on April 17, 2010
This is the second "Classic Edition" 12-cup MR COFFEE coffeemaker I've owned. The first one is in brown, the "Cocoa" color designated as model MRX35. This red color, designated on the package as "Poppy", is now discontinued but it may pop up here and there online, and its counterpart(s) are otherwise identical so it still merits a review (MRX36). For those who would rather have a stainless steel and black color combo, there is an identical looking model in black, MRX33, which also appears to be discontinued (but still available online as of this writing).
The features this coffeemaker offers are just too numerous list, but I'll do my best to hit the high points:
* Don't let the 9+ control buttons on the front panel fool you: Each controls just ONE function. No guesswork. No key combinations to program the machine. Easy. Easy. Easy.
* Strong Brew vs. Regular: The Strong Brew option is triggered by a single button click and will slow down the rate at which the water flows through the basket for longer saturation of the coffee grinds.
* An LED backlight serves as a nightlight. It's gimmicky, yes, but this much is true: You won't find a feature like this on any other coffeemaker.
* The backlit LED analog-style display clock is very bright at first. It dims with time but the clock remains as readable as ever. Compared to many Cuisinart models that don't light their displays at all and are comparatively difficult to read, this isn't a problem, IMHO.
* The Fresh Brew Timer displays an elapsed time so you never have any doubt if your coffee is still fresh enough to drink. (Note: Don't expect any coffeemaker to keep coffee over a warming plate for over an hour and still taste its best. Even in the restaurant industry using professional equipment, leaving coffee on a warming plate for more than 30-60 minutes is a big no-no.)
* The charcoal Water Filter disc is placed above the grinds basket. This is significant because it means that the filter will not be forgotten inside the water reservoir, which is where other coffeemakers with this feature often place them. That means your water level indicator mounted on the outside of the machine is always accurate, unlike those coffeemakers that only display an accurate water level when the charcoal insert is in place. The placement also means that you won't forget to replace it quite so easily. The upshot? Better tasting coffee. Oh, and these filters are economical and easy to find, too. Better than can be said for most competing brands.
* The footprint of this coffeemaker is wider than some but also shorter and not so deep. You won't have any problem putting this under a cabinet, and it won't protrude awkwardly.
* The Special Cleaning light will illuminate to remind you to use distilled white vinegar to descale the machine. Regular cleaning ensures that the machine will continue to run as fast and efficiently as it should. Thanks to this feature, my first MRX35 is still working because it didn't allow me to "forget" to maintain it.
* The Warming Plate is not only adjustable but it can be toggled between a 2- AND a 4-hour auto shutoff. A lot of the descriptions say the auto shutoff is limited to two hours. That's not entirely correct.
* The Permanent Filter is square to fit into the square basket "drawer" positioned above the decanter. And no, you cannot buy replacement permanent filters or carafes over the counter. MR COFFEE doesn't list these parts on their website, but they are available by calling or doing an Internet search. The downside is that there are also no paper filters that are square to fit the basket, but in my experience the permanent filter has held up very well for 3 years of daily use. For those who prefer the convenience, however, a cupcake style paper filter will work (using caution not to allow it to fold in on itself). The upside of the square filter, however, is that it holds plenty of coffee grinds. You can make 12 cups of coffee as strong as you want to.
* The nice thing about the design of this coffeemaker is that the coffee grinds don't find their way into the water reservoir, unlike a prior MR COFFEE machine I owned of another type where a common lid covered the water reservoir and the coffee filter/basket. On this coffeemaker, the grinds reside in their own drawer and the water access lid is on the top left. Even if you did overflow it ---- and I never have ---- there's no way to get the coffee to clog up the interior of the tank where they go rancid and begin to make the coffee taste bad.
* On the top Right is a silicone pad that can be used for serving the coffee at the table, and the area surrounded by the metal guard rails will accommodate one standard size coffee mug. This is what MR COFFEE calls a "warming rack".
1. This coffeemaker has one major flaw compared to other makes and models I've owned from Cuisinart and Krups, and that is that it doesn't brew quite as hot as I'd like. It tops out at about 173°F whereas the competitors in this price range will generally get to ~180°F. I think it all depends on whether you like your coffee scalding vs. hot. The trick to maintaining the coffee at an acceptable serving temperature is to pre-warm your cup, cream or milk BEFORE you pour coffee into the cup. On the other hand, the solution is NOT to dial up the warming plate temperature. Heating the coffee above and beyond what it initially dispenses at will only degrade or scorch the flavor, regardless of the coffeemaker or the method.
2. Condensation forms in the basket/drawer area, which will drip out of the seams onto the lower right corner on occasion. Fortunately, this issue is essentially eliminated when I realized that the area had to be dried between uses (remove grinds basket and air dry or towel dry).
3. MR COFFEE cannot make a coffeemaker with decent nonstick coating. If exposed to moisture, the warming plate will flake, rust and bubble. This is my 3rd MR COFFEE in less than 10 years and after learning my lesson about putting a damp carafe back on the warming plate of an earlier model, I have been very careful to keep the plate clean and dry and this has greatly improved the longevity of the nonstick warming plate.
1. I've had reliable service for 3 years from my MRX35 and I hope to enjoy the same and then some from this model. It makes a very smooth cup of coffee, commiserate with the quality of *fresh* coffee you use. (Of course, the old axiom, Garbage in = Garbage Out, still applies.)
2. I've owned not one but two and I don't have a problem with dribbling carafes. It pours very nicely and I suspect anyone who gives it some time will have equally good results.
I don't work for MR COFFEE; I just love my coffee to look as good as it tastes, and this one fits the bill nicely.
Thanks for reading!