About a year ago we purchased a Cuisinart “Grind and Brew” coffee maker for ~$170.  For six months, it worked flawlessly.  For the next three months, it became increasingly temperamental, occasionally refusing to turn on at all.  At a little over 11 months, it made the full transition from coffee maker to large paperweight.  I carefully carried it out to its new temporary residence, the trash can.

So we began the search for a replacement.

Logging on to Consumer Reports, I checked their ratings for drip coffee makers.  Ranked #1?  A Cuisinart, of course.  It was a different model than the one we’d recently donated to the local landfill, however.  Clicking on a link to User Reviews, I thought, “Maybe this one’s a lot better, somehow.”   The first review was titled, and I am not making this up,  “Died Suddenly.”  CR’s own readers gave it 3 out of 5 stars, on average.

And that initiated a pattern which quickly became frustrating.  Taking a look at several other models CR reviewed favorably, I checked user opinions and reviews at CR, Amazon, and epinions.com  .What became obvious was the fact that none of the coffee makers was a clear winner.  None of them.

So, what to do?  Buy another Cuisinart, which admittedly made a good cup of coffee?  Hardly.  Buy a cheapie unit like a Mr. Coffee?  Uh uh.  Care too much about getting a quality cup to accept a poor performer (inadequate brew temperature and brew time) like that.

Surely there must be a quality coffee maker out there, short of an $11,000 Clover!

Thinking about it for a few minutes, I suddenly realized there was likely another resource available.  One that I used – albeit for a completely different reason and on a totally different topic – every day of the week.  So I Googled:  “coffee lovers forums” and “coffee forums.”  I found several:  CoffeeGeek, CoffeeNerds, CoffeeForums, EspressoForums, and so forth.  Most have sections dedicated to equipment.  At CoffeeGeek, I scanned and searched the “Machines and Brewing Methods” area.

I’ll spare you the boring details, but in short:  a number of users spoke very highly of Capresso and Technivorm (a company in The Netherlands) machines, as well as others.  I crossed checked User Reviews at a couple of other sites, and settled on a Technivorm unit.  I’ll let you know how we make out.

My message:  if you’re considering a significant purchase, don’t forget to check for a forum on the topic or brand.  There are thousands of forums on the internet on virtually any subject and interest.  Walther pistols?  Check.  Siamese cats?  Of course.  Netbooks?  Naturally.  Subaru WRX owners?  But of course!

The feedback and comments are often very detailed, and are honest.  If someone with a particular agenda or trying to pimp a particular product comments, they’re usually sniffed out and identified as such by regular forum members.

Coffee makers are one thing, but if you’re ever in the position of buying a used (or for that matter) a new car, check the forums for that automaker.  I used to frequent the Infiniti G Owners Forum, and one of the most interesting threads was titled “Best Negotiated Deal.”   Checking such a thread before buying could save you literally hundreds of dollars – if not more.

Oh, a final note:  if you’re wondering, CR did rate the Technivorm.  They gave it a 69, putting it squarely in the middle of the pack.  User reviews on the CR site (there are a few) all gave it 5 out of 5 stars.  Forum members ranked it very highly as well.  After we’ve had it for several months, I’ll write a review.

If you’ve used online forums and found them helpful, please comment.

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3 Comments on Are you overlooking a powerful resource when comparision shopping?

  1. Till says:

    For a major purchase the forums are always a wonderful resource. Amazon is very good, too. For tech stuf cnet can at least narrow the list down a little. But this new tech gear woman (American Asian, forgot her name) is a disaster. I wonder what they pay her to read the spec sheet. It’s terrible. I digress, though.

    On the warranty side, there are a lot of credit cards that offer an additional year of warranty on top of the mfr warranty. In addition, some even offer price guarantees. If the item is priced lower anywhere within 60 days or so of purchase the CC company will refund the difference.

    The extended warranty is one of the main features I look for in a credit card. It comes in especially handy for those internet purchases where you will still have the receipt. Paper receipts always get lost at my house.

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  2. gb 972 says:

    i’ m very pleased with my nespresso which i have for 6 -7 years without problem
    yes, the coffee is expensive, but it is worth for me, i regret only to pollute a little more by using the aluminium capsules
    gerard

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  3. Harris says:

    And do not forget, google is a godsend when it comes to checking out all of the “great deals” offered on infomercials. Checking before buying this stuff has saved me literally hours of frustration.

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