Less than two years ago I saw, I fell in love, and I bought – for close to $100 at the time, much more than it costs today because of course they dropped the price since then, darn it! – the sleek retro stainless steel Cuisinart DCC-1200 Brew Central 12-Cup Coffeemaker.
Don’t make the same mistake!
But let’s go back to the rosy, sweet, early days of my appliance relationship…
Right from the start, I loved the Cuisinart’s retro-nostalgia aesthetic – the rounded edges, the cool on/off toggle switch, the low-profile buttons for self-clean and setting the timer clock – enough to cheerfully overlook some of the many design flaws you’ll find other DCC-1200 owners sounding off about in the customer reviews on Amazon.
Oh, just a few small annoyances at first…
For example, the coffee maker is fairly tall and the water reservoir must be filled through a fairly small opening on the right hand side near the back, so it’s awkward for short people or left-handed people.
Also, it lets a huge amount of steam escape while you’re brewing a pot of coffee, so you’ve got to make sure it’s pulled well out from underneath your upper cabinets when it’s turned on, or the steam can damage the wood.
The Cuisinart DCC-1200 did seem to come up short by a cup of water every time, however – perhaps that explains all the steam? – so if you wanted to make 12 cups of coffee, for example, and you poured in 12 cups of water, you’d only get 11 cups of coffee when it finished the brew cycle. Never a full pot.
Some people report a lot of spitting and gurgling, but that was not my experience, particularly. My guess is that it might have to do with the mineral content of your water, but that’s just a wild guess…
All in all, no biggie.
Especially since this was my first – yes, my very first! – coffee maker with a built-in timer to brew automatically.
Before, I’d always gone with the cheap manual models, whatever brand was on sale in the $20 range, every couple of years, when the old coffee maker gave up the ghost. This time around, I figured I’d get away from the “disposable” and buy a brand name I’d always associated with high-quality products, go for a model with timer so I could wake up to the smell of delicious coffee in the morning, and get a really good-looking coffee maker instead of the cheap-looking plastic same-old same-old.
Besides, it’s “green” to go with durable, high-quality goods: we’re supposed to buy the best we can afford, so it will have a nice long product life, making good use of resources and all.
Yeah, that’s the theory…
Within a year, my beloved Cuisinart DCC-1200 started to have problems.
First, the clock would randomly reset to 12:00, as if there had been a power outage. Not every day, not in any particular circumstance, nothing you could predict and work around. Just, some mornings the coffee would be all brewed at wake-up time, and other days the coffee maker just never came on – the clock reset before the timer could kick in.
Then, just for laughs, it would sometimes brew just part of a pot before turning itself off. (That’s just cruel.)
And then, after a couple of months of that, the whole display would go dead at random times. No clock, no timer, no way to brew coffee at all.
Sometimes, if I unplugged the coffee maker for a while and then plugged it back in again, it would decide to work again for a day or two, but eventually that made no difference at all. See, on the Cuisinart DCC-1200, everything is wired through the clock and that lovely toggle switch is spring-loaded so you can’t even turn it on and use a timer plugged in at the outlet, the way you might put lights on a timer when you’re away from home. When the clock display goes blank, that means no coffee for you!
The only thing to do was wait for the coffee maker’s little LCD brain-clock to miraculously light up again, and hope it would keep working just long enough to squeeeeeeze out a pot of coffee before it decided to crap out again.
And now it’s dead. Two days, three days, nothing… Begging, muttering, swearing, plugging and unplugging, button-pushing and tapping gently on it’s stainless steel faceplate in hopes of waking up the magic elves inside? All to no avail.
RIP little Cuisinart.
There’s a 3-year warranty, in theory, but I’ve been hearing all kinds of horror stories about the hassle you have to go through (and shipping charges) only to get what may very well be another faulty unit. Turns out, some of our family members have already been down this road with Cuisinart coffee maker, a different model but still…
Another option: someone over on Fixya.com gave instructions for taking your Cuisinart apart and baking its circuit board (in the oven!) to repair the “small fissures” that apparently can develop over time. But, c’mon, that’s a bit much for even a DIY-keen Domestik Goddess in the circumstance, what with NOT HAVING COFFEE in her!
I give up.
The lovely attractive retro Cuisinart DCC-1200 coffee maker is sitting out on the back step, ready to go to the landfill.
And on my kitchen counter, in its place?
Back to the ugly and functional. There’s yet another of those ugly old $20 white plastic manual Proctor-Silex coffee makers I’d grown to depend on over the years… and it’s just plugged into a outlet timer at the wall. And, so far, the new appliance setup is working just fine.
But my heart has been broken, my kitchen decor has been downgraded, and my faith in “reputable” brands has been irrevocably shaken by what I suspect is just a few cents worth of shoddy electronics made in some offshore sweatshop factory.
No wonder the world’s in rough shape, eh? I’d switch to drinking tea full-time… but you don’t want to get me started on dripping tea-pot spouts, and last year’s frustrating quest to find an electric kettle that wouldn’t start fires and would keep working for more than a month!
So, what do you use for a coffee maker? (I’d sure welcome your recommendations!)
Photo credit: hamper