Pros: Makes a good cup of coffee; inexpensive
Cons: 1-4 cup setting leaves coffee too bitter; water gauge not so accurate; fits together stiffly
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
First published 5/2/2005
On the very morning of our anniversary our coffee maker gave out. Not with a bang, but with no sound at all–it simply ceased to function. It really isn’t that surprising; it’s been through a recent move and sees constant use. So, we decided we’d pick up an inexpensive new coffee machine. We went to our local Sears and after looking over the shelf of possibilities–most of which really didn’t seem that different other than price–we settled on a Kenmore KBC12, model 69328 12-cup coffee maker in black. I think it only ran us about $35, maybe $40.
One of the first things I noticed is that it fits together rather stiffly. I actually never push the water reservoir cover all the way closed because it’s hard on my tendonitis-stricken fingers to open it. It can be a little tough to get everything seated properly.
The second thing I noticed was the accuracy of the water gauge (it has a comparatively easy-to-read water gauge, thankfully). I filled it up to a little over 2 “cups”, which was usually enough in the old machine to fill my large mug. It came out as rather less than 2 cups in the pot, though. I found I need to put in enough water to fill the gauge up to 3 cups in order to get the finished coffee to measure 2 cups in the pot. I guess the coffee pot gnomes for this pot are cranky and need extra coffee in the morning to get them going.
One of the things I loved about the old pot is that it had a separate heating element for heating the pot of coffee; the point of this was that heating the water for brewing required more heat than keeping a pot of coffee warm, and the separate element allowed the pot to keep the coffee at a less scalding temperature. The coffee from this pot comes out very hot–which I suppose some might see as a plus, but for me is a minus.
Since I just make a single cup of coffee for myself I used the 1-4 cups setting. At first I thought there was just something bad about this coffee maker, since suddenly my coffee was bitter, and I really don’t like bitter coffee. Then I thought to try it without the 1-4 cups setting even though I was using less than 4 cups of water, and it tastes fine now.
I have a long enough list of complaints that I’m tempted to give this coffee maker a 2. However, for its price it isn’t that bad, and when it comes down to it, it makes a good cup of coffee. So I’ll give it a 2.5 and a marginal recommendation. If you can afford a better coffee maker I’d get one, but if you just want something cheap that’ll make coffee, this will do fine.
A few additional notes: The coffee maker will turn itself off automatically after two hours (standard safety feature these days). It should be cleaned with vinegar once a month; instructions are included. There is no chime to tell you when the brewing process is complete. There is a clock and you can program the coffee maker to start operation at a specific time. The coffee maker comes with a permanent filter if you want to use that, although it is not a goldtone filter. The lid of the carafe is not removable as far as I can tell, which makes it a little more difficult to clean than I’m used to, but not terribly so.