The Hamilton Beach FlexBrew Single Serve Maker is flat out trying to compete with Keurig’s single cup brewing dominance. It offers the convenience of coffee pods with the option of using your favorite brand of ground coffee.
Using a stainless steel heating plate, it brews a cup of coffee in under three minutes.
It’s powered by a standard electrical plug (US) pulling 120 volts.
Features of the Hamilton Beach FlexBrew Single-Serve Maker
Let’s take a look at the features of this coffee maker and find out what sets it apart from other single serve coffee makers in this price range.
Getting up close and personal, let’s see if this coffee maker is worth the price.
Type of Coffee Maker: Single serve.
This is your standard single serve coffee maker. It does allow for filling larger mugs without diluting the strength of your coffee. The advantage here is the over sized filter basket. The standard measurement is 5 ounces of coffee. This lets you brew up to 14 ounces of coffee in a single brew cycle.
It takes about 3 minutes to complete the brew cycle from start to finish.
Type of Coffee Used: K-Cups or Loose Grounds.
The filter that’s included can be filled with any type of grind that you choose. If you love a certain type of K-Cup, those will work in this machine, too. You choose if you want the savings of a can or bag of coffee beans or if just don’t want the hassle of cleaning out a filter every time you make a cup of coffee, go with the K-cups.
Type of Filter Used: Proprietary
Hamilton Beach has come up with a new type of filter that allows for easy cleaning and very easy to use.
There are two different filter baskets; one for K-cups, the other for loose grounds. The basket for loose grounds is similar to the My K-Cup Coffee Filter by Keurig.
The reservoir holds 40 ounces of water. It’s detachable so you can move it wherever you need to for filling from the sink or the refrigerator. This also makes it much easier to clean and also to dry out which will prevent mold from building up.
Number of Cups Can Brew at Once: 1 cup at 8, 10, or 14 ounces each.
The K-Cup allows for a mug of coffee that can be filled at eight or ten ounces. If you’d like to fill a larger mug, the loose ground filter allows you to add more coffee, giving you up to 14 ounces of coffee in a single brew cycle.
The standard size for a cup of coffee is measured at 5 ounces so this loose grounds filter is giving you almost 3 cups of a standard fill. Compare that with automatic drip coffee makers that have a “small batch” feature that brews 2 – 4 cups and it’s easy to see how this Hamilton Beach coffee maker is competing in the volume game.
Warming Plate: No
The drip tray for this coffee machine can be remove for cleaning and to allow a travel sized mug to fit underneath the dispenser.
There’s no need for this feature with single serve coffee machines.
Automatic Shut-off: Yes
It takes loose grounds or K-Cups. It seems to work best with the loose grounds.
Brew Strength Options: Two options: Regular and Bold
Regular is a medium roast quality and Bold really isn’t so bold that we noticed that much difference except in the time it takes to brew. It seem to take longer to complete the cycle when choosing the Bold setting, but the strength wasn’t decidedly different.
Color: Black with Silver Trim
This is a nice looking machine although it’s a little bulky with the reservoir on the side. We’re willing to put up with a little bulk when the trade-off is not having to refill the reservoir over and over again.
While you can choose between flavor strengths and sizes, there’s no option to get the machine rolling on heating up the water prior to getting out of bed. Since it’s a push button toggle switch, it isn’t very convenient for use with a smart plug, either.
Power Failure Recovery No.
Since there’s no 24 hour advance programming feature, a power failure recovery feature is unnecessary.
Other Features of Note
The filter basket can be stored inside the drip tray when not in use. You can also store either the pod holder or brew basket in this tray. It’s removable to accommodate larger mugs and travel mugs up to about 7 inches high.
How Easy is the Hamilton Beach FlexBrew Coffee Maker to Clean?
The reservoir is detachable, the brew basket and pod holder can be run under water. Even the pod-piercing assembly is easy to remove from the base and rinse off. We wish more coffee makers allowed for this assembly to be removable. The biggest drawback to using ground coffee is that it does have a tendency to kick up into the hollow needle where the coffee flows through. This can really clog up the system, creating problems with flow and calcium build-up but we cover an easy way to remove coffee grounds from the needle in the cleaning section of this article.
The Brew indicator light that flashes multiple times to let you know when something isn’t quite right. The Troubleshooting section of the manual to references these problems and it usually has something to do with cleaning the coffee maker.
How Much Counter Space Does it Use?
9.4 inches wide x 10.1 inches deep x 13.7 inches tall. You’d have to allow for another two inches or so if you wanted to raise the top to add a pod if the machine is to be stored underneath hanging cabinets.
What the Comments Say
This FlexBrew is getting mixed reviews which is to be expected when you’re designing a machine to please everyone.
Praises From Reviewers:
Many people love the versatility of this machine. They love being able to choose the proper volume of coffee for their mugs. Many also chose this model because they have special blends of coffee grounds that aren’t available as a K-Cup.
Drawbacks to Consider
This coffee machine is noisier than the many k-cup brewers on the market. You can use it as an alarm clock for the rest of the household.
There were a lot of complaints about the water taking a long time to heat up. This usually happens when calcium deposits are forming on the heating plate. The average three minute brewing time isn’t out of line when you consider that the water needs to be heated to near boiling.
The Hamilton Beach FlexBrew Single Serve coffee maker is actually a very, very good coffee machine.
Yes, it does take a little longer than Keurig for the water to heat up, but the wait is worth it as the water gets hotter than a Keurig machine which you may know is one of the biggest complaints with K-Cup machines. That hot water will also help to extract more flavor from your coffee grounds.
Their filter basket is fine enough that it doesn’t allow a mud puddle to form at the bottom of your coffee mug which is a common complaint with permanent filter baskets. Clean up is easy.
Since it addresses two of the most common issues we have with pod machines, we were very pleased with the results we got from this coffee maker.
If you’re brewing using a good grind, this will give you a single serve cup of coffee that you can rally around and enjoy.
Just in case you were still shopping around after reading this review, here a couple of alternatives to this coffee machine that are worth considering.
It does have a lot of bells and whistles. It also makes a very good cup of coffee. This Keurig machine has a lot of flexibility as it has a Bold setting, a lot of volume choices and even an iced coffee brew setting. It also has a few flaws.
Resources for the Hamilton Beach FlexBrew
You can find manuals and cleaning instructions for the coffee maker in this section.
How to Properly Insert Filter Basket for Hamilton Beach Single Serve Brewers
This video is about the Hamilton Beach FlexBrew Two Way coffee machine but the instructions for inserting the filter basket into the machine works the same way and is one of the best demonstrations available. Hamilton Beach should take notes.
Manuals for the Hamilton Beach FlexBrew
You can download the manual here
You can download the Quick Start Guide here.
One of the unsung stories of Hamilton Beach is that the company is very accommodating when it comes to repairs. A section of their website is dedicated to selling replacement parts for their appliances.
Replacement Parts for the Hamilton Beach model 49948 here.
How to Clean
Many people recommend clearing out the needles with a paper clip but we have a problem with the idea of sticking something metallic into an electronic appliance.
Toothpicks would be ideal if they were a little thinner. We recommend DenTek Deep Clean Bristle Picks toothpicks. They’re thinner than toothpicks and the bristled side can really drag out the grounds.
Descaling the FlexBrew is very straightforward. It’s a little surprising to see a recommendation of undiluted vinegar being used. Most descaling recommend a one to one ratio of water and vinegar.
How to Purge and Descale the Hamilton Beach FlexBrew Single Serve Coffee Maker
Prior to descaling, it’s recommended that you purge all of the water from the coffee maker. Luckily, there’s actually an easy method to get this done.
How to Purge the Water
To purge the water, place a large mug on the drip tray. Press Brew or Brew Bold button down for three seconds. This empties the rest of the water from the machine.
The white brew light will flash while purging and stop when it’s complete.
You’re ready to descale the coffee maker.
How to Descale the Coffee Maker
Moving on to the descaling process, pour about 14 ounces of white vinegar into the reservoir. Place the empty mug on the rest tray or under the brew spout if it’s too tall. Select the Travel Mug option and press Brew or Brew Bold once as you would for a regular cup of coffee. Once the vinegar starts to drip through, immediately press the same Brew button again to stop the process.
Allow the machine to rest for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, press the same Brew button once again to finish the process.
Empty the mug.
Rinse the machine by running plain water through the brew cycle two to three times.