The Mr. Coffee Simple Brew 4-Cup Programmable Coffee Maker is one step up from a bare-bones coffee maker. You can program it the night before so you can wake up to already brewed java. A few members of our taste testing panel found this brew to be “good” and drank it happily, but those who disliked it dismissed it quickly, with one panelist terming it “gas station coffee.”
Given its petite size and even smaller price tag, this Mr. Coffee model will never be the choice of a coffee gourmet, but if you use a more potent brand of coffee than we used in our testing, it makes a small pot of respectable coffee that can get you out the door in the morning.
It took slightly over 5 minutes to brew a full pot and the first temperature during our testing came in at a rather low 163 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the brew was warm enough to enjoy, at least according to some testers. After 30 minutes, the temperature dropped by 2 degrees, which had virtually no effect on the taste or strength of the coffee.
Even though this makes only 4 cups, you still get a brew pause function so you can quickly get a fast jolt of coffee when you need it, and the machine will resume brewing. You get another helpful safety feature if you’re the kind of person who tends to forget things on hectic days: an automatic shut-off function that kicks in after an hour.
You can see how much water is in the tank through two water-level windows. This simple machine uses a smaller-than-usual paper filter and the standard 1-tablespoon-per-cup measurement of coffee for brewing. The glass carafe is a standard Mr. Coffee design that is not inclined to drip, and it stays nicely warm on the heating plate.
Even with the clock, the delayed programming functions and the brew pause, this machine is exceptionally easy to operate. Once you pull it out of the machine and quickly wash it, you can be brewing coffee in no time. If you’d like more coffee and enjoy the simplicity of the Mr. Coffee brand, take a look at the Mr. Coffee 12-Cup Programmable BVMC-CJX31-AM Coffee Maker.
There are no frills such as audible alerts when the brewing is done, and you don’t get an indicator that tells you when cleaning is needed. However, cleaning is easy. You can use a commercial cleaning product available from Mr. Coffee. You also can do the job more economically by pouring four 5-ounce cups of white vinegar into the water reservoir. Turn the machine on, let three cupfuls drain into the coffee pot, then turn coffee maker off and let it sit for 30 minutes. This process decalcifies the interior of the machine. Then turn it back on, run the rest of vinegar through the machine and toss out the vinegar. You then rinse the machine with fresh water at least twice so there’s no lingering odor. You can wash the brew basket and carafe by hand with soap and warm water, or put them on the top rack of your dishwasher.