Is this Mr. Coffee the #1 selling coffee maker on Amazon because it’s awesome or because you have to replace it every year?
SHORT VERSION: Low price, lots of features in this Mr. Coffee. Coffee isn’t reported to be great, but most are satisfied. Many unhappy owners report that the coffee tastes like plastic (suggested fixes here). Other common issues like overflowing, brew pause leakage, coffee not hot enough are also reported. Durability is also an issue as this machine seems to break down easily, but in-warranty replacement shouldn’t be a problem.
This Mr. Coffee coffee maker is a nice-looking machine considering the fairly low price point. The Mr. Coffee BVMC-SJX33GT stands about 13” high, but to flip the lid open completely for filling will require a little over 20” of clearance space. Mr. Coffee made the odd decision to have the lid flip open sideways from right to left, so this coffee machine isn’t very friendly for left-handed pourers. If you’re not good at pouring with your right hand, it’s time to start practicing. Also, the digital clock is not illuminated, so hopefully that’s not a dealbreaker.
REASONS TO BUY THE 12-CUP PROGRAMMABLE MR. COFFEE COFFEE MAKER (BVMC-SJX33GT)
As of this writing, this Mr. Coffee coffee maker is the #1 selling coffee maker on Amazon.com. It seems pretty obvious why… it comes with a relatively low price as well as most of the major convenience features found on more expensive coffee machines. It’s programmable with the “Delay Brew” feature so you can have your first cup the moment you roll out of bed. The “Grab-A-Cup Auto Pause” will stop the flow of coffee if you need to, you know, grab a cup before brewing is complete. A removable “carbon-based” water filter is there to remove up to 97% of the chlorine from your water which is particularly important since water quality is a major factor in how your coffee tastes. A “Freshness Timer” is visible on the front panel and “keeps a tab on coffee freshness from the time it’s brewed.” I guess this feature would be useful in places where a number of people are milling about, such as at work or in a big family. We’ve all heard people ask, “Is this coffee fresh?” so the Freshness Timer should answer that question (but you just know people will keep asking). Variable brew strength and two-hour auto shutoff are also included, and this Mr. Coffee will tell you when it’s done brewing and also when it’s time for a cleaning.
A thermal carafe is also available (sold separately for about $17-$20) and can be used with this coffee maker. That’s a pretty nice idea, especially for anyone who tends to let a pot linger a bit too long. Keeping coffee on a warming plate for an extended period can really kill the taste (hence the Freshness Timer!), so the thermal carafe’s purpose is to slow temperature loss after brewing without continually “cooking” the coffee in a glass carafe. If you place the thermal carafe on this Mr. Coffee coffee maker’s warming plate, the plate will automatically shut off. Also, if you want to turn off the warming plate without using the thermal carafe, apparently it’s possible to fool the machine into thinking you’re thermal by placing a magnet near the back of the warming plate.
Much like the competing 12-cup Hamilton Beach coffee maker (see my review here), owners of this coffee machine by Mr. Coffee seem to either love it so much they want to marry it, or they’re on the verge of smashing it Office Space-style with a baseball bat. As of this writing, 75% of Amazon.com reviewers have given it a rating of 4 or 5 stars. The owners who love it seem to be mostly impressed by the combination of features and price. Some do say that it makes great-tasting coffee, but the rave reviews seem more heavily skewed towards the value this coffee machine provides. Some owners even report that this Mr. Coffee coffee maker performs better than more expensive coffee makers that it has replaced.
Plenty of satisfied owners also report that the coffee is sufficiently hot which conflicts with the Consumer Reports finding that it lacked in the temperature department. How hot is hot enough is somewhat of a subjective measure; The National Coffee Association (yes, that’s a real thing) recommends that brewing temperature be consistently between 195° and 205° F, and that is where Consumer Reports’ testing detected a deficiency (and could be the reason fewer people are reporting “great” coffee taste). Owners, however, are most likely judging the hotness of the coffee that is poured into a cup after brewing is complete. For the most part, reviewers on Amazon.com seem pretty realistic about what to expect from a $40 coffee maker, and if you’re happy with the taste and temperature after it’s brewed then who cares what a quasi-non-profit organization like Consumer Reports says.
REASONS TO NOT BUY
It’s hard not to notice how similar the review patterns are between this Mr. Coffee coffee maker and the 12-cup Hamilton Beach coffee maker (46201); most owners have posted positive reviews, but those who have posted negative reviews have some very negative things to say after a few months of ownership.
Just about every coffee machine on the market will have at least some people complaining about “plastic taste,” but unhappy owners of the Mr. Coffee BVMC-SJX33GT seem to make this complaint more frequently than with other machines. There are ways to deal with coffee machines that produce plastic-tasting coffee (see my “Seven Ways” post for tips), but battling this problem is pretty much guaranteed to be equal parts frustrating and time consuming. Nobody wants to deal with it, but when you’re shopping in the $50 or less category, it kind of comes with the territory. I’m not suggesting that plastic taste is an excusable trade-off for the low price tag, but so many coffee makers (including ones that cost 4-5 times as much) suffer from this affliction that it really should come as no surprise that a lower-priced coffee machine also has a built-in taste problem. Immediately trading in this Mr. Coffee coffee maker for a more expensive model due to plastic taste may seem like a good idea, and maybe it will solve the problem, but maybe it won’t. There’s really no way to know, so my suggestion would be to try my seven ways to get rid of coffee maker plastic taste and smell before throwing in the towel. At least try a couple of ways. One of them just might work for you.
Ok, now that I’m done plugging my 7 ways article, on to some more complaints. Oh look, here’s one: the machine breaks easily. There are owners who have expressed disappointment that their Mr. Coffee coffee maker lasted “only” a year or two, but that’s an eternity compared to the many others who have said that their coffee maker either malfunctioned or completely died after just a few months. On the bright side, Mr. Coffee’s customer service seems to be satisfactory for most disgruntled buyers, so if you get stuck with a lemon of a coffee machine, the process of getting it replaced shouldn’t be too arduous.
A lot of owners have also complained of grounds spilling out of the coffee maker which, again, is a common complaint that is not unique to Mr. Coffee. I have observed, however, that this problem seems like it could be due to user error in many cases. Apparently Mr. Coffee designed this machine so that the filter basket and water filter have to be positioned in a very specific way, and failure to achieve perfect placement will disrupt the coffee making cycle and lead to a big wet mess on the kitchen counter. Just to show that I’m not placing all of the blame on owners, I will say that Mr. Coffee screwed up by not making it easier to make a pot of coffee when you’ve just woken up and are still half-asleep. Owners, however, should pay close attention to the machine’s design in order to minimize user-error malfunctions. I’m sure some of the unhappy owners who have had overflow problems actually did do everything right, but it seems equally likely that many of these complaints are avoidable. One owner by the name of “D. Diggler” (haha, if you get the reference) also pointed out that accidentally using two coffee filters could easily cause overflow, and he/she is right. Coffee filters are pretty thin and grabbing two by accident is probably something that happens more often than we realize. A permanent gold tone filter might rule this problem out, but overflowing could still have other causes including improper basket/filter placement or simply putting too much coffee in the basket.
Other complaints seem less widespread but nonetheless are worth considering such as the digital clock fogging up from steam and, contrary to reports from satisfied owners, the coffee not being hot enough. Leakage of coffee onto the warming plate when “grabbing-a-cup” in mid-brew has also been mentioned, but by very few.
D. Diggler, a happy owner of this coffee maker for 2+ years, actually posted a very thorough accounting of many of the complaints both big and small. I’ve covered the main issues, but if you’re giving serious thought to buying this Mr. Coffee coffee maker, I would recommend you take a look at D. Diggler’s review here. The comments point out that not everyone has the problems mentioned, so that’s something to keep in mind when deciding whether to hit the “add to cart” button.
The very cleverly named BVMC-SJX33GT Mr. Coffee coffee maker does offer a great value for the money in terms of convenience features versus price. It seems that few are totally blown away by the coffee taste, but most have no complaints in that area. The complaints that plague this coffee maker, however, are ones that seem to plague most other coffee makers as well. Plastic taste, overflowing, leakage here and there, certain unfortunate design decisions. Some of these things can be addressed in your kitchen while others are just things that buyers have to live with such as the side-flipping top lid. And once again, if you’re left-handed, I really hope you can pour with your right. With this coffee maker, you’ll have to.
Durability appears to be an issue, and some buyers are perfectly willing to accept buying a new coffee maker every year or two. Others have been spoiled by old war horses that kept brewing for 10 years or more and expect the same from this Mr. Coffee. Here’s a prediction that I feel very confident in making: this unit won’t last you 10 years. I’m not even sure it will last you three or four years. The reality is that this coffee maker is almost certainly made with low-quality components in order to make the low price tag possible, so if you get one to two years of service out it, you should consider it a good purchase. If you get three years of use, call the Guinness Book of World Records. If you get less than a year of in-warranty service and feel cheated, ask for a replacement and then sell it on eBay or regift it to someone you don’t really like.
So, to answer the question posed at the beginning of this review… is this Mr. Coffee coffee maker the #1 selling coffee maker on Amazon.com because it’s awesome or because you have to buy a new one every year or so? My guess is a little bit of both, but I have to concede that the level of awesome-ness varies greatly from owner to owner.
BUY IT with lowered expectations.
If you’re okay with the thought of replacing this machine after a year or two, then go for it. Who knows, it might even last longer than that. With regular cleaning and a few replacement parts here and there, the mileage from this Mr. Coffee coffee maker could surprise you… but expect it not to. Aim low. That’s the key to happiness!