The Enemy

Last year, my wife decided to splurge a little and buy a new coffeemaker. Ours had served us well, years and years with nary a malfunction. But, times change, styles change, and even though the glass carafe was in perfect shape, and we had long since moved on to our second permanent filter, it was time for our counter to change.

Oh the dark rich trouble that lay ahead.

I am partial to clever styling, and oversized black plastic is generally not to my liking. There was one good thing about the Mr. Coffee, it supposedly brewed coffee the way I usually do anyway -- the coffee ends up in a stainless steel carafe that is like a thermos, and the burner is either never on to begin with, or shuts off when the coffee is brewed.

Well, I tried to give Mr. Coffee the benefit of the doubt, but some designer somewhere has failed so miserably at this task that I will now spend several paragraphs outlining the insidious nature of his failings.

I find that the things to fear in life are the actions of other people. They are not the malicious actions of evil doers who are out to get you. No, on the contrary. They are the harmful actions of stupid people trying to make a buck so they can eat. They may be real estate agents, coffee maker designers, carpet layers, dining room managers, or any kind of person who you might least expect to have the power to bring a little black storm cloud into your life.

To begin with, the brilliant designer of Mr. Coffee decided that it would be dangerous to make coffee without the carafe in place, so, a spring loaded valve will keep the hot coffee from dripping through -- UNLESS the carafe is in place to catch the coffee, right?


Wrong! And here is why. The valve does not stop the boiling water from dripping onto the grounds and filter. It simply allows the filter and the coffee grounds to fill up and overflow on the counter, down the face of the cabinets, and onto the floor. Lake Hot Coffee! Right on the kitchen floor.

Okay, that is just plain stupid design, Mr. Coffee, model TXTF85, and if that were the only idiotic feature, I might be inclined to overlook it. But that problem is only the beginning. There are SO many ways this maker is wrong, I have stopped counting.

Let us move on. Let us say that you DO remember to put the carafe in place before brewing. This time it will work, right?

Are you with me?

Wrong! There is a fancy lid for the carafe that you have to take off to put the water in it. If you do not put the lid on the carafe, its center does not push up on the bone-headed spring valve and the coffee maker over flows yet again. Hot Coffee Falls, cascading down the counter surfaces, across drawer faces, gently dripping steamily to Hot Coffee Pond, right there in your kitchen.

This really angered me. I tried to contact the maker of this monstrosity. I even wrote them a letter. I said in my letter, "You, sir, are no Mr. Coffee! ... You have made the act of brewing a pot of coffee a dangerous task!"

Why would this company care about a complaint if they manufacture and successfully sell this evil appliance. I never could speak to anyone who had the least knowledge of the product or the least desire to make things right for the customer.

About that time, I decided to modify the design myself. I simply removed the offending spring loaded stopper and really thought my trouble with Mr. Coffee might be over.

Well, it is almost as if this maker had other plans for our unsuspecting household. After several months of uneventful coffee making, a few new, and more insidious problems started to develop.

First of all, I have seen the on/off switches for many other coffee makers in my life, but the one on this maker had to be kind of 'stylized'. I should say, 'stupidized' because the simple act of turning the machine on and off should not be compromized for style. The buttons are recessed and worked fine at first -- but here is the truly devious part, and how one mistake complicates and compounds into rather complex twisting problems that I am sure the designers of Mr. Coffee are insufficiently brilliant to predict. Or are they?

Who could be that evil?

When the coffee overflows, it gets into the cracks around these fancy stylized switches. When it dries, the switchs need some kind of a torque wrench to operate them. Soon the poor user must resort to the back side of a butter knife or small spoon to keep from bruising a finger trying to get the coffeepot to TURN ON!

This does get old, but still, could there be anything else wrong with this thing?


A resounding YES! Way too much. I not only want my money back, I want to be paid damages for pain and suffering. How do I hate thee, let me count the ways!

Remember that fancy lid for the carafe? Well, it is a valiant effort alright, it has a small opening to allow the freshly brewed coffee to drip through, but still keep the thermal properties of the carafe intact. The problem with that is, once in a while, the side of the paper filters does not stay properly vertical and a few grounds get through into the lid of the carafe. Lake WoeBeCoffee, once again. And here is where it gets even more interesting. When you happen to catch the act of hot coffee spilling all over, you have a tendency to turn it off, clean up and finish brewing the coffee, right?

So, you pour out whats made, get fresh water and start filling up the back. Well, there is an indicator on the side where you can see how many cups you have poured in and if there were too much water back there, our genius designers will save you from yourself with one more unfathomable feature. Holes on the backside of the unit at the eight cup mark. If there were still water in the back when you had to turn it off because of one moronic design flaw, when you pour in another pot of water, the extra DRAINS OUT THE BACK!

I have to hand it to whatever dark master has taken over the design team at Mr. Coffee. This is diabolic. Richly heinous. Beyond the pale, really.

By this many overflowings, the switch may only be successfully operated with gorilla force. What's funny is that there are other switches that are not recessed and are easy to operate. Like the button to advance the time of day an hour. The slightest nudge causes an advance of an hour, or a minute. In the meantime, the on switch can occasionally be broken free with a sharp knife to function for a few days without herculean effort.

After yet another steamy coffee flood, I had unplugged the maker and re-loaded. I tried turning it on, but since it usually takes such a massive effort to turn on and off, I kept trying, though the power was off. I finally dug out that bizarre molded piece of stylized plastic that was the ON switch and began poking the hole with a nail in hopes of a coffee before nightfall.

That was it, I thought. I finally killed Mr. Coffee. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Then I noticed the fact that it wasn't plugged in. I tried a gentle tap with a drywall nail and , lo and behold, coffee began brewing.

Now we keep the nail neatly tucked in a nearby shelf. Do not imagine the time is correct, remember, you are making the coffee at your own peril, in the event of a flood, pull the plug, but try not to electrocute yourself while standing in a pool of steamy coffee. Hat's off to you, Mr. Coffee, you evil genius. We keep you around for the sheer entertainment value of such a simple and gracefully solved problem so terribly undone.

If anyone out there has had similar calamity from Mr. Coffee, lets do something about it! Of course if they call themselves Mr. Coffee and don't even make a functioning maker, I guess it would be too much to expect compensation. Perhaps we can spare others the grief of this cad, Mister Coffee.