Monday, February 3, 2014

Higher Cost Of Ownership, Weaker Coffee, Why The Mr. Coffee BVMC-SJX33GT 12-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker Is Average At Best.

The Good: Brews coffee exceptionally fast, Dripless function works well, Cool programmable features, Water filter is neat
The Bad: Time-out function, Different proportion of coffee to make a decent pot, Higher cost of use, Messy basket style
The Basics: A mediocre coffee maker, my wife’s new Mr. Coffee BVMC-SJX33GT Coffee Maker leaves me unimpressed.

When one has been married long enough, one learns to recognize the difference between gifts we are given out of love from our partner and gifts our partner gives us to replace the stuff they do not like around. My wife, for example, is an incredible professional server in addition to being an artist. And yet, she had a terribly unfortunate habit of spilling coffee on herself whenever using the carafe that came with the Hamilton Beach Coffee Maker (reviewed here!) that I brought with me to our marriage. It is probably my favorite coffee maker. My wife, however, was sick of burning herself on coffee when pouring it, so one night, she decided a charm offensive. She came home from the store with groceries and proudly said, “I picked up coffee filters for us,” and promptly presented me with a 200 pack of basket-style coffee filters. I frowned noticeably (we’ve been married for more than four years, she knows the right type of filters for our coffee maker!) and said, “I’m sorry, dear, these aren’t the right filters.” To which, my wife enthusiastically responded, “They are now!” and she whipped out the box containing our brand new Mr. Coffee 12-cup Programmable Coffee Maker (model #BVMC-SJX33GT). I’ve got to give my wife a lot of credit for presentation and for taking the initiative (she said for years she wanted a new coffee maker and she asked me months before what one I would like . . .I just – purposely – never got around to the research needed to answer her question well).

However, while I usually feel bad when my wife presents me with such a thoughtful gift and I don’t like it and I inevitably review it with a mediocre or bad rating, I feel no such guilt in this case: there are serious problems with the Mr. Coffee BVMC-SJX33GT Coffee Maker and while it was presented as a gift to me, it was very clearly a gift to my wife (and she has not burned herself once on spilling coffee since we put my coffee maker into storage and started using the Mr. Coffee BVMC-SJX33GT Coffee Maker on a daily basis.

The Mr. Coffee BVMC-SJX33GT Coffee Maker is a beautiful-looking 12-cup coffee maker and while that means a lot of coffee for parties, it’s a day's supply for my wife and I. The twelve cup pot provides about six mugs full of coffee, which is nice for those who like to drink coffee, like my wife and I.

One of the key selling points of the Mr. Coffee BVMC-SJX33GT Coffee Maker is the fact that it has a water filter inside the coffee maker. While I always use water filtered through my Brita Water Pitcher (reviewed here!) to prevent accumulation of hard water build-ups inside the unit anyway, the idea that there is less chlorine in our coffee is a nice one. However, in addition to having an extra step when making coffee, this means the cost of ownership of the Mr. Coffee BVMC-SJX33GT Coffee Maker is higher than with the average coffee maker; one is required to buy filters once a month in order to utilize the water filter function and at $4/ea, the filters are one of two additional expenses for the coffee maker that make it less of a value to use.

The black plastic and chrome base of the coffee maker is an rectilinear cube shape that is 12 3/4" tall, 8” wide and 9 1/4" deep, so this is not the ideal coffee maker for those who have space at a premium. However, it's a great coffee maker for families, college students and those who want a lot of coffee. I have mine right in our stainless steel section of our kitchen and it looks great there among our other stainless steel appliances.

All of the controls for the Mr. Coffee BVMC-SJX33GT Coffee Maker are on the front, top, center of the coffee maker, above the coffee pot itself. The controls include a power button, the brew delay control buttons, the brew strength button (which I always turn to “Strong,” though it does not seem to have much of an effect on the quality of the coffee the unit produces), and the controls for adjusting the clock and programming the timer function. Above the time controls is a little digital clock panel that is zeroed out every time the coffee maker is unplugged.

Operating is simple; I hit power and adjust the brew strength to “Strong” and the coffee maker almost instantly begins percolating. Usually, it takes fifteen seconds for the unit to warm up and about thirty seconds before the first drops start hitting the pot. The first cup of coffee is usually ready within a minute of the first drops hitting the pot. The whole twelve cup pot takes about three minutes to brew up and it is kept well-heated by the warmer below for two hours.

Herein lies the first major problem with the Mr. Coffee BVMC-SJX33GT Coffee Maker: it makes coffee fast, but it makes a shit cup of coffee. I write that because I have an objective standard; I have two open containers of coffee that I made with my Hamilton Beach coffee maker and now with my new Mr. Coffee BVMC-SJX33GT Coffee Maker. I was raised by a world-class cook (he seriously studied under some amazing culinary experts after being a cook in the Navy) and I grew up on a simple formula that never failed me until now: to make coffee, you need one Tablespoon of ground coffee for every two cups of water you put in the coffee maker. It’s a simple 1:2 formula that has had me making great cups of coffee for three decades. Mr. Coffee begs to differ. In the manual for the Mr. Coffee BVMC-SJX33GT Coffee Maker, they provide a very different series of calculations. For a four cup pot of coffee being brewed in the Mr. Coffee BVMC-SJX33GT Coffee Maker, they insist one needs 3 Tbs. coffee. For a 12 cup pot, 9 Tbs. The thing is, even adjusting from a 1:2 to a 4:3 ratio and using the “Strong” brewing option on the Mr. Coffee BVMC-SJX33GT Coffee Maker does not yield a cup of coffee nearly as strong as I - and my wife – usually like. With a better-designed coffee maker, one that takes a little longer with percolating the coffee, one may easily get a stronger cup of coffee using less coffee. Changing to a 4:3 water to coffee ratio dramatically increases the cost of use of the Mr. Coffee BVMC-SJX33GT Coffee Maker relative to other coffee makers I have used for my entire life!

The no-drip function works rather well. When the pot is removed from the base, the flow of coffee stops and so long as one pours only a single cup of coffee, it is easy to replace the pot and there is no dripping or spillage that will occur. However, because of the speed of the water hitting the basket and filtering through the coffee grounds, trying to fill more than one cup of coffee while the pot is brewing usually leads to the unit overflowing the basket at the top!

Those familiar with my reviews might know that energy efficiency is very important to me. Energy conservation is so important to me that I always unplug this coffee maker when I'm done using it because I don't want to pay for the energy drain of the clock on the coffee maker (I am that serious about energy conservation!). This coffee maker has a function that is great for energy conservation, but a pain in the butt to those milking a pot of coffee throughout the day. After two hours, the warming base automatically shuts off. This prevents fires, conserves energy and annoys those of us who have to then reheat a cup of coffee when we come back to the pot four hours after it was first brewed. I've found no way to shut this particular function off.

The Mr. Coffee BVMC-SJX33GT Coffee Maker is extraordinarily easy to clean. Both the carafe and the brewing basket (where the coffee filters go) are dishwasher safe and the warming pad wipes clean whenever I spill anything. The cup marks on the base are easy to read when filling the reservoir for making coffee and the cup marks on the pot are easy to read as well.

Also, this coffee maker has a wonderful timer function. If you wish to wake up to the smell of fresh-brewing coffee, you may set the unit up the night before and program it to activate the next morning! It's important to note that this only works if one remembers to put water in the reservoir the night before. Otherwise, the coffee maker turns on and nothing happens. Properly programmed, though, this coffee maker may have the pot ready when you wake up and that is nice for those who don’t like trying to pour and measure while still tired.

Unfortunately, the few benefits are nowhere near enough to offset the detractions. The Mr. Coffee BVMC-SJX33GT Coffee Maker is a fast but messy (when disposing of the soggy paper filter from the basket) coffee maker that yields an unfortunately weak cup of coffee and does so at a greater expense than other, better-designed coffee makers in the same price range. Still, for those who want filtered-water coffee, weak but fast, this might be the coffee maker for you!

For other coffee-related kitchen appliances, please check out my reviews of:
Cuisinart Grind Central Coffee Grinder
Hamilton Beach E160B Coffee Grinder
Cuisinart Supreme Grind Coffee Grinder


For other appliance and tool reviews, visit my Home And Garden Product Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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