An honest review from a frugal coffee drinker with gourmet tastes

Hamilton Beach "The Scoop" makes a cheap AND tasty brew...if you do it right.

I've got a self-diagnosed coffee problem. I love the taste of coffee. Fresh gourmet coffee to be exact. But I just can't stomach paying premiums on coffee machines, pods, K-Cups, T-Discs, you name it. I've tried all of these options, and I always feel like I am overpaying. My wife and I started a search for the best single cup coffee maker thinking there may be an answer to my need for fresh, tasty coffee (no instant) without the big price tag of those plastic discs.

Hamilton Beach The Scoop Coffee Maker_3We scored. 

I love my new Hamilton Beach The Scoop Coffee Maker, and if you are like me - frugal but picky with your coffee - after this review you're going to love it too. 

Hamilton Beach 49981 Single Serve Scoop Coffee Maker, Stainless Steel
Amazon Price: $69.99 $44.99 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 20, 2014)

The Frugal Side

Or how this machine is saving me boat loads of cash

Reviews often start with the brew and the look, and we'll get to those. But I really see this machine's greatest selling point as being the amazing financial sense it makes. I'm a geek, so I'm going to share some hard figures to show you the differences in what I was paying for T-Discs and K-Cups compared to a comparable cup of coffee with The Scoop Coffee Maker. 

First - The Scoop comes in way less to buy than a Keurig or Tassimo machine. At least $30 cheaper than the cheapest models of those devices. But the numbers get crazier when you look at price per cup and how that adds up. Let me show you what I mean with my coffee drinking habits as an example:

I normally drink two eight-ounce cups of coffee on the week days and three on the weekends. Over a 30-day month that rounds out to be about 81 cups of coffee a month. Yes, I know. Addict.

I took the first ten days with The Scoop Coffee Maker to see how many cups of coffee a normal twelve ounce bag of Starbucks ground coffee would make. It made 27 cups.

Let's compare on retail prices:

  • One bag of Starbucks ground coffee used in Hamilton Beach The Scoop = $12.99 for 27 cups
  • One box of Tassimo T-Discs (Gevalia Italian Blend, their Starbucks equivalent) = $9.49 for 12 T-Discs
  • One box of Starbucks Keurig K-Cups = $19.95 for 24 K-Cups

Hamilton Beach The Scoop Coffee Maker_1

The price per cup for each based on these numbers:

  • Hamilton Beach The Scoop: $.48
  • Tassimo: $.79
  • Keurig: $.83

Finally here's a roughly estimated price of how much it'll cost me to drink my Starbucks per month and year:

  • Hamilton Beach The Scoop: $38.88 per month/$466.56 per year
  • Tassimo: $63.99 per month/$767.88 per year
  • Keurig: $67.23 per month/$806.76 per year

That's a whopping $340.02 in savings annually when you switch from a Keurig, and over $300 in savings when you switch from a Tassimo.

As Mr. Donald Trump would say, that's HUGE. That's three cable bills every year. A new iPad Mini. Three nice date meals. Or just a good hunk of change to place into your piggy bank. You can't ignore this type of cost savings, and it's a major win for The Scoop. It finally feels like I am paying the right price for my coffee, and it can be even less if you buy lesser-priced grinds or ground coffee on sale.

How's The Brew?

You may be thinking, "OK - I definitely see the savings and I like money, but it all comes down to the taste. How can this compare?" Surprisingly this machine holds its own against other single cup coffee makers. 

Hamilton Beach The Scoop Coffee Maker_4I'll be honest, the first cup I brewed was pretty good, but not quite at the quality level I was expecting. I had a moment of missing my older, more costly machine. But then I learned the secret: Lightly pack the grounds in the filter, like you would for an espresso cup, so that the water has more time in the filter. And make sure you push the button for a bolder brew. There's only two buttons on this device, (Regular and Bold), so you can't miss it. 

When I did that, my next cup was so much better. It had a very comparable richness to the coffee from the other more expensive machines. It wasn't piping hot, which has been a complaint of some of the reviews I've read, but it's definitely hot enough. Actually for me the coffee it makes is pretty much at the exact drinking temperature that I like.

Overall, the taste difference for me is negligible. The Scoop makes a great cup of coffee. I'd still probably give the nod to a Tassimo or Keurig for the Starbucks test, but only by a tiny hair. Not enough to make up for the price difference for sure. And when you pair that with the fact that you can use any ground coffee - meaning unlimited flavors - The Scoop is a big winner for me in the flavor test. 

The Look And Style

This to me was really surprising - this is a good-looking machine for the tiny price. It's got a very slim profile, so it can slip in among your other kitchen appliances quite well. And its stainless steel shine just looks great.

Hamilton Beach The Scoop Coffee Maker_2It's built well, too. Nothing feels cheap. Plus, the majority of the pieces you use in it every day are machine washable, which is a big time saver as well. 

The package comes with two stainless steel filters which is a nice touch. Since this machine only gives you a cup at a time, it's nice to be working on prepping a second cup while the first is brewing when guests are over. There's also a little filter hanger on the side of the machine where you can place the extra filter for storage.

Maybe my favorite innovation is the steel drip tray. In its normal position, you can fit a travel mug with ease, but you can flip the drip tray so that the base becomes a platform at the perfect height to place a normal coffee cup. That means much less splash clean up, which I love. The less you need to wipe down, the better, I say. 

Hamilton Beach 49981 Single Serve Scoop Coffee Maker, Stainless Steel
Amazon Price: $69.99 $44.99 Buy Now
(price as of Mar 20, 2014)

A Win In So Many Ways

In my mind, there is no question about what the best single cup coffee maker is. Hamilton Beach's The Scoop Coffee Maker takes it by far. There's so much value mixed in with a great cup of coffee and a pretty sleek look. If you like fresh gourmet coffee and look to save where you can, this is a very smart investment.