Pros: Entirely self-contained unit, no-drip dispenser, easy cleanup
Cons: Flat-bottomed filter assembly for the ground coffee, awkward for travel mugs
Some while back when our old coffee maker seemed on its last legs, Himself asked me to stop by the Best Buy near work and pick up a new one. There was much that we liked about our old machine. It was one of those expensive gourmet pots with an insulated carafe to hold the freshly brewed coffee. It was handsome and it made coffee that tasted wonderfully strong and fresh, but the liquid itself never seemed really hoteven when just brewed. (Thank goodness for microwave technology to warm up our Joe cup by cup.)
Himself wanted a new machine that would make the coffee hot and keep it hot, but not keep it baking indefinitely if we forgot to hit the off button. Beyond that, he gave me no requirements. Just go and get it, he said.
OK, with that relative blank check, I went and I got. I passed up the ubiquitous Mr. Coffees in their many assorted variations. Ive never really liked them. I declined the Black & Deckers, the Bunns, and the Krupsall brand names we had selected in the past and used with a measure of satisfaction. I didnt want something with a glass pot on a hot platethe pots break and the hot plates end up baking and scorching the liquid within a relatively short period of time.
After due deliberation, I selected the Hamilton Beach BrewStation, though I did so with a measure of reluctance. It has no pot and it has no carafe. The brewed coffee collects into an internally held basket and is heated by a smallish warming pad against which the base of the basket rests. Coffee is dispensed by a tap located under the basket. The grateful and expectant coffee addict presses a lever to release the coffee directly into the cup.
I must admit that I was vaguely off-put by the BrewStation design, and in the end I selected it only because I liked the others lessand with more direct experience. Himself, on the other hand disliked my choice immediately. After a futile attempt to return the item, the machine sat for months tucked into a corner under the buffet. (I didnt have the receipt, even though the intact packaging still had the intact Best Buy labeling.) Finally, after the old coffee maker died a slow death, he pulled out the BrewStation and plugged it in.
Well, what can I say? It makes coffee, and generally the coffee is not bad. (OK, so Himself and Yours Truly are harsh critics in this department.) I actually like the fact that all the working bits, including the brewed coffee itself, are internally contained. I dont like the filter design. I firmly believe that cone-shaped filters make better Joe than the flat-bottomed type. Had I noted the flat-bottomed filter assembly, I would not have bought the BrewStation. Compensating for the flat-bottomed filter requires more ground coffee per pot to get the required richness of taste.
I do like the BrewStations timer and the auto turnoff for the warming plate. This means that coffee wanted immediately will be hot and fresh and satisfying. Leftover coffee dispensed after the appointed turnoff time will likely be cool or cold, but it can be zapped in the microwave. It will still have a fresher taste than would coffee that has been smoldering on a hot plate for the entire duration.
So heres a summary of the features Yours Truly likes:
~ Makes up to 12 cups of steaming hot coffee
~ Is an entirely self-contained unit with no breakable glass pots or miscellaneous parts extending outward
~ Has an autotimer to start the coffee in at the appointed hour
~ Has an easy bypass option for the autotimer
~ Has a built-in water filter
~ Has an auto turnoff for the internally contained warming plate
~ Has an opaque window showing how much coffee is left
~ Has a no-drip dispenser
~ Offers easy cleanup (essential to maintaining a machine that makes good-tasting coffee)
Here are the features I dont like:
~ Has a flat-bottomed filter assembly
~ Dispenser works well for ordinary cups or mugs but is a pain for the tall variety of insulated travel mugs
The BrewStation has lots of variations, including the following:
~ Comes in black or white
~ Comes in 10- or 12-cup units
~ Comes with or without the autotimer
~ Comes with or without an internal grinder for coffee beans
Ours is a white 12-cup unit with an autotimer but no grinder. We like it well enough, but when the time comes, well be in search of the next great advance (or retreat, as the case may be) in coffee-making technology. Were just fickle, I guess.