We had to get a new coffee maker, as our 15 year appliance's glass carafe developed cracks. After a bit of research, we settled on the 'Hamilton Beach Stay or Go' - particularly because my wife wanted a thermal carafe and neither of us wanted something fancy (i.e. grinds beans, makes espresso and latte, etc).
Recommend this product?
Well, what we like about this coffee maker is:
- It has a thermal carafe, which eliminates the need for the hot plate. This helps preserve the proper taste of the coffee, as well as allowing the carafe to be placed on our marble breakfast table (which I believe is sealed with heat sensitive polyester).
- It also looks pretty good.
- The carafe is easy to pour, although it was a bit slow.
- The coffee we brew is as good (or as bad) as any coffee we've ever made; I have always thought that brewing coffee is a very simple thing - I can't understand why one coffee maker can make better coffee than another.
Now, for the not so good:
- The coffee from the carafe is not nearly as hot as coffee from a maker with a hot plate; of course, with a thermal carafe, you can't have a hot plate - the heat will not transfer to the coffee. I suspect that the coffee already cools quite a bit before it even makes its way into the carafe. This is likely caused by the roundabout route the coffee takes, necessary to accommodate the dual travel mug filling.
- The carafe lid has 2 internal channels for inflowing and outflowing coffee. I suspect that these will get pretty filthy, as I can't see any simple non-destructive method of opening up the lid to clean these areas.
- Convoluted gauging of the correct amount of water, unless you use a separate measuring container. Otherwise, you need to pour an estimated amount of water into the carafe; pour into the reservoir until you get the desired cups; pour out the rest of the water from the carafe; and continue. With a glass carafe (or separate measuring container, you just fill up to the line, and pour all of it into the reservoir) - a system simple and intuitive enough that hotels provide it in their rooms. Imagine if every hotel guest had to R&D their in-room coffee maker before getting it right.
- The 2 'insulated' travel mugs are terrible. While I was performing my pre-first use washing, each mug fell apart into 4 pieces (3 plastic, 1 stainless steel). These pieces are held together by friction alone - there are no clicking/locking mechanisms. Basically, the mugs are not insulating enough or even safe enough to be useful. The outside hand grips are essentially rubber bands held in place by friction. If you buy this coffee maker, just use the carafe.
- Other reviewers had mentioned that this coffee maker fills the 2 mugs in a very inconsistent way. Yes, this is true - but I think it is mostly because the coffee maker needs to be on an absolutely level surface in order to use the 2 mug method. The brewed coffee is gravity fed into 2 separate spouts - one for each cup. If the maker is slightly tilted to one side, then the mug on that side will get more of the gravity fed coffee. This is not an issue with the carafe.
- My coffee maker included a reusable metal/plastic coffee filter. However, the filter lets through quite a bit of coffee grinds. Perhaps this is only a problem with fine grind - but paper filters don't do that.
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