Coffee Makers As Overpriced Gadgets

So I’m in Lowes for some project materials and I pass by their appliance section. I need a new coffee maker as my $19.99 Mr. Coffee from Target isn’t getting the caffeine elixir hot enough anymore. I check out their array of coffee makers. I shouldn’t be, but I’m shocked at how many of them are the same plastic pieces of crap, just with varying degrees of unnecessary features.

One has a built-in grinder. One has a charcoal filter to make the water taste better. After the charcoal filter runs out, you can buy a new filter. Several of them are embedded with extra digital functions, clocks, alarms, one will start making coffee at a pre-set time. One coffee-maker has a function that cuts off the drip so you can pour coffee while it’s being made. These various add-ons justify prices of $20-$60 more than the entry-level Mr. Coffee.

There’s a reason hobos make coffee in a sock. It’s not that hard. You heat the water, you pass it through grinds, and sieve it into a receptacle.

I didn’t buy any. Instead, I may toss the Mr. Tepid Coffee and try out the french press that’s been languishing in the cupboard. I’ll know by the boiling water on the stove that the water is hot and ready to be poured in, no circuit boards required.

UPDATE: I have tried the french press, a Bodum. The french press really releases the natural aroma and flavors of the coffee. Delicious.

I have also learned that you don’t need nearly as much grinds in the french press as you do the Mr. Coffee, which is why I have 6 posts done by 9:30 and my intestinal tract has, shall we say, been put through proverbial wringer this morning.

(Photo: thefuturistics)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Fuzzyman says:

    Come over to the dark side, Ben. Experience the joy of the timer and wake up to fresh coffee ready from the moment you open your eyes.

  2. Jozef says:

    I’ve got a coffee maker that grinds the coffee and brews it at a preselect time. Oh, and it also has a water filter, but given that I already use filtered water to fill it it ain’t that important. The grinder function doubles as my alarm clock, and by the time I get back from my morning jog the apartment is full with the bitter smell of good, strong coffee.

    Being the first at work, I also brew coffee for the entire office – 40 cups of coffee in a percolator. The monster cost less than my coffee maker, and the coffee is just as good, but the convenience of setting up my morning coffee the evening before was worth the money.

  3. Buckler says:

    I’m not sure what the problem is…it isn’t like basic coffeemakers are no longer being offered. Besides, the added doodads may be unnecessary, but they do make for better coffee; as a former barista, I can tell you that coffee tastes absolutely better when the beans are ground right before brewing, and water can make a big difference, especially if you live in an area with hard water. And the flavor of brewed coffee begins to degenerate rapidly once it’s made.

    That said, the “water filter + grinder + timer” combo is awesome! Nothing beats waking up to the absolutely freshest coffee you can make. The only better thing would be to have an automatic roaster sitting right over that grinder.

  4. betatron says:

    i use a french press (aka dashpot) i bought at the thriftstore for $3*. I boil water on the stove. I use commodity grounds (Hills Bros). Works great, gives me an excellent kick-start in the morning.

    So easy.

    .max

    *buy yours at the thriftstore, not some $$$ coffee shop place!!

  5. EtherealStrife says:

    French press FTW! It may take longer, but with decent coffee you can totally taste the difference. Just remember to use a larger grind. And pop some antioxidants, if you’re paranoid about ldl. :-P

    For the lazier bunch, Gevalia has a trial offer for $15. Coffee maker (clock, programmable drip time) + a couple boxes of their stuff. I tried the trial a couple months ago, but switched back to french press. Drip just can’t match the flavor.

  6. jesseraub says:

    Doodads and functions aside, a well made coffeepot really is a HUGE difference than a budget Mr. Coffee. It all has to do with the heating system and the way the water is poured over the grounds.

    Step 1. NEVER drink any pre-ground coffee. Anything that’s pre-ground has already oxidized and lost all its flavor. Whole beans. From a good roaster.

    Step 2. French Press is the best coffee – but buy a quality press. Bodum, my friend. It’s the original design and its worth it. Lesser quality screens will let grounds through, and I assume you don’t want to eat your coffee.

    Here’s the thing about the french press – in order to do it right, you reall need a burr grinder. This uses two plates with teeth that grind against each other ensuring a uniform grind. Your french press grounds need to be coarse enough to not pass through the screen but fine enough to capture all the flavor – this is impossible to do with a blad grinder. No mater what, you’re going to get coffee dust in the blade grinder which will end up in your cup.

    Step 3. Get a quality coffee pot. Fucntions be damned, a good $50 coffee pot is worth it. You can actually taste the difference – you also want a slower brew time, not a faster one. And pulling the pot out while still brewing will ruin the proportions of the whole pot.

    Come to Bloomington and I’ll make you a real cup of coffee in a french press and a drip brewer. I’ll tell you all about the economics of good tasting coffee.

  7. homerjay says:

    That picture….. thats not ‘our girlfriend,’ is it?

  8. dmolavi says:

    um, so why not go back to target and get another $19.99 Mr Coffee? (unless of course, your current one didn’t last that long)…

  9. Jon Parker says:

    I bought an $80 Cuisinart D1200 using a 20% off coupon from Bed Bath and Beyond. It’s the single best coffeemaker I ever had. Has a small footprint, adjustable warming temp, timer and it looks good.

    I had a horrible experience with Mr. Coffee pots that would work for about two weeks. Even though they replaced them under warranty, the replacements refused to work either.

    I’m really not up to using a French press in the mornings. I grind the beans the night before, set the timer, and wake up to delicious coffee.

  10. longtimegeek says:

    Yes, the best coffee is from the slow brew. The longer the beans are in contact with the beans, the more complex the taste. You need to try cold-brew (Coffee Toddy). We call it stone age coffee because it uses no heat in the actual brewing and we are assuming this is how people discovered what coffee was. You steep the beans for 24 hours, drain off the liquid and then mix individual cups at your desired strength with boiling water. The concentrate keeps for three weeks in the refrigerator.

    The best benefit is that it is very low acid – and does not have the oils you get with hot process coffee (French Press coffee can actually raise your cholesterol)

  11. gina227 says:

    My friend just registered for (and recieved!) a 300+ dollar monstrosity pod-type coffee maker for her bridal shower. All I know is, for that price, it had better do the dishes too. Meanwhile, I have my little cheapie Mr. Coffee from Target with the pre-set timer, which cost me, like, $14.99.

  12. mrmysterious says:

    I’ll take my overpriced Cuisinart that makes the best drip coffee that I’ve ever had over $19.99 special any day.

    It has a timer (that we use).

    Auto-shut off which saves you electricity in case you forget to shut it off. Saves money.

    Reusable Gold filter that we’ve been using for 3+ years. Saves money.

    Accurate water temperature.

    A brew head water nozzle that spreads the water amongst all the grounds and not just the center ones.

    A quality pot that does not stain like your Mr. Coffee.

    Not to mention that it matches the decor of our kitchen.

    No, I haven’t done an ROI on the electricity or the filters….

  13. jgkelley says:

    Where were all of you wonderful people during the Starbucks thread, when everyone claimed that Starbucks coffee was fabulous and no one seemed to want to argue with them? This is why I’m at the consumerist: to help justify those strange and expensive gizmos, not the $5 cup of burnt-rubber starbucks that would end up costing the same as the most expensive coffee maker out there after two weeks. Thank you, Jozef, Jesseraub, and Buckler!

  14. Shadowman615 says:

    I just like expensive gadgets. And coffee. My cuisinart with the thermal carafe is actually the only thing I’ve ever bought from Williams-Sonoma. With fresh-ground coffee, it always makes a good pot. Probably not as good as a French Press, but who has time for that?

  15. bonzombiekitty says:

    The timer features are great. It’s nice being able to set up the coffee maker, set the timer, and go to bed. When you wake up your coffee is in the middle of being brewed and there’s no wasted time in the morning making the coffee – precious couple minutes that could other wise be devoted to sleep.

  16. rmk says:

    If you’re going to put ground coffee and water into a coffee maker the night before, why not plug the pot into an outlet timer? You can use any cheap electric coffee maker that way, and when you come to your senses and learn to delay grinding until just before brewing, then you’ll have a spare outlet timer for other purposes!

  17. kimsama says:

    I guess I’m the only one using a mason jar. ^_^ I do cold brewed — better coffee I have never had! It’s nice for if you have problems with the acidity of coffee (but still like to drink it). And once you make it, you have the concentrate ready to go for a week or so. And when I do want to kill my stomach, I still have my trusty Bialetti.

    I am jealous of all the fancy bells and whistles my friends’ coffee machines have, though. Some of them are so techy and cool, enough to make me (temporarily) think $300 isn’t too much to spend on a good machine…

  18. Greeper says:

    I have a Miele in-wall espresso maker that I think retails for $3000. (Don’t judge.) The thing SUCKS. My french press ($6.99) makes the best coffee, by far. Of course, no one gasps at the french press.

  19. Fairplay says:

    Take a trip to your local thrift store. After our “lifeblood brewer” quit recently, we scored a nearly new 10-cup machine … for $3!! Mornings are, once again, bearable …

  20. rubyist says:

    I’ve got probably about $2000 worth of coffee making equipment in the house. My daily cup is made with a $2 Melitta 1 cup pour over cone. I do heat the water in an electric kettle rather than the stove, but that’s not a necessity.

  21. MrFreshy says:

    I am a coffee fanatic.

    I used to be a store manager at a Caribou Coffee, and I take the quality of my coffee seriously.

    I have tried many different brewers, but the best I have found is the one I use at home, the Zojirushi EC-BD15.

    They have them at Amazon for under eighty bucks.

    Piping hot, thermal carafe, no hotplate to burn the brew. It has a timer, but I never use that. It is important to grind your coffee with a good-quality burr grinder just before brewing. It doesnt matter if it is “gourmet”, or Eight O’ Clock beans.

    I recommend the Capresso 560 Infinity Burr Grinder. Now, the grinder actually costs more than the brewer, but it works really really well, and is easy to clean.

    That is my four cents!

  22. HungryGrrl says:

    oh Ben, just start drinking Taster’s Choice!

  23. BobbyMike says:

    We grind our own (Fair Trade, bought in bulk from a Co-op and delivered by truck) in our Mr. Coffee (that someone gave us used) and we’re happy with the result. Once in a blue moon we use our little Moka Express to make caffe’.

    If there’s any coffee left we freeze it ice cube trays for coffee smoothies (milk, coffee cubes, sugar and a banana). Yummy.
    We only buy coffee from Starbuck’s (or similar) about three times a year.

  24. MameDennis says:

    Invest in a coffee maker with a thermal carafe. (I bit the bullet this summer and got a Cuisinart 12-cup for $99.) It’s worth every damn cent to have fresh, hot coffee that hasn’t been cooking on a hot plate for the last hour.

  25. mantari says:

    I know a website with a great answer. I’ve got no association with these people whatsoever (other than a user who sent them feedback on a review, and requested they they add a new category).

    Consumer Search. They do meta-reviews. That is, they don’t go out and review items. Rather, they go through and find a great deal of reviews (formal, and then more informal things like Epinions) and then review the reviews (determine credibility, etc) to find the best items. It actually works better than you’d first think,

    They have a review on coffee makers (updated August 2007) that you might want to visit. They divide their ‘best’ of _X_ into categories. Like best basic coffee maker (which you are looking for). Best connoisseur’s coffee maker. Best to-go coffee maker. Then you can drill down into some more depth into their review process.

    Anyhow, seriously awesome site to reference when you’re looking to buy a new household item.

    PS: For you, the recommend the Braun AromaDeluxe KF510. Approx $25.

  26. waxigloo says:

    I received a fancy $100 coffee maker as a wedding gift. It turns out that it didn’t make very good coffee.

    I bought an Aeropress and it is the best $25 I spent. I gave away the $100 machine and now only use this.

    It is a simple plunger device similar to French Press, but makes coffee that tastes 10 times better and stronger without chunks of coffee grind in your cup. Another good thing is that it takes up hardly any room and can be stored in a drawer easily.

  27. etinterrapax says:

    We have the Cuisinart with the thermal carafe from Williams-Sonoma. I bought it for my husband for Christmas one year after either another cheap coffeemaker’s pump died, or he broke another glass carafe, I forget which. Anyhow, I don’t drink coffee, but he swears by this machine, and it’s been worth every penny. Buying a new carafe or machine every three months was just too annoying.

  28. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    Here’s another vote for the French press.

    - It really does not take any longer to use the French press than it does to use the regular drip coffeemaker. This is because you should use the proper appliance to boil your water, an electric kettle. We use the Melitta Express Kettle, $20 at Target. It boils three cups of water in under five minutes. We set up his coffee and my tea at the same time and have them both ready in five minutes from the time the water boils to the minute we start to drink. That’s under ten minutes, mostly unattended. Time yourself from the moment you start setting up the coffeepot to when it stops dripping and you have poured yourself a cup the way you like it, let alone how long it takes to make tea at the same time, and you’ll see what I mean.

    - The French press makes better coffee. Period.

    - Every part of the French press is cleanable in soapy water, even soakable if necessary. Just try getting stale oils and water scum out of your electric machine. Don’t try soaking it.

    - Coffee does not contain cholesterol since it is a plant and plants just do not contain cholesterol. “Unfiltered” coffee has been shown in one study to have a small effect on cholesterol, but another study found that filtered coffee also has a small effect. The cream you put in the coffee has a far larger effect than either. In any event, if you have heart problems, you should probably reconsider whether it is advisable for you to drink stimulant beverages anyway.

  29. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @waxigloo: Meh, the Aeropress uses filters. More crap to buy. Wake me up when they make a resuable filter.

  30. lo_fro says:

    I’ve taken many a trip to Target with the intention of buying a coffee maker. And every time I get to the aisle and attempt to decide on one, I always end up convincing myself that 12$ French press from Ikea and my coarsely ground Trader Joe’s coffee is way better than anything a Mr. Coffee could supply (aka: watered-down, lukewarm, bitter beverage.) I don’t mind my coffee having a bit of “soot.” In fact, I like it.

    And for the record, French pressing some coffee takes boiling time + 4 minutes of sitting time. Which, is about as long as a coffee maker.

    FRENCH PRESS FOREVER!!!!

  31. skittlbrau says:

    I have the built in grinder cuisinart with the thermal carafe. but I have a very small nyc apartment, and i don’t have room for a separate grinder – sometimes the space you save by having the “all in one” is worth the additional price tag.

  32. ElizabethD says:

    My husband has used a Bodum press for years. I don’t drink coffee all that often, but I admit that his tastes awesome, if a bit on the strong side. (*checks for hair on chest*) He uses the Colombian Supremo coffee beans from Whole Foods, grinding on the coarser end of the spectrum.

  33. ptr2void says:

    Ben,

    Apparently your French press-generated coffee also affected your ability to use the proper homophones in your update.

    It’s intestinal TRACT and WRINGER. :)

  34. sporks says:

    I’m a caffeine addict, but I’m not really a huge fan of most coffee because the flavor is overpowering and overwhelming- I just have to water it down a bit (I’d say a 7-1 ratio of coffee to water) after it’s done brewing and add a bit of sugar.. but when I want coffee, I want good coffee, and I know what good coffee tastes like.

    So yeah, I’m one of those evil consumers that has created the demand for these froo frooey coffeemakers. My Cuisinart is fantastic and does all that extra stuff you mentioned and I love it. And I don’t consider it to be terribly expensive for the added convenience- yeah it’s $80 for a coffeemaker, but it’s not as expensive as my espresso coffee maker combo that I happened to get from Lowe’s. Quality matters!

    However, take away my french press cup, and there’s hell to pay.

  35. hypnotik_jello says:

    mmmm… rocking a Saeco Aroma $299 semi-auto espresso maker here. it’s absolutely rock solid. Why buy coffee from starbucks, why one can make there own, so much better? coupled with a $40 krups burr grinder it makes an awesome cafe crema.

  36. hypnotik_jello says:

    @hypnotik_jello: oops with the typo. “their”/”there”

  37. Dervish says:

    I second whoever recommended cold-brewing. The way I do it, I need to set it up 8-12 hours ahead of time (which I know is a dealbreaker for some), but it yields very strong, very smooth coffee – even from pre-ground folgers crap. Plus you can make enough for a week or so in one go, it requires very little effort, and the only equipment needed is a jug and some sort of strainer (french presses work well).

  38. mac-phisto says:

    ditto everyone suggesting a thermal carafe. i bought my mom a krups w/ a glass-insulated carafe a few years ago for mother’s day to replace a circa 1970 mr. coffee. she still loves it. last time i went to visit her, we had a cup of coffee early in the morning & went out for a few hours. we came back for lunch & had another cup – it was still nice & hot.

    best idea EVER.

  39. bbbici says:

    @bonzombiekitty:

    your comment is entirely illogical. you are losing the same amount of sleep setting up the machine (big whoop, a whole 30 seconds) in the evening as you would in the morning. In addition, leaving grounds sitting out all night decreases flavor. Is there really nothing you can do for four minutes in the morning while the coffee is brewing, like make your lunch or a healthier breakfast?

  40. Charles Duffy says:

    @speedwell: And $4 buys a tiny pack of 350 filters. Sure, they’re consumables — but they’re so very cheap, who cares?

    (I love my Aeropress).

  41. Charles Duffy says:

    @speedwell: The Aeropress is much easier to clean than a french press, and (being filtered) doesn’t have the cholestoral-increasing effect. Both of these are big wins for me — I drink *lots* of coffee at work.

  42. Finder says:

    http://www.coffeegeek.com for some great coffee maker reviews as well as all other nerdy topics only a coffee lover could love.

    Sadly, I’d recommend you get the Presto Scandinavian Drip Maker which brews coffee at the optimal ~200 degrees F and could have been had for only about $35, but it’s been discontinued. :( It was compared to the $200 Technovorm, which is widely considered the best drip maker you can buy, but who the hell wants to spend 2 hundo on a drip maker?

  43. MercuryPDX says:

    I almost bought a coffe maker with the built in grinder, but I read in most of the comments that the grinder will wake you up before the fresh smell of coffee does, and that it’s a royal pain to clean that eventually stops working. I wound up going with the Mr. Coffee with the timer (on sale at Target for $35) and a really good Capresso burr grinder (Thank God for saved up gift certificates). I grind it before I go to bed and set it up to brew in the AM. Nothing beats waking up to the smell of freshly ground coffee.

  44. dontera says:

    Just wanted to throw my hat in the “French Press Lovers” ring. Part of my morning ritual is grinding up some fresh beans, boiling some water and throwing it together with love into a press. You have not experienced coffee until you have had it the French Press way.

  45. Android8675 says:

    Geez people, it’s coffee. Switch to tea for gosh sakes, join the rest of the civilized world.

    I’m just joking, but just remember everyone, Starbucks is bad, brew your own, save money, save the enviornment, etc.

    p.s. tea is pretty damn good, and for the record the last coffee maker (a black & decker) I got from a Lucky has been serving me quite well for several years now. Has a clock for morning brewing, but I rarely use it, just no time in the AM anymore. :P

  46. Trai_Dep says:

    Short of having a nubile French-speaking lass in a maid’s uniform stretching across my bed bed every morning with a steaming cup of coffee – strong enough to stand a nail in, sweet and creamy enough to make a nine-year-old fat kid drool – there’s nothing better than having my Cuisinart brewer lovingly dribble a pot of black gold as I’m taking my morning shower.

    I suspect there are mythical people who awake refreshed and coordinated enough to pour water, dispense a filter, measure grounds and hit the switch without scattering grounds and water across the kitchen floor. I’m sure Loch Ness harbors Nessie, too. But I’m not one of them.

    There’s only one first cup of morning coffee, people. Make it count!

  47. Goatweed says:

    I think I paid something like $30 or $35 for my Mr. Coffee about 2 years ago and it’s nothing fancy. It’s got a small lcd clock and I can program it to go off at a preset time & start brewing so when I get up all I need to do is pour & enjoy. It came with “complimentary” charcoal filters (2) and a permanent filter (though I can use paper if I want, and I do when I don’t feel like washing). I agree that by loading it up with too many features just to be able to charge more for it is bad, but when the functionality is worthwhile I don’t see it as all that bad of a thing.

    I haven’t priced machines in 2 years so maybe they’re really shot up in price? $40 over 2 years ago and probably thousands of quality java cups later seems like I got a good deal :shrug:

  48. Geekybiker says:

    Im just sad that you can triple the price with unwanted gizmo’s but you can’t buy a quality appliance without ponying up for all the gizmos as well as the quality part.

  49. goodguy812 says:

    i drink coffee first for the caffeine, and secondly for flavor. so i’ll drink any coffee really. even sitting in the pot for two days, then heated in the microwave coffee. it all tastes the same to me. execpt folgers. i hate folgers! i have a 4cup mr coffee, no frills or extras, just enough for me.

    and i think the really expensive coffee shop coffees taste like sh*t. but thats just me.

  50. goodguy812 says:

    maxwell house. cheap. easy. good.

  51. Greeper says:

    From today’s Yahoo: [shopping.yahoo.com]

  52. rouftop says:

    To me the biggest issue with these complicated machines is durability. A lot of consumer electronics try to do as much as possible to attract gadget lovers, but break down after a few years of use. If one subcomponent breaks down, the rest of the machine can be worthless — or even if it isn’t, just knowing part of it is broken can drive a guy batty.

  53. dhmosquito says:

    I haven’t seen it mentioned in any of the comments, but consider Chemex [www.chemexcoffeemaker.com]
    Nothing comes into contact with the coffee but pyrex-type glass so
    there is no plastic flavor. French press technique does produce good
    coffee but the Chemex is easier to use/clean up. Its sole drawback is
    the cost of filters. Amazon sells them, too. We really like ours.

  54. othium says:

    I also tried several coffee makers before discovering the my wonderous little Bodum (bought for $1.60 at a thrift store – later found a single cup version for .50 cents that I keep at work). Every now and then I still use the Mr. Coffee Espresso maker, but my everyday ritual involves the Bodum only. I love the way the coffee plumes when I pur it into the container and I usually let it steep for five minutes before decanting. It super easy to clean and I love the taste!

    Before french press coffee, I could barely tolerate the taste and regarded it as something I had to just get over with time. Now I look forward to my first cup each day.

    I have convinved a few others at work to the better quality by having a side to side taste test between them and now there are several other Bodums in my work coffee area.

    OT: I like to read some post-apocalyptic fiction on occasion and the one thing that gives me nightmares isn’t the breakdown in society or huge death toll, but the fact that coffee would no longer be available. Truly a horrifying thought..

  55. mathew says:

    French press: Great taste, but high in dissolved fats and can raise your cholesterol levels. Cheap.

    Cold brewed: Extremely low acid, great if you have a stomach sensitivity issue. Cheap.

    Filter: Make sure you use freshly ground beans and unbleached (or gold) filters. Use a burr grinder not a blade grinder. Other than that, not much to go wrong with a fairly cheap machine.

    Espresso: This is the only one for which you actually need an expensive machine. Sure, there are stovetop espresso pots and cheap machines that use steam pressure to drive the system, but the result is often bitter because the steam gets into the coffee and pulls out the wrong chemicals. For good espresso, there’s no substitute for a $400+ pump-powered machine with a thermostat.

    Yes, I have (and use) all of the above.

  56. infinitysnake says:

    @longtimegeek: Yes, cold brew is yummy.

    Ben, timers are not gadgets. Some of us need the coffee because we aren’t awake enough to figure out how to use the coffeemaker at 4am.

    Besides, the smell doubles as an alarm clock.

  57. kimsama says:

    @othium: Alas, Babylon!

  58. TVarmy says:

    For the person who complained about the Aeropress using filters: not only do you get 350 for $4, but the paper filters are also reusable if you rinse them off. It’s not much waste either way; 350 filters is only as much paper as two copies of the NY Times.

  59. TVarmy says:

    Oh, but I should mention that if you serve coffee for guests, the Aeropress is kind of impractical. Bodum makes an 8 serving french press. I’d like to see the Aerobie people try making a larger Aeropress. I have no idea how it’d work, I just think it’d be cool.

  60. ViperBorg says:

    One word: Starbucks.

    Come to the dark side… we have higher prices!

  61. wesa says:

    You may want to invest in an electric tea kettle instead of a coffee pot. It’s faster and takes less energy to boil water for the French press.

  62. sly100100 says:

    I recently received a Senseo “free”. All I had to do was answer a few questions and pay $15.00 for shipping and handling. I know what your thinking but it was on Senseo’s website.
    I love the fact that the coffee is fresh for each cup, plus you can have a small or large cup and still tastes great. And there are tons of different coffees and teas available in pods.
    But I went one step further and got the “ecopads” they are refillable with any coffee or tea you want.
    So I still pay a great price for coffee and it is fresh every time. No waste. Which before was a huge problem. My wife would have coffee made when she got up and then it would sit there for at least an hour before I got up.
    The Senseo still is offering the “free” maker. It comes with the bigger water tank,a canister and coupons, and it is the blue one which allows for two different size mugs or cups.
    But I think what makes it really worth it is the refillable pods.
    It’s kind of like the printers they have that are so cheap but the ink is a small fortune.
    The pods generally run $3.99 -$4.99 for 18. But the Ecopads are about $6.00 for two from amazon (get the brown ones they work better)

  63. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @sly100100: What is the site for the free offer? I couldn’t find it with a Google and you don’t link to it here.

  64. paco says:

    When my cheapo coffee maker started leaking last year, I almost bought a cheapo replacement. But I like my coffee too much. I schlepped over to Williams-Sonoma and dropped a few bucks on a Braun thermal model. It filters the water. It came with a gold filter. It has a thermal carafe. For drip coffee, it’s the best I’ve ever had. And I love the simplicity of design and purpose.

  65. Spiny Norman says:

    Two fresh shots of espresso in a tall boiling water… Americano FTW!

  66. kellyd says:

    Yeah, Ben, I’d guess this was a slow-posting day for you. There are a gazillion different items available in pricier versions with more features in addition to the cheapo versions. If you have any sense of taste about coffee, you’ll appreciate the upgrades. I have a french press, a pump-type espresso maker, AND one of the fancy ones with a grinder and “alarm clock” function. My office does drip coffee. They pay for higher quality beans, but it’s basically a waste because the drip pot can’t keep the coffee tasting good. (heating plate burns the coffee by the time the pot brews–a feature better controlled by my pricier drip-with-alarm-and-grinder version)

    I could just as easily have made a posting that it’s not necessary to add cream and sugar–I save so much money that way, too, but I’m sure there are those who like coffee with condiments better than the more frugal black coffee.

  67. HungryGrrl says:

    I can’t believe that heating-plate coffee makers are still the status-quo. An insulated thermal pot is much more practical. By the time the last cup or two of thermal pot coffee gets cold the heating-plate coffee would be burned beyond recognition anyways. And without a heating plate and glass carafe, there’s two less things to break on a coffee maker.

  68. wezelboy says:

    Hate to say it, but I spent $300 on a Capresso CoffeeTeam Therm.

    Though overpriced and not perfect, it is pretty sweet and I don’t need an alarm clock anymore.

  69. akalish says:

    As some other posters have alluded to, the problem is not so much the multiple features of a machine, but rather its ability to brew the coffee at the appropriate temperature (160-180F) to extract the flavor. I think Zoriushi (yeah, I have no idea how it’s spelled) has some machines that do it. Tachnivorm does, but they start at $250. Presto (of salad-shooter fame) used to make one (“Scandanavian Design Coffee Maker”) for about $35 that brewed at the proper temp (it had a third heating element), but sadly it was discontinued a few months ago.

    Here’s to good coffee!

  70. lockdog says:

    @dhmosquito: We love our chemex..and when we run out of the funky paper filters (which are inexpensive at our local beanery) we just use the gold mesh filter we had in our last coffee maker (incidentally, one of those $200 coffee maker, with grinder, alarm clock et al…only we got it at a thrift store for $3). When winter camping I’ll make (unfiltered) boiled coffee. That stuff’s stout! I’ve even got a percolator somewhere… And while the electric kettle is faster and more efficient, there’s just something peculiarly pleasing about using our Windsor Kettle .

  71. Televiper says:

    I went through this last Christmas trying to find that honorary Christmas gift from my parents. I ended up with the Cuisine-Art Red which is a little two cup stainless steal job. It makes a good cup of coffee, costs about $35 and looks pretty. The only complaint I could find on Amazon was the fact that the pot spills when you use it to dump water into the vessel. Honestly, it’s the last 2 drops that spill the rest is fine.

  72. amcb says:

    yeah, the french press worked great for me too.

    until one particularly chilly morning in my drafty mpls apartment when i put the grounds and boiling water in and the pot shattered. glass, water, coffee grounds everywhere.

    luckly it was a sunday. and i went to target in my pajamas and a coat, and bought a mr coffee machine, filters, and A MOP.

    great way to start the day.

  73. factotum says:

    I did the free Senseo thing too, but I won’t post the link here as the coffee it made tasted like dirty dishwater. (If you’re really desperate, you’ll find the link, but if the company is resorting to giving away the machines what does that tell you?)

    Those pods might be freshly opened before you brew, but they were mass produced who-knows-when in a factory and then sat in a warehouse for an indeterminate amount of time.

    The same goes for people who grind their coffee before going to bed and think that they’re waking up to “fresh” coffee. You’re not living on the dark side but in the Dark Ages.

    Yes, I am a snob.

  74. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @jgkelley: The pro-Starbucks people are just so damn convinced we all like our gas station coffee with five sugars and three creams, it’s useless to try to enlighten them.

    I think this stuff would give them heart attacks. Man, I need some more of it.

  75. Her Grace says:

    French press all the way. You don’t lose any of the good oils and it takes a lot less in grounds. Then again, I won’t turn down ANY coffee and have a couple boxes of instant cappuccino stuff on my shelf. I also own a small, four-cup drip machine back in the US and used it happy during college.

    Melbourne will always be my one true coffee love: there is no such thing as drip coffee available for purchase except in startbucks and similar chains. You order a coffee, you get a latte. It is joy. It also drove my mother (drip coffee, black, no flavours) insane when she visited (Hi, insane Mom! I know you’re reading this!)

  76. Her Grace says:

    @CumaeanSibyl: Thank you. That looks WONDERFUL.

  77. As previous posters have said, the Aeropress is worth checking out. I reviewed it a while ago.

    It commits none of the sins of most kitchen gadgets – it’s not hard to use, hard to clean, or expensive; the filters are cheap and last forever.

    And it really does make extremely good coffee, provided you don’t need more than four espresso shots worth at a time.

  78. MDT says:

    If you prefer an electrified coffee experience to that of a vacuum, press or pour over pot, there is no substitute for the Technivorm. These bad-ass tanks are made by hand in Holland. They have a 1400 watt power draw and a cord thick as a baby’s forearm. They are one of the only drip brewers certified by the Specialty Coffee Association
    of America to as reliably getting water the proper 195 to 205 degree range for proper brewing:

    [www.technivorm.com]

    I bought mine from Sweet Marias and we use it every day in the office (along with our Baratza Solis Plus grinder) and I couldn’t be happier:

    [www.sweetmarias.com]

  79. LOUWEEZY says:

    I have the $15 Senseo also. I like it. There are numerous options for coffee; Senseo, Folgers,& several others at the store. Target even sells the pods. I also have a Mellitta pod maker for any other ground coffee I choose to use.
    Also, a suggestion for those using (& reusing?-yuk) paper filters. Why don’t you just buy a gold filter? I have NEVER had to replace one, except when I changed brewers & the filter size changed.

  80. MDT says:

    Pods… Seriously? Pods? Egads man! The horror.

    Buy fresh, grind fresh, brew at the right temperature and for god’s sake have some self respect!