I tried a smart coffee maker—and it transformed my mornings
This Alexa-enabled gadget makes waking up a delight
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One of the best things about Amazon Alexa is that she can make life easier by helping you prepare for the day ahead. She read you the forecast, remind you of upcoming meetings, and much more. Now she can brew you a pot of coffee before you ever leave the bed.
Like many people, coffee is essential for making my mornings run smoothly. While living in quarantine with my two young kids, I’m always looking for ways to automate my morning and make life less hectic, like letting Alexa brew me up a pot of the good stuff. I’ve been testing the Hamilton Beach Works with Alexa Smart Coffee Maker since April and it's become an integral part of my daily routine.
About Hamilton Beach’s Smart Coffee Maker
Hamilton Beach's Smart Coffee Maker, which retails for $89.99, is the same as any other coffee maker, except it can be controlled using the Amazon Alexa app or any Alexa-enabled smart speaker. It can also be programmed using the manual controls on the front just like a "dumb" coffee maker.
The 12-cup brew pot was quick and simple to set up via the Amazon Alexa app, which is the only app that controls the small appliance. After following the in-app instructions, my Echo speaker announced that the coffee maker successfully connected to my WiFi network and was ready to use. One cool thing to note is that the clock, which is displayed on the front, syncs over WiFi so it always shows the correct time.
What we like
Simple Alexa integration
The smart controls really make this coffee maker a delight to use. Alexa followed suit every time I asked her to "turn on my coffee maker."
You can also say "Alexa, turn off my coffee maker” when you’re done. Although I’m not spending much time away from home these days, the power-off remote control gives me peace of mind for the times when I do forget to turn it off. However, there’s also an auto-shutoff feature that kicks in a couple of hours after percolating.
But, the best way I found to use Alexa with this coffee maker was to add it to my morning smart routine. With Routines in the Amazon Alexa app, you can wake up to a fresh pot of java every morning. Or, whenever you wake up, you can call out to your Echo speaker and say, "Alexa, turn on my coffee maker." You can also simply use the Alexa app on your phone to give this command if there’s not an Echo speaker nearby, which is what I do as soon as my eyes open.
Smart, simple design
One thing Alexa can’t do is add the grounds, filter, and water for you (yet). You'll want to do this the night before so that everything is ready to go for the next day. The front-fill reservoir makes it easy to add water, instead of pouring it in the back, like most other coffee makers. There’s also a handy measurement feature on the side, so you can easily see how much water is in the coffee maker.
Directly underneath is the brew basket that swings out, so you can easily add or remove grounds with a paper coffee filter. However, I do wish the Hamilton Beach came with a reusable coffee filter like my previous coffee maker.
Smart features aside, this bad boy brews up a satisfying pot of java. Of course, how your coffee tastes largely hinges on the quality of your coffee beans and the water-to-grounds ratio. The latter is controllable from the Alexa app, allowing you to tap and choose between regular and bold brew strengths. Or, you can say, "Alexa, set brew strength to bold.”
What we don’t like
Not as smart as it could be
While I love using this coffee maker, I wish it was a bit more intuitive. In order for it to work, the “Ready to Brew” button (located on the front) must be pressed, illuminating the green light. You won’t be able to use Alexa or your phone to start brewing up a pot without pressing this button. It’s a nice safety feature (remember when smart ovens were randomly turning on?), but I could do without the extra step.
It also doesn’t work with any other smart assistants outside of Alexa. This isn't a major deal-breaker for me since I'm fluent in both Alexa and Google Assistant. However, I do rely on Google more than Alexa to control my smart home. Expanding compatibility with other smart assistants would make this coffee maker a hotter ticket.
If you're looking for a smart coffee maker that works with both Alexa and Google Assistant, check out the Atomi Smart Coffee Maker. Although we haven't tested this one, it does look promising.
Is it worth it?
Most people probably don’t need a smart coffee maker, but it’s one of those “nice to have” items because it really does make the mornings run so much smoother, especially when incorporated into an Alexa routine.
While a smart plug technically works to turn the coffee maker on and off, it can't do things like program brew strengths or actually begin brewing any coffee, as most coffee makers require you to push a button to start percolating. If you're looking for a fuss-free smart coffee maker, and don't mind the fact that it only works with Alexa, the Hamilton Beach Smart Coffee Maker will be a great addition to your morning routine. And most importantly, it brews up a good cup of coffee.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.