Mr. Coffee 4-cup, Norelco Dial-a-Brew II, misc. B&D makers
Minor shortcomings don't keep this from being about the best 4-cup elec. drip available.
Positive Product Points
+ brews relatively hot for a lower-cost drip maker (~185įF) + quick heat up time + handy cord storage + solid build quality + no timers, auto-shutoff, other unnecessary electronics + looks good sitting on desk at work
Negative Product Points
- wish it brewed about 15į hotter.. - 22 oz. capacity means about 2 1/2 8oz. mugs! 2 more oz. without overflowing, please! - all kinds of nooks and crannies in basket area make it difficult to clean - quick heat-up time makes it easy to have steam blasting your coffee grounds all over the inside of the machine - pot warmer will scorch the brewed coffee in a hurry
Purchased this coffee maker about 9 months ago, to replace a 4-cup Mr. Coffee dripper that had been giving me fits. Only took a month of futzing with that thing to send it to the bottom of a filing cabinet.
I had read on Coffeegeek.com and alt.coffee that the KA 4-cup was about the best reasonably-priced 4 cup drip maker on the market; most peopleís opinions of it had been pretty positive. I needed a better coffee maker at work, but didnít want to deal with the hassle of keeping a french press or vac pot clean. Purchased this coffee maker, and... well, the coffee was better, I guess. Certainly less of a hassle to use, anyway. Note, at the time, I was using store-ground pexiglass-tub grocery store beans.
Once I started to use freshly (home) roasted, freshly ground beans, the difference really started to take hold. I also started bringing water from home, instead of using the calcium-thick water that seems to be prevalent in Central MO wells. Iím using just a little whirly-blade grinder, but the taste doesnít seem to be affected *too* adversely on my (very novice) taste buds compared to using a decent burr grinder.
Brew isnít too negatively affected by the slightly low brewing temperature. Measurements in the brew basket (using my highly-accurate method of jamming an insta-read dial therm in the basket) read about 185įF or so. Not spectacular, but not bad, either. I can definitely taste the difference at the lower temperatures, but donít mind too much. Seems the reason the temp isnít much higher is that, as in quite a few drip coffee makers, the riser tube for the hot water coming from the heating coils to the showerhead passes through the water reservoir. Since this tube can be separated in the reservoir (2 pieces connecting), I pulled it apart, and dropped the thermometer into the tube. 200į! One of these days, Iíll find some way to insulate the riser tube (maybe just some flexi-vinyl tubing), and report back here. Shouldnít be too difficult, methinks.
Biggest problem I have with this coffeemaker is cleaning. I generally let it warm up a few minutes before brewing, to get everything all nice and toasty and what-not. If Iím not careful, the first couple drops of water to heat the heating coils will blast steam all over the coffee grounds, resulting in a terrible mess. I have to leave the grounds basket out of the machine and add a couple drops of water to (slightly) cool everything back down before I can close the brew basket into the machine. It seems the engineers at KitchenAid decided to punish those who carelessly dirty their coffeemakers; there are many hard-to-clean nooks and crannies in the brew basket area. More than there need to be. Thankfully, judicious use of a small (grinder) brush will generally clean out most of the mess.
The Ďwarming plateí is also a bit of an annoyance, and will cook the coffee in a hurry if the coffee isnít removed. I help alleviate this by placing a couple paper towels between the warmer and the bottom of the carafe when I brew (use them to help clean up when done). Seems to help keep the coffee from getting burned while brewing. Pour into a couple cups (8 oz. & 16 oz.) when done, and Iím good to go for the morning. Wish that it made just a little more coffee, seems like it makes about 2 Ĺ mugs. JeezÖ
All in all, this is a pretty good little electro-drip coffee maker. Certainly not without shortcomings, but they can be avoided without too much hassle. If I had to do it all over again, I probably would have sprung the extra $20 for a mini-eSantos. If this one ever breaks, Iíll probably go that route. That certainly wonít keep me, however, from recommending this one to those looking for a good-quality, small, mostly-no-hassle electric drip coffeemaker.
Had previously worked at the Lowe's where I purchased this; knew everyone working in the store at the time... so my experience was perfectly fine. Walked in the door, went to the appliances section, took the box to the register, wrote a check. That's about it.
For best results at Lowe's, visit early weekday mornings. Contractors show up later in the morning when they start to run out of stuff, and all sorts of people with wallets and mouths bigger than their heads (commonly known as 'customers') shop on weekends. Best to shop when employees have the time to pay more attention to individual shoppers, and less on crowd control.
Three Month Followup
Not too much more to say at the 3-month followup stage. Still use make about 6-7 pots of coffee a week, most of them turn out just fine. I still have little reservations with recommending this coffeemaker (unless you can still score a deal on a Melitta Clarity, but that's getting much much harder these days).
I bumped the quality up one point. The coffee itself can probably stay at about a 6, but the build quality of this thing is quite good. Just a couple of parts, and they've all been durable for day-in, day-out use.
One Year Followup
One year followup? Nope, this is the eight-year followup. Put this one in storage for awhile to do nothing but pourover coffee. A couple years ago, pulled it back out and it is back to making a pot a day. Original carafe is long-broken, so we use a 5-cup Yama pot (took the sneak-a-cup junk out to allow it to work). Still makes solid coffee every day. Too bad KitchenAid doesn't make these anymore. If you see one at a garage sale or thrift store, buy it!
Changed Quality to 10. Seriously, this thing has been invincible. Overall rating +1.