Kraus Faucets

kraus faucets
Kraus Faucets

If you’re one of those persons that just has to HAVE something that doesn’t resemble what it is supposed to be, Kraus Faucets are for you.

Kraus makes good faucets, but they give you one thing above anything else: Style

Kraus Beauty

My own 21-year-old home came with an interesting mixture of plumbing appliances. There are some contemporary ones such as the Arwa Faucet in my kitchen and the Toto Toilets in two of my bathrooms. Unfortunately, I also have some dinosaurs like the clumsy, 20th century toilets and ancient (20 year old) brass faucets in my master bath. One lesson I learned from decorative appliances is to make sure you can find parts to repair them. If you buy something unique like an Arwa Faucet or Kraus Faucets, make sure you save any documentation and adhere it somewhere in your home near the appliances where it can be found. If you ever sell your house, the new home owner will be extremely appreciative. When my Arwa Faucet began leaking, I had no idea where to look in order to identify the brand name, let alone the parts to repair it. I took several photos of my faucet, but even my local hardware stores couldn’t identify the brand from the picture. Most fortunately and miraculously, I was able to identify my Kitchen Arwa Faucet using a Google Image search. I was able to fix my leaky Arwa Faucet by simply purchasing a replacement cartridge from an Arwa dealer in Tucson. Lesson: Google is better at locating faucet parts than your local hardware or plumbing store.

I thought about my experience with the Arwa Faucet as I shopped for something more trendy for my bathroom sink. I must say the Kraus Faucets are the most unique looking home fixtures I’ve ever seen. Watch the video below.

I must say that if you’re looking for innovative ways to approve the overall indoor appearance of your home, these Kraus Faucets are extremely attractive.

Old Republic Home Warranty

Old Republic Home Warranty
Home Warranty

Should I get a Home Warranty?

Are Home Warranty Plans worth the money?  This is much like Extended Car Warranties. There are literally dozens of companies that sell home warranty protection plans to cover the cost of repairs and maintenance of household things that tend to break such as appliances, heaters, air conditioners, washers, dryers, garage door openers, plumbing, pipes, swimming pool equipment and more.  Old Republic is the most often heard name in the business because they have a large network of service.  Product Review Ratings attempts to break the more common ones down. You name it and you can buy a warranty for it, regardless of its age or condition, though the price and cost will vary. There are a number of companies that provide these home warranty plans and though the pricing between them all is pretty much equal, the quality of service is obviously not. When I decided to look into a home warranty protection plan, a co-worker of my recommended his own service plan with Colorado-based Blue Ribbon Home Warranty. It is always nice to have a referral from someone you know, but how would they compare to the nationwide companies like Old Republic Home Warranty or First American Home Warranty? These were the two names that kept coming up in my search results for Home Warranty plans on Google.  Old Republic has been around since 1974 and their name and extensive coverage in the United States is well documented. I quickly learned, that there are numerous other home warranty companies to compare, but a bigger question kept nagging at me:

Is Popular Better?

If so, take a look at Old Republic Home Warranty

Assuming the Old Republic is one of the better warranty companies on the market, would it be worth the investment and fixed monthly or yearly cost to obtain one of their Home Protection plans? How much peace of mind am I buying and how reliable is the service? A little bit of my own recent history is in order:

Size up Your Home Appliances

Before I bought my last house I had never even heard of Old Republic Home Warranty. We bought and moved into a bigger, 17-year old home about 3 years ago. With the home came a few rather pricey, high-tech appliances. At the time we bought this home we were really excited about the fancy Bosch Dishwasher, Jenn-Air Range and extremely unique and expensive Kitchen Aid Refrigerator included in the sale. We thought these nice appliances really added to the value of our purchase. Boy, were we wrong. The home also came with a swimming pool which I was somewhat leery about, but had no genuine idea of what I was really getting into. To make a long story short, in a little less than 3 years, we have spent over $3,500 in maintenance and repair for the home’s appliances – and that doesn’t even include the swimming pool! High tech appliances with digital circuitry break and when they do they are not easy or cheap to fix. I recently had to replace the garage door springs on one of the two doors of my three-car garage; and while I was at it, I had the opener replaced on the larger, out-dated, adjacent larger larger door. In the last three years, the swimming pool required three major repairs: A $700 heat exchanger replacement and a $450 pump replacement. Then, there was the usual things: Hot Water heater required major repairs for a faulty installation and the Air Conditioner required a service call. We also had a pipe burst in our den, which required another $135.00. Our total maintenance and repairs add up to a little less than $5,000 in just three years. So, would a Home Warranty have paid for itself in our case? The answer is a most positive, absolute, ‘YES’.
After discovering the Old Republic Home Warranty and First American Home Warranty, I decided to see what else is available and how they compare.  Old Republic Home Warranty claims to solve all these problems, but there are over a dozen Home Warranty Protection Plans and they are priced very close to each other. Which one? Your basic Home Warranty ranges from about $275.00 to $350.00 a year. In addition to the yearly or monthly premiums, they charge you a $75.00 deposit and $50-$55 deductible for each service call. The basic fee in most cases doesn’t cover your Air Conditioner, Garage Door openers, washer, dryer, gas fireplace and numerous other, less common appliances you may have inside or outside your home. Those can be added at additional costs. Blue Ribbon Warranty, whom covers only the state of  Colorado, charges $150 a year for swimming pools. I can expect to pay about $400-$600 a year to get my home warranted the way I want. (With the Swimming Pool, probably closer to $600)  Even with the $75.00 deposit and $55.00 service call deductibles, I would have saved over $2,000.

Benefits of Home Warranties

Reading over the user reviews online, there is one other huge benefit to a Home Warranty that I did not even consider. You only have one place to call. Whether it’s plumbing, heater, AC or a broken refrigerator or stove, there is only one phone number you need to know. That is indeed a very nice and reassuring benefit, assuming of course, the company is responsive to each and every incident. So, which Home Warranty Company Should I choose? Nationwide Old Republic Home Warranty? First American Home Warranty? Or my local Blue Ribbon Home Warranty of Colorado? When it comes to service, service is everything, so I decided to look at some reviews and user comments of the dozen or so Home Warranty companies that service Colorado and the nation. Here’s what I found:

Best Home Warranty?

Like any Insurance Policy, what good is a Home Warranty if you don’t have 100% confidence that they can deliver the service that you need when you need it? The convenience of having a one-stop shop to call can also be your biggest risk factor. If I have a repair incident and cannot get a quick response from the warranty company, I have no place else to call or go. If I am paying for a service that is not giving me as good or better results than I would get without a warranty company at all then my money is being wasted. I also need to have the confidence and assurance that they are going to fix and pay for my problem. There is really no other way to measure the reliability of a Home Warranty company than to talk to others who have used them. Having done some research and talking to other home owners, there is only one company that would give me this level of confidence. Fortunately, there is a website completely dedicated to reviews and user opinions on Home Warranties: Home Warranty Reviews. Some quick research on reviews and user opinions convinced me that neither Old Republic nor First American Home Warranty would make me confident that my premiums were well spent. Too many buyers complained that the service was either not rendered in a satisfactory amount of time or that they refused to cover a defective appliance or service issue. Out of 170 User Reviews, Old Republic Warranty received an average user rating of just under 3 stars. First American Home Warranty had 152 user reviews and received an average rating of just 2 stars. I realize that user reviews can be negatively biased because people are much more likely to comment when something goes wrong than when something goes right. On the other hand, the high number of negative reviews and comments were simply too much for me to ignore. An insurance plan has to provide 10)% assurance to me that my money in the form of regular premiums is not going to waste.

Blue Ribbon Home Warranty

Fortunately, I was able to find a company with mostly positive reviews and a 4.5 star average rating: Blue Ribbon Home Warranty – the one recommended by my co-worker. I think I will give these guys a call and setup a time for an inspection. There is a $75.00 deposit which is required, but compared to the $5,000 I’ve already spent in the last three years, this seems like a small drop in the bucket. I am inclined to give Blue Ribbon Home Warranty a try this year. If you don’t happen to be fortunate enough to live in Colorado, but are still considering a home warranty plan, I have discovered another one that has very favorable reviews:  Sensible Home Warranty.  Sensible Home Warranty has a four star average rating from over 157 satisfied users. If I bought my home new, I might not even consider it, but for a home that is 10 years or older, a home warranty with the right company is probably worth some strong consideration. So, let’s look at Old Republic Home Warranty and how it compares to the rest:

Before you go with the most popular Home Warranty Protection, make sure you know what people are saying in your neighborhood about Old Republic Home Warranty.

Bissell Quicksteamer Lightweight Deep Cleaner

Bissell Quicksteamer Lightweight Deep Cleaner

The Bissell Quicksteamer Lightweight Deep Cleaner has been used by thousands of people, resulting in 170 user reviews. Those who reviewed the Bissell Quicksteamer rate it an average of 4.5 stars. It is not very often will you find a household appliance product that so many users rate so highly. So, what it is about the Bissell 2080 that makes it such a desirable Home Carpet Steamer?

Features

Well, for one thing the Bissell 2080 Quicksteamer is light weight. At just 18lbs, this is a home carpet steam cleaner that is easy to use in every carpeted room of your house, including the stairways. The majority of users of this home carpet machine seem to unanimously agree that it gets their carpets clean most of the time. There is a rotating brush and adequate suction to do a reasonable clean-up job on the high-traffic carpet areas of your home or small office. The Bissell 2080 Quicksteamer includes dual tanks; one for shampoo and the other for water. The Quicksteamer is not overly powerful. It is equipped with a 4-amp motor, removable nozzle and 20 foot cord.

Performance

Beware; this carpet cleaner will probably not replace the need to have heavily, deeply-embedded soiled carpets cleaned once a year. What it will do is keep your carpets looking reasonably clean throughout the year before it’s time to pay for a professional cleaning. The Bissell Machine that I own is a couple of grades above this one, but it was about twice as expensive and is much heavier and clumsier to use.

Conclusion

Even my more expensive Bissell Steam cleaner hasn’t replaced our desire to have the carpets professionally cleaned once every 12 to 18 months. So, if I had it to do all over again, I would have saved a couple of hundred dollars and bought the thriftier, more nimble and lightweight smaller sibling. This Bissell Quicksteamer Lightweight Deep Cleaner retails for only $129.95.

Presto Pizzazz Pizza Oven

Presto Pizzazz Pizza Oven
Presto Pizzazz Pizza Oven

Make Pizza in Impresto Fashion

How does baking your own frozen pizza at home compare to a good pizza delivery?
The Presto Pizzazz Pizza Oven might give you second thoughts about using Dominoes Delivery, next time you’re in the mood for a good, quick pizza. If you’ve tried a variety of frozen pizzas, you know that the quality, taste and texture range from awful to pretty decent. Now, I’m not going to tell you that a frozen pizza baked with the Presto Pizzazz Pizza Oven is going to replace your favorite pizza parlor, but it might just reduce the number of times per year you visit or have Dominoes Pizza Delivered to your home. While Presto has been churning out gimmicky household products for years, they have come out with a few good ones. The Presto pizza oven has actually been out for quite a few years. As you can imagine, it makes quite a popular gift for college kids. Unlike so many of these novelty household items, they usually don’t end up quite as convenient, quick or easy-to-use as the advertisements made them seem. As a result, many Presto items tend to fill up a lot of junk yards and garage sales space. However, there are a few good ones. If you’re considering a quick, convenient way to make pizzas at home, here’s what you need to know about the Presto Pizzazz Pizza Oven.

Making Pizza is as Easy as Toasting Bread

Presto Pizzazz Burner
Presto Pizzazz Burner

The Presto Pizza Oven has a heating element on both the top and bottom. It works much like the way your toaster browns or crisps both sides of a slice of bread. The benefit with pizza is that you have dual control over the texture and crispness of both your topping and crust. There is actually a temperature dial for both the top and the bottom of your pizza. This dual-heating method  is a huge deal for those frozen pizzas which often times end up soggy on the top, and burnt on the bottom. The bottom tray rotates, so the top of pizza is cooked evenly. I’ve always felt that the toppings on frozen pizzas taste a little freezer burnt. By roasting the top of the pizza, the flavor and texture of the topping is greatly improved, in my opinion. Frozen pizzas come in a variety of sizes, mass, density and thickness, and the Presto Pizzazz Pizza Oven is equipped to handle them all.

Simple to Use and Easy to Clean

Easy to Clean
Easy to Clean

I often stop using kitchen gadgets that are clumsy, cumbersome, and difficult to clean or use. The Presto has none of these problems. The metal, round pizza tray comes right off, making it a snap to wash clean. The upper heating element never comes in contact with the pizza, and can be easily wiped free of any grease and grime that might accumulate after baking a few pizzas. The Pizzazz is not only easy, but enjoyable to use. It is kind of fun to watch the pepperoni, sausage and bell peppers roasting as the cheese begins to bubble and turn slightly brown. If you’re using a thicker pizza, and prefer a crispy bottom crust, you might try putting your toppings on after the bottom has cooked for a while. With some experimentation, you will have no problem getting your favorite frozen pizza to turn out the way you want them.

There is Always a Drawback

There are just a couple of cons to the Presto Pizzazz.
You are limited to a pizza size of only 7 to 12″. Sorry, but those big, tasty 16-18″ frozen pizzas from Costco, or your favorite Take & Bakes won’t work.
One other hitch: A number of Presto users have complained that the Presto Pizzazz Pizza Oven didn’t hold up for more than 1-2 years. For the $42.00 price tag, I can live with that. Especially after seeing wherever there was a complaint, the Presto users thought enough of their experience to replace their broken one with another unit.

This is an old, time-tested product, so I won’t even bother with giving it a numerical rating. Suffice it to say, that the Presto gets a big thumbs up from me. This hardy invention saves college kids money on Dominoes Delivery – enough said.

Black and Decker Oven

Black and Decker Oven
black-and-decker-toaster

Black and Decker Toaster Oven Review

This Black and Decker Oven is the replacement for the Europro Appliance that I reviewed a year ago. It may have been a lousy toaster oven, but it sure didn’t last very long. Just as well, I got sick and tired of always having to monitor it like a little toddler to prevent it from either burning my toast, or under-toasting it. The Eurorpro Toaster Oven was complete garbage. One morning, it decided to stop turning on at all. No Power, no toasting. Goodbye, good-riddance, I say. My wife insisted we replace it, so she went to Kohl’s and found something new in the way of a Black and Decker Toaster Oven.

Introducing the Black and Decker

Black & Decker used to be known for making tools, not toaster ovens. Like any other household appliance though, this product is made in China not the Black & Decker Factory that made your father’s electric power drill years ago. This Black and Decker Toaster is the model CTO4300W and cost $59.00 at Kohls. One distinguishing feature on the B&D Toaster is its deep, 12″ Pizza capacity. I like the way the large, 12″ cooking tray slides out as you open the door, whether it’s for toast, pizza or anything else. There are three large knobs :

  • Temperature Settings Knob that goes from 150 – 450 F
  • Bake Function Knob with four settings: Keep Warm, Bake, Broil and Toast
  • Timer Knob which ranges from 0-50 minutes

How well does the Black and Decker Toast Bread?

With the Temp set on high, the function knob on toast, I gave it a whirl. There is a little black toast icon graphic right under the 10 minute mark indicating how dark you want your toast. Just above the off switch is a clear toast graphic indicating how light you want it. I don’t like the guessing here. Why not A digital setting like a microwave for a toaster oven? It would help me make perfect toast every time. Also, I don’t like the way you are forced to turn the knob past the 20 minute mark, then back to the desired setting to get the toasting started. The good news is that it actually works and using the 2-3 minute guess, made perfect light-brown toast the way we like it. I made toast every day for five days and never had the problems I did with the Europro where it wouldn’t shut off, or stay on long enough. The Black & Decker actually does what we paid it to do: Make Toast!

Additional Functions and Features

The Black and Decker oven also comes with four very convenient rack positions. There are only two slots, but by inverting the included racks, you can have a choice of four different positions for toasting, broiling, baking or keeping things warm. This particular Toaster Oven includes a slide-in and out baking rack, as well as a drip pan for catching your pizza grease, cheese and meat drippings. Unlike, the shallow, Europro, the deep, solid Black and Decker Toaster Oven actually gives you the confidence that you really can cook just about anything. You can roast garlic and onions, bake a pizza, chicken and fish or reheat a sandwich, toast hot-dogs and just about anything else you can think of – yes, you can toast bread with the Black and Decker Toaster Oven and it won’t burn it unless you want it to. I was somewhat impressed with the user’s manual which is actually printed in clear, concise English with plenty of instructions and guide for how long to cook vegetables, meats, pizza, toast, etc., etc..

Quality, Materials and Construction

I do think this is a pretty well-made toaster oven. The parts inside are made of solid metal and ceramic and the plastic dials on the outside seem as though they are of good workmanship. I am a little skeptical about having to turn that dial to the right past the 20-minute mark, then to the left again to get toast started. That seems like a lot of wear & tear for a product made in China. We’ll see how that holds up. The trays slide out for easy cleaning. Nothing gets jammed or is difficult to remove or replace. It’s a breeze to use this toaster oven. So far, I’m happy with the black and decker oven that replaced the Europro disaster.

Dyson DC14 Full Kit

Dyson Animal Vacuum Review

Dyson DC14 Full Kit
Dyson DC14 Full Kit

Dyson makes a very expensive vacuum cleaner. Enough people rant and rave about them that you would think price is the only reason anybody wouldn’t want to own a Dyson Vacuum Cleaner. Everybody has heard about how great Dyson Vacuum cleaners are so how great are they, really?  We bought our DC14 Full Kit Dyson Animal Vacuum at Costco three and one-half years ago. I thought it would be useful to provide some long-term feedback on the performance, quality and reliability of the Dyson Animal Vacuum, specifically marketed by Costco as the DC14 Full Kit.

Introduction

The Dyson DC14 Full Kit is marketed by Costco with with a few extra tools to the standard Dyson Animal Vacuum: Curtain cleaner, hard-wood floors brush, and high-speed upholstery cleaner. It also comes with an extra HEPA filter, despite the fact that Dyson advertises this never has to be replaced. Value is one reason to buy from Costco. For the price of a regular Dyson, I got the more expensive animal version with some extra tools. The other reason to buy from Costco is their unbeatable return policy, which a happy Costco shopper reminded us of, as she enthusiastically sold on he product over the cheaper, Infinity, wanna-be brand that we were seriously considering.

Features, Design and Construction

The Dyson is a high-powered, versatile, bag less canister vacuum for the home. The canister is brilliantly designed. To remove the Dyson Canister, simply press the top button, and push it away from the frame. To empty, simply hold the canister over the trash and press the button. The bottom of the canister flips open and lets the debris and dust fall into your waste basket – very clever. You can also easily remove the entire top panel of the canister in order to put your hand inside to completely remove any debris and dust. . The Dyson  has a 18-foot retractable wand tool for vacuuming stairs, corners, upholstery and any other hard to get places. I’m not quite as impressed with the cleaning wand as I was the Dyson’s removable canister. The wand is easy enough to remove, but requires a little bit of work to retract the extension pool. I wish there was an easier way to remove the hose from the Dyson, but it requires pulling off the entire pole, then detaching it with two hands. This is a bit of a nuisance, and not as quick and easy as it should be. Also, the cleaning tools do not fit in the storage place very snugly, so they tend to fall on the floor if you’re very aggressive at all working on cleaning the floors. The process for switching from bare floor to carpet is just as inconvenient as it is with much cheaper vacuum cleaners. You have to bend down to the head of the vacuum, grab a knob with both hands and turn it up for bare floors or down for carpet. Wouldn’t it be nice if I could change from the carpet to floor setting without having to crouch down to the floor?

Dyson Carpet Setting
Dyson Carpet Setting

Or is that asking too much for something that costs four times the price of your typical vacuum?  The Dyson DC14 is fairly light and is easy to carry up and down the stairs by using the handle on the canister. Overall, the ergonomics are pretty good, but I question the durability and strength of all the pieces. So far, only one thing has broken; the plastic guide for wrapping up the electric cord, precisely the same part my wife broke on the pressure washer. It’s not really a flimsy piece, so don’t ask me how it happened. Like the pressure washer, it’s one of those pieces my wife likes to break. I think this is our 3rd vacuum cleaner with a broken cord guide.  One more thing; the roller brush seems to get clogged up rather quickly and is not really easy to clean. It would be nice if it could be easily removed for thorough cleaning.  This is the only thing that’s broken so far and it’s not Dyson’s fault. So far, my concerns about quality are based on

Dyson Broken Piece
Dyson Broken Piece

my impression of the light-weight pieces and nothing more than that.

DC14 Full Kit Performance and Tools

Yeah, this vacuum really does have a lot of suction, and it does a great job on my cream colored shag carpet. The one problem I’ve noticed is that the roller brush does get dirty and hinders the performance of the cleaning quite significantly. The best cleaning I’ve gotten from the Dyson Animal Vac is with the included Stair Cleaning Tool. This tool is a high speed roller brush that attached to the wand. It really works great for stairs and carpet. In fact, I can honestly say that the stair and upholstery attachment is the best vacuum hand tool I’ve ever used. I’ll go a step further and say the Dyson Animal Vacuum is the best Vacuum I’ve ever owned. On the other hand, there are other vacuums like the infinity which look and claim to be similar The question is whether or not they perform as relatively well as their price.

Conclusion

I wouldn’t hesitate to pay $379.00 for this vacuum if I knew nothing else came close for a lesser price. I will look into the $150 models and report back. Meanwhile, you can gamble on cheaper, imitation brands to clean your carpets or you can go with a proven champion that thousand of people will vouch for.

Dyson Animal Vacuum Ratings

  • Design and Features: 85
  • Quality and Construction: 85
  • Performance: 95
  • Durability: 85
  • Value: 79
  • Overall: 86

12 Cup Coffee Makers

12 Cup Coffee Makers

12 Cup Coffee Makers
12-cup-coffee-makers

12 Cup Coffee Makers have become a habit with me, lately. I’ll admit it: I’m obsessive when it comes to 12-cup coffee makers. My 10-cup Braun was the perfect coffee maker, but it was 2 cups short of a 12-cup coffee maker. In the last year I’ve owned and reviewed a Cuisinart Coffee Maker & Grinder, a Braun Drip Coffee Maker, a $25.00 Mr. Coffee Drip Maker, a Westbend 12-Cup Percolator, a Presto 12-Cup Percolator and just a week ago, purchased another Programmable, Mr Coffee, FTX23 Drip Coffee Maker at Costco. So, why, you might ask, would I buy another Mr. Coffee Maker after the first one failed so miserably in my review? The answer is three-fold: One, it was cheap.

Two: It is similar in construction and features to the Mr. Coffee I’ve used at work for the last 5 years which makes good, strong coffee. Three: It is one of the few 12 Cup Coffee Makers available. While the looks and design are slightly different, the features are identical between the old machine at work and this new, Mr. Coffee I bought at Costco for only $29.00. Most notably, there is a setting button for choosing between strong and regular coffee. I always use the strong setting at the office, which probably explains why the coffee is far superior to the cheap $25.00 unit I bought at Target a few months ago. So, I figured, if I can get a coffee maker as good as the one I have at the office for just $29.00, I’ll be satisfied.

If you’re wondering why I gave up on the Presto Percolator, it was because it began exhibiting the same annoying habit of the Westbend Percolator: Inconsistent Coffee Strength with occasional full pots of clear, hot water in between. I’m still not convinced that the Percolator is not the way to go, if I could find a good one. I have read many comments from long-time percolator owners how the quality, consistency and durability has never been the same since our American manufacturers started having their products manufactured off-shore to save on costs. Really, though: $49.00 does not seem like a price that would indicate, cheap quality components. Old fashioned quality, I guess cannot be made cheaply.

I’ll make this short and sweet. The new FTX23 Mr Coffee Maker does make much stronger coffee than the first SKX20 Mr Coffee that I reviewed two months ago. Also, the construction feels more robust and the design is more attractive. The Coffee is not as piping hot as the percolators when it reaches your cup, but it’s an adequate temperature for the first few sips. Also, I could make a case that a percolator is a great Space Saver Coffee Maker. The Westbend and Presto Percolators take up so little room and make the excitement over an under-the-counter-coffee-maker a moot point. The Mr Coffee has a much larger foot print. Though it does just barely fit underneath my counter top, I have to slide it out in order to lift the lid to prepare the coffee and pour in the water. Is there another drawback to this FTX23 Costco Coffee Maker? Yes, it is painfully slow. It took me 13 minutes to brew just 8 cups. That seemed like an excessive amount of time for a drip coffee maker. Either of my Percolators was speedier than the new, Costco Mr Coffee Maker. Normally, it’s not a draw back for me to have a slow coffee maker, because I use the timer. Perhaps, on weekends I will become annoyed with the slow brew time and start searching again for new coffee makers to review. What I really probably need is a Braun 12 Cup Coffee Maker that was as good as my last 10-cup model Braun. Durability and reliability is the only unknown. I will end this review by saying the FTX23 Mr Coffee is as decent as 12 cup coffee makers get, at a very reasonable price.

FTX23 12 Cup Coffee Makers by Costco – Final Ratings

  • Construction: 74
  • Ease of Use: 82
  • Taste: 84
  • Temperature: 80
  • Value: 88
  • Overall: 82

Farberware Percolator

Presto 12-Cup vs Westbend and Farberware Percolator

Farberware Percolator vs Westbend
Presto Percolator

A Farberware Percolator seems to be the all time standard in this group. So, how does the Farberware Percolator compare to the contenders? I’ll have to admit that I sometimes get overly excited about products without giving them enough time to show me their quirks. I really thought the Westbend Percolator was a great percolator until it showed me it’s dark side – and I don’t mean, dark, as in coffee. The Westbend Percolator was the king of all java until it started exhibiting an annoying habit from time to time.  On a rare occasion, the Westbend Percolator would decide to take time some time off from it’s duties, and just brew piping hot water instead of piping hot coffee.  Imagine getting up at six in the morning, only to have your groggy eyes and nose see and smell nothing but steaming hot, odorless water pouring into your cup. The first time this happened, I figured it must have been a mistake. I must have done something wrong.  However, on a few other occasions, I recalled the coffee was not as strong and robust as it was when I tasted that first, magnificent cup. By the time, my Westbend Percolator decided to perk it’s 3rd, full pot of water, I had to throw the traitor out of my kitchen. It is now sitting in my basement next to my other failed coffee marriage – the Cuisinart-Coffee-Making-Grinder.

Farberware Percolator

Like anyone else, I read lots of users opinions before I decide to buy a new product. Fortunately, there are lots and lots of user reviews on coffee makers and the percolator. The Farberware Percolator has got to be America’s old, favorite stand-by Coffee Percolator, and much of those that reviewed it, agree that it makes a very tasty cup of coffee. One complaint many owners of a new Farberware Percolator share online is that the product is no longer made in the manufacturer’s original plant in America. It is made in China and so the quality and workmanship is noticeably inferior to your Grandma’s Stainless-Steel, heavy Farberware Percolator. None-the-less, most Farberware Percolator owners are still happy with the flavor that comes out of their coffee makers, if not a little bit concerned about the durability. I went to my local kitchen appliance store and took a look at their 8-cup Farberware on display. One noticable difference between the Farberware Percolator and Westbend was that the brewing pipe had a deeper fitting, which seems would make it less likely for it to become dislodged and have the water miss the basket. This is what I assumed happened when the Westbend decided to brew only water.  The average star rating for the Farberware Percolator was 4 as opposed to 3.5 for the Westbend. Could I a higher rated unit than the Farberware Percolator?

Presto. It’s the Presto Percolator

Based on user-ratings, the Presto had the highest star score: 4.5 Stars. Users of the Presto Percolator seem to unanimously agree that this coffee maker consistently makes a strong and flavorful pot of coffee. There were few complaints on the Presto, except once again, those old enough to remember, felt that the construction was not up to the standards of percolators past. Upon first looking at the Presto in the kitchen store, I would have to say that it seemed to be made from the flimsiest materials of the three. The stainless steel components seemed lighter-weight and more aluminum like than stainless steel than either the Westbend or Farberware percolator. The brewing pipe on the Presto, was noticably deeper, though, and I decided it was worth the $45 Sears was asking for it.

Presto 12-Cup Maker Coffee Taste Test

My first cup of Presto Percolated Coffee was excellent, but then, so was the coffee from my Westbend percolator. The difference, however, was that the 2nd, 3rd and 4th time, every cup tasted just as good as the first – and over a week of brewing 10 pots or so, not once did the Presto take a vacation on me. Both the Presto and Westbend make the coffee equally hot – which is light years better than my last Cuisinart, Mr. Coffee and Braun Drip makers were. Despite, the somewhat more aluminum look and feel to it, the Presto does have one huge advantage over the Westbend. It has a very elegant, narrow pouring spout, which not only looks nice, but pours better and keeps the coffee hotter. The Presto seems to take a little longer making 10-12 cups of brew, but I don’t mind that if the result is consistently strong coffee. Now, onto the Presto Percolator Ratings.

Final Ratings

No. I won’t Fall for this Trap Again

Suffice it to say, that the Presto, has so far lived up to my expectations and is the best of the two Percolators I’ve used so far. I will not jinx myself this time with a numerical rating on a product that has not yet stood the test of time. My coffee is way too valuable for that. At any rate, long live the percolator.

Updated: Final Ratings on Presto Percolator

I give the Presto a rating of 84 out of 100. Place your own Rating Below

Coffee Percolator Review

Percolator Review
Percolator Review

Time for a cup of coffee, but first let’s do a coffee percolator review.
Don’t ever use a percolator to make coffee. Percolators are the worst way to make coffee. No true appreciator of coffee would ever use an old fashioned percolator – or so we’ve heard. The theory of the so-called ‘coffee experts’ is that the water temperature which reaches boiling point; is too high, resulting in the over-extraction of the grounds. So, in theory, the resulting product is a bitter, horrible tasting cup of coffee. That is, In Theory.

Coffee Making Theory

My own theory is that nobody ever drank a cup of theory. Taste is in the eye of the beholder, or in this case – the palate. After my disappointment with my recent Mr. Coffee Drip Coffee Maker, I wanted to try something new. A couple of things prompted me to try a percolator:

  1. The fact that it does make a piping hot cup of coffee.
  2. The many thousands of coffee drinkers (obviously, unsophisticated fools), boasting on the internet, how great their coffee tastes from a percolator.

Either these people never heard the theory on how badly their coffee grounds are over-extracted or they don’t know beans about good coffee theories. Or perhaps they never heard these theories about beans. I tend to believe that thousands of people swearing by what they think actually tastes good can’t all be wrong. Starbucks, the benchmark of a very hot, fresh cup of coffee is served in your cup at about 188 degrees. When I started searching for a hotter cup of coffee, I learned that the vast majority of drip coffee makers do not come close to producing water that is between 195 and 205 degree brewing temperature. By the time the coffee reaches your cup, it’s closer to 170 degrees. Which means by the time you’ve taken a few sips, it is only luke-warm. There is in-fact, one Drip Coffee Maker which achieves a much hotter water temperatures:
TechnivormThe Technivorm is an odd-looking drip-coffee maker from the Nederlands that sells for around $245.00. I was tempted to buy this one, but it seemed like a lot of money and a great deal of cumbersome gadgetry to do something that a simple $40-$50 percolator might do just as well. So, I did what thousands of other coffee drinkers are ranting and raving about: I bought a Percolator.

The West Bend 12-Cup Percolator Introduction

This attractive, stainless steel percolator is less expensive than competitive brands: About $10 less than the Presto and nearly $30-$40 less than Farberware, which seems to be the age-old, gold standard of percolators. Based on user opinions, the Presto seemed to have the highest rating, but I was not nearly as impressed with the construction and looks. The Farberware was not available in any of my local retail stores in the 12-cup version and the looks and workmanship of the 4-Cup version didn’t impress me enough to make me want to spend more time and money to find one. The West Bend is a really solid, attractive looking percolator. How nice it is to have a coffee maker that not only looks good, but takes up such little space on the kitchen counter.

Coffee Percolator Features

Ever wonder why most electrical household appliances like percolators use such a flimsy cord that invariably breaks over time? One outstanding feature of the West Bend Percolator is its thick standard, 3-prong cord; exactly the same power cord used by desktop computers and monitors. The West Bend is made from stainless steel, both inside and outside, with a very sturdy durable plastic handle. One other aesthetic edge it has over the other brands, is the traditional transparent lid-tip which shows the color of the coffee while its brewing. Why would Farberware , Presto and other brands use a solid black one and take away the fun? As with any percolator, there are no programmable timers or other electronic features. Inside, it’s basically a stainless steel urn, a spring-loaded rod and basket with lid. One minor complaint: The measured markings on the inside of the carafe only show 8-12 cups. There are no markings for anything less than 8-cups, so you’ll have to guess if you want to make 1-7 cups. Not a big issue

Performance

On my first try, I filled the water up to the 8 cups mark of the urn and added 4 big heaping scoops of Starbucks Roasted blend from Costco into the metal filter basket. I plugged it in and watched and enjoyed the aroma for the next 8 minutes. The red light went on when the coffee was done. The coffee was every bit as hot as advertised, but the incredible Starbucks quality and freshness is what surprised me the most! If there is one drawback, it’s that the coffee does begin to get lose its freshness and flavor if the percolator is left turned on. I’ve found that the best thing to do is immediately remove the cord after it is perked. It will remain hot for your second cup. And here’s a very simple work-around for the lack of a programmable timer. Use a $10.00 7-day programmable timer. The beauty of this is that you can program the on and off times for 7 days of the week. Most drip coffee makers don’t even do that. Theories be damned, Percolators do make really good coffee – and it’s every bit as hot as the drip maker that you’d have to pay $245.00 for that clutters your kitchen counters.

Ratings

Give us your own Rating on the Westbend Coffee Percolator

You may leave comments or your own review at bottom of the page.

Mr Coffee SKX20 Coffee Maker

Mr Coffee Maker
Mr Coffee Maker

The M. Coffee SKX20 programmable Coffee Maker makes a weak, plastic-tasting, pathetic cup of coffee. If you can get by that, it’s a pretty good coffee maker – and the price is certainly right. On the other hand, if good tasting coffee is important to you, this particular coffee maker might make a very nice gift for your least favorite relative or friend, and it’s perfect to use on those occasions when you have unwanted house guests

Introduction to this purchase and my Coffee Maker History

I paid $25.00 for this SKX20 Mr Coffee coffee maker at Target just two days after my good ‘ol stand – by Braun conked out. Actually, it didn’t conk out. I was trying to shake excess water off the filter basket, when I whacked it against the sink faucet and broke off a crucial piece of plastic, rendering it inoperable. My 10-year old Braun Coffee Maker was reinstated after a failed attempt to endear ourselves to an expensive Cuisinart, Stainless Steel Grinder/Coffee Maker with Thermal Carafe, which proved to be more trouble than it was worth. I liked the Braun for its simple, reliable operation and easy-cleaning. My only wish was that it brewed 12-cups instead of 10 for those times when company is over. So, my goal was to find one simple and similar to the Braun, but that made 12-cups instead of just 10. The Mr. Coffee SKX20 seemed to meet all of my demands, so bought it and took it home.

Installation of the SKX20

It was a breeze getting the Mr. Coffee SKX20 setup right out of the box. I had it plugged in, clock-set, programmable timer set for 6:00AM – all in about 2 minutes. I cleaned the carafe with sudsy water, and then ran a pot of water through it. Ahh, the fresh smell of newly heated plastic.

Features

Mr Coffee Maker SKX20 is a 12-cup, programmable drip coffee maker. You can program it to start brewing any time, simply by setting the time and pressing the ‘delay’ button. I should mention, the Blue-lit clock looks cool and high-tech without lighting up your whole kitchen at night. Like most Mr Coffee Makers, this one uses a basket-type filter. Two nice things: An easy-to-pour, wide mouth spout and a cavernous reservoir opening, meaning it’s very hard to spill and make messes which is something that is not true of the many other coffee makers Also, a brew ‘n pause feature which is pretty much standard on any dirp coffee maker these days. Also, this machine is equipped with a 2-hour automatic shut-off. My Braun shut-off time was programmable, but the Mr. Coffee SKX20 is fixed at 2-hours.

Operation

Due to the wide open design, it’s very easy and neat to prepare coffee in this unit. It is also brews fairly quickly, taking about 5-minutes to make a full, 12-cup pot. One other thing in its favor is that the coffee comes out slightly hotter than it did with either my Braun or Cuisinart. The temperature of the coffee, though, is where my good things to say about this Mr Coffee unit come to a screeching halt. For my first test, I prepared 12-cups of coffee using 5 heaping scoops of finely ground Sumatra Coffee and programmed it for the next morning’s java fix. When I poured my first cup, I thought it smelled a little like heated plastic, which may not be too unusual for a brand new coffee maker. Unfortunately, the taste of plastic was stronger than the coffee. On my next several tries, I added more coffee each time, only to learn that no matter how much coffee I used, it still brewed an unsatisfactory, weak cup of coffee. The plastic smell still overshadowed the flavor of the coffee grounds. By the fourth pot, I knew I would be looking for a new coffee maker.

Ratings Mr Coffee SKX20 Coffee Maker

  • Installation: 90
  • Operation: 85
  • Features: 82
  • Ease of Use: 90
  • Value: 70
  • Coffee: 3
  • Final: 69

Percolators

Yeah…They really do make great coffee. Don’t listen to what the coffee-snobs say. Wait a minute..I AM a coffee snob. Don’t listen to me, just take my word for it, percolators make great coffee!

Braun Coffee Maker

The Braun KF590-SL is the best darn coffee maker ever made. If you don’t believe me, just look at the expensive DGB-600BC Cuisinart Coffee Maker collecting dust in my basement. A few months ago, I ranted and raved about the DGB-600BC Grinder/Coffee-Maker by Cuisinart. I’ll stand by my complimentary words of this $129 Coffee Maker by Cuisinart. It is a quality product brimming with features, elegance, quality looks and design. So, why you might wonder, is my old Braun KF590-SL Coffee Maker now sitting in it’s place on my kitchen counter?

The reason is simply, simplicity. What’s fancy and expensive isn’t always best. My experience with the Cuisinart Coffee Maker/Grinder did not stand the test of time. While it’s nifty, built-in coffee grinder was clever and fun to use, I quickly grew tired of the mess. After a couple of months dealing with all the extra parts and gadgetry, I began to feel enslaved to its complexities and sophistication. Coffee Makers shouldn’t make us feel like the abused step child of a hostile parent. The Cuisinart began to remind me of an unwelcome, messy college roommate. I got sick of cleaning up after it. That clever little, built-in coffee grinder, has the horrible tendency to get wet so coffee grinds stick to the inner plastic like mud. The numerous parts became cumbersome to deal with, and I got sick of trying to guess how much coffee was in the non-transparent carafe. Also, getting coffee to pour out of the carafe required twisting your wrist at a 200-degree angle and holding it there long enough to read the front page of the morning newspaper. Coffee doesn’t pour from it – it trickles. Seriously, who has time in the morning for coffee that trickles instead of pours? Also, the extra-tall and boisterous design made it difficult to tuck underneath my cupboards and still have room to open the obnoxiously high water
reservoir. Isn’t the goal to enjoy a simple, but tasty cup of coffee? My Cuisinart coffee maker tried to take over my freedom. I wasn’t about to let that happen.

braun-coffee-maker
braun-coffee-maker

It was time to take back control of my household and bring some sanity and functionality back to our kitchen. I fired the Cuisinart and designated it to the basement where it poses as one of those fancy espresso bar machines. It does look impressive. Just don’t let anybody make any coffee in it. I don’t want to clean up after it.
Now, onto the features of my old standby favorite, Braun Coffee Maker.

Braun Coffee Maker Features

  • Transparent Carafe

    Ingenious! You can actually see how much coffee you are making and how much is left at all times. If that’s not enough, the Braun 10-Cup Coffee Maker, also has a very clever clear water indicator on its side, so you know exactly how many cups of coffee you are brewing

  • Sleek, Low-Profile Design

    Neatly fits under your cupboard, still leaving you room to reach and use the water reservoir

  • Grinderless Design

    The absence of the noisy, whiny grinder saves your time and hearing. Use your own external grinder that stays dry and clean. No more having to clean out messy muck. Brilliant!

  • Fully Programmable

    Programmable clock and brewing schedule. Also set the automatic shut-off time.

  • Water Filter Option

    A built-in replacement replaceable filter mechanism gives you the very cleanest water and freshest taste

 

Conclusion: Braun 10-Cup Coffee Maker

Sometimes it takes an expensive purchase of a cumbersome, overpriced coffee maker to make you realize that the $49.00 unit you’ve already had for five years, is unbeatable in value, convenience and performance. The Braun 10-Cup Coffee Maker is the best darn coffee maker in the world.

Braun Coffee Maker Ratings

  • Value: 95
  • Convenience: 96
  • Features: 88
  • Quality/Reliability: 96
  • Final Rating: 94