Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Competent Coffee Maker, With Few Real Problems: The Hamilton Beach 43424 Lives Up!

The Good: Works well, Good coffee in little time, Dripless function works well, Timer nice
The Bad: Occasional overflow problems, Time-out function
The Basics: Despite a tendency to turn off before I'm done with a pot and a no-drip function that makes me think when it's put back, this is a GREAT coffee maker.

For those who follow my non-media reviews, you might know that: 1. I love the look of stainless steel in my kitchen, and 2. I love my coffee. I recently reviewed a decent little coffee grinder from Hamilton Beach and when I found myself looking for a coffee maker a few years back, the quality of the grinder made me think of Hamilton Beach for the coffee maker. If I can't have stainless steel in my appliances, I tend to trend toward black and that was one of the key selling points for me for the Hamilton Beach FlavorPlus 12-cup Coffee Maker (model #43424).

This is a nice 12-cup coffee maker and while that means a lot of coffee for parties, it also means about a day's supply when I'm busy writing. Yes, this is a good pot of coffee, to hell with the "cup-by-cup" coffee makers that make terrible coffee (and are wasteful, to boot!). The twelve cup pot gets a little over five cups worth of coffee out, which is nice for those who like to drink coffee.

One of the key selling points for me was the FlavorPlus control, though I'm unsure what the point of it is. The FlavorPlus control sets the drip cycle slower so coffee comes out stronger. I don't understand why this is not a standard function of the coffee maker - after all, who likes weak coffee?! The FlavorPlus function, which I use all the time, makes for a nice, thick brew that is consistent first cup to last.

The black plastic base of the coffee maker is an odd wedge shape that's over a foot tall, so this is not the ideal coffee maker for those who have space at a premium. However, it's a great coffee maker for families, college students and those who want a lot of coffee. I have mine in a corner to make use of the wedge shape and it works wonderfully there. The black plastic is glossy and from the front, the unit looks real nice.

On the base of the coffee maker, on the front, there are the controls, which are simple enough to operate. There's the power button, the FlavorPlus button, and the controls for adjusting the clock and programming the timer function. Between the operating controls and the timer controls is a little clock that is zeroed out every time the coffee maker is unplugged.

Operating is simple; I hit power, FlavorPlus and power again and the coffee maker quietly percolates into action. Usually, it takes one minute before the first drops start hitting the basket, three minutes before the first cup of coffee is ready. I can live three minutes without coffee in the morning; it gives me time to prepare other breakfast items. The whole ten cup pot takes about ten minutes to brew up and it is kept well-heated by the warmer below for two hours.

There was a comedian in the 1980s who lamented a government study that cost the taxpayers millions of dollars to discover why pizza burns the roof of one's mouth then it comes right out of the box. The routine went something like, "They came up with all sorts of scientific-sounding responses like, 'The temperature of the cheese combined with the atmosphere inside the box . . .' You know what? It's because you're fat, lazy and impatient and you don't want to wait for the pizza to cool down! Send me my check!" I always liked that one. The reason pizza burns the roof of one's mouth when it comes right out of the box is because we're not patient enough to let it cool down. Works for me. In that regard, the Hamilton Beach FlavorPlus 12-cup Coffee Maker has a nice function, a dripless pot removal that allows the user to remove the coffee pot (carafe) from base of the maker while the coffee is brewing. This allows those who are too impatient to wait for the coffee to finish brewing to nab the first cup without sending coffee dripping onto the warming pad or burning one's fingers to cover the drip hole up. It's a nice function and basically the little lever that allows coffee to drip into the pot when it's on the warming pad seals off the drip so the pot can be removed without the user having to do anything to the device! That's convenient! You can wash down your burning pizza with really hot coffee.

The no-drip function works rather well, when the pot is removed, but I've had a few problems when putting the pot back on the base. Because the pot no longer has coffee in it, it is lighter than before, so unless the user actually carefully shoves the pot back onto the base so the TOP is aligned properly, coffee will drip all over and hit the warmer pad (which happens pretty quickly if you do it wrong). I know this because frequently, I make sure the pot's bottom is on the base and I start to walk away and I hear the hiss of coffee hitting the base. I'm not exactly sure how that works, but I know that the lever that shuts the drip function off resists the top of the coffee pot. If you're aware of it and know how to work around it, it's not a real problem, but it can be messy and inconvenient when one forgets.

Those familiar with my reviews might know that energy efficiency is very important to me. Energy conservation is so important to me that I always unplug this coffee maker when I'm done using it because I don't want to pay for the energy drain of the clock on the coffee maker (hey, I'm serious about energy conservation, give me a break!). This coffee maker has a function that is great for energy conservation, but a pain in the butt to those milking a pot of coffee throughout the day. After two hours, the warming base automatically shuts off. This prevents fires, conserves energy and annoys those of us who have to then reheat a cup of coffee when we come back to the pot four hours after it was first brewed. I've found no way to shut this particular function off.

That said, I'm quite happy with my Hamilton Beach coffee maker. I was so enamored with my maker that when I had a house fire and had to replace the coffee maker (the carafe was broken by the very helpful people who were putting out my fire, so I don't really begrudge the loss), I searched high and low until I found the same make and model.

Part of the reason I came back for this model was that it is extraordinarily easy to clean. Both the carafe and the brewing basket (where the coffee filters go) are dishwasher safe and the warming pad wipes clean whenever I spill anything. The cup marks on the base are easy to read when filling the reservoir for making coffee and the cup marks on the pot are easy to read as well.

Also, this coffee maker has a wonderful timer function. If you wish to wake up to the smell of fresh-brewing coffee, you may set the unit up the night before and program it to activate the next morning! It's important to note that this only works if one remembers to put water in the reservoir the night before. Otherwise, the coffee maker turns on and nothing much happens . . . sigh. Properly programmed, though, this coffee maker may have the pot ready when you wake up and that can be a treat from time to time.

If you're into coffee, this is a great coffee maker that will serve you well for many years.

For other kitchen appliances, please check out my reviews of:
Frigidaire FEF336EC Electric Range
Frigidaire FRT21HS6JS 20.5 cu. ft. Refigerator/Freezer
Hamilton Beach 727 Milkshake maker


For other appliance and tool reviews, visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2010, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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