Can you have a smart home without smart appliances? Belkin thinks not, and it's convinced Jarden — the company that markets home appliances under the Mr. Coffee, Crock-Pot, and Holmes brands — that people who live in smart homes agree. Well, I live in a smart home, and a coffee maker would need to be more than intelligent to impress me. It would need wheels and a robot arm, too.
You see, programmable drip coffee makers have been around about as long as — well, as long as drip coffee makers. I buy one every third time I replace my worn-out machine. And I berate myself a couple of weeks later for wasting my money. Because no matter how programmable it might be, I still need to fill the reservoir with water, grind the beans, replace the filter in the basket, and dump in the grounds. Call me lazy, but I just can't muster the motivation to do that the night before I want a cup of mud, even though it would make my day easier.
Show me a coffee maker that can do all that and cost less than $300, and I'll call it a breakthrough.
But I'll be darned if I didn't find myself thinking it would be different with this coffee maker. A graphical user interface on a color display is easier to use than any number of buttons and a text-only display on an appliance. The well-designed WeMo app for Mr. Coffee (available for Android and iOS devices) makes it super-easy to program a brewing schedule (although you're limited to one cycle per day).
You don't have to stick to a schedule, though. If you want to sleep in on Saturday morning, you can kick off the brewing cycle without getting out of bed — provided your phone is in reach and you filled Mr. Coffee with water and grounds the night before.
The app knows when the water reservoir is empty and whether the carafe is in place beneath the coffee maker's hot-water outlet, and it will send you a reminder at 8PM if you've programmed it to make coffee by 11AM the next morning. It won't report the status of the grounds, though, so you'll need to check that when you add the water.
The WeMo app will also send you messages when the coffee finishes brewing, and it will remind you to perform important maintenance, such as replacing its water filter and descaling its brewing mechanism after every 90 brews. For me, that's probably more valuable than scheduling brew cycles. I'm pretty good about remembering to change the water filter in my pots, but the only time I think about descaling them is when I'm wondering why they suddenly stopped working.
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