Hamilton Beach Flexbrew Review
Rated by Jennifer
Put strictly, the Hamilton Beach Flexbrew is almost a spitting image of its “cousin” the 49980A 2-Way, except for one main variable, and that is its K-Cup accessibility. Its overall styling and appearance are strikingly similar, so it is easy to mistake the former for the latter when perusing information prior to buying. However, the similarities between them stop there, and with this review we hope to enlighten readers on some of these very real differences.
As the saying goes “appearances can be deceiving” Should you get the 49980A instead of the Flexbrew? We will tell you, and what you should be informed of before you buy!
Just fyi – this review is for the Flexbrew model number 49983A – although there is another model with this same name it does not have the dual function capability; just wanted to mention that beforehand.
Table of Contents
Like its 49980 “cousin”, the Flexbrew has 2-way capability between loose grounds and single-serving. Its distinctions include a brew capacity for up to a 14-oz serving in which it will adapt to travel mugs. There is a cup rest that can be adjusted if the user wants to switch between standard-sized mugs and travel tumblers. On the full pot side is a “brew and pause” option that lets you get a cup before it has finished, an automatic shutoff, programmable timer and a “bold” setting to extract more flavor.
In addition to the unit, a 12 oz carafe is included (but not the 14 oz tumbler shown in the picture) brew filter basket, K-cup tray with insert, and a quick start guide.
Manufacturer Limited 1 Year Warranty
Buttons and Controls
The front control panel consists of a backlit clock, auto shutoff, programmable options, and the regular/bold strength settings. The round dial in the middle allows you to choose the carafe full pot of single-serve setting choice before brewing. If you are making a single cup and you want to use loose grounds instead of a K-Cup you can set the “Grounds” option.
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The “on/off” button is labeled as “i/o”. I never owned an appliance that used that kind of term; it sounds kind of ambiguous.
The reservoir is a little differently designed and not divided like the 2-Way; there is a lid above each compartment and the coffee compartments are separate but the reservoir is a “shared” one between the pot/single brew side. You pour water through the opening on the back right above the reservoir.
A flap design resembling cutouts that’s kind of tricky allows water to travel to the K-cup side and if it’s blocked can make brewing difficult.
Ease of Use
The really cool thing with the Flexbrew is that not only can you brew a full pot, you can also use K-cups OR a level scoop on the single-serve side. If you are not using a K-cup you simply remove the inner insert temporarily. There’s a hinged part on the holder; you have to line them up with the end notches so it will snap in place. When you are dropping in a K-cup, you have to push on it, before pushing the lid down, to be assured that it will be punctured. The tray says “push down” after you slide it into the top base area. If you are using scooped grounds in the little single-serve basket you won’t need to push on it.like that.
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Next is the water level indicator being a little tricky unless you pay close attention – although it is clearly marked on the right side of the unit, I find myself looking at the “max fill” lines at the bottom right below the 4 oz mark. The first says “max pack” which tells me it’s a standard k-cup size but then the one right above it says “max” and shows a symbol of a tumbler, apparently it’s to differentiate between a standard mug size and a 14 oz tumbler size, but it’s kind of tricky looking to me, especially with it marked right below 4 oz, which is kind of, well, small. The carafe symbol right at the top just above 10 oz is telling me that’s exactly 12 oz, but the cup part kind of threw me a little, and I think others felt that way too.
Then there’s that scenario regarding the filling of the reservoir: when you are attempting to make a K-cup and the water window is not very forgiving if you fill past the “max pack” line. (See Consumer Reviews section) The threshold of acceptance for the K-cup fill line is 10 oz. You’d definitely need to have a measuring cup on hand or this little bugaboo might drive you crazy at first.
The measurements quoted on the Amazon sales page are: 10.8 x 11.8 x 15.8 inches, 3.8 lbs. The manufacturer’s site indicates: a more accurate number quoting 13.9″ ht, 10.63″ w, 10.24″ depth.
With the cup rest lying flat down on the base, a travel mug up to 7.25 inches is accepted in the clearance. The power cord is 25″ in length.
Spill-proof Glass Carafe
Goldtone Filter basket model no. 80675
Hamilton Beach Flexbrew Reviews and Ratings
I was very much wanting to discover the source of the much lower rating given to the Flexbrew, compared to the 2-Way, and find out for sure if they were justified in any way, exaggerated, or pretty accurate.
What I discovered was very interesting to say the least – the negative reviews ( and there were quite a few! ) followed a pattern in which 3 major problems were discussed:
1. Plastic chemical taste, sometimes this was abetted, but not without a great deal of effort.
2. Leakage problems, sometimes early on in the game.
3. Unusually hot warming plate on the carafe pot side of the brewer.
In the above three scenarios, what people were also perturbed about as well as dealing with a leaky lemon, was the fact that they would have to foot the bill for a new replacement’s shipping fee.
The positive reviews; I noticed, did express a stray mention of the warming plate being hot when the K-cup side was active-so I knew fully well that this was very much a recurring issue.With regard to this warming plate it is strictly a design flaw – the only way to counter it is to keep the carafe in this spot and fill it with some water to prevent it from dry burning.
Consumer Reports does take into account the potential hazard of the warming plate in this article.
Leakage problems (especially early on in the game) do indicate a defective machine and some cases of returns ensuing were discovered. The case with the hot warming plate, however, was out of people’s hands, and as such, not their fault, but it did cause a lot of concern, rightfully so. Still one thing to consider: If you’ve ever owned an auto-drip unit before you may be all too familiar with the warming plate which ALL “old school” models have – as such you knew to expect that the warming plate was hot (most do go into auto-off mode after awhile though).
The plastic taste can be avoided if the user, upon the unboxing start, “primes” the unit. Vinegar, h20, and sometimes rubbing alcohol or vodka was the preferred solution. Some people are more sensitive to chemicals than others, but the mention of the “chemical smell and taste” was very prevalent.
I also got that some people found the max fill lines on the water reservoir confusing and weird. An error message would appear to indicate that the user may have poured above the line. Since the reservoir is not one you can just pull out and empty – a few people got stalled – luckily some found the answer lie in using a turkey baster to siphon out excess water until it was right at the line again.
The adjustable cup stand seemed a little too much of a lightweight some people commented; as though it might not support a cup’s weight very well. (If you’re using the tumbler you would remove the stand entirely.)
However, barring the issues above, there were some happy users in the bunch (these people did not have leakage reports obviously) so it’s hard to say if they were just more fortunate or had a better handle on working with the flaws mentioned.
- Nice size without large electronic footprint
- Dual function versatility
- You can use K-cups or loose grounds on the single-brew side by removing the insert for the latter option.
- Price is reasonable overall
- Potential for burn hazard on carafe side unless you keep some water in the carafe on standby in anticipation of this.
- Comments about coffee taste not being satisfactory – some people said it was “plastic-y” for lack of a better word
- The K-cup side functions weirdly in my opinion.and from other points of view as well
- Max fill line on water reservoir is a little strange with regard to the single-serve brewing side and can be finicky.
- The programming mode only works with the carafe side, This was mentioned by consumers and confirmed by the manufacturer.
The price I’ve got no beef with….pretty reasonable. It’s pretty much in the same range as the 49980 (below $100) Barring that, your coffee expenses would be about the same depending on which delivery system you prefer to use more often.
There is also a refurbished option available but I don’t think you would save that much overall; as I felt like the overall satisfaction ratings were about the same or a little lower.
Despite the precautions mentioned in the Reviews and Cons section, it does look like this model still has some strength in the marketplace. It is currently being carried at the Kroger near me. The best thing to keep in mind is to keep some water in the carafe to prevent a dry burn from happening.
The Hamilton Beach 49980A is a better bet for consumers than the Flexbrew overall when considering price, reliability, consumer satisfaction rate and dependability all combined.
But if you really want to get a more dependable unit with better ratings, I would advise you to check out the latest upgrade here.
The main-and only-thing you would have to give up is the K-Cup experience to have the former, albeit more satisfactory model over this one. .If I were you I would go for that one over the Flexbrew without hesitation.