Hamilton Beach Coffee Maker: Are Two Brewers Better Than One?
A dual-purpose coffee maker like the Hamilton Beach FlexBrew is a space-saving option that offers excellent bang for your buck. You can brew a full carafe or a single cup of coffee, so it’s a practical way to limit waste by never brewing more than you need. But practicality isn’t the only key to enjoying delicious coffee. We needed more details, so we decided to review this coffee maker thoroughly.
Read on as this Hamilton Beach Coffee Maker review digs into everything this brewer offers, from clever design details to user-friendly features.
Summary Box: The Hamilton Beach FlexBrew 49976
- Two-way coffee maker that can brew a full carafe or a single cup
- Compatible with K-Cups or ground coffee
- Easy to use and maintain
I drink coffee a lot in the evenings, so making a single cup is a real time saver and money saver. No more warming leftover coffee in a microwave for me.– Customer
The Full Hamilton Beach FlexBrew 2-Way Coffee Maker Review
The Hamilton Beach 2-Way FlexBrew Coffee Maker is a dual-brew coffee maker that can make either a full pot or a single cup of coffee. Confusingly, it is also called the Hamilton Beach Trio Coffee Maker because the single-serve side of the machine can brew using K-Cups or fresh ground coffee. So there are two brewers but three ways to brew. Clear as mud? Great! Let’s talk about everything else this do-it-all programmable coffee maker has to offer.
Design – 3.5/5
The defining design feature of the Hamilton Beach FlexBrew 2-Way Programmable Coffee Maker is that it is two separate brewing systems side by side in a single appliance. The right side is a single-serve coffee maker, which can brew using fresh grounds or K-Cups. The left side is a more traditional automatic drip coffee maker with a carafe. A single control panel and digital display are used to operate both sides.
This programmable coffee maker is surprisingly compact. It takes up much less space than two equivalent separate coffee makers, even though both sides have their own water reservoir. It measures 34.8 cm tall by 31 cm wide by 29 cm deep, so it takes up little counter space and slides easily under your kitchen cabinets.
Aesthetics come down to personal taste, but I wouldn’t call this a wildly attractive coffee machine. It has a retro 1980s vibe, blocky features, a black plastic case, and silver accents. It would look at home on the set of Stranger Things, a design theme that is making a comeback (1).
The built-in storage under the cup holder on the single-serve side of this coffee machine is a clever feature. It is the perfect size for storing the single-serve pod holder or brew basket – whichever is not used. Or you can remove it entirely to give more clearance under the spout, allowing you to brew into a travel mug up to 18.4 cm tall.
Glass or Thermal Carafe
This Hamilton Beach, the programmable coffee maker, is available with either a 12-cup capacity glass carafe or a 10-cup thermal carafe made of stainless steel. If you opt for the glass carafe, your machine will have a built-in warming plate. Home Grounds prefers thermal carafes because they avoid needing a hot plate, which can leave your coffee tasting burnt after an hour (2). They are also much more durable. However, choose the glass carafe if you value the extra capacity or prefer the look.
Features – 4.5/5
This programmable coffee maker is packed with all the features you expect when choosing a drip coffee machine AND everything you want from a single-serve coffee machine.
The Drip Coffee Machine
Let’s talk about the drip machine first. It brews up to 12 cups (for the glass coffee pot) or 10 cups (for the thermal coffee pot) at a time. The brew strength is adjustable between Regular and Bold. It is fully programmable with a 24-hour timer for all your wake-up-ready coffee needs.
Set the brew timer in the evening and wake up to a steaming fresh pot of morning coffee.
The popular Automatic Pause and Pour feature lets you grab a cup midway through the brewing cycle if you can’t wait for that first hit of caffeine. Auto-pause stops the brewing when you remove the carafe, sparing you a messy morning.
The glass carafe model includes a built-in hot plate. The hot plate turns on as you begin brewing, keeps your coffee hot for 2 hours, and then turns off automatically. If you’re prone to forgetfulness – and who isn’t on a busy morning? – the auto shutoff is a great feature for peace of mind.
The Single-Serve Coffee Maker
The best feature of this single-serve Hamilton Beach coffee maker is that it isn’t reliant on K-Cups. It has a pod holder for those days when the convenience of a K-Cup is mandatory. Still, it is also ground coffee compatible thanks to a single-serving filter basket. Grinding coffee yourself means a more flavorful brew, more coffee options, and the ability to control the coffee dose. You aren’t limited to those notoriously weak K-Cup brews.
Want convenience without the K-Cup? The Hamilton Beach 49980A is another dual coffee maker that brews with ground coffee or compostable Senseo pods.
The simple single-cup brewing side can brew between 295 and 415 ml at a time. And, like the carafe, you can choose Regular or Bold strength. While you can’t program the single-serving side to brew on a timer, the smaller water reservoir on that side means it’s very fast to heat up and brew – about 3 minutes total.
Energy Efficiency and Sustainability
An often overlooked benefit of a dual coffee brewer is its smaller environmental footprint. If you’re brewing a full pot, letting it sit on a hot plate for hours, and not drinking the whole thing, a single-serving coffee maker is much more sustainable. Not only does it waste less ground coffee and water, but it takes less energy to heat and brew.
Counter to popular opinion, it’s even worse to brew a wasted carafe than a plastic K-Cup, according to life-cycle assessment expert Sebastien Humbert (3).
If you are an irresponsible consumer, if your drip filter machine is very inefficient, if you leave it on, if you make more coffee than necessary, then you can make drip-filter coffee significantly worse than capsules.
So if you often find yourself brewing more coffee than you drink, the FlexBrew Hamilton Beach Coffee Maker is a great choice for you and the planet.
Ease of Use – 4/5
Several features make this Hamilton Beach 12-Cup programmable machine very easy to use. With two coffee makers in one, the potential for over-complication is there, but the Easy-Touch programming keeps things simple.
How to Use Hamilton Beach FlexBrew 2-Way Coffee Maker
There are six large buttons on the left-hand side of the machine paired with a digital display. The buttons are labelled straightforwardly:
- The Brew New button, also the power button, starts a brew cycle immediately.
- The Prog and Set Time buttons are used to set the programmable clock timer.
- Two buttons – labelled Carafe and Single – to toggle between the two brewing modes.
- There is a Brew Strength button to switch between regular and bold.
The digital display reports all current settings, like your mode, whether the brew timer is set, and the coffee strength.
Each side has its water reservoir that is filled from the top. There are two separate clear windows to monitor the water level in both reservoirs easily. The two-reservoir design is handy when brewing a single serving. Because you only need to heat as much water as you use, it is a much faster process.
Cleaning up after brewing ranges from easy to extremely easy, depending on your brew method. If you brew with paper filters or a K-Cup, it’s as simple as throwing everything in the compost, recycling, or garbage (4). The pod-piercing assembly is removable for easy cleaning, which is a nice feature as this is a common area for clogs to arise.
This model comes with reusable metal filters for both single-serve and full-size brewers. The GoldTone filter takes a little more effort to clean because you need to scrape the spent coffee grounds, but it is more environmentally friendly and cost-effective in the long run. A metal filter also produces a bolder and more aromatic brew.
Value for Money – 3.5/5
The Hamilton Beach Coffee Maker is not the most affordable option, especially for a primarily plastic machine. But you need to remember that you’re buying two coffee makers in one, plus the included GoldTone filter is a nice bonus.
You’ll get your money’s worth if you intend to take full advantage of both sides of this brewer.
If not, you can find cheaper drip machines and single-serve coffee makers sold separately. Scroll down for a few suggestions.
The model with the thermal carafe is a few dollars more than the glass version, but it’s well worth the price. The stainless steel carafe will outlast the glass one, and no hot plate means there is less to go wrong with the machine itself. It will pay for itself in time.
You’re paying a little more for the Hamilton Beach brand name, but that’s not necessarily bad. Hamilton Beach is a reputable company that offers a generous 5-year limited warranty against manufacturing defects. So you don’t need to worry about wasting your money on a dud.
What we liked:
- Can brew single cups or a full carafe
- Very easy to program
- Compatible with ground coffee or K-Cups
- Compact design
What we didn’t like:
- Mostly plastic build
- Relatively expensive
- Not very aesthetic
Don’t Buy The Hamilton Beach 49976 Coffee Maker If…
- You only need a drip coffee maker: If you don’t plan to get a lot of use out of the single-serving side of the coffee maker, a standard drip machine is a more practical buy. You can spend less money and enjoy more features. Check out the Cuisinart DCC-1200 or Ninja CE251, both excellent alternatives.
- You only need a single-serve coffee maker: On the other hand, if you rarely serve a crowd, you can skip the carafe and buy a single-serve coffee maker. K-Cup fans should consider the Keurig K-Elite, which gives you plenty of control over your brew. The Hamilton Beach 49981 is a better option for coffee drinkers who like to use their favourite ground coffee. And the Cuisinart SS10 is a worthy splurge that can brew with either.
- You want even more versatility: It’s not enough to brew a single serving or a carafe; you also want to make iced coffee and cafe-style drinks with frothed milk. In that case, you need the Ninja CM401 Specialty Coffee Maker. It has four brewing modes, six brew sizes, a foldaway frother, and much more. It’s only slightly pricier than the Hamilton Beach 49976, but note that it doesn’t accept K-Cups.
The Hamilton Beach FlexBrew Coffee Maker is a great buy for anyone who regularly brews coffee for one or multiple cups of coffee for a crowd. With two brewing modes, you never have to worry about wasting coffee or time. It’s easy to use, easy to clean, and reliably built.
This model is a bit more expensive than average, but it is affordable given its 2-in-1 design, long warranty, and included accessories. However, you can find better value elsewhere if you don’t think you’ll regularly use both brewing methods.
- PrintMag. (2014, May 19). A Flock of Pixels: The 80s Design Comeback. Retrieved from https://www.printmag.com/featured/a-flock-of-pixels-the-80s-design-comeback/
- Driftaway Coffee. (2015, February 28). 3 Common Misconceptions About Keeping Coffee Hot. Retrieved from https://driftaway.coffee/hotcoffee/
- Sorrel, C. (2016, July 19). The Myth Behind Those Compostable Coffee Pods. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/3061709/the-myth-behind-those-compostable-coffee-pods
- Moskvitch, K. (2019, May 3). Turns out coffee pods are actually pretty good for the environment. Retrieved from https://www.wired.co.uk/article/coffee-pods-nespresso-recycling