Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I hate playing coffee pot roulette.

     For the record, I enjoy the game of roulette. For those times that you do find me in a casino, you'll find me most at the roulette wheel.  I prefer to play straight numbers and have enjoyed many a 35:1 payout, but as much fun as I've had there, it does not translate well to my lifelong game of coffee pot roulette.

Not the way to start the day.
     I'm not an engineer (but I did sleep at a Holiday Inn last night), but the mechanism seems simple, a pump, a heating element, a pot, and some sort of slow dispersal system to drip onto the grounds.  That's all it really takes to make a slow drip, electric coffee maker, yet, for whatever reason, I can't seem to find a company to make it right.  All I want is a good, hot, consistent, cup of coffee to pour into my old butterfly gold Correlle-wear cup to start my day, but finding a device that would do all this, has been a life-long game of roulette for me, and the stories of these failures are legendary, well maybe not legendary, but at least blog-worthy.

     I can give up coffee if I want.  I don't have an addiction to it and if I am running late in the morning, I can skip the ritual and function normally.  The issue with giving it up is, that there are as many benefits to drinking a couple of cups of coffee as there are possible detriments.  The two big ones for me are increased brain activity (ability to concentrate) and the predictable and almost immediate laxative effect of the coffee.  For a guy who spends so much of his life on the road, you cannot understate the latter benefit, so I suspect that coffee and I will continue our relationship for a lifetime.  My wife, for the record, does NEED her coffee in the am, and I generally don't speak to her until the first cup has been emptied.  That's the secret to the long, successful marriage in our home, you don't poke the bear, especially in the morning, and never before she's had her coffee.  That's the biggest reason I need a reliable coffee maker.

The only cup I use to drink coffee
     So where do they fail, you ask?  Where don't they?  My earliest recollection of a failure was with a programmable coffee maker that we had purchased and set up nightly to be ready when we awoke.  Within a month or two of buying it, I came downstairs one morning to find the coffee dispensed, but not into the glass carafe , instead, onto the counter and floor near the device. Admittedly, it took longer than it should have for my foggy brain to process what I was seeing, but even for a generally optimistic guy like me, I'm 100% sure that a deep, disappointed sigh escaped my lips at that moment. Who wakes up ready to start cleaning things?  My sister, Hummingbird, maybe, but certainly not this author.  It just plain sucked, and continued to do so every other time that it happened.  I'm pretty sure that with that maker, it was an issue of the grounds clogging the hole occasionally, thus dispensing unto the counter.  When we replaced it, we found one with a larger diameter dispensing hole, but it didn't solve this problem necessarily.  That one had a button in the back that had to be pushed in for the coffee to be dispensed, and the coffee pot had to be placed exactly against it to have it dispense correctly.  I'm not a detail oriented guy normally, so you can imagine how many late nights I got this wrong and how many early mornings found me on the floor, cleaning up the spilled coffee.

Why I need coffee
     The second biggest issue was the heat of the coffee.  We both like our coffee piping hot when it is dispensed.  The kind of hot where you will sue McDonald's for serving it to you at that temperature, where it is sure to scald you if spilled, and where the first sip burns your bottom lip.  Some of the coffee makers that we've had couldn't get this right from the first cup.  They were quick to go.  The design on most of them allowed the coffee to cool too quickly, so we started purchasing thermal carafes to hold the coffee after the brew. Of course, adding a carafe to the morning ritual just added one more step that could possibly fail and we have had some mishaps and failings with these too.

Coffee isn't worshiped in our home, but I pray to get it right
     I mentioned consistency as a need and a few of these coffee-makes couldn't get this piece right.  I use the same measure and same scoop each night, and we generally buy the same brands, but there are the times that my wife tastes the coffee first thing and immediately inquires "Did you do something different with the coffee this morning"  Yes dear, I got a wild hair and decided that I'd throw a few more or less scoops in there, cuz I know how flexible you are with your morning routine.  Are you kidding me? Of course I get it right, my life depends on it, but the coffee makers don't always do.  The one we have now has developed an annoying habit of dispensing tepid coffee instead of the piping hot variety, and it happens completely at random.  I've had the heating elements fail, but never intermittently before.  This makes for some real interesting mornings in our house. 
     My last complaint on coffee makers, the final drip, if you will, is on the designs of the carafes.   We've frequently gotten carafes whose glass spouts are slightly offset. I'm ignorant of the glass manufacturing process, but how does the QA department of any coffee maker company let those go out? "Hey Bob, this one throws the scalding hot liquid to the left or right, should we pass it?  "Sure Hank, How could that be bad?"  Seriously?  That pot had 2 functions, to hold and to pour correctly.  Is it too much to ask to get them both right?  I'll finish my caffeine induced rant now, as I need a refill.....Wish me luck.....


cdyarger said...

I DO love my morning coffee - but it has to be HOT, BOLD and IN THE POT!! Anyone have one that has worked particularly well that they would recommend??? Oh, and I am not a bear in the morning without my coffee (right Ace??)!

Anonymous said...

You just need to buy the pot that you perk on the stove like mom and dad had... hot every time and delish!!!

Anonymous said...

Bunn home brew. Not programmable, but pot brews in 3 minutes bdcausd it always keeps an extra pot of water hot. Brews at 192 - 196 degrees into a thermal pot