Mr. Coffee has been a staple in American households since the 1970s and has an extensive market of loyal customers, although coffee gourmets contend this lower-priced line makes weak coffee. The budget-priced Mr. Coffee 12-Cup Programmable BVMC-CJX31-AM Coffee Maker is a versatile drip coffee maker that prepared a surprisingly well-received brew for our taste test panel. Two people didn't like it, claiming the coffee was either bland or "average," but the rest ranked it favorably in terms of flavor.
The coffee we tested emerged at the respectable temperature of 174 degrees Fahrenheit, which was hotter than some of the high-end units we tested. After a half-hour, the coffee had cooled only 3 degrees, which was still hot enough to be enjoyable. In addition, the aroma was great. If you want coffee that comes out of the machine extremely hot, you might enjoy the KitchenAid Custom Pour Over Brewer.
This 12-cup coffee maker also scored very nicely on our ease of use scale. It is quite basic as far as its features and functions, and everything is clearly labeled on the front of the machine with accompanying indicator lights. To make coffee, you insert a paper filter into the grounds holder. You add the correct amount of coffee grounds, then pour water into an adjacent tank. There's a plastic spout inside that you gently slide in place so it's positioned over the grounds; then close the lid and hit the brew button.
For some desirable extras, you can choose regular or strong flavor settings located on the front of the machine with all the other controls, and you can pick the brew coffee "now" function that takes less than 8 minutes to make an entire pot. If you prefer, you can program this Mr. Coffee model so that it delays making coffee for as long as 24 hours. That lets you prepare the necessary coffee grounds and water at night so you can wake up to a newly made pot of java just in time for breakfast.
This Mr. Coffee comes with a brew pause function so you can quickly snatch a cup without making a mess while the pot is brewing. It also features a carbon-based water filtration disk that removes as much as 97 percent of chlorine from the water used to make coffee, which means your cup of joe won't taste like chemicals. Its freshness timer lets you can see how long the carafe has been sitting on the warming plate, and you get a welcome safety feature: an automatic shut-off capability in case you have a hectic morning and forget about that coffee pot on your kitchen counter. The machine shuts off after two hours.
The manufacturer recommends lightly wiping down the machine and using soap and water to clean the filter basket and carafe daily, but it needs a more thorough cleaning after 40-80 brews. With this programmable Mr. Coffee model, a red indicator light will flash to alert you when it needs cleaning. You pour 4 cups of white vinegar into the water tank (after removing the water filtration disk), then push the "Select Off" button until the cleaning light is red, and the machine will automatically begin a cleaning cycle that lasts 45-60 minutes. You then rinse all removable parts and run clear water through the machine at least twice to clear away any vinegar smell.