RIP Coffee Maker, you will be missed
July 4, 2009 8:29 AM   Subscribe

Help keep my household grumpy-free: recommend a coffee maker that won't give up the ghost after a handful of months.

In the two 1/2 years that my husband and I have shared a home, we've gone through 4 coffee makers. The latest one just died this morning.

Each one seems to die the same death: the pump just stops working, usually part way through brewing the first pot of the day.

Do you have a coffee maker that's lasted for years and years? Who made it?

Alternatively, is there something we might be doing or not doing that's killing our poor coffee makers?
posted by burntflowers to Food & Drink (42 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Are you cleaning it? Do you make sure that no grounds are going where they shouldn't? I've always thought of coffee pots as one of those things that last forever; I haven't killed one yet, and it's just a generic-ish Mr. Coffee thing. You might consider getting a french press, though -- there's no pump to worry about.
posted by runningwithscissors at 8:34 AM on July 4, 2009

I had a Cuisinart Grind-n-Brew model that lasted for about 10 years. The computer gave up the ghost right before the warranty expired, so they sent me a new one, but all told, I used the same model for a good decade. I only retired it because some of the seals weren't sealing, so it would steam a fair bit during use. I replaced it with another Cuisinart, a drip-only version, since I never used the "Grind-n-" part of the older one. The new one is still going strong.
posted by spacewrench at 8:40 AM on July 4, 2009

lots of good reviews over at coffee geek. this is probably what you want.
posted by Mach5 at 8:41 AM on July 4, 2009

It's time to step up to a French Press and an electric kettle. I use the 48 oz French Press. Here are simple instructions.

You'll need a coffee grinder and a fresh supply of coffee beans, but you already have those, ja?
posted by foooooogasm at 8:41 AM on July 4, 2009 [3 favorites]

I've been using the same Krups Brewmaster, Jr. since 1991 - it has only needed to be decalcified about 10 times, and it still works perfectly.

Krups discontinued this series, but you can find them through Amazon, Craig's List, etc.
posted by ryanshepard at 8:44 AM on July 4, 2009

Just here to agree with fooooogasm. Your french press will make you the best coffee you've ever tasted and it's so simple to use. And they usually run only about $20 or so.
posted by ohyouknow at 8:52 AM on July 4, 2009

Response by poster: foooooogasm: We actually have French press. The drip coffee machine is for my husband. We tried going the French press route, but my husband would often leave it caked in grounds overnight, and then, in a half-awake state, attempt to clean it and put it back together, usually with much cursing.

I've tried to encourage him to clean it immediately after using it, but he is his own person, and I can only nag so much before I start feeling like his Mom instead of his wife.
posted by burntflowers at 8:55 AM on July 4, 2009

Unlike spacewench, my Cuisinart grind and brew broke 3 months after warranty, and Cuisinart was awful to deal with, wouldn't even tell me where to get it fixed in my area, so I don't recommend them.
posted by cestmoi15 at 8:58 AM on July 4, 2009

We tried going the French press route, but my husband would often leave it caked in grounds overnight, and then, in a half-awake state, attempt to clean it and put it back together, usually with much cursing.

So you need two, then.

I used to use a Krups coffeemaker. It lasted, jeez... 10 years? 12? I think it still works, but it's in a box somewhere.
posted by rokusan at 9:04 AM on July 4, 2009

I too have a Starbucks Barrista drip machine that I inherited. It's been used everyday for three years now. I even took it to the office for about 6 months until they bought their own machine. I can't really say anything about it is especially great, but it still works, which seems to be your primary concern.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:11 AM on July 4, 2009

Technivorm Moccamaster.

Pricey, no doubt about it. But cheaper than four cheap ones.
posted by notyou at 9:26 AM on July 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Do you have a hard water problem? Just speculating, but if the problem is with your water supply then you might best off buying cheap, throw-away models.

Our cheapish Phillips coffee maker is 9 years old and counting, and only gets cleaned occasionally.
posted by jon1270 at 9:26 AM on July 4, 2009

You'll not likely do this, but, and it doesn't answer your question, yet I type on . . .

A while a go I got sick of the hassle and waste of making coffee and decided to give instant another shot. Now I'm hooked. Coffee is an acquired taste anyway, so why not acquire a taste for something easy to make, with no cleanup, and no waste? It worked, and now I'm hooked. It's not as bad as you think. I still enjoy brewed coffees and espresso's, but for my everyday morning (and sometimes evening cup) it's all instant, all the time.
posted by gregoryc at 9:29 AM on July 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I had a Mr. Coffee that chugged along for well over a decade. It still works, but the stop-and-pour mechanism quit a few years ago, and we finally broke down and bought a new coffeemaker that has a stop-and-pour that works.
posted by rtha at 9:29 AM on July 4, 2009

have the Krups ProAroma, which was bought in '97 or '98 or so. (it was my parent's; I got it when they moved and they bought another one. mine works still, but theirs died a few years ago. they moved to a hard water area, though, which is tough on coffeemakers.) one day I'll get a Technivorm, but I don't want to until the Krups dies.

buy a coffeemaker and a brita filter and use the filtered water to brew coffee - if you've got hard water, the extra minerals and whatnot will clog the tubes and pump mechanism in the maker. you can get around this with Cleancaf or brewing a pot of vinegar (dump vinegar in the water container) every so often.
posted by mrg at 9:41 AM on July 4, 2009

Our experience with coffeemakers has been similar to those of the other commenters, which is obviously far different than what has happened to you. That raises the question, what are you doing different from everyone else?

It doesn't seem that cleaning the coffeemaker makes much difference, cuz goodness knows we don't clean ours very often (or at all, now that I think about it).

Hard water could be part of the answer, and is probably worth checking out.

Something in your question stood out for me, though: "usually part way through brewing the first pot of the day". It makes me wonder if a build-up of steam or something is causing problems, since it doesn't sound like your coffeemaker gets much chance to cool down.
posted by DrGail at 9:47 AM on July 4, 2009

Over the course of the last few decades I've used the "free" coffeemakers from Gevalia. Fifteen bucks and you get some (really great) coffee with it. Just cancel your membership once you've got it. If it breaks (they never did) just get another one. I used these up 'til I discovered the joy of espresso, cappuccino & Americano's freshly made in the comfort of my kitchen.
posted by torquemaniac at 9:51 AM on July 4, 2009

The Chemex solves the annoying french press cleanup issues, makes great coffee and lasts forever.
posted by judith at 9:53 AM on July 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

You probably have hard water that's getting deposits in the tubing and eventually killing it. (there is usually no actual pump) You could:
a) Buy cheap $10 Mr. Coffees every time one dies. After all, it's just a water heater with a funnel, no need for something fancy.
b) Prefilter your water before putting it in the coffee maker, or use bottled water.
c) Run vinegar through the one you have to clean it out, though that's more of a preventative measure. Now that it's completely dead, that might not work.
d) Just use a melitta cone* and boil the water with a teapot. Simple, no cleanup. Throw out grounds, rinse.

*plastic ones are cheaper, and can usually be found in a kitchen store.
posted by ctmf at 9:53 AM on July 4, 2009

and now with corrected link:
posted by judith at 9:54 AM on July 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

We have extremely hard water which has killed a fair number of coffeepots over the years despite regular de-liming. If you have hard water try running a pot half white vinegar half water through it once a week. You can even get heavier duty (stronger acid) de-limers in grocery stores or hardware stores and you might try that too - run at least one pot of plain water afterwards before making coffee or your coffee will taste vile. That might solve your problem.
posted by leslies at 9:55 AM on July 4, 2009

Capresso MT500

Pricey, but bulletproof. Best drip machine I've ever used. 5 years old and still churning along.
posted by teg4rvn at 10:19 AM on July 4, 2009

If the drip coffee is just for your husband, try using a simple drip filter (e.g. something like this). Cheap and foolproof. Just make sure to stir while the water is filtering through.
posted by Xianny at 10:46 AM on July 4, 2009

Even expensive coffee makers still have cheap guts. A drip coffee maker is, in essence, a heating element with a tube running through it and a couple of check valves. The water feeds into the heating element and is heated. Some of it boils off and pushes the hot water up the tube and out into the basket. A check valve keeps the flow going in the right direction. In my experience, ALL home-type makers use this type of setup. And the tubes are quite often make of plastic/rubber of some kind. This stuff dries out, gets brittle, clogs and leaks. Or the heating element is cheap and fails.

Regular de-liming solves this to some extent, but not completely. The heating element doesn't really care what it's heating, it's going to work or not work based on it's own internal nuttiness. And the plastic tubes are going to fail on their own schedule as well. Regular cleaning keeps everything running as long as possible, and keeps the taste of the coffee right, but in the end, it will break.

(I solved the problem for myself by making my own. Boil water in the microwave, put grounds in a strainer with a filter, dump the boiling water into it and it drips down into my cup. It'll never fail.)

Or, get a commercial sort of machine. They are completely different animals. They heat the water in a tank until it is the right temperature, and then push the water out into the strainer. Because the stuff is made from stainless steel, it can basically be cleaned forever. You'll get better coffee, as well. By being able to control the brew temperature, you can make it exactly how you want it. Rather than the crapshoot with other machines. They can even be plumbed into your water supply, with a built in filter, so that it's all automatic. If you shop wisely, they aren't any more expensive than an expensive home model. Fewer wacky features, but those they have work.

Also, use distilled or reverse osmosis filtered water. No impurities to mess with flavor or to gunk up the works.

(I was looking at the makers they have at Target once. They had a sweet looking Bunn-o-Matic. It was 100 bucks. Looked just like the commercial type, but a closer look revealed that it was a $10 coffee maker in a stainless steel case.)
posted by gjc at 10:53 AM on July 4, 2009

Another vote for using the cone. It just requires a filter and hot water; cleanup consists of throwing out the filter and rinsing the cone. We haven't used a coffeemaker for years around Casa Scody.
posted by scody at 11:02 AM on July 4, 2009

My folks go through coffee pots 2 or 3 times a year... they have very hard water. They've started taping the receipt to the box and taking it back to where they bought it for an exchange.
posted by TuxHeDoh at 11:09 AM on July 4, 2009

I've never had a problem with pumps wearing out. The only times I've gotten rid of an electric drip coffeemaker was either when moving or when it just got sort of "icky" after years of use. husband would often leave it caked in grounds overnight...

Are the grounds actually getting out of the filter? That could be the problem. Who knows where they're going in the machine (and his coffee).

Does he use a paper filter or a gold filter or what? My Kenmore (same as Cuinart but cheaper) coffeemaker came with a gold filter. It's easy to clean even when left over night. The grounds never "escape." You can even put the filter in the dishwasher if you want (not to mention some of the other plastic coffeemaker parts).
posted by Robert Angelo at 11:38 AM on July 4, 2009

Get an Aeropress. Cheap, quick, easy, trivial to clean and makes very good coffee.
posted by emilyw at 11:43 AM on July 4, 2009

I bought a small KitchenAid coffee maker in 2001. I think it is a 24oz maker (basically 2 larger cups per pot). I have used it pretty much every morning since then and it is still kicking. My father bought a larger KitchenAid machine a year later based on my recommendation and his is still going strong as well.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 11:53 AM on July 4, 2009

Hamilton Beach Brewstation

This thing is frickin' awesome.
posted by Brocktoon at 11:56 AM on July 4, 2009

We have pretty hard water, use our Cuisinart drip daily, and don't clean it nearly as often as we should. Is it possible that some electrical issue in your kitchen is burning out the motors?
posted by mkultra at 11:57 AM on July 4, 2009

With the knowledge that your husband is too lazy to clean a french press it sounds like a Tassimo would be perfect for him. My work had one of those, it's absurdly simple: you slip in a disc and press a button, and wait thirty seconds. Done. Coffee isn't great, but better than instant, and easy to clean. The only problem is you have to order the discs from the company or hope that a nearby target/walmart/whatever carries them.

Alternately, if flavor is not an issue I am seconding earlier recommendations for instant coffee.
posted by Ndwright at 12:07 PM on July 4, 2009

nthing a French Press and a good old fashioned kettle. Easy to take care of and clean, and a delicious cup of coffee.
posted by furtive at 12:13 PM on July 4, 2009

Like leslies' comment, when I had a housemate who was a huge coffee drinker and a student who used a cheap-ass coffee maker, he would put a round of vinegar through it once or twice a week and the thing lasted (at least) a few years.
posted by rhizome at 1:09 PM on July 4, 2009

Moka pot. Cheap, makes great coffee, and the only thing you have to dispose of, except grounds, is the gasket – once a year or so. And it's not snooty about the quality of your grinder, either. (Treat yourself and get a steel one: the aluminum ones dent easily and the handles tend to fall off.)
posted by zadcat at 1:12 PM on July 4, 2009

Nthing Krups. I used one daily for many years.
posted by fieldtrip at 1:37 PM on July 4, 2009

I've used a Vietnamese coffee maker like this for years (the 'gravity' type, not the screw-down ones). Super low-tech so they'll never, ever break, and you just run them under the tap to clean. Admittedly, you have to boil a kettle, wait five minutes, and top up your mug with hot water, but in my experience it's way less hassle than a cafetiere or a Gaggia.

Come to think of it, if you're that into coffee, why aren't you using a Gaggia or similar? Pricey, but not compared to four drip coffee makers every two and a half years.
posted by a little headband I put around my throat at 4:40 PM on July 4, 2009

Seconding Chemex. Apart from having no moving parts to break/wear out, it makes super-good coffee. You can usually find Chemex filters at Whole Foods, and most local fancy kitchen stores.

My family have been using Bunn coffee makers for years with good results... they're pretty simple mechanically; there's a filter basket, a carafe, and an on switch. No elaborate flippy or spring-loaded bits of plastic that inevitably snap off, leak, or get nasty old coffee stuck in them.
posted by usonian at 5:42 PM on July 4, 2009

Oh, and one other thing about the Bunn - it keeps a pot's worth of water heated in its internal reservoir at all times, so it brews really fast.
posted by usonian at 5:48 PM on July 4, 2009

Get a cheap one from your local superstore. We've had the same $10 coffee maker for the past 2 years or so and it keeps chugging along. As mentioned above, put vinegar through it every now and then. (Another advantage of a cheap one is that, if it *does* break, it will be cheap (duh!) to replace.)
posted by 47triple2 at 8:59 PM on July 4, 2009

nthing the others who suggested the bunn. the one in question is the NHBX. its the same models as used by tim hortons. no pump, no digital hooey. just a hot plate, water heater, and a switch that keeps coffee from even starting to brew until you put the put in. it always holds a full pots worth of ready to brew temperature water so brew time is like 3 minutes (so no AM time is needed). the thing is seriously awesome. another point, i think because of the speedy brew time is that the coffee really does taste better from it (several friends have agreed)

please to enjoy.
greatest coffee maker evar (bunn website link)
posted by chasles at 7:07 AM on July 5, 2009

I'm looking for a coffeemaker with a timer for my yerba mate. I've been brewing it like tea but I think from my experience with Philz coffee that it should be brewed like coffee (I think there would be a difference, could you imagine putting coffee in a teabag and steeping? Eew). It doesn't seem that hard to make an automatic Chemex, an appliance with a timer that will heat and pour the water in a circular manner at intervals over the pitcher and filter, and grind the beans for you coffee drinkers.

Until that comes along, right now this Hamilton Beach seems to have the best ratings of all the models (I think there are 4?) at about 80% satisfied. I love the simple design, no carafe, only 2 things to clean.
posted by scazza at 7:54 AM on July 21, 2009

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