Cuisinart Coffee Maker Troubleshooting: 4 Common Problems Fixed

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When your coffee maker stops working or spits out terrible coffee, you’re going to have a bad day. Cuisinart coffee makers are amazing machines, but there are a few common issues I’ve seen with them.

The chances are that you’ll run into some trouble at some point if you own a Cuisinart drip coffee maker. But don’t despair! Cuisinart coffee maker troubles are rather easy to handle, and even if you end up needing tools, these coffee makers are quite accessible and lend themselves to easy repair. 

Without further ado, let’s start our Cuisinart coffee maker troubleshooting by exploring some of the most common troubles you can run into, what causes them, and how to fix them.

1. Cuisinart Coffee Machine Not Brewing or Coffee Tastes Off

Sometimes, a Cuisinart coffee maker turns on but doesn’t brew. No, it’s not your imagination. It can happen—and it usually happens after about six months of use. 

Likewise, the machine could complete a brew cycle, only to leave you with coffee that just doesn’t taste right. This is likely not a problem with your coffee beans, although you might want to check that first, but rather with the machine itself. 

Tap water contains all sorts of minerals in it, most notably calcium and magnesium. These two minerals can build up inside your machine’s tubes and—over time—will create deposits of calcium and/or magnesium that look like stones inside the tubes. 

Some machines won’t even turn on if they aren’t descaled first—that’s how important it is.

These stones (or scale, as is the professional term) will block the water from flowing properly. That means that the coffee is not brewed properly, so it will taste off. These are some signs to look for if your machine has scale: 

  • Coffee tastes watery, acidic, or bland
  • Your cuisinart coffee maker makes strange water noises when brewing
  • It’s not brewing as much coffee as it should be
  • Your coffee maker turns on but won’t brew coffee

How to fix – descaling your coffee maker:

The fix is, fortunately, quite simple. You’re going to purchase some descaling solution, which is made of chemicals that will turn those deposits soft and help your machine dispose of them easily. If you’re looking for a cheaper solution (pun intended), you can use vinegar instead.

How to use descaling solution:

  1. Empty your machine’s water tank.
  2. Add 2 oz. Of descaling solution to the water tank. 
  3. Put the water tank in place.
  4. Select a brew cycle from your machine. 
  5. Place a receptacle in the machine to collect the brewing solution that will come out of the machine instead of coffee. 
  6. Afterwards, rinse your machine by filling up the tank with water and brewing one or two cycles until you think your machine is completely clean. 

That’s it! Your machine is scale-free now. You might need to use more on bigger machines, but that’s unlikely even then. 

Why does scale happen? 

As I explained earlier, tap water is full of different chemicals and minerals that are crucial for the filtration process. These are added to help the water become potable. 

Depending on where you live, water might be easier or harder to treat; if you live in an area where water is rather dirty, then the processing plant will have to add a higher dose of these minerals and chemicals. 

When there’s a higher than average presence of these minerals in the water, it is said to be hard water. Hard water has a lot more calcium and magnesium in it. Therefore, it has a higher chance of creating deposits in your coffee maker. You can actually buy tests that help you find out just how hard your tap water is. 

If you find that you need to descale your machine too often, then it might be better to install a filtration system that can get rid of these minerals before they even enter your coffee maker. 

2. Cuisinart Coffee Maker Display Is Not Working

The classic LCD display that most drip coffee makers have is not only convenient but is also an important part of the user interface as it lets us navigate through a few functions of the machine. 

These displays are admittedly rather fragile and particularly when attached to a machine that produces heat and lets off humidity. Humidity will inevitably make its way to the inside of the display and, in some extreme cases, break it. 

How to fix a faulty display:

*Before unscrewing anything or touching any exposed wires, make sure the coffee maker is not connected to a power source. 

The answer will depend on the particular machine. Some Cuisinart coffee makers can be partially disassembled, so you would be able to take a look inside and see what’s going wrong: 

  • If the display doesn’t display anything at all:
    Look for unhooked wires. If there are wires that are out of place, then you can try reattaching them where they are supposed to be, and try again. This is unusual, but it can still happen.

    Most commonly this happens with new machines and is a problem you can easily solve yourself without having to send the machine back. 

If, however, you see signs of a burnt circuit board or burn wires, then the problem is out of our hands. Cuisinart actually offers a good product assistance service that will help you sort out a new circuit board which they can install themselves. 

  • If the display works partially:

Look for humidity inside. Use a flashlight to spot any signs of humidity, particularly if you haven’t used the coffee maker recently.

This problem is easy to fix; simply wine down the inside very carefully and, if possible, leave it drying using a fan or something similar. You can also use silica packets to draw out any moisture that you can’t see with the naked eye.

Put it back together again and check. It should be working fine by now; however, in some cases, the damage to the screen itself might be permanent, in which case it would need replacement. 

3. Cuisinart Coffee Maker Is Brewing Weak or Bitter Coffee

Minerals might not be the only culprit when your coffee feels a little too weak or too strong. This is something that black coffee lovers are able to sense immediately: our coffee is either tasting too strong/burnt or just not delivering the kick that it should be. 

The problem is with the extraction here. Most specifically, with the filter itself. 

Many modern drip coffee makers use permanent filters instead of the old paper coffee filters. That means that we use the same filter over and over again. If not cleaned properly, they can start faltering, as they are not only full of microscopic grounds blocking the water but also full of coffee oils.

If the problem is with a clogged filter, then the coffee will taste weak. If you’re actually dealing with a buildup of coffee oils, the coffee could taste too strong instead. This is because coffee oils, which are in the grounds, are released with heat. Some of these get stuck in the filter. 

Coffee oils are responsible for a lot of the flavor, so it makes sense that they start over-charging the coffee with flavor, to the point where it tastes stronger, even if it isn’t. It can get to a point where the taste becomes unpleasant, almost burnt, where the amount of oils is too great.

Even if you can live with the taste, you should fix this problem as soon as you notice it. A clogged filter could eventually lead to water overflowing and flooding your countertop. 

How to fix weak or bitter coffee: 

In this case, the fix for both of these problems is exactly the same: cleaning the filter. And I mean thoroughly cleaning it. 

  • To clean the filter, take it out of the machine and dispose of any grounds that might be leftover.

    Fill a pot or any other receptacle with water and soap. Leave the filter soaking for at least 30 minutes.

    Now take the filter out and with warm (preferably hot) water running, scrub it vigorously. You want to get rid of any trace of grounds and oils, so do this for at least one or two minutes until you feel it’s clean and unclogged.
  • If after cleaning and drying the filter still has a pungent smell, then it’s time to leave soaking again. This time, aside from soap, add 1 part vinegar for every 2 parts of water. The vinegar will help get rid of the lingering smell. 

4. Cuisinart Coffee Machine Won’t Turn On

This is an uncommon problem, but a serious one. It can go one of two ways: 

  • If your cuisinart coffee maker is brand new:

    Check to see if it may actually be turning one, but the LCD display isn’t working. If that’s the case, check out the section above for further steps you can take. You can often fix the display yourself, but you might want Cuisinart’s customer service to help you with it.

    In general, though, you’re going to want to just contact Cuisinart for problems with a brand new machine or a machine that is still under warranty. You don’t want to void that warranty if you’re dealing with a manufacturing defect.
  • If your cuisinart is not brand new, and it has suddenly stopped working:

    Some coffee makers will stop working altogether when the buildup of scale inside is too great. In this case you can try running the descaling solution yourself through as many tubes as you can read, particularly the showerhead. Cleaning as much as you can can also help solve the problem.

    After you’re done giving the machine a thorough cleaning, let it dry for at least one entire day before trying to turn it on again.

    The other issue might be with the power cord. Check to see if the power cord has any exposed wire or if the end of the cord has been bent in an awkward position, in which case the wires inside might have broken.

    Fixing a power cord needs only a few tools and about half an hour of work. You can also see about purchasing a new one, but this solution is considerably more expensive and not available depending on your machine.

How to fix a broken power cord:

You’ll need a few things:

  • Soldering iron
  • Cutting pliers
  • Heat gun 
  • Electrical solder 
  • Electrical Tape
  • Wire strippers
  • Utility knife
  1. Now, cut the power cord in the place where you can see it’s bent. It’s easier if the place is visibly broken and the wires exposed. 
  2. Make sure that both ends are trimmed, meaning there aren’t any loose wires outside of the sheathing. 
  3. Using the utility knife, cut about one or two inches of the sheathing from each end of the wires. 
  4. You should see two sheathed wires, one black, the other white. Strip them so that they are both covered. All in all, you should have two ends with two exposed wires each; four in total. 
  5. Now it’s a matter of pairing each wire with its proper color, black with black and white with white. Pair them up, tie them up as best you can, then solder them together using the solder. 
  6. Apply the heat shrink tubes where all of the exposed area is and apply heat until they are tight enough. 
  7. Lastly, use electrical tape to secure the whole area. 

And you’re done. You’ve successfully repaired your power cord. 

What’s Next?

I’ve tried to cover all of the basic issues with Cuisinart coffee makers, but let me know if you’re facing a problem that I didn’t get to. You can also take a look at my coffee maker cleaning guide for more ways to keep your drip coffee maker running for years to come.

Sometimes, a coffee maker is just beyond repair. It’s a sad day, but also an exciting one if you’ve been looking for an upgrade. If you need a new coffee machine, check out the automatic pour-over coffee makers for high-quality coffee, Ninja coffee makers for versatility, or Nespresso Vertuo machines for convenience.