The urge to score a deal is a strong one, especially when it comes to the world of pricey automatic coffee machines. Unfortunately, the $69 Melitta 10-Cup Thermal Coffeemaker proves once again that you get what you pay for. While this appliance is less expensive than premium drip brewers that cost $200 or even $300, the coffee it makes is thin and bitter.
If saving the most money possible is your ultimate goal, then you're better off buying a cheap $20 Mr. Coffee machine, or any one of its clones. That's why we can't recommend the Melitta 10-Cup Thermal Coffeemaker unless you're on a budget and you truly have your heart set on a machine with a fancy thermal carafe.
Measuring a rangy 14.5 inches tall and 10 inches wide, the Melitta 10-cup Thermal Coffeemaker isn't a small machine. It weighs a scant 6.5 pounds, making it easy to move around on your counter, but unfortunately Melitta achieved this lightness by using mostly plastic in the machine's construction.
While the appliance's front face consists of brushed stainless steel, specifically the funnel-shaped filter holder and the carafe base, the rest of it is glossy black polycarbonate. It feels cheap, and the way its lid flexes doesn't inspire much confidence about its durability.
Opening the lid reveals the water reservoir ,which at first looks like it could hold much more than the 10-cup capacity of its stainless steel thermal carafe. That's because the halfway mark on the water indicator (on the right side of the appliance) tops out at "10". Closer inspection, however, reveals a pair of overflow holes on the back side of the water tank that sit just above the 10-cup line. Regardless, it's best to use the supplied carafe to fill the reservoir, or at least never pour in more than the carafe can hold (10 coffee cups, 52 fluid ounces).
A smaller, circular lid caps the filter holder, which accepts Type 4 paper filters. You can also remove the filter holder and swap in a permanent gold filter. Below the filter well sits a tiny LCD screen, flanked by two large buttons, one to select "brew strength" and another for power. Underneath the display are minuscule keys to set the hour and minute values for the clock as well as to program automatic brewing times. Another build quality issue I noticed was that the clock keys felt loose and even jiggled within their settings if I tapped or flicked their edges. However, one component Melitta didn't cut corners on is the thermal carafe. Not only is it crafted from solid steel, its lid swivels tightly in place and even features a thumb tab for mess-free pours.
Usability and features
Underneath the Melitta's steel-and-plastic skin is merely a basic automatic drip brewer. It doesn't feature any fancy water delivery methods like specially-designed spouts or spigots.
Likewise, the 10-Cup Thermal Coffeemaker lacks both a charcoal filter to remove water impurities, and a permanent gold filter -- attributes theoffers. Melitta didn't even bundle a coffee scoop with the machine, so you'll have to supply one yourself. Another usability annoyance is the previously mentioned water-level indicator, which features just three markings, for 6, 8, and 10 cups. Needless to say, it makes measuring a precise amount of water a bit tricky.