The affordable Hamilton Beach 2-Way Brewer is a programmable coffee maker that offers dual capabilities: On one side you can brew a 12-cup pot of coffee, and on the other side you can separately brew a single cup or a travel mug of coffee to go.
We tested the carafe side and followed the manufacturer's instructions using brand-name coffee with a medium grind, a standard paper filter in the brew basket, and tap water. We added one level tablespoon of coffee grounds for each cup of coffee we made.
When it came to assessing flavor, strength and aroma, our taste testing panel in general liked it a lot. Two people found its robust flavor too strong and deemed it “bitter,” but others had more positive comments. The temperature after brewing registered a respectable 171 degrees Fahrenheit. After thirty minutes on the warming plate, the coffee had cooled by only 4 degrees, which did not have any negative effect on the taste or overall appeal.
The single-serve side of the machine comes with a mesh filter for coffee grounds, or you can use soft pods of pre-packaged ground coffee. The single-side portion of this drip coffee maker comes with a mesh brew basket filter that you can use as a measuring scoop if you prefer that to pods.
A plastic cup rest underneath the single-side dispenser hoists a cup high enough so that coffee flows into it and does not make a mess. Without the cup rest, there is room for a 14-ounce travel mug, which is not included. The carafe side uses paper coffee filters in its basket.
On the carafe side of this drip coffee maker, you can either brew coffee at once or program the clock on the front as much as 24 hours in advance so you wake up to freshly made coffee in the pot. You can also choose either regular or bold-strength coffee, and if you want to quickly snag a cup of coffee while this is brewing, this machine lets you do that with its brew pause capability. This device also has a two-hour automatic shut-off function for added safety.
Beyond that, however, extra options are sparse. Unlike some coffee makers we tested, this machine does not let you adjust the warming plate temperature. It also does not include a pause after the coffee grounds are initially sprayed with hot water, which is a process that slows the brewing time a bit, but allows the saturated grounds to fully render the best aroma. If you want these kinds of features, you might prefer the somewhat pricier Cuisinart DCC-3200AMZ, which comes with numerous helpful features.
Although you get the option of making one cup or a travel-size mug of coffee on one side, this drip coffee maker is bare-bones in function. Some consumers might be disappointed they cannot do a variety of things with it, but coffee lovers who take a more minimalistic approach to brewing will be happy with this easy-to-use device.