During the testing for our February 2009 report on coffeemakers (on newsstands and online in January), our technicians began to wonder about the off flavors and odors they detected in the heated water that came out of seven coffeemakers the first few times they used them.
In their instruction manuals, manufacturers nearly always suggest that you run at least one cycle of water through a coffeemaker before you make the first pot of coffee with your new appliance. Is that one cycle sufficient to eliminate off flavors and odors? That question also prompted our technicians to spot-check the water from the seven coffeemakers for residual chemicals.
They collected samples from water run through the machines according to the manufacturers' instructions and had an outside lab analyze the water for semivolatile compounds, including six common plasticizers (phthalates) used in consumer products. (The lab followed EPA method 8270.)
While no federal agency has issued warnings regarding phthalates in coffeemakers, such compounds remain a subject of scrutiny by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and environmental groups for their use in children's and personal-care products, and air fresheners.
Two of the coffeemakers we tested store the water until you are ready to make coffee, and our testers noticed they had hard, clear plastic parts that looked like polycarbonate, so they spot-checked these machines for bisphenol A (BPA), a compound commonly found in polycarbonate plastic that studies have linked to cancer, diabetes, reproductive abnormalities, and other health risks. The technicians stored water in these two coffeemakers for nine days, heating and collecting the water on three separate days during this period, then tested each water sample for BPA
The tests detected low levels of two semivolatile compounds—benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP), a plasticizer, and benzyl alcohol, a solvent commonly used in inks, paints, and epoxy resins—in water heated in six of the seven coffeemakers models. They also found very low levels of BPA in two of those six coffeemakers.
Based on our experts' analysis, the levels of compounds detected would not be expected to pose a health risk. They also seem unrelated to the off flavors or odors. What our tests don't indicate, however, is what a coffeemaker might release over the years it's in use. Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, remains concerned about BPA and phthalates that might leach from plastics used in myriad everyday products involving food contact.
To minimize off odors and flavors, wash any product you cook, eat, or drink with before you use it. This includes following the instructions that came with your coffeemaker and running a water-only cycle through at least once before brewing.—Ed Perratore
Essential information: Your coffee machine might not be the only source of off tastes and odors in what you brew—it could be your water. Read our latest review of water filters. Consumer Reports has been testing coffeemakers for decades. The black-and-white photo above, circa 1958, shows one step in the process of determining the strength of the coffee from different models.
After reading the Coffeemaker comments in the January 2009 issue, I had to comment. Keurig makes a variety of brewers; Consumer Reports chose their most expensive. We use a $150 model that provides temperature and cup size control, and is faster than the Breville model. (We've also tried the Senseo pod machine.)
There are other important considerations. I can switch from caffeinated coffee to decaf to hot chocolate for another family member in an instant. At my small business, everyone gets their choice (coffee, hot chocolate or tea after running one brief "empty" cycle.) Especially at the office, the best part at the office is NO MESS! EVERYTHING we tried before dripped, or tasted stale, or resulted in spilled grounds, burnt pots, etc.
I agree that putting coffee into a filter is cheaper.
The Keurig K-Cup coffees and teas we've ordered have been mostly very good to excellent, and it works quickly. I think your assessment is incomplete without considering mess and multiple family considerations. Sometimes that trumps cost.
Why was the drip coffee maker "moccamaster" by technivorm left out of the ratings? Any pure coffee connoisseur will tell you that there is not a drip coffee maker on te planet that makes a better cup of coffee. Shame on you consumer reports.
Spacemaker™ Digital Coffeemaker
This model is the current one I have and it quite working. The display panel does not come on, so I am assuming the power supply went out.
I prefer an under the counter drip coffeemaker. I had an older model that lasted for years. The current model has had many problems as you can see from the following website:
Why is Black and Decker still selling this appliance and when will they design a new one that lasts?
My desire is to have a programmable, under the counter drip coffee maker not in combination with anything else!
I recently purchased a Mr. Coffee FTX41 ( manufactured by Sunbeam ) and upon use, noticed a heavy "Plastic" smell when coffee is brewing. Thereafter, the taste has that Plastic flavor and aroma. I'm giving up on this one, but after research at a few of my favorite coffee shops, I have come to conclude that Stainless Steel and/or glass make the best combinations. But whow manufactures one for home use, that makes good coffee and keeps it hot ?
Michael hit the nail on the head. The issue with home coffee makers is they add a plasticky taste to the coffee. How CU fails to realize this as a major issue is beyond me. Do us a favor and at least note somewhere in the buyers guide which units heat the water in plastic and which do not. I will never buy a coffee maker that has the water come into contact with plastic during the heat cycle. It makes the coffee taste bad and god knows what the chemicals do to our health.
After reading your report on coffeemakers, I tried to purchase the Mellita 2GO two cup maker and found that the price ($30) you raved about was erroneous. The best price I could find was $80+!!! Even at that price it was hard to find it available. I am still interested if you can suggest sources.
We received a very nice looking black/brushed aluminum programmable coffee maker from Gevalia 18 months ago. The first one they shipped not only smelled like plastic just sitting on the counter, but the plastic taste also leeched into the coffee. I made NINE pots and it still was horrible. I called them and they sent another one. It was exactly the same. Finally after a few weeks all scent and smell of plastic was gone. Then after less than one year, the hot plate stopped working completely, so in the trash it went. What a shame. More made in China junk.
I was wondering if Consumer Reports would be willing to tell us the name of the one coffeemaker brand that did not have plastic residue in the coffee? Thanks.
Please tell us which coffee makers did not have bpa in the coffee it made. Please help us find a coffee maker without plastic.
I was interested in buying an espresso or coffee maker that is BPA free. Does anyone have any suggestions?
so where is the February 2009 report?
I've been searching without success for a drip coffee maker that does not have a plastic basket or any plastic that touches the hot water. I bought a ChemEx, but it is not as convenient as the drip maker. Same with French presses. What's a coffee snob to do?
CR: Sounds as though folks out there are looking for this kind of coffee maker. Can you help us?
I too want a coffeemaker that is not constucted out of plastic. The only thing I can find that is stainless is the Presto percolater. CR could you test it and give an opinion.
I have searched unsuccessfully for a convenient coffeemaker that does not expose plastic parts to boiling water. I'm concerned about chemicals leaching into the coffee I consume. Last week I bought an expensive French Press, but I already find it too inconvenient to use. Please, at least, help us consumers find a no-BPA drip coffeemaker. Compared to glass/metal contraptions, drip coffeemakers are easy to use and provide that essential, glorious brewing aroma, too.
YES WHAT TWO MODELS DID NOT LEACH BPA etc???????
What a half assed article.