. Set it once and that's it unless it's Daylight Savings or your power goes out.
So many times instead of hitting the On button, I'll hit the Hour button instead since it's right below. Now the clock jumps ahead an hour and I have to push the thing another 23 times to get it back to the proper time. This is minor though once you get used to the machine and focus on hitting the proper buttons.
Since this machine's key feature is being able to brew not only into the thermal carafe, but also one or both of the included travel mugs, the spout has been designed to expel the brewed coffee in two streams. The problem is that the way they designed the spout there's no way to stop it from dripping if you remove the carafe.
Now you wouldn't remove the carafe while brewing (some people might want to) but even after the brewing - the machine turns itself off instantly afterwards - some drips keep coming since water is still trapped in the grounds basket. So you'll remove the carafe to pour yourself a cup or two, and before you put it back in its place you notice a few drops have spilled on the platform... not cool, and messy.
Another thing I don't like is that there's no solid position for the carafe. Since the machine was also designed to take the travel mugs, there are 3 VERY SLIGHT indentations for these mugs on the bottom of the machine - 1 in the middle for the one mug, and 2 flanking it on each side for when you use two.
The problem first of all is that these are ever-so-slightly higher than the base, and you should try being sensitive enough to push the mug(s) underneath until they hit that tiny little ledge. Because of this too, the carafe itself is too big to have its own ledge, so it has to just cover all those slightly raised portions for the travel mugs, and sit there in limbo.
For those of you with a Cuisinart BrewCentral (that carafe is damn near locked in there) this is pretty much the exact opposite of the way your carafe sits.
Another thing: There's a Catch-22 in the carafe. I love how it's a great insulator and keeps the coffee hot, but the way it does this via an intelligent screw-cap on the top that just allows two holes to take your coffee from the brew basket, through the cap and into the carafe. When you pour your coffee however you must take the behemoth out from under the basket, unscrew the lid so that POUR is facing your mug, pour your coffee, then screw back the lid before putting it back or it will not fit. There's less than ¼ of an inch space between the top of the cap and the bottom of the brew basket. Think twice before trying to hold a cup in one hand while pouring and putting the carafe back with the other -- not possible.
On the whole I find it makes decent coffee, doesn't FLAVOUR the coffee with the rubbery smell, and actually brews it HOT -- something I didn't find the BrewCentral could do adequately enough.
Also since it's a thermal carafe you won't burn the fresh brew and the decent-quality construction will keep it hot for a while.