Serious coffee drinkers know just how important it is to invest in the right brewing equipment. After all, if you expect those artisan beans you bought to produce top-notch batches of coffee, you need a machine that can handle them well.
So, you turn to the most expensive products on the shelf, reasoning that higher price tags equal amazing-quality coffee. That logic makes sense, but you have to be careful not to let price be your only indicator of value. Several cheap coffee makers can brew with the best of them!
Mr. Coffee’s classic 12-cup coffee maker is a prime example. This budget coffee maker is so popular among coffee enthusiasts that we’re nearly 100 percent sure you’ve seen, used, or owned one at some point.
It’s a super-common product, so it has to make good joe, right? Or perhaps its ultralow price tag has people so charmed that they’re willing to choke down mediocre cups of coffee solely to save money. Who knows?
We do! We tried this machine ourselves to see if it holds its own. We can’t speak for all the coffee fans out there, but we can tell you whether Roasty thinks you’d be better off filtering your freshly ground joe through another brewer.
Meet Mr. Coffee
Whether a cup of hot or iced coffee has been a part of your morning routine forever or you’re just beginning your java-drinking journey, it’s probably safe to assume you’ve at least heard of Mr. Coffee. After all, it’s one of the most popular coffee maker and coffee brewing accessory brands.
A registered trademark of Newell Brands, the Mr. Coffee name was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in the early 1970s when Vincent Marotta and Samuel Glazer decided to build a coffee delivery company.
Around this time, Marotta also became inspired to create something that would forever change how people made pots of coffee: the automatic drip coffee maker.
The two businessmen brought on two former Westinghouse engineers: Edmund Abel and Edwin Shulze, to help bring Marotta’s idea to life, and in 1972, the group did just that. The Mr. Coffee drip machine was born and made available for home use, replacing the percolator brewing method that had previously reigned supreme.
The brand has since evolved, adding dozens of models of drip brewers, espresso machines, single-serve coffee makers, and dual coffee makers* to its product lineup. Mr. Coffee also sells brewing accessories, like coffee grinders and mug warmers.
*Dual coffee makers usually brew carafes of coffee and single servings of drip coffee or espresso. Click over to our buying guide outlining our favorite brewers in this category.
Roasty’s Mr. Coffee 12-Cup Brewer Review
The Short Version
Things We Like
- Simple to use
- Super inexpensive
- Easy to clean
- Grab-a-Cup brew-pause feature
Room for Improvement
- Lack of user control during the brewing process
- No programmability options
- Brews inconsistent-flavored coffee compared to machines with showerheads
We tried Mr. Coffee’s classic 12-cup automatic dripper, a simple machine often chosen by those trying to find the cheapest option for brewing a cup of drip coffee.
Cheap is good, especially when you’re on a tight budget. But how does it perform? Is it a worthwhile everyday coffee maker, or would you be better off with another low-cost brewer occupying your counter space?
Read on to find out our impression of the drip coffee brewer. Then, you can decide for yourself if it’s something you need.
Ease of Use
The easy on/off switch at the front of the machine is the first thing we noticed about the brewer, and we quickly decided it’s our favorite feature.
Sometimes, it’s a hassle having to figure out what all the buttons, switches, and dials on more advanced machines do. Since there’s just one switch on this brewer, learning how to use it is a breeze.
The indicator light on the switch glows green when the machine is on and reminds you to turn it off when the pot of hot coffee finishes brewing.
There is a downside to this machine’s simplicity: you have virtually no control over the brewing process beyond deciding how much coffee you want to make and when to turn on the coffee maker. If you don’t care much about customization or programmability, having one switch probably won’t phase you.
However, if you’re a coffee lover who wants a little more say in how their finished brew tastes, something with a few more bells and whistles (and controls that include more than a single switch) will probably give you more peace of mind.
Design & Build
The Mr. Coffee 12-cup coffee maker’s appearance isn’t especially interesting or unique. Its plastic frame and glass carafe makes it look just like any ordinary automatic drip coffee maker.
It has a dual water window that makes monitoring the machine’s water levels simple. And since those are marked in two-cup increments, it’s easy to measure the correct amount of water for your desired coffee strength.
We don’t love that most of this machine is plastic, although a plastic build isn’t unusual for something at this price point. Plastic makes for a lightweight product, but it doesn’t exactly do much as far as aesthetic appeal or durability are concerned; it can look a little cheap and scratch, crack, or chip easily.
Easy to Clean
Cleaning your coffee maker regularly extends the product’s life and helps you brew the freshest-tasting, most flavorful coffee possible. However, it can be a drag. Fortunately, it’s easy to scrub Mr. Coffee’s 12-cup drip machine down.
It’s safe to load the brew basket, carafe, and carafe lid in the top rack of your dishwasher. So, if you don’t want to wash these pieces by hand in a mixture of hot water and mild liquid soap, let the handy kitchen appliance do the work without worrying about damaging the brewer’s parts.
Now to answer the million-dollar question: does this brewer make delicious coffee?
The best way to describe the resulting brew, especially when compared to the joe we’ve had from higher-end models, is different.
Don’t get us wrong; it wasn’t terrible. But while the average coffee drinker will be satisfied with this product’s pot of joe, serious java snobs likely won’t be too impressed.
This “not bad, but not great” joe is what we expected, as decent-but-not-amazing coffee is the norm with inexpensive machines like this one. Most low-price brewers flow water over the coffee grounds through one faucet-like spout. This design isn’t ideal since it doesn’t let the water touch all of the coffee, ultimately leading to inconsistent flavors in your cup.
Many of the more expensive coffee makers use showerheads with lots of holes and can spread over a wide area to saturate the ground beans. Those mean even coffee extraction and, in turn, a better-tasting brew than what the Mr. Coffee machine can produce.
Grab-A-Cup Auto Pause Feature
Since it’s such a basic, entry-level brewer, the Mr. Coffee machine doesn’t have many handy features for us to mention.
However, one it does have is an automatic brew pause function, perfect for anyone who needs hot-brewed coffee moments after their feet hit the floor and can’t bear the agony of waiting for the entire carafe to fill before pouring a cup.
This convenient feature allows you to serve yourself before brewing finishes. The java flow stops while you pour and doesn’t resume until the carafe is back on the plate, guaranteeing a mess-free experience.
How to Choose the Best Coffee Maker for You
Whether buying a higher-end model or brewing on a budget, consider the following questions as you shop:
How much coffee do you drink?
The most important thing to do before buying a brewer is to take inventory of your coffee consumption habits. Why? Because different machines produce different amounts of coffee.
Take a single-serve drip machine, for instance. It might be an excellent product in an environment with one coffee drinker who only has a cup or two daily.
However, a house full of java enthusiasts who chug our favorite beverage like water would no doubt benefit from a coffee pot with at least a 10-cup capacity.
What kind of coffee do you drink?
Consider what kinds of cups of coffee you’ll be making.
Are you a hot coffee connoisseur who sticks to drip*? Do you tend to lean toward espresso-based drinks? Do you like iced brews? And what about extra equipment, like milk frothers and coffee bean grinders? Should those be built into the machine, or are you willing to purchase those separately?
What about coffee pods or capsules, like those from coffee machine-making giants Nespresso and Keurig? Are you chasing convenience and speed with one of these brewers, or do you not mind sparing a few extra minutes of your morning routine to prep and brew fresh grounds?
*If you answered “yes” here, you might want to consult our guide to the best drip coffee makers for product recommendations.
We know, we know. There are a lot of questions here, but they — and a few more — are worth asking before spending money on something. After all, you don’t want to get a coffee maker set up on your countertop space only to discover you can’t use it to make joe you’ll enjoy.
What’s your budget?
Wouldn’t it be nice if money didn’t matter, and you could pick from the market’s best-rated drip coffee makers without worrying about how much it would cost? Unfortunately, that isn’t the reality for many of us. So, you may need to be mindful of your means when shopping for a brewer.
We recommend setting a spending cap before you start browsing and only entertaining products within that price range.
That way, you spare yourself the heartache of falling in love with a fancy-schmancy machine with all sorts of cool extra features, only to discover you can’t afford it.
How much space can you spare?
A coffee machine isn’t a one-size-fits-all product, figuratively or literally. Just as some brewers aren’t suitable matches for your beverage preferences, some coffee makers won’t be able to fit into your space.
Someone living in a dorm or studio apartment probably needs a super-compact machine, while someone with a more spacious setup might be able to make room for a larger, bulkier brewer. Before clicking “add to cart,” survey your kitchen space to figure out how much real estate is available for a new appliance. Then, shop accordingly.
Consider This Alternative If…
You’re Brewing on a Budget: BLACK+DECKER 12-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker
No, this automatic dripper from BLACK + DECKER isn’t as inexpensive as Mr. Coffee’s 12-cup machine, but it won’t cost you a pretty penny, either. This 12-cup programmable coffee maker only averages a few dollars more.
Like the Mr. Coffee machine above, BLACK + DECKER’s brewer has an automatic brew-pause feature (the company calls it a Sneak-a-Cup feature) and a water reservoir window.
However, the latter has some key features you won’t find on the former, like a two-hour automatic shutoff setting and a programmable clock so you can schedule your brews ahead of time.
You Want a Higher-End Product: Breville Precision Brewer
The Breville Precision Brewer comes at a higher price than the Mr. Coffee machine, but if high-quality joe is what you’re after and you can afford to fork over a little more dough, you might think the automatic dripper is worth the price.
Breville’s Precision Brewer is a customizable coffee maker. With it, you can choose one of six brewing presets — Gold, Fast, Strong, Iced, Cold Brew, and My Brew — and switch between cone and flat bottom filter baskets depending on what you’re feeling that day.
The Precision Brewer’s additional functions include a Thermocoil heating system with precise digital temperature control (PID), three different water flow rates, and a coffee blooming time you can change.
You Want Something Durable and Long-lasting: Technivorm Moccamaster KBTS Automatic Drip Machine
The Technivorm Moccamaster KBTS has a steep price point, but the money is worth it, as these bad boys have a reputation for being durable.
No, this automatic drip machine won’t be cheap, but since it’ll be a part of your coffee routine for years to come, you can think of it as a long-term investment.
The Moccamaster KBTS produces 32 ounces of fresh-brewed coffee in as little as five minutes. And it’ll be delicious, too, thanks to the cone-shaped filter basket that maximizes your beans’ complex taste and aroma.
Its copper boiling element heats the water to the perfect temperature (between 196 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit) and shuts off when the water tank is empty.
Plus, the Moccamaster KBTS has a manual stop-drip function that lets you adjust the flow of your coffee or cut it off entirely.
You’re Brewing for a Crowd: Ninja 12-Cup Programmable Brewer
Check out the Ninja CE251 if the Mr. Coffee machine’s carafe capacity drew you in, but you were unimpressed by the rest of its functions.
Like Mr. Coffee’s product, Ninja’s CE251 brews 12 cups. However, the Ninja’s programmability sets it apart; you can schedule brewing time to begin up to a day in advance.
This machine’s small batch setting lets you alter the coffee amounts brewed. So, when you don’t need enough joe to satisfy a crowd, you can brew a smaller serving (one to four cups) that is just as flavorful as a full carafe.
The CE251’s additional features include two brew strength options, Classic and Rich, and an automatic clean setting that makes properly maintaining this machine no harder than pressing a button.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does a Mr. Coffee machine need filters?
Unfortunately, this particular Mr. Coffee 12-cup coffee maker does not have a built-in filter, but you can use paper filters if they’re basket-shaped and large enough for the brewer.
The machine is also compatible with the GoldTone reusable filter, recommended for those who like bolder coffee with more robust flavors. Unlike paper filters, metal ones don’t absorb the coffee’s natural oils, meaning a more intense taste makes it into your cup.
We have a guide to coffee filters you can consult if you’re unsure what to buy. There, we describe and compare all your options to help you find the best java filtration tool for you.
How long does a Mr. Coffee maker last, and how often should you replace a drip coffee maker?
Not even the most amazing coffee machine can last forever. Each brewer has a lifespan, but it varies based on how often you use it and whether or not you prioritize regular maintenance and cleaning.
A well-cared-for Mr. Coffee machine should last around five years. However, there are some exceptions to the norm. Some people can keep the same brewer for decades, while other machines only make it about two years before their internal components give out.
There is no set time for replacing a drip coffee maker; you can use it for as long as it works properly. However, you’ll need to bid it farewell when:
- It no longer brews coffee.
- It can’t produce hot water (or hot enough water).
- It doesn’t meet your needs anymore.*
*This can occur for several reasons. Maybe your flavor preferences changed and could be better met by a different brewing method’s joe, or perhaps the machine can’t make your desired quantity of coffee.
Is Mr. Coffee made in the USA?
Nope! Even though the Mr. Coffee company was founded in Ohio, today, its products are manufactured in China.
What’s the Verdict?
So, is the Mr. Coffee 12-cup brewer’s “Old Reliable” status well-deserved? We’d say so!
It’s nothing fancy, and you can undoubtedly find a better product. But if your only goal is to turn your coffee grounds into something drinkable without breaking the bank, Mr. Coffee’s 12-cup automatic dripper is the way to go.
At the very least, it’s a decent starter machine until you can invest in something that can do more.
Mr. Coffee Drip Machine Review: Is This Brand Worth It?
If you're thinking about buying a Mr. Coffee machine and wonder: is this coffee maker worth it? Keep reading our Mr. Coffee drip machine review!