Gnarly Old Guy Body Wrapper

I love my coffee maker; it brews a refreshingly hot pot of coffee and then keeps it hot in the thermal carafe for hours.

I hate my coffee maker; it doesn’t consistently brew a refreshingly hot pot of coffee which then means I need to finish the process manually by pouring the rest of the hot water into the grounds basket.

Gina and I love our coffee. We drink big cups of coffee. I have a morning ritual that I’ve followed pretty consistently since we’ve married. Every morning I get up and brew a fresh pot of coffee, I pour Gina a cup and deliver it to her beside to help her wake up. Then I pour myself a cup and the day begins.

Coffee, then adulting.
– Anonymous

We are on our fourth coffee maker in 8 years. The first one was manufactured by Braun and was less than memorable. The second was a Cuisinart coffee maker that ground the beans and brewed the coffee. It had a thermal carafe as well, so the pot stayed hot and didn’t get bitter. It only made ten cups though, and so we didn’t have two of our big cups each out of a pot. Then the grinder threw a blade, and it failed shortly after.

Our next pot was a pretty simple item, no fancy grinder built in and no thermal carafe; it just brewed coffee. But the pot was, again, only ten cups and the coffee would get bitter sitting in the pot on the heating element, undrinkable shortly after being brewed.
We also have one of those electric hot water pots.

The ladies like an occasional hot tea and the electric pot is quicker than the pot on the stove. You’ll understand why I mention this in a few moments.

Do Lipton employees take coffee breaks?
– Steven Wright

A few months ago, Gina and I were In Williams Sonoma. They were having a sale, and one of the tables had cooking implements on sale. One of the boxes was the OXO Barista Brain 12 – cup brewing system.

This thing was huge! Well, huge relatively speaking to our other coffee makers. It was also on sale! This machine usually sells for almost $300, and it was ours for only $100. Of course, the first question was, “Does it work?” The salesperson assured us that it did indeed work and we were sold, what a bargain! We also picked up a Sous Vide machine, but that’s for another post.

We brought it home and cleared away the old coffee maker. There was no ceremony, no words of regret or acknowledgments of fine service, just relegation. The hot water pot was relegated as well; this machine can do BOTH! Plugged it in, scanned the owner’s manual briefly and brewed our first pot to test it out. Heaven!

It was like this for a couple of days, and then IT happened. I set up the brew, started it and away I went to do other morning tasks. When I returned, it was only half done!

Even worse there was a red indicator on the control screen, what the heck does that mean? Fortunately, the manual was handy, and this time I looked it over a little more closely. Oh, that little red symbol tells me it needs descaling! Simple enough, ran a pot of diluted white vinegar through it later that day and flushed it out with fresh water.

Next morning the same thing!?! Now I am getting a little miffed. Thought it was time to return this beast, maybe the previous owner had the same problem, we have a bum machine.

Not one to give up quite so quick I did what many do today, go to the internet for answers. I searched and sure enough, found an answer. Living here in the Las Vegas area, we are at an altitude of about 2,000 feet. Water boils at a lower temperature at higher altitudes, and there is a setting for the Barista Brain to take this into account. Back to the owner’s manual and sure enough there are the instructions for setting the correct temperature for the higher altitude. Well now, we should be good to go!

Next morning success! It worked fine. I was full of myself for having solved the problem, and more importantly, I didn’t have to return the coffee maker. But I was premature, it only lasted for two days, and then the dreaded “Descaling” indicator was back along with a half-brewed pot of coffee. This was becoming a little frustrating. Ran some cleaner through the pot, rinsed it and set up for the next day.

Next morning failure once again and I’m pretty much done. It didn’t even get started this time, it heated the water to boiling and then just sat there. There’s nothing but hot water and a keen desire for a hot cup of coffee for Gina and myself. I flip open the basket holding the grounds and start pouring the hot water in to brew our coffee accompanied by muttered expletives.

What could be the problem? Why does it sometimes work, other times only partially and then other times it doesn’t even begin to move the water? I look at the heating pot and notice the small grate in the bottom. Ah, that must be where the water gets sucked in by the pump! The next morning, I set up the brew, and sure enough, it doesn’t start. So, I give the pot a little rap with my knuckle where I suspect the pump sits, and it starts to pump! But only for a little while, then it stops. Another rap and we are off again.

More cleanings have had little effect on the maker working any better; it is what it is. So, the morning routine now includes that occasional rap on the coffee machine to either start or keep the hot water flowing. It can be annoying, but when I think about other things this is minor, I’ll live with it for now.

The review; I love the machine and maybe, just maybe it would have worked wonderfully out of the box if it was brand new when we picked it up. There’s no way of knowing for sure unless we purchased another, but it looks like OXO is not making the 12-cup size any longer, they only have the 9-cup on their website now, but you can still buy them from Williams Sonoma, Amazon and other online retailers. To be honest, I’m not sure I would buy it again. The machine was in new condition when we purchased it, any previous owner would have had it only briefly, and if the little pump inside the base was this prone to intermittent failure, it should have gone back to the manufacturer. Maybe this one was a fluke; I didn’t see much in the way of negative reviews on the internet, but I wouldn’t give it a firm recommendation.

Yuck. Yuck! It’s terrible and wonderful at the same time! It’s like freedom in a cup!
– Elliot, Open Season

But I do have a dream about what our next machine will be.

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