Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Coffeepot Conundrum

Call me obsessive-compulsive, anal-retentive or a coffee snob, but cheap coffeemakers, and a few expensive ones, just don’t make good coffee.

I haven’t been drinking coffee for as long as most people my age. I didn’t start until the late 1990s.  A friend of my youngest daughter gave her a bag of O’Henry’s Southern Pecan Cream for Christmas one year, and I perked a pot for her in the coffeemaker I kept for parties. 

That bag of coffee started my quest for the perfect coffeemaker. A friend of mine, who keeps his Consumer Reports (CR)  magazine next to his Bible, firmly believed in buying a really good coffeemaker. CR said Braun and Krups were tops, so I purchased a four-cup Braun Aromaster. I loved it. 

I nurse a theory about what it takes to brew good coffee. I believe the water must be at or very near boiling temperature. I don’t like the pablum that passes for coffee at restaurants, church gatherings or friends’ houses.  In my coffee-of-the-month-club Gevalia and the 4-cup Cuisinart I purchased for my horse trailer, I have to use more coffee to get the same strength that I did with my Braun. In the long run, that costs more, and still doesn’t make coffee as well as the Braun. I tried a Keurig and gave it away. No matter what coffee I brewed in it, the results tasted like the plastic in the coffeemaker. 

So, when my Braun said, “Alvedersein,” naturally I went searching for one just like it. I visited Target, Bed Bath and Beyond and Kmart. I searched major department stores online, along with internet sales sites, including the manufacturer. Apparently, Braun doesn’t make a four-cup coffeemaker anymore. I did find one or two used ones on eBay, but they must have been inlaid with gold, judging from their prices. 

My next step was to find a Krups. Again, I went through the same search process. Imagine my excitement when I  found a four-cup Krups for just $10, plus $4 shipping. It took more than two weeks to get it. As soon as I opened the box, I knew it was the kind you find in your hotel room on a little black tray with pre-measured packets of coffee. It has no permanent filter, only the filter basket, which is shallow and almost square-shaped. You can’t find a paper filter to fit it, much less a permanent one. 

The first morning I used it, I adapted a cone-shaped filter. I figured I was in trouble, though, when the coffee started flowing in less than a minute. “How can it possibly get the water hot enough to make good coffee in less than a minute?” I pondered.  But it was pretty good. Not Braun good, but better than most coffee makers, including the Gevalia 12-cup I had been using until the Krups arrived. The second day, though, my adaptation failed, allowing grounds to plug up the hole in the filter holder. That resulted in half the coffee remaining in the filter basket, half in the carafe, with coffee grounds in both. Ugh! 

When I emailed Krups, I found out that model was 15 years old, and they no longer make parts for it.  I was furious with the eBay seller for not stating it was a hotel-room coffee maker. I was about ready to either send it back or, gasp, try that $25 Black-and-Decker model with a stainless-steel carafe that I had spied at Target. If it didn’t make good coffee, at least the return process would be easy. 

However, I purchased a package of round Bunn-brand paper coffee filters cheaply at my local bent-and-dent store, and thought, “What the heck?” When I put one in the Krups filter holder, all I had to do was trim about half an inch off the top. Voila! It worked.
So, I’m keeping the hotel model... least until I can find another inexpensive, four-cup Braun.

1 comment:

  1. Like you, I was not a coffee drinker until later in life. Long over-the-road trips hauling animals caused me to search for ways to avoid the loud rumble, that now, thankfully, greets us when we are only seconds away from eternity. Choking down truckstop black seemed to be an acceptable solution; and drove me to seek out a cure for those homebound afternoons when I was discovering a weakness in my power of concentration.
    After Mr. Coffee, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah, I settled on a semi commercial all stainless steel Braun. This brewed great cure for the afternoon blahs, and sure beat jumper cables for getting me going in the morning.
    This worked fine until I broke the carafe. In spite of all the substitutes my cupbard offer for a substitute, I was still making a mess on the floor most mornings. Finally I trekked to Wal-Mart for a solution. Guiltily wandering around an establishment I have cursed for it's role in reconstructing America, I discovered a wide shelf filled with replacement carafes for about a dozen brands of coffee makers. Using my trusty tape, I soon determined that, in spite of the selection, there was not a workable replacement in the bunch. People who know me well would swear I never use profanity. They are unfortunately deaf to the mutterings I mumble to myself in times like that.
    Turning to leave the store, I came very close to crashing into a huge display of coffee makers forming an island taking up a large area of floor space; the value of which I couldn't begin to comprehend. At the pinnacle of the pyramid was a simple sign reading: "Coffee Makers, $9.95. I didn't even pause, and in one fluid motion scooped one off the side of the pyramid, threatening to destabilize the whole edifice.
    Returning home, I carefully ground a batch of beans to a fineness surely capable of throttling all my nerves, then plugged the prize in. Some good old mountain tap water and a few minutes later, I was looking at something that would have probably done an adequate job of renewing a bleached out Kentucky horse fence. The aroma was enticing, the flavor was delicious and the accompanying jolt was equal to anything the expensive Braun device had ever produced. Those attributes are nothing compared to the pleasure I receive when recounting this episode to friends whose kitchen counter is "graced" with what looks like a thermo-nuclear device.