In which the coffee-maker dies after 17 years…

When I came down into the kitchen this morning, I found that my husband had set up the coffee maker for the day. He poured yesterday’s leftover second pot into various mugs, and had put water in there, etc. So I hit “Start,” went up to get dressed while the big boys were sitting with the baby, came back down and found…

…no coffee. The red power light was on but nothing was happening.

I suppose this is not surprising, as the coffee maker is 17 years old. We got it as our coffee maker, I think the summer before getting married, though I could be wrong here. Were the cicadas out? I suppose aligning the life cycle of the Brood X cicadas and our coffee makers wouldn’t be a terrible thing, and I am grateful that this appliance lasted this long. It’s just not a great time for it to die as we are getting a fancy beverage station in our new house. But we can’t move until the fall. So we need a bridge coffee solution for the next 4-5 months.

I imagine we’ll get some sort of cheapish coffee maker that can also be used as a back-up if the beverage station malfunctions. I plan to take our current microwave over to the new house as well to use as a back-up if the microwave drawer we built in doesn’t work as wished. Curiously, the microwave was actually left here by the previous owners, who I guess thought it was not worth taking with them. And now we’ve been using it for another decade!

It is deeply satisfying when stuff lasts and works. Over the weekend we went on a family hike at Hawk Mountain (in the rain, in 48 degree temperatures…and yes, there was whining, but the kids were pretty tough!). We put the toddler in the hiking backpack, which we got in the summer of 2007 when the now-14-year-old was an infant. It is still going strong, five kids in. I imagine it will make it to 17 years as well, until the little guy is big enough to hike on his own two feet.

Do you have any appliances or kid items that have proved incredibly reliable?

21 thoughts on “In which the coffee-maker dies after 17 years…

  1. We just finished a camping trip. Our tent is 15 this year, our cots are 18 and the truck we drove in is 14 years old. Makes packing so much easier when it’s all a pile ready to go, and don’t have to think about what do we need, it’s already here. Not appliances, but well-made camping gear can last a generation.

  2. My parents had a microwave for 30 years. My dad refused to let her replace even though she had already bought one to match her other appliances. The day he died, she came home from the hospital and the microwave died. It was like a little goodbye nudge from him in the quirkiest way.

  3. We keep a small french press as a back up to our main coffee maker. The biggest benefit there is that with our gas range we can make coffee even in a power outage (it always seems like the times when a good cup of coffee would be most helpful as when you can’t get one!).

    I recently stayed in my grandmother’s home that she moved into in 1948 (she lives in an assisted living now). It was amazing to be in her kitchen cooking with the measuring spoons and cups etc that she had clearly had for 70 years. Even the ice cream scoop was the one she had used when she made us milkshakes when we were kids. When my Dad asked what I might want from her home, now that they are starting to go though her things and those kitchen items were top on my list!

  4. I’m an avid sewist, and I just put absolutely perfect button-holes in a new shirt with a button-holer that my mother-in-law bought in the 1950s. Old stuff was made to last!

  5. My grandparents are still using, on a daily basis, the toaster they got as a wedding present 65 years ago!! The cord was replaced at some point, but the rest is original. My grandma keeps it shined up and it looks like new. It has no buttons: you add the toast in top and it slowly lowers and then pops when done. Definitely got their money’s worth!

    As a finisher (per Gretchen Rubin’s opener/finisher) I find immense satisfaction in using something up completely and fully and having a long life! My husband is an opener, and is always interested in the new and flashy. In our house, I have to protect against things being replaced before their time with the “new and better”!

  6. We have a Fisher and Paykel tumble dryer which has been going strong with daily usage for 22 years. I thought I would write to encourage the company to let them know how delighted we were with their quality appliance. Somehow it landed up in a minion’s in tray and their response was ‘we can’t work out from your email what the problem is, please advise’. I guess companies’ systems are not necessarily set up to receive positive feedback…

  7. When our Mr Coffee died, America’s Test Kitchen happened to do a rating of coffee makers, so we bought their top pick. It happened to be on sale half price at the local hardware store for a ridiculous $15, and that Black and Decker served us for 10 years. When it finally died, we bought another. When we broke the carafe, my parents had moved into the senior facility and their Cuisinart was still in the house, so we “borrowed” that. While it is very handsome, we don’t find it as easy to use as the Black and Decker.

  8. Not an appliance, but we have made our master bedroom set last a LONG time. Embarrassingly long, probably. I got 2 nightstands, the bed frame, and two dressers for $125 for the whole set when I moved into my apartment during college in….2004?? It was a really sturdy, quality, old wooden set, but the old couple selling it just wanted to get rid of it, so they practically gave it away. I thought it was a steal! Well, we STILL have that bedroom set!!! Talk about getting my money’s worth! Lol! We did upgrade the bed/mattress to a king after we got married, but we are still using the same dressers, nightstands and mirror. In all honesty, it needs to go…but, there is always something “else” more important that needs upgrading or replacing first (like, our recent kitchen remodel!). But it does always make me laugh to think how many years of use we’ve gotten from that $125 purchase. 🙂 I wonder what that couple would say if they knew we’re still using it in 2021. Hehe.

  9. I have a robe I got when I was a pimple-faced teenager. It is huge and fluffy and patterned with teddy bears. My aunt and uncle gifted it to me two decades ago; I’ve melted one of the pockets (stood too close to a wood stove when I was in high school), but my Mom patched it up and the robe looks and feels as great as when it was gifted to me.

    I have a nice, thin, sleek black robe that better corresponds to my age, but nothing can compare to the comfort of that enormous, blue La Senza teddy bear robe.

    I have a tiny wardrobe and am not overly sentimental with clothing, but even I can’t believe that robe is still hanging on my bedroom hook ready for years more of cozy service.

  10. I second the idea of getting a French press. This is versatile and you can use it outdoors so it will still have a use when you move.

    My item is also not an appliance. My family eats at my mom’s kitchen table that she had in her childhood. When I was a teenager my stepdad refinished it and it is beautiful, plus it has the extra sentimental value of his hard work. It has traveled with me since I moved out on my own and now my own baby eats his breakfast there just like my mom did when she was a baby.

  11. Okay I need to know your process! What do you mean your husband poured your old coffee into various mugs? Do you drink it later? I pour ours down the drain and now I feel like I’m missing out on something!
    And to answer your question we still use my husbands old alarm clock as a clock In our room. It’s the only one he’s had so it’s at least 20 years old if not 25 or 30.

    1. @Janelle – ha ha ok now I realize this might be one of our family quirks. If we don’t finish a pot, my husband will often save that coffee by pouring it into a mug, which he will then microwave the next morning, or later in the day if he wanted a cup. I tend to prefer my coffee fresh, and I’m trying not to drink too much of it, so I generally won’t drink the leftover mugs… The idea is just trying not to waste it. Yesterday it was good that he had saved a few mugs of the previous day’s second pot as the coffee maker wasn’t working, so we had to subsist on that. Our new model arrived late yesterday and was put to use this morning!

      1. My husband pours the leftover coffee into a jar and refrigerates it to drink as iced coffee in the afternoon.

    2. I had the same question about yesterday’s coffee in the mugs! I’m curious! Sadly, most of our appliances/baby stuff seems to break well before it should. But I do have a bookshelf that my 74-year-old father made in his high school shop class…

  12. We moved to a Breville Oracle a few years back. It makes barista style lattes/cappuccinos that are better than at a cafe and is such a high quality machine. It’s hard to imagine ever settling for drip coffee again. Let’s hope it lasts 17 years!

  13. I highly recommend the AeroPress! My husband is a huge coffee nerd and has tried all sorts of contraptions (including working at various coffee shops in his 20’s) and I got him the AeroPress for his birthday this year because I was tired of cleaning out the sludge at the bottom of his Bodum. He’s a total convert and now recommends it to everyone.

  14. I love this post! My mom had the same KitchenAid mixer for about 25 years before it finally died- amazing quality from a 1979 wedding gift. My favorite long-lasting possessions have been certain Fisher-Price kid toys, my heirloom Ebel watch which runs perfectly, and my 2013 Nissan Leaf which has had almost no issues.

  15. I am very frugal and love having old things that still work well. I think the best example is my 2008 Pontiac Vibe. It only has 106K miles, we’ve only ever done routine maintenance on it, and it still gets 35 mpg highway, 28 mpg city. I also have two LL bean winter coats that are 10+ years old. Our kid room tv is 14 years old too.

  16. 1. GE microwave purchased new in 1999; it still runs like new!
    2. Hard rock maple bedroom set purchased new by my grandmother in the 1950s or 1960s; it would be very difficult and costly to replace with a new set of comparable quality.

  17. I won a GE microwave in 1989 from the local newspaper cooking contest. It lasted for 20+ years. I gave it away to get a smaller one for the counter. I just replaced that after 4 years. We are also sleeping on our waterbed frame from 1986. New mattress and I do have a new bed frame we are putting together this weekend. I didn’t want to give up the under bed drawers.

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