Lesson: Don't Clean the Coffee Pot

Is it the coffee or is it the coffee maker? I posed that question to a group of coworkers the other day in relation to the office coffee we have here at Microsoft. Our coffee is Farmer Brothers French Roast. Our coffee makers are Brewmatic one gallon automatic brewers. So I started by cleaning the coffee pot. Underneath every sink in every kitchenette at Microsoft there are several squeeze bottles labeled "coffee pot cleaner." You squirt this blue liquid into the coffee pot, swizzle it around, then rinse out the pot and the nasty brown scum is supposed to come off. Of course, it never quite does. But this time, I was serious. On my own time, I ran the cleaner through the pot eight times. I also dumped in water and shook the pot firmly. And I banged the pot against the sink. I was expecting the pot to get cleaner. I wasn't expecting chunks. Yes. Chunks of coffee deposits up to the size of my fingernail were coming out. The inside of the pot went from brown to stainless steel again. The glass coffee level meter went from brown to clear.

I then cleaned the filter holder and the place where the water sprays out onto the coffee grounds. Then I ran two full cycles of water through the pot by pressing the Start button on the coffee pot. I let that sit overnight.

The following morning I came in to find someone had made coffee. It didn't taste right. Or, more accurately, it didn't taste the same way it had the previous day. It, in fact, had very little taste. Nor did the next pot. Or the pot after.

I realized that, by cleaning the coffee maker, I'd removed all the flavor from the coffee. You see, all it was doing was dumping warm water into the pot, which was, in fact, lined with coffee flavor. I'd ruined the coffee.

The moral of this story is, clearly, don't clean your office coffee pot.