Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Black & Decker GT300 Home Café Coffeemaker, Black
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on August 14, 2006
I have this machine, I've used it fairly heavily for a couple of weeks now, and so far, I love it!

Granted, I woudn't replace my high-quality bean grinder and drip coffee maker at home for any pod brewer. However, I have discovered that the single-serve pod brewer, like this Black & Decker, occupies a niche for me--on my desk at work (further discussion on this at the end) For that purpose, this machine has peformed admirably so far, as long as you use the proper pods.

The coffee is reasonably hot; the sizes produced have been consistent; the machine hasn't leaked at all; and it works quickly. It's a teensy bit on the loud side, but since it works for only a minute or so, this hasn't been any problem.

Perhaps one of its greatest bragging points over similar machines is that it's designed to accomodate tall vessels, like travel mugs. This is truly a great feature. Other machines accomodate nothing taller than a standard mug or coffee cup.

There are some general considerations, however about this, and in fact, any, pod brewer. To those who have tried pod machines and soon or immediately dismissed them because of poor coffee quality, I say this: It is possible to get passable, if not even decent, coffee out of these machines, but I have discovered that it takes some experimentation, and it is of the utmost inmportance to find the best pods for your particular brand of machine. Coffee quality varies wildly by the brand of pods/machine model combination, and I think it'e more due to pod and pod holder size/shape/construct than to the actual coffee inside.

Case in point with the Black & Decker GT300 system: I have found that using the Millstone pods, especially the Columbian Supremo Medium roast, Makes a pretty darn good cup of coffee. The Folger's pods work pretty well too, though the Millstone is better.

But I recently tried the Maxwell House Cafe Collection French Roast pods in the machine, and though I used two pods, I got back what looked like slightly tan water, rather than coffee.

I tried again with two pods, same result. Hoping the problem was with the pods and not the machine, I switched back to the Millstone pods, and everyting was great again.

I examined the situation, and came to the conjclusion that the Maxwell house pods are of a mildly different shape, the pouch having a slightly smaller diameter, and at least for this machine, this allows the water to mostly run around the outside of the pod and out, unsteeped, into the cup.

(Therefore I can't comment on the quality of the Maxwell House coffee, since I didn't get a proper brew sample in the first place.)

The Maxwell House pod problem notwithstanding, given the proper pods, and the proper niche, I'm enjoying the heck out of this machine.

More about the niche thing: I am a long-time lover of good coffee, but I don't have many reasonable options at work. We have a coffee club here, with a drip maker, but they always buy the cheapest canned store brand, and they leave it on the burner all day. Plus, there's the usual silent tussle about making the next pot if you finish it. How many coffee clubs have the problem of a half-cup sitting in the pot all day because no one wants to have to make the next pot?

That was one of three options I had available to me. The two were the local restaurant/cafe, which had inconvenient hours and unpredictable coffee quality/availability even when open, or climbing into my car and driving to the local Starbucks (no comments either way on Starbucks here.) Having my own drip machine or French press at my desk is way too much of a hassle and mess.

Given those options, I have found a pod machine, and specifically this Black & Decker, to be a more than satisfactory product for my needs. As long as I have the right pods :-]

Will
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on April 19, 2006
Like another reviewer, I received this coffeemaker free from bzzangent.com for the purpose of trying it out and giving feedback. This and one of those cute scrubbing bubbles automatic shower sprayers were my first products from them, and I've had them about a month.

I've tried three kinds of Folgers pods with the coffeemaker. Coffeehouse quality? Not really, but it is comparable to the kinds of coffee you dispense and grind in the grocery store kiosks (i.e. better than canned). In addition, it does have capability for creamy coffees (I've tried Skinny Vanilla Latte and Cappuccino, which are both pretty yummy). These don't foam up like they should for true coffeehouse style, but they are better than instant, and a better option for me, who can't afford a very fancy coffee machine or the counter space it would require. I actually really like the shape and size of this. Not very wide or imposing. About 1.5 large coffee cups wide, actually. And it's quite sturdy, not at a

I prefer pretty strong coffee (on the level of European espresso), and was a bit disappointed after reading the product info and then getting coffee pot appliance-style. Even on the 7 oz setting, it's not quite what I'd like. On the other hand, the strength of the 7 oz would be overwhelming for the other coffee drinkers in my house, so that's going to depend on your preference.

Convenience is the keyword with this, and since I like flavored coffees and the others in my household don't, this is really an ideal appliance for what it does.

I love the speed of setup, brewing, and clean up. Seriously, the process is

- fill removable container with water

- open pod area lid, put in pod, close lid

- push button

...and a minute later I have a cup of coffee as good as I would get with a full coffee maker.

Cleanup: grab pod holder and fling the pod into the trash.

It's only suggested that you clean the pod holder and splashguard after using creamy pods, but I rinse 'em every time anyway. Still, altogether I think this is less effort than even instant coffees. Even though I have a bag of ground stuff in the fridge and cans of instant international coffees in the pantry, I've been using this machine 3-5 times a week since I received it.

I don't like insanely hot coffee that burns my tastebuds off, so the fact that it's perfect drinking temperature after adding a splash of milk is a good thing for me. If you like lap-burning temp coffee, you may not be happy with this incarnation of the single-serve maker.

The machine is a little bit loud for the minute it's on. If a light sleeper is asleep nearby (it just woke up my puppy that was sleeping under the countertop on which it was sitting), it could be a problem, but it makes the noise for only about a minute, so I haven't had any real problem. I don't have any problem with the plastic taste/smell that others mentioned either.

Hopefully, from reading the comments here, you can decide if this is the best product for you. I really like mine. Overall, it's a convenient, good-quality, single-serve appliance to make a fast cup of coffeemaker-style coffee.
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on March 15, 2006
I've got a couple of caveats, before beginning my opinions:

1) Maybe I'm not the target audience for this product. Before using this product, I bought my coffee from a local roaster, and ground the beans at home. I'll drink "supermarket quality" coffee at work, if it's all that's available... but find there's a BIG difference in taste.

2) I got my coffeemaker free, from Bzzagent.com, with the expectation that I'd share my honest opinions about the device with others. Which I am.

Now that I've got that over with... I think that the coffeemaker fulfills it's basic promise to brew a cup of coffee in about a minute. Unlike previous reviewers, I haven't noticed any "plastic" taste, and the machine... essentially, works. Some people might like the coffee to be a little hotter (especially if you add cold milk), and some might claim it's a little expensive (at 30-60 cents/cup) but you can't deny that this is even more convenient (and better-tasting) than instant coffee from the microwave. And, considering it dispenses straight into your coffeecup, there's alsmost no cleanup. (Take pod out of machine, throw it away. Cleanup done.) In a "convenience" race, this machine beats everything else, hands down!

As to the promise of getting "Coffehouse quality at home", I think it falls short. I've seen some advertising copy where the claim is made that the pressurized steam that this machine generates gets more flavor out of the beans... but, unfortunately, because you are using supermarket-quality pods, you're still only getting supermarket-quality coffee. I noticed no difference in taste, compared to drip-brewing. (And, yes, I used the "Millstone" rather than the "Folgers" brand.)

As for the latte/expresso pods... they do create a latte-like drink, with very little foam. Don't think "coffeehouse quality" - think of a slight step up from General Mills International Coffees (the instant variety).

Will I still use this machine? Well, I'll probably use up my free supply (Mine came with coupons for 4 bags of pods), and it's better than making instant coffee for my guests that want decaf. And, if I don't have time to go through the hassle of making better coffee, this machine will have it's place. But, for a coffee snob like me... there's no reason to throw out my old coffeemaker.

On the other hand, if you're a "supermarket coffee" drinker, and feel that the conveniences of speed and easy cleanup outweigh the cost of the pods, this may be a 4 or 5 star device.
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on February 24, 2007
My fiance bought this coffee maker at Wal-Mart on sale. It worked flawlessly for a week or two. Then I thought it would be a good idea to put a tea bag in the compartment where the coffee goes. My fiance told me later that the instructions advised against that as it might damage the unit. In the next day or two the unit malfunctioned - it would buzz and then two blue lights would blink. Sometimes we could unplug it and start over and it would work but the problem seemed to become more frequent (and frustrating).

I noticed that the lid locks in place while the unit is brewing, so the round top part inside apparently rotates and locks into the bottom part (where the pods go). It occurred to me that the buzzing sound is the sound of the locking mechanism rotating into place and that's when the problem occurs (intermittently). So we started pressing down on the lid before clicking the brew button and it always works fine when we do that. (Apparently if the lid doesn't close snuggly then the locking mechanism jams and you get the blinking lights and must then reset it by unplugging it.)

I hope this review helps anyone else that is having this problem. I've seen several comments from others having the same issue. Other than this one issue which turns out to be minor if you know the workaround, we love this coffee maker! We also use it just to make quick hot water for ramen noodles or tea (but I don't put the tea bags in the machine any more, just in the cup!). We've had it for a couple of months now and use it at least once a day, usually more.
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on January 16, 2006
After reading reviews and available systems for the Home Cafe system, I decided to try the Black and Decker GT300. I was very impressed with design and like it's sturdiness compared to other models. It has nice controls and works well. Downside, a plastic taste and smell is totally there! I tired to clean the unit with vinegar as instructions suggest and also did repeated brewing to try to flush the system. After many cycles and wasting three pods I couldn't get ride of the plastic smell and taste. I even tried two different coffees and also ran plain water through to try to see what was wrong. I also noticed a film on the water when brewed. I think Black and Decker has a good product, but something internal is not right. Maybe it's selective since many others seem to like this unit. Maybe it's Folger's coffee - but I don't think so. The water? No, I used filtered water. I tried hard to make this work since I didn't want the hassle to return, but I am sorry to report I must. I don't write reviews often, but I had to add my opinion here so others may learn. I will try Krups or Mr. Coffee - before giving up on the Home Cafe system. Great idea, but they really should product test these makers carefully before releasing to the public. P.S. I still taste the plastic taste in my mouth!
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VINE VOICEon October 14, 2006
Recently my Black & Decker HCC100 Home Cafe blew up. Literally. It has a serious design flaw and the steam builds up against the weak latches of the head unit and BLAMMO! Coffee grounds everywhere. Not exactly a new phenomenon, as it had exploded at least three times before, however this time chunks of plastic broke off.

I did a lot of research looking for a machine that gave great extraction and temperature, but cost less than $75. I settled on the Black & Decker GT300 Home Cafe, which supposedly fixes all the design flaws from the earlier model.

Well, it did do that. It's easier to use, gives a more even temperature (In fact it gets a little too hot. I actually got a cup to brew once at 190 degrees.) and no chance of an explosion. The flaw?

It brews water. The coffee was weak. I used my strongest 10 oz. pod, on the lowest water setting, 7 oz., and it tasted like watery [...]. I pre-moistened the pod, made sure it had a tight seal, everything. It didn't matter. It was watery every timer. I tried two pods in the double-pod holder and still used the 7 oz setting - that should have been strong as mud. It was brown water.

The only way to get a decent cup was to let the first few ounces of water brew into one cup, then switch to the cup I wanted and let it finish. If I did that with four pods, I get a drinkable cup of coffee. What a pain in the [...]. I decided to return the unit. Save your money for something better like the SimpleHuman A40.

I gave this unit a 2 and not a 1 because the design and function is much improved over the previous product except for that one huge, massive flaw: it brews hot, light-brown water, not coffee.
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on April 29, 2007
When all else fails.... read the instructions!

1. The machine must be "primed" before using for the first time. MAKE sure you fill the water container AND only use the "ONE pod" holder (without a coffee pack). If you use the "TWO pod" holder, the machine will NOT prime.

2. If you do not want "watery" coffee, MAKE sure you compress the coffee pods. Initially, I used two pods and did not compress them, and I was extremely disappointed. However, the next time I compressed them into the holder, selected the 7oz button, and WOW!... a really strong cup of coffee (7oz). Next time when I use two pods (and compress them), I will select the 9oz button.

3. Save money (lots of it)- BUY the Presto model #09403 "MyPod" refillable coffee holder, add your own coffee, and REMEMBER... compress the coffee grounds.

4. If the unit "Locks"... read the manual- it states how to Unlock the unit without having to break it.
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on December 15, 2005
I purchased this item after previously using the HHC100 model. What an improvement in design! I'm buying this for my children to make capuccino so ease of use and safety was top of the list for me. It is very easy to use and the design has been improved to avoid some of the safety issues of the older model.

I considered the Senseo, JV and Mr. Coffee A13 models also. This one uses the Home Cafe pods which seem to be more universally available in my area and with more flavors and options.

Tastes great and easy to use!
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on December 26, 2006
First off the machine would not register that the reserve was full of water. Had to mess with it several times to get it to work and run it through the cleaning mode. Once it did work the smell of plastic while it brewed was a bit concerning. The coffee had the same aroma and even had a weird plastic taste to it. So after several attempts of cleaning and re-brewing (and wasting pods) everyone in the kitchen agreed that it makes a great hot cup of plastic tasting brown stuff.
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on December 4, 2011
I LOVE this product. I have owned 4 in 4 years. They last about a year each. They are so quick and easy to use. Easy to clean and the coffee and hot tea taste great. You don't have to buy those expensive pods either. Just use tea bags or coffee bags in single serve portions. LOVE LOVE LOVE IT but it does not hold up to using it every day. Buy it knowing that it will only work 5-9 months and knowing that you will be replacing it soon and you will enjoy it. Otherwise, you will be very disappointed in this product.
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