FOREWORD: WHY I’VE RESUMED BEING A CAFFEINE FIEND
Recommend this product?
About a decade ago I stopped drinking coffee. Not only did I figure thereby to trim my budgetary expenditures, but also I figured to enhance my health by substituting pure water. However, recently ScienceDaily--citing a new “mouse study” by researchers at the University of South Florida--reported that a “moderate” caffeinated-coffee intake (four to five cups daily)--especially if commenced long before the onset of old age--can help prevent Alzheimer's disease. This report (not to mention separately published claims for coffee’s potential to safeguard health in various other ways) caused me to reconsider the value of coffee; and, starting several days ago, I’ve tentatively resumed drinking it.
In any case, my return to coffee consumption led me to discover (and now review) what’s quickly become one of my favorite kitchen-countertop appliances ever. (I do so love a veritable bargain!)
THE CM1050B: AN AUTO-DRIP, 12-CUP COFFEEMAKER THAT'S SURPRISINGLY CHEAP YET FEATURE-PACKED
Note that the product image atop this Epinions.com page is wrong. Black & Decker manufactures two versions of this coffeemaker: one in white (the model CM1050W), and the other in black (this model CM1050B). My local Walmart store (not to mention Walmart.com) carries both versions for the same surprisingly low price: $14.88. Having closely examined a display specimen of the white version, I can unequivocally report that this black looks considerably classier; indeed, its chicness--though understated--is reasonably comparable to the costlier coffeemaker models ranged to the right on my Walmart's display shelf. By contrast, the above-pictured white harmonizes with Walmart's leftmost--cheapest, non-programmable--models. [Incidentally, the CM1050W isn't totally white inasmuch as its uppermost compartment houses the very same (black) removable plastic "filter-holder basket"--as well as other (black) adjacent parts--included with this model CM1050B.]
Heck, even the two-inch-wide, silvery “Black & Decker” logo (on the upper-front exterior) looks classier on this black model than on the white. (On the latter, that logo looks so low-contrast as to appear washed out; but on this black model those B & D characters seem a badge of distinction upon the brow of a handsome, glossy-black, digital coffeemaker.)
Anytime I buy a “bottom-end” appliance, I wonder if its low cost augurs an early demise. And since I’ve only owned this product several days, there’s little I can confidently say regarding its longevity (notwithstanding the fact that everything about it looks and feels sensibly made). But at least there are two things I do absolutely know. First, paying more for a glitzier model wouldn’t have guaranteed significantly longer or better functionality. Second, even if this model CM1050B ends up failing prematurely, at least I’ll have spent only $14.88.
Meanwhile, this coffeemaker’s been performing completely splendidly--regardless of whether I use it in “normal” or “programmable” mode, and regardless of which variety of (ground) coffee I use with it. [Thus far, I’ve been alternating using a handful of “medium” and “light” grinds by Folgers, 8 O’clock, and Beaumont (Aldi).] And it brews at least as fast as most other auto-drip models (approximately one cup per minute).
THIS MODEL’S SALIENT SELLING POINTS:
• Affordability. The CM1050B bests competing programmable models by at least a few dollars. Indeed, factoring its 12-cup capacity and its respectable range of other features, “$14.88” (at Walmart) amounts to the proverbial steal.
• Stylishness. Provided you do choose the BLACK version (model CM1050B) and not the identically priced white version (model CM1050W) as I discussed in the prior section of this review, you'll be getting an altogether fine-looking coffeemaker that outwardly rivals the chicness of far costlier products. [Note: Not only is the photo atop this Epinions.com page the wrong color, but also it just doesn't do justice to this pretty unit's understated stylishness, including its bottom "control panel" featuring a perfectly, tastefully illuminated (green-LED) digital clock!]
• “Optimal brewing temperature.” I wish the manufacturer had enclosed specific documentation of this unit’s actual brewing-temperature range, but the most I could discover was the following blurb printed on the exterior of the product box:
“Optimal brewing temperature provides optimal flavor extraction from the grinds during brewing for a great taste in your coffee.”
Though I suspect that that claim would be, er, hotly disputed by certain snootily smirking java aficionados who’d argue that this unit’s 975-watt power rating signifies a lower brewing temperature than the (190-to-205-degrees-Fahrenheit) range that may be deemed optimal, I will say that the coffee I’ve brewed with this cheap, convenient Black & Decker appliance feels--and tastes--at least equivalent to what I’ve generally obtained via sundry satisfactory auto-drip coffeemakers since the 1970s (i.e., not necessarily fully as hot and/or flavorsome as certain restaurants’ coffee, but nonetheless satisfying to most “home” consumers.).
In other words, immediately after this Black & Decker “machine” has finished dispensing liquid into the included carafe, the resultant coffee--upon being poured into a typical mug--strikes me as something that Goldilocks herself might savor: not so excessively hot as to badly burn your mouth (provided you sip), but still satisfyingly hot.
• Auto brew (programmable brewing). Of the CM1050B’s fairly numerous features, this is the one that most especially sets this Black & Decker model apart from (to my knowledge) all competing auto-drip coffeemakers at--or less than--this "street-price" level ($14.88). And "auto brew" is eminently easy to use! After setting the always-illuminated clock [about which I’ll say more below], just press the control panel’s PROG key (to initiate programming); then the HOUR and MIN keys (to select the exact time at which you want brewing to commence); and, finally, the AUTO key. Note that there are, at the left of the digital-clock display, two tiny green LEDs indicating, respectively, “PM” and “auto-brew program set.” Similarly, at the right of the display window, there’s a little green LED which, when lit, indicates the coffeemaker is turned ON.
Once you’ve entered an auto-brew time, that time (hours/minutes) will be “permanently” retained in the unit’s memory unless you change it (or until electrical power is disconnected/interrupted for longer than about one or two seconds). To activate “auto brew” using your most recently stored time, just tap the AUTO key such that its corresponding (adjacent) LED lights up.
• Programmable clock. The built-in clock’s always-illuminated display resides near the upper-center of the control panel, which is slightly sloped (downwardly, from back to front) upon the front of the coffeemaker’s base. I somewhat discussed this clock feature directly above; but I should add that the bright-green LED numerals are optimally, laudably legible (yet neither unreasonably bright nor at all annoying to normally sensitive eyes). Indeed, as long as I’m standing (not sitting), I’m able to discern the time from at least 10 feet away.
• 2-hour auto shutoff. I did personally verify that this important feature works perfectly (despite the fact that I normally manually shut off the coffeemaker--via its control panel’s front-and-center “ON/OFF” key--long before two hours have elapsed).
• Nonstick "keep hot" carafe plate. This smooth, black “plate” does indeed keep the carafe properly, satisfyingly heated. And it quite perceptibly does resist “sticking” [however, I’ve actually not experienced any noteworthy “spills” anyway--which is partly thanks to how simple and easy it is to position the carafe correctly beneath the bottom, spring-tensioned, “Sneak-A-Cup” nipple of the filter basket directly above].
• “Duralife” carafe. Not only does the included carafe appear to be sufficiently durable and long-lasting (its glass is approximately 1/8" thick), but also (reportedly unlike some competing coffeemakers’ carafes) this one's sensibly shaped, glass spout easily pours without splashing water where you don’t want it. The carafe has a diameter of 6" at the base and 3.75" at the top; and the height is 5.5". The carafe's handle fits the average adult hand comfortably; its diameter (at the widest point) is about 1.5". Whitish markings on the exterior of the carafe legibly indicate the following "cup" measures (water/coffee levels): 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12.
The carafe's "brew-through lid" is made of black plastic. And the little "lever" via which you can "flip up" the carafe's lid (by pressing downward with your thumb) incorporates three little ridges for an improved grip, making this lid somewhat easier to lift than the analogous lids of some competing coffeemakers' carafes.
• Sneak-A-Cup feature. This clever little feature actually is downright ubiquitous on auto-drip coffeemakers nowadays (unlike my prior--circa-1996--Proctor Silex model). In any case, this feature (which involves a flexible, half-inch-diameter "washer" at the bottom-center of the filter basket) works perfectly. (I did personally test this feature. However, inasmuch as I only occasionally brew more than four to six cups at a time, and I’m generally not in a rush, I myself will seldom use “Sneak-A-Cup.”)
• Easy-view water window. Actually, partly because of the somewhat subdued lighting of my particular kitchen, and partly because the plastic used for the model CM1050B’s (1-inch-wide, 5-inch-tall) “water window” is something between “fully transparent” and “semi-opaque,” the reservoir’s water level really isn’t all that darned easy for me to discern! That said, the majority of users (with presumably brighter ambient lighting) would likely deem this feature adequate, if not quite ideal.
Also, be aware that this Black & Decker “water window” is located only on the right side of the coffeemaker. Certain competing products incorporate two (twin) water windows: one on the left side, and another on the right.
Anyway, that water window ended up mattering little to me, for I generally rely, instead, on the included carafe’s own easily discernible (whitish, exterior) markings indicating “4,” “6,” “8,” “10” or “12” cups. [I did verify that those carafe markings precisely correspond to the water window’s own analogous numbers; so, in any case, don’t fret.]
• Sensibly snug, one-piece "reservoir lid." Black & Decker doesn't call attention to this, but I noticed that--unlike some competing coffeemaker models--this CM1050B incorporates an easy-to-lift, hinged lid whose edges overlap (cover) and somewhat grip the underlying reservoir's (as well as the filter-basket housing's) upper edges. Hence--provided you normally keep that cover fully shut--it should be essentially impossible for unwanted extraneous substances (e.g., dust and liquids) to enter this coffeemaker at that point. Thus, after the passage of much time, the interior of this coffeemaker should be noticeably cleaner than the analogous interiors of certain competing models implementing "looser" lids or "unsealed" tops. To me this is a substantial selling point, especially when I (disgustedly) recall how susceptible my circa-1996 Proctor Silex auto-drip model's top was in this regard.
• Easy-to-fill reservoir. Unlike some competing coffeemakers, this model CM1050B makes it easy to pour cold water into its reservoir without messily splashing water elsewhere. In other words, the pertinent upper, rearward opening (visible whenever you lift the coffeemaker's lid) is plenty wide and "deep" enough for neat and easy pouring, regardless of whether you pour from the left or the right.
• Removable filter basket. Given that this black-plastic piece obviously merits continual cleaning, I’m pleased to report that that task is really quite quick-and-easy. Generally, simply thoroughly rinsing in hot water suffices (not only for this basket but also for the carafe). However, now and again you should wash with soapy hot water--either by hand or via a dishwasher (using the latter’s top rack).
The filter basket--whose shape (viewed from above) is basically round [except for a handy, 1.5-inch long "handle" (molded-in extension) that you'll likely grip between your thumb and forefinger]--is quite easy to remove or insert, provided you can fully open (lift) this normally 12 & 5/8-inch-tall coffeemaker’s topmost, “one-piece cover” (which, considering the temporarily resultant 21.5-inch height, will possibly necessitate momentarily scooting the coffeemaker forward so it doesn’t contact the undersurface of your kitchen cabinetry.)
Note, too, that this filter basket accepts the most commonly sold size of conventional (flat-bottom, removable, disposable) paper auto-drip filters. I get those for roughly “$1 per 200” at such stores as Aldi. Be sure to have some of those on hand, because no filters are included in the Black & Decker product box.
[I suppose it might be possible to substitute some sort of "permanent" (and, alas, non-biodegradable) filter for the disposable (and biodegradable) paper kind. But I myself wouldn't want to continually bother with the requisite rinsing of such a filter; furthermore, the cost of the additional hot water could exceed the trivial cost of a paper filter.]
• Electrical power cord (hardwired). According to the included “Use and Care Book” [which, in sooth, is but a single, fold-open, 17” by 11” sheet of paper], the shortness of the (24-inch) power cord is a veritable virtue insofar as it reduces “the risk of becoming entangled in or tripping over a longer cord.”
However, in case that cord is impracticably short for your intended location [it is the ideal length for my particular installation], the aforementioned document adds: “Longer extension cords are available and may be used if care is exercised in their use.” But you already knew that, right?
• Quietness. Though it's no big deal to me, I noticed that--except for the final seconds of the brewing cycle (at which point some rather loud gurgling occurs)--this Black & Decker model is (somewhat) quieter in my kitchen than was its antecedent (a circa-1996 Proctor Silex “switch”--i.e., non-programmable-- auto-drip model).
THIS MODEL’S SALIENT LIMITATIONS:
• No “water" (e.g., charcoal) filter. Unlike some costlier coffeemakers, this one doesn’t implement any filtration beyond an ordinary, dirt-cheap, disposable, biodegradable, flat-bottom, paper filter (onto which you place fresh coffee grounds prior to each brewing session).
But I frankly don’t mind that my model CM1050B doesn’t employ any auxiliary “charcoal” [or other type of] "water" filter (periodically replaceable at sometimes substantial extra cost). My city’s tap water already tastes satisfyingly “pure,” and the coffee I brew with it tastes just fine.
• No “auto-clean” feature. Furthermore, I don’t mind that my model CM1050B doesn’t include any blinking light (or whatever) to signal that it’s time to perform a “decalcification” or “descaling” procedure. Heck, with essentially any coffeemaker, you can (periodically, e.g., every 2-3 months) simply “brew” a mixture of vinegar and water [or some commercially available solution] through it once or twice in succession (followed by one or two rinsing “brews” of pure water) and thereby achieve essentially the same thing. [If you’re curious about suggested ratios of vinegar to water, etc., feel free to do a bit of googling to peruse some pertinent articles.]
• No brew-strength adjuster. Unlike some costlier coffeemaker models, this one doesn’t include a control (e.g., slider, knob, or switch) to increase/decrease the strength of your brew. However, this point seems almost moot for two reasons. First (as I said earlier), coffee brewed with this appliance already tastes at least as good as what I’ve had via sundry "adjustable" auto-drip makes/models over the years. Second, even if you yourself don’t initially favor this unit’s inherent brew-strength, you can simply scoop a smaller (or larger) amount of ground coffee at the start of each brewing session.
OTHER POINTS OF INTEREST:
• "Made in CHINA." (Are you surprised?)
• Power rating: 975 watts. [Recall my earlier pertinent remarks under the subheading “Optimal brewing temperature.”]
• Dimensions. The hardwired power cord's length is 24 inches. Coffeemaker height with the hinged cover (lid) closed is 12 & 5/8 inches (or, with that lid fully raised, 21.5 inches). Coffeemaker width is 8 & 1/8 inches. Coffeemaker maximum depth (i.e., the base) is about 10 inches.
• Showerhead. The "showerhead"--which becomes visible whenever you lift this coffeemaker's "one-piece cover" (lid)--comprises a total of seven small holes [that conduct streams of hot water onto the coffee grounds that you'll place upon a standard disposable, paper "basket filter" (not included, but cheaply available "everywhere")].
• Easy-to-clean exterior. This coffeemaker's attractive (mostly glossy-black) plastic surfaces--as well as its black carafe plate and its (silver, gray and charcoal) control panel [whose membrane-like "buttons" are actually impervious to water]--are easily wiped clean with a damp cloth.
• Warranty. Black & Decker provides a two-year limited (“replacement”) warranty for the US and Canada. (Be sure to keep your "proof of purchase" handy.) For service, repair or questions pertaining to this coffeemaker’s warranty, in the USA or Canada you can phone 1-800-231-9786.
That said, I seriously question the practical value of this warranty, inasmuch as you yourself would be responsible for paying pertinent “shipping and handling” costs (which, I surmise, could easily approach or surpass the original purchase price of this product).
For accessories/parts pertaining to this coffeemaker, you can phone 1-800-738-0245.
• “User manual.” The included, so-called “Use and Care Book” (a single, fold-open, 17” by 11” sheet of paper illustrated by a single, labeled, black-and-white photo indicating the coffeemaker’s major components) is reasonably well written and addresses almost every question the average user might have. However, I found it curious that no “Specifications” section was included. (Hence I had to peer at the underside of the coffeemaker’s base to discover that this product’s electrical wattage is “975.”)
One side of this humble "instructions" sheet is in English; the opposite side is in Spanish.
• Product box. If ordering this coffeemaker via an online vendor, you should be aware that its colorfully illustrated product box is made of cardboard whose thickness and rigidity are typical for this sort of item. In other words, if this coffeemaker were simply shipped in its product box, the latter could, in a minority of instances, get significantly damaged during transit. (The box’s inner, protective inserts are simply cardboard--there’s no Styrofoam or bubble wrap.) For this reason, if I myself were placing on online order, I’d probably go to (for example) Walmart.com and choose their “pick up at your local store” option. Better yet, I’d just phone my nearest bricks-and-mortar store to see if they already have this model in stock. (They likely do.)
I surmise some folks might deem this affordable Black & Decker model underwhelming vis-à-vis pricier-and-fancier coffeemakers that include still more features (some amounting to bells and whistles). After all, if you were to focus on the proverbial glass half empty, you could bemoan the absence of a charcoal water filter, an auto-cleaning signal, and/or a brew-strength adjuster. But, for reasons explained above, none of those seemingly “nice” features would actually mean much to me or, perchance, you.
Nor do I lament that my low-cost CM1050B lacks the éclat of, for example, certain Cuisinart, Bunn or Keurig coffeemakers. Those costlier products reportedly can entail problems that this Black & Decker doesn’t appear to have. For example, my CM1050B (unlike Cuisinart’s DCC-1200) makes it easy to pour water into the reservoir sans messy splashing. And (reportedly unlike Bunn’s home models) the coffee that emerges through the grounds is sufficiently strong. And (unlike Keurig’s proprietary "K-Cups" approach) this Black & Decker lets me use my choice of conventional coffees costing mucho less than Keurig’s (approximately) 65 cents per cup!
Ironically, I really relish the appearance of this [actually black] $14.88 coffeemaker fully as much as that of any costlier “home” model I’ve seen. For, in terms of not only “features” but also “stylishness,” this product strikes a balance between too little and too much. Accordingly (as a lover of most things Thoreauvian), I appreciate the relative simplicity of this adequately elegant appliance.
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