One of the first purchases Paul and I made together was our beloved Cuisinart On-Demand Coffeemaker. We loved it big time. It replaced my first post-college coffeemaker that had gone through several glass carafes (victims of cleaning out the pot with still drowsy eyelids). What was fantastic about this coffee maker was that it eliminated the carafe — coffee was poured under a spout by pressing on a lever — and we could time it to brew coffee for us in the morning. Unfortunately, it died on us one morning.
I’m one of those people that fills in registration cards and sends it out immediately. The great thing about Cuisinart I’ve discovered is that even if you don’t do that, they honor the warranty. The warranty was three years in this case. A simple call into their customer service center and all we had to do was clip the plug and send it in to Arizona. Problem was that there was a backlog on the machine. According to the sales rep, it would take a month or longer to have a replacement coffee maker mailed to us. We depended on coffee to get our morning started. Luckily we had some options.
Nestle sent their Dolce Gusto to me last year to review. A very pretty machine (colors available are white, black and the very striking red sent to me) to look at and I was excited about the possible coffee concoctions it could make: cappuccino, chococcino (a variation of hot chocolate), mocha, expresso, latte macchiato and a host of other flavors including the very basic cafe americano.
I was pretty excited to try it and setting it up was easy. The machine comes with a basic coffee pack with some of the flavors, as well as a clear coffee cup. There’s a clear, removable reservoir in the back you fill with water. After an initial rinse through, it’s ready to go.
I drink coffee throughout the day so my beverage from the machine was the cappuccino ice for my afternoon lift. It seems that two coffee packs are needed to create the beverage. I believe one is the coffee component and the other is the milk. The “ice” is created by pulling the lever at the top of the machine toward the blue mark for a cold beverage. Ice cubes should also be added to cool the coffee. It was kind of a hassle to switch out the pods midway through and keep an eye on the level of the coffee to make sure you stop around the halfway point. But the beverage overall was pretty good, kept me fueled.
The next morning, I tried out the cafe americano. This time only one coffee pack was needed. And as soon as the machine started brewing the coffee, the downside to the Dolce Gusto was revealed. OMG. The noise it made. It was like a there was a mini jackhammer inside the machine — not something you want to experience first thing in the morning. In addition, it didn’t help that the the coffee was bitter and no amount of sweetener or milk could help it out. Major fail.
The other flavors also ranged from acceptable to somewhat OK. But a major gripe was the (un)availability of the coffee packs. My favorite, the cappuccino ice, was only available online and was often sold out — a complaint that many people had online in different forums. Well, that’s a bummer. The rest of the other flavors could be found at Bed Bath & Beyond around $8.99 for eight servings. I ended up hating the machine so much that I gave it away.
The machine retails for about $139.
Next was Keurig.
Keurig is a very popular brand and a variety of models are available, from no-frills to the cadillac of the Keurig line. Before trying out the Keurig, I noticed that their coffee “pods” are available almost everywhere where regular coffee is sold, including Costco. Also on the plus side is the variety of manufacturers that produce produce for the Keurig: Gloria Jean, Green Mountain Coffee and Maxwell House.
Like the Dolce Gusto, there’s a removable water reservoir attached. But unlike the Dolce Gusto, the machine does not need to be watched while the coffee is brewed. I like drinking big cups of coffee in the morning. On the Keurig, once the machine has been heated up, I push the icon for the larger cup of coffee and I can leave it to do its business.
The coffee selection is diverse. Paul was excited to see a Donut House selection with flavors that include cinnamon roll and chocolate donut. We took advantage of the Keurig and tried as many fancy flavors as possible that we didn’t have a chance to try a basic brew. All the flavors were fantastic but I especially loved having the option to make tea or hot chocolate in the evening.
It’s a noisy machine too, although not as loud or terrifying as the Dolce Gusto. But since it requires no assistance while brewing, I just walk away into another room until it’s finished.
Coffee pods are available most locations from starting around $18. The Keurig machine ranges from $70 to anywhere up to $200 depending on model.
Both the Dolce Gusto and Keurig are nice machines, but the Keurig was has more accessories and flavors. But the downside to both was the cost per cup of coffee was about $1 each and the amount of coffee packs/pods each cup consumed. They are not kind to Mother Nature or your pocketbook in the long run.
Luckily for me, Cuisinart has a fabulous warranty department. They sent a replacement machine before the end of three weeks. It was interesting/frustrating to try out fancy alternatives to our coffee maker but I’m sticking with the Cuisinart for now.