guy drinks coffee aloneLess 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…

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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.

Cuisinart dcc-1200 coffeemaker 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 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

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Deirdre Higgins

    You don’t have to take it apart and remove the circuit board and bake it. Simply use a hair dryer set on high and direct it at the face of the coffeemaker for a few minutes, let it cool and plug it back in and the time will be there again.

  2. Tom

    Searching for solutions to fix my Dcc-1200 and stumbled across this old post. I’ve had my current unit for over 10 years and recently started having problems with not brewing or brewing half a pot. Sound familiar ? Any way I’m working on it and will hopefully not have to try the baking solution. Wish me luck :)

  3. Joan McKenzie

    we had the same kinds of problems and just threw the whole thing away … couldn’t deal with the hassle of searching for the warranty and receipt and shipping the whole thing back. SO we went back to the $30 pot … this one from Black and Decker … we’ll wee. I’m just sick over paying so much for one and having it quit within 7 months of buying it.

  4. Joan

    I have had 3 of these grind and brews and the first one did the same thing with the lcd and I couldn’t get it to work, this was after about 18months and the last 2 have only lasted 6 months each. The reason I kept using them was Cuisinart replaced the first one for free, then the 2nd one I had to pay $10 for shipping and the 3rd one I have given up on, it was scary when it caught on fire!!!
    The first one quit pumping the water and the 2nd one caught on fire!!! I had 2 of the cheaper ones that cost me $100 and the 1st one lasted about 3 years and the 2nd one about 2 years and they both started to leak

  5. Rachel

    My parents were coffee maker snobs and drank coffee like it was going out of style, so I grew up with a Bunn Coffee maker in my house. It’s the brand most restaurants use. It “has a specially designed tank to keep the water at the proper temperature. This constant supply of hot water assures the correct method of brewing coffee, in less than three minutes.” ( I mean, really? How can you beat that? My family thinks so highly of this brand my mom bought each of my sisters and I one as a wedding gift when we married. My parents had theirs for something like 20 years before it had to be replaced. Something to keep in mind. I can not recommend a Bunn Coffee Maker enough!

  6. nonspoken arkansan

    You married a coffee maker?!

  7. Casseopia

    You are so gonna regret cheaping out w/ that 20 buck Proctor Silex! Cant pour w/o spilling, spits coffee all over the front when it brews, and when you pull the pot out the filter cup slips out of place only held in by a tiny bit of plastic. Good luck w/ that one, DomestikG girl. :-)

  8. Domestik Goddess

    Deb, I can tell from your blog that you’re a serious coffee afficionado – taking green beans and a roaster all the way up north! Yes, no question, a French press is the best possible way to make great coffee… and I love it that way in the evening, maybe with a small shot of Bailey’s on the side ;) but when it comes to start-the-morning rocket fuel, I need something with a timer. Open eyes halfway, pour coffee, swallow… that’s about all I can manage without the first hit of caffeine!

  9. Domestik Goddess

    Jenny, thanks for that tip — you know, I used to have a Sunbeam kettle that worked like a charm for years and years, but for some reason didn’t think of that brand when it comes to coffee makers. I’ll certainly take a look around to see what’s available.

  10. Domestik Goddess

    RobO, long time no chat – good to see you. :) Lucky you, having the lovely retro Cuisinart Grind & Brew keep working for 4 years! (It’s one knotch up the evolutionary/price ladder from my late-lamented Cuisinart model, for those wondering.) Friends had one of those coffeemakers — and you’ve gotta love the “Grind & Brew” part of it, eh? fresh! — but the same thing happened as with mine: within a few months, the clock died and it became an inconvenient counter-top ornament. Maybe it’s a thing where coffee makers made on, say, a Wednesday are all duds, and you lucked out by getting one made on a day when the factory was humming along at high standards! :)

  11. Deb

    I would never get rid of my french press. For me, having an electric kettle is a must anyway (though I’d love one with an adjustable temperature monitor), and the french press looks classy on any kitchen counter. Mine is from Bodum and is glass on the inside and recycled plastic on the outside, but there are many variations of plastic, glass, and metal. It usually takes the same amount of time or less than automatic coffee makers for you to boil the water then let it steep for 3-4 minutes. It makes a great cup of coffee because all of the oil in the bean is not filtered out by a paper filter.

  12. Jenny

    For your next coffeemaker, I would suggest that you go a little up from the really cheap ones, but not the really expensive ones either, somewhere in the middle.

    I have a 12 cup sunbeam coffeemaker (in black plastic) that is still going strong after 4-5 years of daily (or twice daily) use and it has the delay brew option as well. As I recall it was only about 30$ when we bought it.

    I find that if I fill the carafe to the brim, then I get a full 12 cups (well, the 12 cup line on the pot, which is about 5-6 cups for us, I guess we should use smaller cups). I don’t notice an excess of steam or anything, and the only time it hisses and spits is when you pour more water in while it is still hot. The coffeemaker is not too tall, and the space to pour water in is plenty big and can be used on either side.

    I have a slight problem with the carafe in that often when I go to pour from it, it pours down the side rather than into the cup, but I have the problem with many coffeepots, and I’m wondering if there’s something wrong with my technique. One other (very slight) annoyance is that you need an inch or two of room behind the machine for the top to stay open, and putting the pot back on tends to slide the machine back to the wall, so I’m constantly having to pull it forward.

    I definitely recommend a sunbeam.

  13. Rob O.

    We snagged a Cuisinart Grind & Brew coffeemaker at a Linens ‘n Things closeout about 4 years ago and have really loved it. It looks great and we really enjoy brewing up freshly-ground Starbucks Cafe Verona or Yukon Blend coffee in the mornings. But I’m disappointed that the thermal carafe doesn’t keep the java hot as long as I would’ve expected. And the 10-cup capacity is never enough on weekends or when we have company.

    1. Arti W.

      Rob O. must be a lucky person! Usually the Grind & Brew machines break after 2 and a half years. But this time I got a machine that is making trouble right from the beginning. When I fill up the water-tank until the top, water is pouring out of a hole on the back. If I do not fill up the water-tank high, too much water is condensing and I will never get the promised 12 cups.

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