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If there’s such a thing as “coffee makers for dummies,” the Black & Decker DCM600B Coffee Maker is it. Put in the filter and coffee grounds, pour in water, and press the big red button. That’s it. This is a perfectly functional, bare-bone, no-frills machine to make a couple cups of coffee. I have to say, though, that for such a simplistic design (which I applaud in theory—all I wanted was the couple cups of coffee) it’s still not entirely fool-proof, and has a couple surprises for the unwary new user.
Black & Decker DCM600B Coffee Maker product features:
The things you’ll want to watch out for with this machine aren’t deal-breakers, and they haven’t made me consider returning the machine, but they’re good to be aware of so you can avoid the potential pitfalls. The first issue I ran into with the Black & Decker DCM600B Coffee Maker was the water filling. The machine has a water-level indicator in the form of a plastic window on the side, where you can (theoretically) see how full the reservoir is. In actual practice, however, it’s a dark window in a black machine, and without catching just the right angle of light, it’s nearly impossible to see the actual water level inside.
The second (related) drawback is the set of drain holes at the back of the tank, designed to prevent you from over-filling the reservoir. They do work for their intended purpose—you can’t overfill the tank—but the consequence if you over-pour is a sudden lake on the counter top, flooding out those holes. I figured I wouldn’t run into over-fill problems if I simply used the unit’s own carafe to fill the tank (it’s the right amount of water, I reasoned) but that plan didn’t take into account the residual water that’s sometimes left in the reservoir, which still causes an overflow if you add a carafe full of additional water to it. (As a side note, I had better luck viewing the water level after I moved the machine nearer to a kitchen window).
The second unpleasant surprise occurred when I lifted the top of the Black & Decker DCM600B Coffee Maker just after it finished brewing, intending to lift out the removable filter basket (definitely a positive feature for clean-up) and got a face-full of billowing steam. This machine doesn’t brew as hot as some others (around 160ºF rather than 200ºF) and it brews a little on the slow side. But given the fact that the price tag on this machine is about equal to three purchases at a coffee shop, I’m happy with what I got from the money.
Some of the other things to be aware of aren’t necessarily negatives—and shouldn’t come as a surprise if you read the product information before you buy—are still good to be aware of. The warming plate doesn’t have an automatic shut-off, so you need to remember to turn it off so the heating element doesn’t burn out (or start a fire). And it doesn’t have any programming, simply “On,” so your coffee won’t be waiting when you wake up.
For the function it’s designed to perform—making a mug or two of coffee—the Black & Decker DCM600B Coffee Maker does great. Although the machine is compact, the brewing basket has enough clearance underneath for even an oversized mug, pretty much anything except the really tall travel mugs, so sometimes I skip the carafe and just put my favorite mug under the dispenser. The cup warms on the heating plate while the coffee brews directly into it.