Maybe your coffee isn’t quite as hot as it used to be. Perhaps your coffee maker isn’t brewing as fast as it used to, or maybe your coffee doesn’t taste quite right. At some point, you will find yourself asking: Should I replace my coffee maker? How long should a coffee maker last?
The average lifespan of a good coffee maker is around 5 years. If you regularly maintain your machine by doing regular maintenance such as cleaning and descaling, it could last up to a decade.
While some coffee machines can last up to 10 years, you may want to start shopping a little earlier. Let’s look at why it may be time to upgrade your coffee maker.
What causes a coffee maker to stop working?
There are several things that can prevent your coffee maker from working correctly, so it is important to diagnose the exact problem. Some problems like a clogged tube or showerhead can be easily repaired but if your thermostat or pump valve has gone bad, it is probably time to replace the machine.
A Clogged Tube
If your coffee maker is is down to a slow drip, there is a good chance you have a clogged tube. The tubing that moves the water from the reservoir to the showerhead can develop limescale build-up if the machine has not been descaled regularly. Running a few cycles of a descaling solution may clear the clog. Future clogs may be prevented with regular maintenance.
A Leaking Tube
If your coffee maker has recently started leaking or steaming much more than usual, you should check the tubing in the coffee maker. It could be something as simple as tubing that has come loose. Cracked tubing will need to be replaced.
A Clogged Shower Head
If your coffee maker has been taking more time to brew lately or your coffee has been tasting weak, your culprit could be a clogged shower head. The showerhead is the part of the machine that disperses the water over the coffee grounds. Limescale build-up can occur if you have particularly hard water or if the machine has not been descaled regularly. Examine your shower head. If you see gray or white discoloration in the holes, limescale is to blame. Using a paperclip, gently try to clear the limescale from the holes and then run a descaling solution through the machine. This should clean the scale out of the showerhead. Regular descaling can help you to avoid this problem in the future.
A Bad Thermostat
If your coffee is no as hot as it used to be or not hot at all, you probably have a bad thermostat. Unfortunately, this means it’s time to buy a new machine. In many cases, it is more cost-effective to purchase a new machine rather than replace the thermostat.
A Broken Pump Valve
If your coffee maker is not brewing at all and you have deduced that the tubing is not clogged, you most likely have a broken pump valve. If this is the case, say goodbye. Repairing a pump valve is typically more expensive than replacing the coffee machine itself.
Do expensive coffee makers last longer?
As a rule, yes. Less expensive machines are typically made using cheaper materials which break down more quickly. A cheap machine, purchased for less than $50 should not be expected to last as long as a $100 machine that is better engineered and made from higher quality components.
That said, the more expensive the machine, the more bells and whistles it tends to have. Unfortunately, as you add more and more extra components to a machine, you have a better chance of one of these components breaking.
In our opinion, if you want a machine that is going to stand the test of time, simpler is always better. The fewer the parts, the longer the machine will last. Look for a quality machine that has nothing more than a simple heating element and tubing. Cuisinart makes quality machines in the $100-$150 price range that are built to last. They also offer a 3-year warranty on their coffee makers. If a manufacturing defect is going to occur, it is likely to happen within the first three years so an extended warranty will give you peace of mind.
In the long run, it is more cost-effective to spend money on a better quality machine that will last rather than purchasing a less expensive machine every few years.
What exactly makes a coffee maker last longer?
If the average life expectancy of a coffee maker is 5-10 years, what can you do to make your coffee maker last longer than the 5-year mark? Well, there are a few things that could potentially help your machine last longer.
Investing in a quality machine will considerably lengthen the lifespan of your coffee maker. Cheaper coffee makers are typically made out of plastic components which as a rule break down more quickly. Look for a machine that is made from stainless steel components. More expensive coffee makers also tend to come with longer warranties. An extended warranty will insure you from manufacturer defects during the life of the warranty.
While a higher quality machine is more expensive upfront, it can actually save you money in the future. Replacing a cheap coffee maker every few years adds up over time and simply isn’t’ cost-effective in the long run.
Servicing and maintenance
As with most things, how you care for your coffee machine will have a great effect on how long it lasts. The majority of quality coffee makers will come with a manual that has instructions for the care and maintenance of the machine.
Cleaning and descaling regularly are paramount in the life expectancy of your coffee maker. Regular maintenance can help prolong the life of your coffee maker and keep it running for years to come.
Frequency of use
How often you brew coffee will have a considerable impact on how long your machine will last. A coffee maker that brews once every morning will simply last longer than a coffee maker that brews multiple times a day or an office machine that runs all day long.
Coffee makers are kind of like cars. No matter how well you care for them, after a certain number of miles, it’s time to move on to the next model.
Using filtered water
During graduate school, I lived in Lubbock, TX. The water there is so hard that it almost has a texture! People who live in an area with hard water will generally find that their coffee makers have much shorter lifespans.
Something as simple as using water you run through a filtering pitcher can make your coffee maker last longer. You can also purchase water from the grocery store or install a water softener on your home.
How to clean a coffee maker
Every month or so (depending on use), your coffee maker will need a thorough cleaning to remove any Limescale and coffee residue that can build up over time. Not only will regular cleaning make your coffee maker last longer, but you will also be amazed at the difference in the taste of your coffee after a thorough cleaning.
What you will need
- White Vinegar or lemon juice
- Dish Soap
- A soft sponge or dishcloth
How to do the actual cleaning
- Always wash the carafe, lid, and filter basket with hot soapy water after every use. If they are dishwasher safe, just pop them in the dishwasher.
- Fill the reservoir with half white vinegar (or lemon juice) and half water. Allow the solution to sit for 15 minutes, then set the machine to brew, discard the dirty vinegar water, and repeat.
- Clean the carafe, lid, and filter basket with hot soapy water and then run clean, filtered, water through two brew cycles to remove any excess vinegar and debris.
- Finally, add hot soapy water and rice to your carafe. Swirl it around to remove any stuck-on debris and then wipe the carafe out with a soft sponge or dishcloth. The rice will leave your carafe sparkling like new.
How to clean a single-serve machine
Since all single-serve coffee makers are different, we recommend referring to your users manual for specific cleaning instructions but a few basic tips are:
- Remove the drip tray and wash thoroughly.
- Fill the reservoir with the vinegar solutions used above or a descaling agent made for single-serve machines.
- Run 2 – 3 brew cycles using this solution.
- Run 4 – 6 brew cycles using plain filtered water to remove any residue from the cleaning agent.
- Finally, wipe down the outside of the machine to remove any dust or coffee spots and you are good to go.
How often should you replace your coffee maker?
How often you replace your coffee maker depends on a number of factors. A coffee maker that is no longer working is a pretty obvious reason, but there are other less obvious reasons you should consider.
Reasons to Replace Your Coffee Maker
Your Coffee Is Not Hot Enough
When your coffee maker is no longer sufficiently heating the water used to brew your morning cup, it’s time to look for a replacement.
According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), the optimal temperature for brewing coffee is 195℉-205℉. Unfortunately, many less expensive coffee makers don’t reach this temperature, to begin with.
Over time, wear and tear on the machine begin to affect the heating element. As the heating element begins to fail, the water temperature used to brew your coffee will drop. Brewing coffee at too low of temperature results in poor flavor extraction and a weak and under-extracted brew that has a slightly sour taste.
You can attempt to continue using your coffee maker but eventually, the heating element will go out completely. Once the temperature begins to drop you should really start shopping for a new machine.
If you like your coffee extra hot and what to know which coffee maker makes the hottest coffee, check out this article.
Your Coffee Maker Stops Working
This one probably seems pretty obvious, but when a coffee maker stops working, it’s time to replace it.
There are several things that can cause a coffee maker to stop brewing: leaks, faulty pumps, and cracked parts to name a few. Unless your coffee maker was very expensive or is still under warranty, it is typically cheaper to replace the machine than to have it repaired.
Your Coffee Maker Is Outdated
Coffee makers can become obsolete surprisingly fast. If you can no longer find the proper filters for your coffee maker, or you would prefer to have a machine that offers more features such as milk frothing, you should consider a replacement.
You certainly don’t have to wait for your coffee machine to cross the rainbow bridge before replacing it. You can always donate your appliance to a second-hand store like the Salvation Army, or sell it on Craigslist for someone else to enjoy.
Your Coffee Maker Doesn’t Work With the Latest Coffee Pods.
Nothing is worse than when a manufacturer discontinues your favorite coffee pods. In some cases, this can even render your single-serve coffee machine useless. This is extremely disappointing, especially when the machine is still in great shape.
With the rise of pod-based coffee makers, more and more brewers have become obsolete as a newer and better product is released. Prime examples of this are the Keurig Rivo and Kold systems.
While you could continue to use your own ground coffee in a reusable pod, chances are you selected your machine because of the convenience factor, and there is nothing convenient about constantly filling and cleaning those pods.
If your machine is obsolete or your favorite pods are becoming hard to find, it’s likely time to upgrade your coffee maker.
Your Taste Has Changed Over Time
As we enter different seasons of our lives, our tastes begin to change.
Perhaps you no longer prefer drip coffee and would rather have an espresso machine or use a French press. Either way, that old coffee maker from college just isn’t cutting it anymore.
There is nothing wrong with upgrading to a nicer machine as your tastes change. We are guessing you now drive a nicer car and drink better wine, so why not step up your coffee game too.
Your Coffee Maker No Longer Fits Your Lifestyle
We have already told you that coffee makers are like cars and we are going to use that analogy once again. You replaced your college clunker with a sedan, then moved on to a minivan to tote the kids around, and maybe now you have moved on to a sporty BMW.
As we move through the different seasons of your life, your needs change. Your coffee maker is no exception. That single-serve coffee machine was great when you were single but now you and your partner will easily go through 8 cups a day. With a single-serve machine, that gets expensive. Especially if you are trying to save to put your kids through college.
Whether you have a family or have simply started entertaining on the weekends, a lifestyle change is another reason to replace your brewer.
Why does my coffee taste funny?
If your coffee starts to taste a bit off, you most likely need to clean it. Limescale build-up is most likely your culprit. Run a cleaning cycle and change the charcoal water filter if your coffee maker has one.
Can a coffee maker go bad?
Yes. Coffee makers, just like any other appliance can stop working over time. The lifespan of an appliance depends greatly on how it is cared for and how often it is used.
When should I replace my coffee maker?
Obviously, you should replace your coffee maker when it stops working, but there are a few other situations when replacing it is a good idea. If you use a Keurig or other single-serve machine, you will want to replace it if you find that you can no longer find the coffee pods you want. A change in lifestyle such as a growing family or a new need to entertain a group of people.
What is the most reliable coffee maker?
We often get questions like this as well as questions like “What is the longest-lasting coffee maker.” There are a lot of great coffee makers out there but in our opinion you can’t go wrong with a Cuisinart coffee maker. Cuisinart coffee makers come with a three-year warranty and are built to last. If you are shopping for a new coffee maker and are considering a Cuisinart coffee maker, check out our Cuisinart coffee maker reviews.
While the average life expectancy of a coffee maker is 5 years, many can last much longer with proper care and maintenance. That said, there are certain situations that you may want to consider upgrading your current model well before the end of its life.
Either way, if you are in the market for a new coffee maker, we have some buying guides that can help.