Pros: Easy dispensing with spigot, plastic container.
A few months ago, we needed a new smoothie maker, and purchased the Hamilton Beach Smoothies & More 10 Speed Blender. I was happy with how it worked and the consistency of the smoothies that it made, though husband did not care for the fact that the container was glass rather than plastic and that it did not have a spigot for easy dispensing. When he saw this Back to Basics Smoothie Elite Blender for about $35, he purchased it right away.
Assembling this smoothie maker is easily done by pressing the container into place on the base, which contains the motor. From experience with prior smoothie makers, I know that if the container is not placed firmly into the correct spot, the gears will be damaged and the appliance will no longer work.
To make a drink, first add the liquid ingredients and then any frozen ingredients and/or ice to the container. The lid has a clear cap on it, which needs to be removed and replaced with the "stir stick" which has a ball on top to hold onto and reaches about three quarters of the way down into the container. There are three buttons on the right side of this machine, off, low/dispense, high and a pulse button on the left. When you begin to blend your concoction, for the first thirty seconds, use only the low setting while stirring it counter-clockwise with the stir stick. Continue stirring and press the high button for about forty-five seconds to complete your smoothie. To dispense the smoothie, make sure a cup is under the spigot and keep the machine on the low/dispense setting while pressing the Dispenser Valve.
We do not often use the pulse button, which basically gives the motor a boost while the machine is turned on or gives the ingredients in the jar a good mixing if the machine is off. Generally, we use this appliance for parties where people are fairly regularly turning it on so that the ingredients get stirred about. If you were going to prepare a drink or smoothie earlier than when you planned to use it, giving it a pulse every so often would probably be necessary.
Cleaning this Back to Basics Smoothie Elite Blender thoroughly can be cumbersome as the valve comes apart into five separate pieces. It not too difficult to disassemble, wash and reassemble the pieces, though when we have guests over and want to make more than one type of drink, it can be time consuming to wash the machine thoroughly so as not to have the flavor of one drink in the next one. If the same drink will be made soon after the first pitcher is finished, fill the jar with warm water and let it run through the valve so that it gets a quick rinse. Though the instructions indicate that a dishwasher should not be used, I have put the lid, stir stick and container in the dishwasher a few times and have had no problems.
If you do not want to use the spigot, you can take it off and place the included cap over the hole in the jar. You can then take off the lid and pour the beverage into a glass by holding onto the handle on the side of the jar. The instructions indicate that this cap can also be used if you wanted to mix dry or extra-thick ingredients, but I have never found that I needed to use this cap.
While I have no real complaints about this Back to Basics Smoothie Elite Blender or the Hamilton Beach Smoothies & More 10 Speed Blender, I do like that the Hamilton Beach version has a glass jar, which keeps the contents colder for a longer period of time. This Back to Basics model has a 56 ounce jar (as opposed to the 48 ounces that the Hamilton Beach model holds), and has a footprint of nine by eight inches and is about eighteen inches tall with the stir stick.
While this appliance will not do double duty as a blender, as other smoothie makers can, recipes for a variety of different smoothies are included in the box, and additional recipes are available online at www.backtobasicsproducts.com.
The Back to Basics Smoothie Elite Blender has served us well with no problems. This model is part of the SE2000 series which comes in white, black, red, cobalt or brushed chrome and for the price of about $35, it would make a nice hostess or holiday gift for somebody who enjoys smoothies or other blended beverages.