It's time for the perculator
September 16, 2018 5:15 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a fully washable coffee maker (i.e., all parts that come into contact with water and/or coffee should be removable, or at least accessible with a sponge).

The reservoir in every coffee maker I've ever owned gets grody after a while, and vinegar only does so much. I'm looking for something that will allow me to properly clean the entire bean-to-mouth pipeline.

Further criteria, if you want 'em:

Dishwasher-safe is preferable, but it's fine if a few pieces need to be hand-washed.

A timed auto-brew feature is a huge plus.

A permanent/reusable filter is a plus.

I'm not trying to buy the absolute most high-end model available, but I'm probably willing to splurge a bit on something that will last a while.

I'd consider a good grind-and-brew (and I understand that this will increase the price).

I'm usually making coffee for myself (but I'd probably prefer a full-size unit, for those occasions when I need it).

posted by escape from the potato planet to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Must it be an electric appliance? Because a French Press ticks all the cleaning and reusable-filter boxes, comes in various sizes and is cheaper. You do have to boil the water and pour it into the press to brew the coffee, and it won't grind the beans for you, but these are small prices to pay, I've found.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:46 AM on September 16, 2018 [16 favorites]

Seconding a French press. Mine is ~20 years old and works exactly as well as the first day I used it. It also makes the perfect amount of coffee for me (one giant mug and plus enough to top it off later). I like that my coffee doesn't come into contact with any plastic while brewing. I always hand wash mine, it only takes a few moments, but I'm sure the stainless filter pieces would be ok in the dishwasher.
posted by missmobtown at 5:55 AM on September 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

The most popular washable methods are French press, percolator (eg) and moka pot. I am partial to Chemex, which is also completely autoclavable.

None of those are programmable or automatable. You can’t* have robot-made coffee and have it all break down into machine washable parts, you have to pick which is more important.

*ok maybe some espresso robots fit that bill but they cost several thousand dollars and I assume you are not into that.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:55 AM on September 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

I am definitely looking for a plugin-in, countertop, electric coffee maker. I need the route from "waking up" to "drinking coffee" to be as simple and direct as possible. ("Stumbling to the coffee pot and finding coffee already made" is ideal; "stumbling to the coffee pot and pressing the 'Brew' button" is acceptable in a pinch.) I have a French press, and I don't use it.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 6:02 AM on September 16, 2018

Cold brew coffee is also all washable, has a reusable filter, and you make it in batches so you don't need to brew it daily.
posted by jeather at 6:03 AM on September 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

Agreeing with other folks that it's going to be difficult to find a coffee machine with the electronics you want (timer) and can be field-stripped completely for cleaning the "bean-to-mouth" pipeline.

I have the Hamilton Beach 46205, and it does have the benefit of having a removable reservoir so you can get to about 90% of the "'pipeline" for hand-cleaning. You still have a little bit of internal tube-age that you can't hand-clean, but I'm reasonably happy with the vinegar brew monthly results.

Sorry to rain on your parade, but a unit that's completely hand-washable is going to be very pricey if it exists at all.
posted by jzb at 6:05 AM on September 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

I think you have some basic trade-offs between (a) cleanability, (b) technological sophistication, and (c) volume.

Maybe you could use a Moka pot for personal consumption (dilute for americanos if you want). Also I think The Aeropress makes very good coffee. Both are easy to keep clean. And then keep a larger machine for occasional larger brews (which will help to keep it clean longer).
posted by carter at 6:06 AM on September 16, 2018

Oh man, I have an electric moka pot that I am obsessed with, and it's easy to clean. You could try hooking it up to a wall timer if you wanted; I've considered this. It only makes one cup of coffee at a time,* but I have a standard drip coffee maker for company.

*I typically use a full funnel of percolator-ground coffee beans, which makes a nice cup of coffee. You can also use a half funnel of espresso-ground coffee (or a full funnel if you really want to rock out) for a highly concentrated espresso shot and make an Americano by adding hot water, if you want.
posted by sockermom at 6:18 AM on September 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

There are also electric percolators available.
If you want something automatic, clarify what your budget is, because for many of us $100 is a splurge, and I’m seeing some great options for $2k-$8k.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:28 AM on September 16, 2018

the best coffee maker I have ever owned was the electric version of the BODUM Santos vacuum pot. 15 years old now and still brewing perfect cups. BODUM now has the newer ePEBO which is basically the same thing and which you might like.

Product link here.
PDF of manual including washing/cleaning instructions here.
posted by alchemist at 6:45 AM on September 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm probably willing to spend up to US$200–250. I'd want something that's going to last, though. And if I can get something cheaper, that's great too.

I apologize if I asked my question poorly. The "bean-to-mouth pipeline" doesn't have to be absolutely, 100% washable. However, I'd like most of it to be – and there are definitely electric coffee makers with removable/washable water reservoirs – examples; more examples. These are the kind of thing I had in mind. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding how they work?
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:04 AM on September 16, 2018 [1 favorite]

You’ve linked a list of brewers that meet your criteria; you aren’t likely to find better than that. Most medium to higher quality machines require you to clean the resivoir by flushing a solution through it. Even professional level brewers don’t do what you’re looking for. I am a coffee roaster that has spent several tours of duty in the technician department, and I would actually be suspect of a brewer that meets this criteria for quality build and decent brew capabilities. The wirecutter suggests the 8 cup oxo brewer As their best pick, and it’s really a good brewer. The resivoir isn’t removable, but it is easy to clean. The lines running to the spray head aren’t removable, but they’re not in any machine. Technivorm mocha masters can be broken down relatively easy, but not much more than any other countertop brewer and the price point is above your target.

If proper cleaning is the Ultimate Goal, you’re right though, vinegar only does so much. It mostly descales hard water deposits, but much more. For real cleaning, you’ll want to look at proper descalers for water-only contact pieces (and if scale is a huge problem in your area, I suggest using filtered or bottled water in your brewer as a preventative). For pieces that come in contact with coffee, cleaning with vinegar won’t do much at all and I highly suggest picking up a jug of Purrocaffe, it’s the powder that many coffee shops use to keep their equipment from tasting like dirty coffee.

Soaking the decanter and brew basket in purocaffe and hot water for 5-10m can revitalize older brew equipment surprisingly well. I’ve purchased older, high value coffee brewers from thrift stores and rehabbed them entirely just by giving them a proper cleaning.

One last note, if cleanliness is your goal, stay as far away from a grind to brew unit. I’ve worked with commercial and residential versions of these and they’re almost always rife with rancid coffee oil buildup and errant grounds that will eventually mold given their proximity to moisture. They’re gross and some of the only coffee machines I actively discourage people from using.
posted by furnace.heart at 8:08 AM on September 16, 2018 [8 favorites]

We have the Zojirushi small coffee maker. Removable reservoir and the part where the coffee comes out is removable. Non-programmable.
posted by gryphonlover at 8:58 AM on September 16, 2018

As far as ultimate cleanability, above and beyond the white vinegar routine:
lord help me; opprobrium is going to rain down upon my head now....

When we had an electric percolator, I used a weak solution of regular chlorine bleach (yes, that) to thoroughly clean the innards. Wash, rinse, rinse again. The guts and innards looked like the pot had just rolled off the assembly line! This routine left NO aftertaste of bleach.
I'm a proponent of "that which does not kill me makes me stronger."
posted by BostonTerrier at 9:43 AM on September 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

Puro cleaners are rec'd above; here's a DIY with denture tabs to clean the lines/non-submersible bits in your home machine.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:11 AM on September 16, 2018

Wow, I thought I was the only one who loved the old Bodum electric vac pot brewer! Mine worked very well for a couple years, but then cracked on its own, and when I went to buy a replacement I found Bodum had discontinued it.

Further Googling revealed that, apparently, a HUGE number of them failed pretty catastrophically very early on, so the product was short lived. I've moved on to Chemx, but if I wanted to go back to a machine I'd be SUPER interested in that new Bodum. Vacpot brewing makes great coffee, and those machines are entirely cleanable.
posted by uberchet at 4:12 PM on September 16, 2018

[***not a coffee connoisseur***]: I'm very happy with my Hamilton Beach 42605, as mentioned above by jzb . Reasonably priced, easy to use, has all the features you're looking for. I use paper filters, so I can't remember if a reusable filter was included, but they are definitely available. I like this coffee maker MUCH MUCH better than the Mr Coffee machine I had previously, in large part due to its good design and ease of use (including cleanability). I also think it makes good coffee. I've had it for just over a year, so can't speak to its longevity beyond that, but am very happy with it at this point.
posted by littlecatfeet at 4:27 PM on September 16, 2018

This is one reason I have a electric percolator. Everything but the pot itself can go in the dishwasher. You can scrub the tube with a special stiff bristled brush. You don’t need a paper filter for the basket (I use one because we don’t have a garbage disposal and I don’t want to rinse grounds down the drain).
posted by Kriesa at 6:03 PM on September 16, 2018

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