Wednesday, July 26, 2006

My Mr. Coffee Sucks

Long ago, frustrated with a product, I Googled "product X sucks". It was so successful that I've repeated the search frequently when irked, using a company name, their product or some other related title. This always works as a starting point for an eventual closure. There are always plenty of people willing to condemn or denigrate some icon that is interfering with their karma. I try to avoid doing that. I'd rather 'fix' the problem than waste my time putting it down. Today though I must speak out. I've reached the end of my inexhaustible supply of patience.

I've owned Mr.Coffee machines since they first started making them, probably half a dozen through the years. I can remember buying another brand only once. Joe DiMaggio pitched Mr. Coffee and Joe wouldn't lie. Joe was always about class and performance. And Mr. Coffee always performed capably--eventually they wore out and part of the reason for that was maintenance or lack thereof. I was always lax about running vinegar through the works, waiting until the unit was gasping and choking in the throes of arterial blockage.

I hate my current Mr. Coffee and my displeasure began on the second day I owned it. That was nearly two years ago now so you can see where it is time to speak up. Nearly every day I waste a minute or two hating this contrivance and you know that can't be good for the soul. Actually I wrote a review at Amazon but found out, just before posting, that my model number wasn't in their list and I had actually written about a 'twin' model. That would make the review a defamation and I certainly wouldn't want to skewer a 'good' product. Just for the record, my model is a TF13, a sleek, black, techno-suburbia stealth design. A wonder of modern engineering, living on the coat tails of Joe's greatness.

In my review I used a "three strikes and yer out" analogy. I hinted that Joe DiMaggio would never have proclaimed this product worthy--it would have been beneath him. I may have mentioned that Joe was feeling some discomfort at his present home with the direction the company took after his departure. I guess I was trying to indicate that Mr. Coffee was not good for baseball in the way the baseball was good for Mr. Coffee.

Let me see if I can remember the strike count. I believe I started with the design. Strike one may have been a 'tall' fastball. Some first-year engineering school graduate extended the lid for this design to cover both the water reservoir and the filter cannister. The testers and marketing people loved it. Fine so far. But my cabinets are 18" above the counter (pretty standard for the lower units). The lid for Mr. Coffee stands 21" high when open. You see where I'm going? From day one I have had to pull this unit to the front of the counter to fill it. Plus the lid is always in the way of the cabinet door where I keep my filters (don't ask me why I don't move them--this is where they belong). My coffee maker doesn't sit at the front of the counter. It resides at the back to leave room for other activities at the front. Strike one.

Strike two must have been somehow related to the pause 'n' pour feature. It leaks. Well actually the leak is not from the basket shut-off mechanism. Condensation collects in the area around and underneath the filter cannister. There is an opening in the bottom that is not governed by the pause control. I would guess that its purpose is to allow basket overflow to escape through the bottom rather than bubble over the top and sides (a "feature" of a few past models of Mr. Coffee). The problem is that I have never, ever, no matter how carefully I try, been able to pull the coffee pot without water or coffee dripping onto the heat element. Twelve times a day I hear the sizzle of a frying pan when I'm not even cooking. This must somehow be akin to what water torture treatment feels like.

I'm pretty sure strike three must have been the carafe itself. Another 'leaker'. Impossible to pour into a stationary cup from 2" above the rim without also pouring on the surrounding counter. I havn't really investigated this but I usually fix user errors within a year of discovering the problem. Having said that, I just poured a cup of coffee and left no discernible telltale drip on the counter. So maybe I'm in a hurry sometimes and maybe I need to re-evaluate my pouring methods. But I'm calling it strike three and you never win an argument with an umpire.

So now I wait, hoping every day to hear Mr. Coffee TF13 do his death gurgle. I've worn the coating off of the heat element with the constant wiping and cleaning and I may have compromised the seal: Mr. Coffee has been doing a lot of popping and snorting lately and I fear (sic) the end is near. Rest easy Joe, I never blamed you for this. But some folks at Mr. Coffee need to check out your history--your work ethic and dedication to your profession. And then they need to emulate it. Because this Mr. Coffee sucks.