Affordable and Easy to Use
Summary : The machine seems to be built well, made in the USA. Overall, it's better than I expected from a forty dollar drip coffee maker.
It’s official name is the Black & Decker Stainless 8-Cup Programmable Thermal Coffeemaker, but after reading the online customer reviews, it earned the nickname the coffee maker from hell. The customers ripped it apart, complained that it flooded their kitchen counters and attacked the thermal carafe as useless.
Could it really be that bad? Last week, I took this coffee maker out of the box and decided to find out for myself. After a week of intense, thorough testing, my review is ready.
Here’s What I Look At In A Drip Coffee Maker
I tend to use a drip coffeemaker on those mornings when I’m half asleep, in a rush to get out the door, so I want one that is easy to use when my brain isn’t fully caffeinated. Plus, I don’t want one that is going to leave a mess on the counter, the water should stay in the water chamber and the coffee should stay in the carafe and make it to my mug without any disasters.
I don’t expect amazing coffee from a drip coffee maker (If I want amazing, I’m using my French Press or Chemex.), but I do want a good cup of coffee. I want it to be hot and full of flavor.
I also expect the coffee maker to be well built. I don’t want it start brewing in a few months or catch on fire (it’s happened!).
It doesn’t seem like too much to ask, but based on a lot of coffee makers that I’ve tested, it seems to be too demanding.
A Little Background
Before we get into the review, let me tell you a little bit about the Black & Decker Stainless 8-Cup Programmable Thermal Coffeemaker. According to the description on the Target (the retailer who sent me this machine to review) website, it’s three main features are the double walled thermal carafe that they say keeps the coffee hot and fresh, the ability to program it so you can have the coffee waiting for you when you wake up and a sneak a cup feature so you can grab a cup of coffee and run before it’s done brewing.
It also includes:
- See-through water window so you can monitor the water as your filling it.
- A nonstick hot plate.
- Automatic shutoff .
- Made of stainless steel and plastic.
The Good Stuff
Right out of the box, it was easy to use. With some drip coffee makers, there’s delays when I have to look at impossible to understand instructions. With this one, I didn’t have to use the directions once, not even when I was setting the clock and programming. It’s a simple and to the point design, it’s not trying to be something that it isn’t.
Not only was it easy to use, it was one of the cleanest machines I’ve tested. There wasn’t any issues with kitchen counter flooding the week that I tested it. That week included in some sleepy mornings where I over filled the water chamber (it would be nice if the carafe was the same size of the water chamber), but all of the water stayed inside of the machine. Plus the carafe was virtually drip free. I tried my hardest to make it drip, but my counter stayed water and coffee free. And I didn’t have any issues with the sneak a cup feature, where I’ve had a lot of messy problems in the past. With this machine, I was able to pull out the carafe while it was brewing without losing more than a couple of drops of coffee.
Another thing this machine has going for it, is the price. The Black & Decker Stainless 8-Cup Programmable Thermal Coffeemaker is $39.99 online, a reasonable price for a drip coffee maker, especially one with a thermal carafe.
The Not So Good Stuff
While I didn’t have any problems with the water flooding all over my counter, it was annoying trying to fill the water chamber. I had to turn on all of the lights in my kitchen and turn the coffee maker to the side so that I could gauge the water level. I could see how someone could easily it was to over fill the water chamber.
Reading the water level was annoying, but not a major factor for me. What would be a major factor for me is the coffee temperature.
In my non-scientific research, the highest temperature that I was able to record was 194 degrees Fahrenheit. Optimal brewing temperature is between 195-205 degrees so it was close, but I would like it hotter.
The thermal carafe attracted a lot of scorn from reviewers because they said it didn’t keep the coffee enough for long enough. My complaint is that the coffee wasn’t hot enough from the first cup of coffee I poured. My first cup was only 160 degrees, well below the optimal initial cup temperature of 197 degrees.
What heat it did have, the thermal carafe did do an okay job of keeping it in the carafe. It only lost about ten degrees the first hour and another fifteen in the next hour. I’m alright with that heat loss because after that first hour, I’m probably just going to make a fresh pot because of the loss of coffee flavor, not lost of heat.
This was the first drip coffee maker that I’ve come across that has a thermal carafe and hot plate. I don’t really see a benefit to the hot plate. I would’ve preferred hotter water to brew the coffee instead of a hot pot. Plus, the hot pot turned off when the coffee was done brewing, so it didn’t serve much of a purpose of keeping the coffee warm for extended periods of time.
The machine seems to be built well, made in the USA, but the thinness of the plastic does worry me. I wonder if that six months down the road, I’m going to have issues with it. I think it’ll be fine, but I wouldn’t complain if they used more sturdy materials.
- Clean And (Mostly) Easy To Use
- Thermal Carafe
- Water Level Difficult To Read
- Brewing Temperature Low
Overall, it’s better than I expected from a forty dollar drip coffee maker. I don’t think it’s the coffee maker from hell. If you have just forty dollars to invest in a drip coffee maker, it makes good (but not great) coffee. If you want a drip coffee maker and you have a larger budget, there are better machines out there.
Have you tried the Black & Decker Stainless 8-Cup Programmable Thermal Coffeemaker? What did you think? If you’re thinking about buying it, is there anything else that you like to know about this machine?