A cheap Black and Decker coffee maker that lasts for 5+ years?! What in tarnation…
SHORT VERSION: This Black and Decker coffee maker is a very low cost single cup brewer that has a reputation for longevity. There are complaints, but this machine is worth buying if it fits your needs. The travel mug that’s included isn’t the greatest, so it may be worth investing in a better mug. See what you think after getting your hands on it. Standard coffee mugs will also work. Buy this if it’s the kind of coffee maker you need.
This is a very simple, lightweight “Brew ‘n Go” machine that’s designed to drip enough coffee for one person directly into a 15 ounce travel mug. It’s about 10 inches tall, but the question on everyone’s mind seems to be about mug sizes and whether you have to use the mug that’s included. Truth is, you can use just about any mug you want… travel mug, ceramic coffee cup, whatever’s in the cupboard… as long as it’s UNDER 6 inches tall. If your mug is exactly 6 inches tall it won’t fit under the brew basket. 5 ½ inches is a safe cup height. One user in particular recommends buying an Isosteel 14 ounce Double Walled Car Mug which is 5 ⅝ inches tall, and he/she says it fits just fine. Incidentally, that Isosteel mug costs almost as much as this Black and Decker coffee maker, but if you don’t like the mug that’s included (and there’s a good chance of that) then you’ll want to get something of higher quality.
REASONS TO BUY THIS BLACK AND DECKER COFFEE MAKER
The most helpful positive customer review on Amazon, written by a customer by the name of Brian C. Clark, has the following title:
“Had mine for 5 years and always worked great”
Whaaaaaat?? There are coffee makers selling for $100+ that don’t last for five years. Granted, that review was written in 2004, but a lot of other more recent reviewers have made their own claims of longevity. Most are in the 1-3 year range but that’s still a lot of use out of such a cheap coffee maker, and there are a lot of reviewers who say they’ve reordered this same unit two or three times after previous ones finally croaked. Here’s a small sampling of other Amazon reviewers who are bragging about how long this Black and Decker coffee maker has lasted them:
- Daughter has used this for over a yr. Works great! (Amazon Customer on June 28, 2015)
- Purchased over 10 years ago and it still works (submit my a happy person on March 20, 2015)
- My first one lasted 5 years (Eddie on April 30, 2015)
- Have used mine about 5 times per week for 10 years and it still makes a perfect cup of coffee every time (Rich F on May 2, 2015)
- My experience is they only last 2-5 years (dog owner “Nancy Brewer” on May 14, 2015)
- Our last one lasted about 6-7 years (Steve on May 16, 2015)
- I just ordered my 3rd one…both lasted around 2 years (David L. Barnes “dave4him” on May 22, 2015)
- The first one only lasted a year but I loved it (Clover on June 5, 2015)
- Our old one died after about three years of constant use (Marian Turner on June 30, 2015)
Before you get excited about the reviews that say this coffee maker has lasted 10 years, I’d like to point out that I included a couple of “one year” reviews because that’s probably more realistic. When it comes to any electronic device, especially coffee makers of all things, my advice is to expect little and be astonished when it overdelivers. When that happens, bragging about it will be even more fun.
As far as function and taste go, there are a lot of opinions (as always). Happy owners of this Black and Decker coffee maker say it makes coffee that’s anywhere from good to great which, of course, is completely subjective. There aren’t many features to speak of, but a lot of people are quite pleased with the reusable (plastic) filter. Some still choose to use a paper filter inside the existing filter, but that’s simply a matter of preference.
It’s not programmable, but for less than $20 were you really expecting it to be? If you’ve got one of those timers that plugs into the wall, you can use that as a makeshift programmer. Assuming the coffee maker isn’t receiving power from the timer, just set up your coffee in the machine, place your cup, press the “on” button, and go to bed. When the timer flips on, the coffee maker will start doing its thing. A few Amazon.com reviewers have reported that this works.
And in other news, this Black and Decker coffee maker can also save your marriage! Well, that’s what Amazon reviewer J. Burgeson says, anyway. Not only did this coffee maker save his marriage (that must be a very tense household…) but he is another who claims that this unit lasts 4-5 years. Considering the track record of a lot of other coffee makers (ahem, Hamilton Beach [read reviews]) that’s pretty crazy. It’s probably fair to assume that all of the people who have gotten years of service from this little coffee machine are cleaning it at least somewhat regularly. Anyone who expects a coffee maker to last that long, regardless of the price tag, should be willing to do at least a little maintenance every few months.
Black and Decker has even managed to grab the attention of fans of coffee pods. One lady actually said she sold her Keurig after buying this coffee maker. If you have coffee pods laying around, just open one up and pour it into the filter as you would with regular coffee grounds. And then, when you run out of coffee pods, start buying normal coffee again. Seriously, pods are a colossal waste of money and Keurig seems to have little interest in manufacturing K-cups that are eco-friendly (by 2020, they say). And all that business with their Keurig 2.0 machine? K-cups may be popular, but Keurig kind of sucks as a company. I’ll rant more about them sometime in the future.
Oh, and Black and Decker also suggests using this coffee maker to make tea, hot chocolate, or basically anything that requires hot water. If you live in a dorm room, or are just single and lonely, you could use this Black and Decker coffee maker to produce hot water for your ramen noodles. It doesn’t have a warming plate so you shouldn’t have to worry about running afoul of dorm rules (but it couldn’t hurt to double check).
REASONS TO NOT BUY
If you’ve read my other coffee maker reviews, you probably already know what’s wrong with this product… the carafe. Or, in this case, the travel mug. Black and Decker must have really wanted to sell this for cheap, because far too many owners are saying the mug that’s included is a cheap piece of garbage.
It’s stainless steel on the outside, but the inside is plastic. Dangit. And apparently it’s pretty easy for water to get trapped between the steel and plastic, so to fix that you’ll have to pull the mug apart. That Isosteel mug is sounding pretty good now, isn’t it?
Outside of the crappy mug, the rest of the complaints are the common ones. Many unhappy owners report that their Black and Decker coffee maker broke after limited use, there are complaints of plastic taste (click here for tips on fixing that), and of course there’s some overflowing. A few owners have remarked that the on/off switch “has a mind of its own” and will just turn on at random intervals. Some say the coffee is warm, not hot. For the record, one Amazon.com reviewer used a candy thermometer to measure the water at 170° F, but it’s unknown when during the brew cycle the measurement was taken (it makes a difference).
Your time and money are valuable, but we’re talking about one of the cheapest coffee makers on the market. Owners of far more expensive coffee makers have registered similar complaints and, quite frankly, it’s probably impossible to find a coffee maker that hasn’t ticked off a certain percentage of buyers. There’s something about pouring water into an electronic device that tends to make them less than reliable.
Something worth mentioning is that, if this coffee maker breaks down before its time, it probably won’t be worth your while to pursue warranty replacement. It comes with a one year warranty, but apparently Black and Decker makes you cut off the plug and mail it to them (a la Hamilton Beach), and then you have to pay $7.50 shipping for the new unit. By the time you’re done shipping a cut-off cord to them and paying another $7.50, you’ll probably just be annoyed. You will also have spent almost as much as it costs to just buy a new one. If it breaks, I would recommend finding a way to recycle it and just move on. Please don’t send it to a landfill.
This is a cheap Black and Decker coffee maker, and I’m sure it’s made with the cheapest components available. At this price, it has to be. Although a lot of unhappy owners have reported that it breaks way too easily, the number of people who claim it has lasted for years is nothing short of impressive. My theory on the longevity is that this coffee maker is so basic on the inside that there’s very little that can go wrong. There are much more expensive coffee makers that don’t have nearly as many owners talking about years of use, and they’re also selling machines that have way more features packed into them.
Also, let’s not forget: this is a value purchase, not a single cup version of the Technivorm Moccamaster. If you fancy yourself a “coffee connoisseur” you’re shopping in the wrong department. Also, I hate the word “connoisseur.”
Anyway, this coffee maker is built for a very specific audience of light coffee drinkers who just want their damn coffee. It’s basic, but it should get the job done. And don’t expect this coffee maker to last you five years (although it might). At this price, if you can get at least a year of good coffee out of it then I’d say you made a good purchase.