The Hamilton Beach Brewstation: Finally something that Hamilton Beach might have done right
SHORT VERSION: If you really love the idea of having this kind of coffee maker, roll the dice on the Hamilton Beach Brewstation and buy it. If you’re less than impressed, don’t bother with Hamilton Beach’s lousy customer service; just return it to Amazon within the return period and move on. I’ve called other Hamilton Beach coffee makers a 50/50 gamble, but this one seems like it has better odds of delivering a good coffee experience for the money.
It doesn’t look all that big in the photos, but the Hamilton Beach Brewstation (48464) is a pretty tall coffee maker. It’s 8 inches wide, 10 ½ inches deep, and stands 15 ½ inches tall with the lid closed. If you plan on opening that lid to remove the coffee tank and put in coffee grounds and filters, you’ll need 25 inches of clearance. Get out the measuring tape if you plan on putting this thing underneath the kitchen cabinets!
The front face of the Hamilton Beach Brewstation is, in typical Hamilton Beach tradition, pretty attractive. Most of that front face is removable as it forms the front wall of the removable coffee tank. There are measurement windows on the side of the unit that tell how much coffee remains in the tank, and the bottom has little rubber feet that are supposed to keep the unit in place. Notice that I said “supposed to”…people have reported that those little feet don’t work so well. And of course, the one thing that makes this coffee maker look different from most is the absence of a carafe, which is this coffee maker’s big selling point.
REASONS TO BUY THIS COFFEE MAKER
As with seemingly everything else this company makes, the Hamilton Beach Brewstation has legions of buyers who are thrilled with their purchase and scoff at the naysayers. Yes, there are people who hate it…we’ll get to them later…but the people who love it say it’s the greatest thing they’ve ever made coffee in! Granted, those people probably haven’t tried the Bunn VP-17 or an Aeropress, but this machine is made for the cheap ‘n easy crowd. The VP-17 isn’t cheap and the Aeropress isn’t what lazy people would call easy, so coffee makers like this one live in the space between. Do you hear Dave Matthews in your head right now? Sorry, my fault. By the way, he wasn’t singing about coffee makers. Anyway, Hamilton Beach is known for their reasonably-priced appliances, and if you get one that works exactly as advertised then it’s easy to see why you’d feel like you just hit the jackpot.
The idea behind the Hamilton Beach Brewstation is that you can use it the same way you get soft drinks at an all-you-can-eat buffet. In other words, it’s the American Dream. You just grab a cup, press it against a lever (or, in this case, a big button) and coffee magically comes pouring out. If only you had a 64 ounce coffee mug! There is no carafe to clean or break, and therefore you won’t have the leakage problems that carafes often present. Now, don’t confuse this with a single-serving coffee maker. This isn’t a Keurig. The aforementioned “coffee tank” holds either 10 or 12 cups of coffee depending on the model you buy, so you use coffee grounds and coffee filters just like with any other drip coffee maker. That coffee tank is also supposed to be insulated (there I go again with the “supposed to”) which Hamilton Beach says will help keep your coffee hot for up to 4 hours. The fact that there isn’t a carafe means that you can (theoretically) do a one-handed press-and-hold to get your coffee instead of doing it the old fashioned way.
No Hamilton Beach coffee maker comes out of the box without a bunch of extra features. The Hamilton Beach Brewstation has a nice, blue digital clock on the front of it which, naturally, means it’s programmable. It also has settings for bold, regular, iced coffee, and small batch coffeeing, and the coffee tank heater can be set to shut off automatically up to four hours into the future. Hamilton Beach also lists a “gentle warming heater” as one of the features, but there’s some discussion to be had about that one.
Overall, people really seem to love the Hamilton Beach Brewstation. Many, in fact, reference the negative reviews against this coffee maker with comments like “I don’t know what they’re talking about” and “those people are s***heads” and “I will literally murder anyone who doesn’t rave about this coffee maker.” Okay I made up those last two, but the first comment is fairly common. It’s encouraging to see that people who love the Hamilton Beach Brewstation are aware of the complaints and unequivocally reject them as nonsense.
REASONS TO NOT BUY
And here we go. With Hamilton Beach. Again.
To be fair, the other two Hamilton Beach coffee makers (this one and this one) I’ve reviewed had more negative Amazon reviews and really seemed to be fundamentally flawed in various ways. The Hamilton Beach Brewstation suffers from some of the usual complaints such as dying an untimely death, cheap construction, and lousy coffee, but less so. The question is, how valid are the complaints being levied against it?
When a coffee maker dies young, like within a year of buying it, there’s always the chance that the owner didn’t bother with maintenance. I’ve tried to teach people how to clean a coffee maker and, no matter how much I harp on the issue, some people will just refuse. Nothing anyone can do about that! But when a coffee maker dies within a few months or even a few weeks, that’s 100% on the manufacturer. The good news is that the complaints of quick Hamilton Beach Brewstation deaths are kind of all over the place. Some say theirs died within a few weeks, others say months, still others say theirs lasted upwards of a year before croaking. I guess the lesson here is the same one I’ve cautioned buyers about in previous reviews: Hamilton Beach products can be sort of a lottery. Buyer beware.
So what else is wrong with it? Design flaws, that’s what! There have been a lot of complaints, even from those who gave 4 and 5 star reviews, about the removable coffee tank dripping water everywhere each time it’s removed after brewing. Condensation builds inside the machine, has nowhere to go, and leaps all over your kitchen counter the first chance it gets. If that seems minor, you might also find it irritating if pushing a cup against the dispensing button causes the machine to lean or slide backwards. Remember those little rubber feet on the bottom? The ones that are supposed to keep the machine in place? Not everyone loves them. Some claim that the machine has to be placed directly against the wall in order for the machine to stay in place while dispensing coffee. If this is the case, I don’t blame them for being annoyed. That would suck the big one.
Others have also complained about…wait for it…leaking. “Dangit! I thought there wouldn’t be any leaking since there’s no carafe!” Slow down there, Tex. This is still a coffee maker, and coffee still has to be poured from somewhere. In this case, people are complaining that, when coffee is being dispensed, it isn’t always getting into the cup. Some say you can’t use a thermal mug because the lip is too thick. Is it really? When you’re holding a cup in place, underneath a pouring nozzle, there’s a lot of room for human error. Still, multiple complaints exist around this issue, so it’s time to wave the yellow caution flag.
There are also a number of complaints that the coffee tank isn’t as insulated as one would expect. They also complain that it’s made of cheap plastic, and who wants to drink coffee that’s been kept hot in a plastic container for hours? Fair enough, but now that you know the coffee tank is plastic you might want to look elsewhere if that turns you off. Digital clock malfunctions also seem somewhat common, but it’s not an epidemic.
Probably one of the biggest and most noteworthy complaints is that the “gentle warming heater” is anything but gentle. Many, including some positive reviewers, say that the warming heater essentially boils their coffee long after brewing has completed. That ain’t good. Yet others say their coffee is great. And still others say the coffee doesn’t come out hot enough. This is pure speculation, but to me this sounds like a quality control problem. Whether the “gentle warming heater” is making sounds that just sound like boiling or the coffee is literally boiling inside the coffee tank, something’s wrong. As far as not-hot coffee goes, that’s a subjective judgment so let’s just leave it at that.
And of course, no coffee maker review would be complete without complaints of the coffee not being hot enough. Meh. What else is new.
Some of the complaints that plague the Hamilton Beach Brewstation are pretty serious, such as the heater making the coffee boil and the machine croaking at far too young an age. As usual, however, I think a certain number of complaints are most likely caused by user error, and the rest are Hamilton Beach’s fault. Boiling coffee and appliance death within a few weeks or months is unacceptable, so let’s chalk those up to poor quality control in the Hamilton Beach assembly line.
Considering the fact that most happy customers don’t bother to post reviews at all, I’m willing to give Hamilton Beach the benefit of the doubt on this one. Approach with caution, yes, but I don’t see strong enough patterns in the complaint department to tell anyone to NOT buy it. It’s a low risk, high reward proposition, so I say go for it.
BUY IT. Hamilton Beach is always somewhat of a gamble, but this is the first of their products that I kind of have faith in.