For years now, coffee-makers have been getting progressively higher-tech and feature-heavy. And consumers seem to love them. But sometimes the best products are the simplest.
I think Hamilton Beach’s thermal coffee maker is a perfect example. I recently got one to replace the old HB thermal coffeemaker I had for ten-plus years, and which got fried during a fire at my cottage. I love the new model even more than the one that died. And I really, really, really loved the old one — up to the point that for about eight weeks I refused to believe that it would never work again. Alas. Memento mori, circle of life and all.
The thermal pot means that I can carry the pot from deck to dining room to dock, and because the coffee doesn’t sit on a burner, the taste stays fresh. It’s programmable, so I can set it to have coffee ready when I wake up. Thank you, Jeeves. It’s also got three brew strength settings — regular, bold and robust — which determines the speed with which the water flows into the filter. The longer the water “interacts” with the coffee grounds, the more they swell and release flavour.
There’s a water gauge on the side, and unlike in some coffeemakers, it’s accessible and easy to read.
Tips for making great coffee
Ground coffee gets stale faster than whole beans. If buying pre-ground coffee, choose a package with the latest expiration date or a smaller quantity. For grinding, I like the Hamilton Beach grinders that have a removable cup that can go in the dishwasher — it means they can also be easily used for fresh spices.
If grinding whole beans, set the coffee grinder on a fine/medium grind. Coffee that is ground too finely may cause the filter basket to overflow.
Use freshly ground coffee within about a week of grinding.
Purists suggest using filtered water or bottled water to yield better-tasting coffee, but I use tap water because I think bottled water is stupid and wasteful.
Use approximately one tablespoon (15 ml) of ground beans for each cup of coffee being made.
Make sure your coffeemaker is clean by following manufacturer’s instructions.
Bonus cold coffee recipe
Make ten cups of strong coffee. Pour two cups into ice cube trays and freeze.
While hot, add sugar or maple syrup to taste to the remaining coffee and stir well.
Add about a cup of coffee cream (oh c’mon, you think a bit of fat is going to kill you?) For a super sweet, super creamy version, add sweetened condensed milk. (Uh yeah, we all may soon die in a thermo nuclear war. You’re counting calories for what, exactly?) For boozy coffee, add a cup or so of a chocolatey liqueur like Bailey’s. Stir and chill. Serve over the coffee ice cubes.
Hamilton Beach provided me with a programmable thermal coffeemaker to test for this post. They did not review or approve the copy. I seriously do love this coffeemaker. Cross my heart.