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HolidayBuyer's Guide
Coffee Makers

How to know when it's time to replace your coffee maker

These are the signs to look for when deciding if you need a new way to brew coffee.

Chris Monroe/CNET

The life span of a coffee maker can vary greatly. Some people can use the same coffee maker for a few decades while other machines only last a few years.

Things like how often a coffee maker is used, its build quality and routine maintenance are just a few of the many factors that can affect how long you can go before needing to replace your trusty machine.

Here is how to know when it's time to upgrade your coffee maker.

It stops brewing coffee

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If the machine stops making coffee, it's time to find a new one.

Chris Monroe/CNET

It probably seems pretty obvious, but when a coffee maker stops working, it's probably time to replace it altogether. There are a number of things that can go wrong, such as the pump breaking, the machine inexplicably beginning to leak from the bottom or the tank cracking.

In general, unless it's still under warranty or a very expensive coffee maker, it's better to replace the entire brewer itself than it is to try to diagnose and repair the machine.

Your tastes have changed

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When you want to make coffee that tastes substantially different, it's time for a new machine.

Taylor Martin/CNET

Short of a coffee maker physically breaking and needing repair, one of the more notable reasons you might want to upgrade or replace your coffee maker is your own personal tastes.

Similar to wine or the rise of craft beer, coffee is undergoing a massive change which is often referred to as the third wave of coffee. This change is in favor of specialty coffee, which comes with more transparency in how the coffee was grown as well as processed, roasted, brewed and its tasting notes. Of course, it comes at a higher price to consumers, as well.

This attention to detail can quickly make you realize your ancient coffee maker at home, while reliable, does this new fancy coffee no justice.

The water doesn't get hot enough

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The Bonavita had no trouble getting its water nice and hot.

Brian Bennett/CNET

The optimal temperature for brewing coffee, as noted by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), is between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit (90.6 to 96.1 degrees Celsius). Sadly, many coffee makers fail to reach even the lower end of that range. Hula Daddy Kona Coffee says it tested one popular coffee maker that brewed coffee at just 156 degrees Fahrenheit (68.9 degrees Celsius).

Even if your coffee maker used to brew coffee at the correct temperature, the heating element can wear out over time. A sign of this will be weak, under-extracted coffee that often tastes slightly sour.

With an aging coffee maker, you might be able to replace the heating element, but it's likely a great time to consider upgrading to a newer machine.

Pods are difficult to find

If you have trouble finding the type of pods you need for your coffee maker, it's time to find a new way to make coffee.

Taylor Martin/CNET

Since the rise of pod-based coffee makers, more brewers have become susceptible to obsolescence. When the maker of your machine stops making a specific type of pod or coffee varieties in a specific pod become scarce, it may be time to replace your coffee maker.

Keurig Vue pods, for example, have never been as widely available as the original K-Cup pods. And Keurig discontinued the Rivo and Kold systems last year.

When something like this happens, you do have at least one option before upgrading: bypass the pod system and use your own coffee. However, in the long-term, you're probably better off just opting to buy a new coffee maker altogether.

Making coffee for several guests

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If your coffee maker is often unable to make enough for your family or your next party, it's time to find one that can.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Single-serve and manual coffee brewing methods are often great for making coffee quickly for one or two people. When you have multiple guests over who all want a cup, a brewer like a Keurig or AeroPress can create a time-consuming bottleneck.

If you find yourself needing to serve coffee to a large group of guests often, you might want to consider cold brewing coffee the day before or buying a coffee maker that's capable of brewing several cups at a time... you know, like the old days.

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