If you’ve spent any time with me Around the House, you know how much I love my Hamilton Beach Thermal coffee-maker. You’ve heard me trill about how I can make a pot of terrific coffee in the insulated steel carafe, which can be easily carried to a deck, or dock, or picnic table, where it stays hot for hours. Such a basic feature to add, but such a boost to the machine’s performance. I still love this machine. Always will. It’s a stellar example of simple but well thought-out product design.
While I don’t think of myself as the fickle type, Hamilton Beach’s new FlexBrew may have stolen my heart. Because it’s also very, very clever.
On one side, it makes an impressive cup of coffee, including a 14-ounce travel size — using either branded pods or ground coffee and a reusable brew basket. Such an easy way to reduce waste. You can also use your own beans.
Fans across the world will also know that I believe grinding fresh beans shortly before brewing is one of the easiest, most affordable ways to make a better cup of coffee.
Brewing by the cup also means bean blends can suit individual tastes for, say, flavoured or decaf. Brew strength is also adjustable. To offer even more choice, the single-serve function also works with tea pods.
I especially like the single-serve function for whipping up specialty coffees. There are some uncomplicated recipes on the Hamilton Beach site that I had fun trying (salted caramel coffee, anyone?) The dairy section of your local grocery store has loads of flavoured creamers* that can reproduce fancy drinks at home, in almost endless combinations. I grabbed a few while I was testing this model, along with a few cans of whipped cream (low-fat, regular, and coconut). Okay, I also got caramel and chocolate sauce. What? It was research!
I can also see the FlexBrew serving nicely in dorm, home-office and short-term rental spaces, all spaces in which it could accommodate multiple users with different coffee preferences. As back-to-school season ramps up, it makes juggling competing schedules less of a hassle, and less wasteful.
The other side brews up to 12 cups in a carafe, which can also be fitted with a reusable filter to reduce waste. A timer lets you align brewing with a wake-up alarm. Removable parts are top-rack dishwasher-safe. I was testing the machine during a run of hot and humid weather, when I would often make a carafe in the morning to go in the fridge for iced coffee later.
COLD COFFEE SHORTCUT: Add a slug of flavoured creamer* (I think hazelnut is dreamy), let it cool off for a bit and then transfer to the fridge. Serve later over crushed ice, and with a mint leaf, if you want to get fancy.
I often poured the mix into reusable bottles that the Man of the House (MOTH) or I could grab on the go, or take to the park for a picnic. I don’t want to brag, but MOTH said my cold coffee is as good as that of a famous boutique coffee chain (rhymes with LarTucks).
More affordable counter-top appliances often cut corners on muffling sound—many are noisy. I found the FlexBrew exceptionally quiet—a bonus in small spaces and work settings, and on the days I inexplicably wake up at 5 a.m.
My only problem now is that I’m going to have to choose which of these coffeemakers gets real estate on my counter-top. I’ve been testing the FlexBrew long enough to know it’s not a passing fancy, a silly crush, a foolish infatuation. This is the real thing, my friends. I love this machine.
NOTE TO READERS: This post is part of a collaboration with Hamilton Beach. They did not review this content prior to publication. I really do love the machine. You can see it in action in this CHCH Morning Live segment I recently did.