- Food and Cooking
Hamilton Beach releases a new single serve coffeemaker
Initial comments on the newly released Hamilton Beach single serve coffeemaker. The unit is smartly designed and has the feel of a quality build. It isn't perfect, but well worth owning considering its modest cost.
Hamilton Beach "The Scoop"
A nice sized view of the coffeemaker with the grate in its base and ready to accept a 14oz travel mug.
The Pros, and there are many.
I recently ran across the newly released Hamilton Beach single serve coffeemaker called "The Scoop". I was in the market for just such a machine and so took a good look.
To begin with, I was very impressed with the look and feel of the unit. It is primarily stainless steel and has 'weight', the feel of quaility. As for looks, the quality continues. It is a very smartly designed unit with clean simple lines making it not only attractive, but easy to clean. It is compact and takes up very little counter space. It begs to be left out on display.
The unit that I purchased comes with two scoops for coffee. There is a hook on the side of the machine to hang one of the scoops, This was a very thoughtful feature. My first thought when removing the scoop from the box was how long it would take for me to misplace it. Problem solved by good design.
The scoop nests atop a second screen cup. This second screen is very effective at trapping additional coffee solids that manage to pass through the scoop screen. Both scoop and secondary screen cup nest atop a funnel that collects the hot coffee and streams it into your cup. All three pieces are very easily removed for cleaning and put back in place. I repeat, very easily removed and put back in place. Well designed.
A collection grate is built into the bottom of the unit for placing two different size mugs. The grate will take a standard 14 oz travel mug, but I especially recommend the 16oz Thermos King that comes in blue-black, and fits the machine very nicely (see my comments on this mug below). By turning the base grate upside down, it acts like a tray to hold smaller 8oz mugs at a higher elevation, closer to the down spout. Again, switching this grate from the 14oz to 8oz position and back is extremely simple and feels solid and trustworthy. The grate is made of very heavy gauge steel and is easy to clean, as is the resevoir beneath the grate that collects stray drips. Again, very good design.
The unit offers two settings for brewing, regular and bold. Essentially, regular is for regular grind, and bold is for everything else. I suspect the bold setting reduces the amount of flow to allow for seepage through finer espresso type grinds. I have not used the regular setting. I have not had any issues with the bold setting. An attractive blue LED warns that brewing is underway. The color sets off the stainless steel and black trim very nice.
Understand that this unit ultimately simple. There are no added features like timers, clocks, digital readouts, temperature controls or anything else of the sort. Essentially, this unit has one button that does its job perfectly--it starts the brew.
Lastly, be aware that this unit is sold with one scoop and also with two. That fact will probably be reflected in the price. Amazon sells one of these units for about forty dollars. I believe mine listed for seventy with the two scoops. I got mine on sale for about fifty if I recall correctly.
The Thermos King 16oz
Using the Thermos King 16 oz offers some advantages.
1) It has a narrower design, which allows the mug to be placed toward the back of the grate directing splashing to the back of the machine.
2) At 16oz, the mug is taller and snugs up to head of the machine further eliminating space for coffee to splash out.
2) The fill line on the Thermos King is just a hair shy of the overflow hole in the reservoir. It allows you to safely pour into the coffeemaker, or fill to the 14oz mark and have room left over for cream and sugar.
3) The mug has a sharply defined rim that makes for easy mess-free pouring of water into the reservoir--a godsend.
4) The mug holds a little extra coffee, or cream, and looks like it was made for "The Scoop" when stored on the grate.
Zero Splash Solution
The Thermos ThermoCafe
Here is a foolproof way to prevent splashing. Unlike the Thermos King (above), the 16oz ThermoCafe is actually taller than the coffeemaker will allow. However, because the coffee basket and funnel are removable, they raise and lower. This allows you to easily slip this travel mug underneath the flow basket. The basket fit to the ThermoCafe is about as perfect as a fit could be. You can clearly see this in the picture that I have taken. There is absolutely no splash-back when using this mug.
Another worthwhile note...the starter threads on this mug are 180 degrees opposite, which means that you can put the cap on in two different positions. This means that this mug can be used by both right and left handers.
You won't be disappointed if you purchase this combination.
If you have purchased "The Scoop" single serve coffeemaker and have fitted a mug that you feel makes a great combination, please write in your recommendation for others (and me as well) to consider.
Adjustable Grate - 14oz to 8oz mugs and back with ease.
This photograph shows the grate in its inverted position and supporting an 8 oz mug.
"The Scoop" - The reason behind the name.
You can see how easy it is to fill the coffee filter. Both 8 and 14 oz marks are prominent.
The Cons, it isn't perfect.
In spite of the many great aspects of this unit, I am very pleased with mine; it doesn't come without a few kinks in the armor.
The most notable oversight is one that seems to plague the entire industry. Many single serve makers, including this one, cannot accept more water than they can dispense. In other words, if you intend on making 8 ozs, you cannot pour more than eight ounces into the machine or you will have a serious--my cup runneth over--situation. The correct way of filling these units is to take a measuring cup and fill it to the appropriate oz line and pour the measured water into the coffeemaker. Are you kidding? Who does that? In the real world, you fill your mug with water and dump it into the machine.
And there lies the problem. It is almost impossible to dump a mug of water into a machine without it running back along the mug and missing the tight coffeemaker opening entirely. Or you fast dump the mug full of water and races up the sides and out, or you miss it completely. Any way you look at it, this is a problem and the Scoop is no different in that regard. It is a pain in the ass to pour a cup of water into this unit with a mug. In fact, the 14oz limit is marked by a ledge that is just below the reservoir overflow hole. In other words, every time you go for a 14oz fast dump, you risk driving water out the overflow. Bad design.
It would have been nice to incorporate some of the machine space to utilize a deeper reservoir that not only saved one from this potential mess, but also it might have offered enough water to fill a two cup container so both you and the wife could have coffee together. I know that is pushing the intention of the design, but not by much.
Another issue that becomes immediately apparent, is that of splashing. Unlike a pot, which maintains contact with the coffeemaker downspout, these units accept coffee that is free falling through space in a stream of drips. That means you will get splashing on the surface around the coffeemaker base that will have to be wiped up. One trick to reduce this problem is to use a narrower cup and push it to the back so it is pressed up against the body of the unit. This keeps the coffee stream close to the front side of the cup and causes the splashing to be directed backward toward the coffeemaker where it is collected as opposed to every which-way it might fly. Again the narrower design of the 16 oz Thermos King works well for this placement. See my comments above.
It must be mentioned, for those who fail to take this into consideration, that you cannot "top off" a cup of coffee made from a single serve unit. That can quickly become an issue if you are used to pouring a cup of coffee and after half an hour going back to the coffeemaker for a warm up. You might be better off looking at a unit that offers both a single serve and pot facility.
All in all, I am very happy with the unit. It does what is claims to do very well. I am especially pleased with the sense of quality the unit presents. I would recommend this unit to anybody, with the understanding that it does have some minor issues to be considered.
Having used this unit for awhile, I have returned to say that when I go for a cup of coffee, my wife keeps popping up to say that she would like one. That's code for telling me to make her a cup. I often wish that I had the option for a second cup or at least 32 oz of capacity.
That being said, it must be remembered that this unit was specifically designed for a single serve. It does that perfectly. The unit cleans up exceptionally fast. Also, the last time I went to brew a cup, it didn't work. The little blue LED was blinking and went out. My first thought about what might be the problem had to do with water. Sure enough, I forgot to pour some into the reservoir. Nice touch on HB's part.
Conclusion to date. Very happy with the unit.
Here is another product offered by Hamilton Beach. I have no experience with this unit, but included it as an example of how to avoid some of the drawbacks of a single serve only coffeemaker.
Considering it has earned a near perfect 5 star review from over 250 buyers, I can only assume that one could buy this model with confidence.
Two Years Later....
This morning I made another single cup using this coffee maker and accidentally overflowed the cup. Now, you may think that is a bad thing but let me explain. I push this coffee maker to it's limit, knowing I can fill a 16oz mug to the top. This morning I decided to put some sugar in the mug first, which is something I have never done before, and it overflowed.
The reason I mention this is twofold. 1) Cleaning up the mess with this coffee maker was a ten second breeze. In fact, I was so pleased to overflow the large mug that I never gave much thought to the spill over.
The second reason I mention this is because my wife and I received a Keurig for Christmas. Up front, I will say straight away, I am not a big fan. I won't go into it, but the one thing in particular that I would like to say is this. Our Keurig only makes 8 to 12 oz cups and to make matters worse, I get annoyed over never knowing how much coffee will end up in my cup. I ended up routinely overfilling the tank, allowing water to flood my counter, in order to assure myself a full cup. The predetermined amount of coffee means the more water the weaker the coffee. Not so with the Hamilton Beach.
The important thing here is that after two years of use, I still stand by my original claim that this is one of the very best coffee makers ever made. It is durable, built solid, exceptionally easy to clean and everything else I pointed out in the original article.
My only caution about this unit is that for idiots like me who experiment by cramming as much coffee into the strainer as possible.. proceed with care. It will make a mess by forcing the grounds up into the head of the unit. Understand, using this much coffee is like pouring a gallon of milk on your bowl of cereal. You can say you did it, but why?.
I am not sure if they still make this unit. I haven't seen it in the stores as of late. If you can find one that is used, based on the way they are built, and the flawless performance, I would snatch it up and wear a smile.