Pop quiz: If the global standard for a cup of coffee is 5 ounces, how many ounces will a 4 cup coffee maker make?
SHORT VERSION: Despite some of the usual complaints, this 4 cup coffee maker by Mr. Coffee has made a lot of people happy. It’s small and only brews 20 ounces at a time (1 “cup” = 5 oz.), and if that’s enough for you then this low-cost, few-frills coffee maker is a solid buy.
This Mr. Coffee 4 cup coffee maker (DRX5) is cute. Those aren’t my words. Those are the words of a lot of people who think it’s just cute as a button. It doesn’t take up much counter space and is only 10.7 inches tall. Aww, cute little guy. It also uses cupcake-style coffee filters. Isn’t that adorable? The clock on the front of the machine isn’t backlit, but then again there are much more expensive coffee makers that also leave out this little perk. And come on now, let’s be honest: you’re buying it for the price.
REASONS TO BUY THIS MR. COFFEE 4 CUP COFFEE MAKER
If you’re a light coffee drinker looking for a bargain, you just found it. A surprising number of owners of this Mr. Coffee coffee maker say that it lasts a long time. Some are disappointed that it only lasted them a year, others are amazed that it’s survived two or three years. One reviewer on Amazon.com, Tetsu Uma a.k.a. The Iron Horse (awesome name!), says his 4 cup coffee maker has been in use for “over seven years and still going strong and brewing good coffee.” Wow. He posted his original review in September of 2008 and just updated it a few months ago (April 2015).
As far as coffee taste goes, happy buyers of the DRX5 say it’s good. Some say it’s great. Some say it has to be microwaved. Honestly, I don’t think anyone’s really expecting much from this machine, possibly because it’s so tiny and cute. This Mr. Coffee is definitely a coffee maker for people who just want their damn coffee. If you’re highly concerned about optimal brew temperatures and extraction time, I’d say you’re shopping in the wrong department. If you’re just looking to slam a cup or two and go about the rest of your day, then this 4 cup coffee maker probably fits the bill.
Mr. Coffee made this coffee maker programmable which is nice, albeit somewhat flawed (more on that in the next section). It also has a brew pause function which will let you grab a cup before brewing is completed. Most reports say the Mr. Coffee DRX5 will finish brewing in about 5 minutes or so, which makes it a little surprising that brew pause is even included. I understand the need for caffeine as much as anyone, but if you can’t wait 5 minutes for a cup of coffee then maybe you should be looking at a Bunn Velocity Brew. That machine costs a lot more, but it will pump out 10 cups of coffee in about 3 minutes. As far as this Mr. Coffee is concerned, I’d say 5 minutes isn’t too bad for a 4 cup coffee maker.
A couple of minor points also work in Mr. Coffee’s favor such as the removable filter basket (makes for easy cleaning) and a warming plate that shuts off by itself after an hour. Other than that, there’s not much going on here. When a company includes “on/off indicator light” as part of the feature list, you know the list is going to be short.
REASONS TO NOT BUY
I’m going to write this in all caps just to be annoying, but also to make sure that all potential buyers know the following.
THE STANDARD SIZE FOR A “CUP” OF COFFEE IS 5 OUNCES. THEREFORE, THIS 4 CUP COFFEE MAKER WILL MAKE 20 OUNCES OF COFFEE.
You see, kids, (5 ounces) x (4 cups) = 20 ounces.
Some will argue that a cup of coffee is 8 ounces, but not in Coffee Town (let’s pretend that’s where you are right now). Ignore the size of the cup you get at Starbuck’s. Ignore the size of the ceramic cups in your kitchen. Pretty much anywhere you go in Coffee Town, a cup will be measured as 5 ounces. The SCAA’s “cupping standard” is 5.07 ounces (here’s proof! [PDF]) but who wants to measure that precisely? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
The reason for this whole rant about cup size (teehee) is that way too many Amazon.com reviewers are miffed about how small a 4 cup coffee maker really is. They were apparently expecting it to be 4 kitchen coffee cups, like the kind that have funny sayings on them. That is not the case here, and if that’s what you want then you should probably be shopping for a 10 cup coffee maker.
A litany of other complaints have been made by unhappy buyers of this Mr. Coffee 4 cup coffee maker. Among them are all the usual suspects:
- Plastic taste (read my suggestions for fixing this)
- Coffee isn’t hot enough
- The machine breaks easily
- The filter basket overflows (read my suggestions for fixing this)
- The carafe leaks
- The machine sputters water and steam while brewing (shocking!)
- Condensation drips off the top lid when you open it
- The machine itself leaks water
- The warming plate rusts
- Mr. Coffee will sleep with your woman
Okay fine, I made that last one up.
As usual, a certain percentage of these complaints can be remedied at home and/or are the result of user error. I’ve addressed plastic taste in a separate article, and I wrote another for common coffee maker problems such as bitter coffee and overflowing. Even when a machine breaks, there’s a certain proportion of those cases that are due to lack of coffee machine maintenance. When you start pouring liquids into and out of an electronic device, it will need to be cleaned periodically.
Then again, there are flaws that are totally on Mr. Coffee. I don’t doubt for a moment that some unlucky DRX5 buyers have received defective units. If you buy a 4 cup coffee maker and it breaks a week later, that’s not your fault. Return it, get your money back, and move on. The same can be said for a machine that leaks water after minimal use.
A common complaint with this Mr. Coffee coffee maker that isn’t usually made about other machines is that the digital clock is problematic. Many buyers have said that it loses so much time that it has to be reset periodically, perhaps as often as twice a week. One user commented that the clock seemed to blink off while taking advantage of the brew pause feature, and this might indeed be the cause of the problem. However, not everyone is complaining about it, so it may just be a defect that affects a limited number of coffee makers.
The other complaints that are more common could simply be attributed to this being a cheap 4 cup coffee maker. I know that isn’t much of a comfort, but you’re always going to trade something in return for the low price. That’s just how Satan keeps himself busy. If it’s any consolation, go read the reviews for more expensive coffee makers. A lot of them will look very similar to the complaints being made about this Mr. Coffee DRX5 machine.
All coffee makers have problems. The $200 Behmor Brazen Plus has problems. The highly revered manual Aeropress has problems. And spoiler alert, this Mr. Coffee 4 cup coffee maker has problems (well…for some, anyway). The good news is that, for most people, the problems are outweighed by the value and convenience of this coffee maker. Some people don’t even have problems at all, as evidenced by our friend The Iron Horse (scroll up to Reasons to Buy if that doesn’t make any sense).
Your money should buy something of value and odds are very good that this 4 cup coffee maker from Mr. Coffee will give you your money’s worth. The not-Swiss-designed digital clock may be an annoyance if you’re planning to program it daily, but hopefully the Defect Fairy will have skipped your unit if you decide to buy.
If you’re looking for a cheap 4 cup coffee maker, and if you don’t mind brewing 20 ounces at a time, buy this machine.
And here’s a free tip that will extend the life your Mr. Coffee DRX5: CLEAN IT! Not because it’s cheap, but because it’s a coffee maker. All coffee makers need to be cleaned or an early breakdown is 100% guaranteed, no matter how much you paid for it.
Oh, and don’t forget: it’s cute!