side-by-side comparison
The Scoop's shelf can be inverted to accommodate a tall travel mug.

Triumph of concept over execution

| I admit it — it was an impulse purchase.

For years now I have used a small French press to brew my coffee: add some grounds, fill it with boiling water, wait a few minutes, and press down. Voilà! Perfect, to my taste, fresh coffee.

Then I saw an ad for The Scoop™ from Hamilton Beach. The concept is simple and instantly compelling: a one-cup coffee maker without the expense or conspicuous consumption of prepackaged pods.

the scoop

Using any coffee you like, fill the included coffee scoop-cum-filter, then drop it into the top of the machine. Pour a cupful of water into the reservoir (of whatever size cup you're using) and press either the regular or bold switch. In a couple of minutes, your coffee is ready. How terrific is that?

The machine comes with an extra scoop, and the scoop and the mesh filter into which it fits are both dishwasher safe.

I immediately ordered one from Amazon and it arrived two days later. After unpacking and running through a cleaning cycle, I eagerly brewed my first cup of coffee.

Ptui!

This was the absolute worst-tasting cup of coffee I have made in at least 50 years. It had strong metallic overtones that masked the actual taste of coffee and it smelled burnt — like when you burn something plastic.

I did another thorough cleaning, this time with vinegar. Same result: undrinkable coffee. So now I read the "reviews" (I know, wrong order) and discovered that awful-tasting coffee is a common complaint, most reviewers noting a "plastic" taste. Naturally, for every nay-sayer there is an aye-sayer who proclaims the device brews the "best ever" coffee. But the nays predominated. A plethora of tips were offered by those who claimed satisfaction: tamp the coffee grounds down (too much work), use filtered water (too fussy), switch between 'regular' and 'bold' (who drinks 'regular'?), numerous cleaning cycles with vinegar (aw, c'mon!), and so on.

Over time I have refined my use of the French press. I know how many beans to grind so that I can simply empty the grinder into the carafe. It's the right size, exactly two mugfuls. It's a no-brainer to fill the kettle and dump the boiling water onto the grounds. The proper brewing time happily coincides with the length of time it takes to download my transactions into Quicken and check the latest headlines and editorial cartoons.

I did so want to like The Scoop. I did so want to breathlessly report on its wonderfulness to all those who say I'm not as early an adopter as my reputation. Alas, The Scoop is probably going to take its place in the recesses of the cupboard to await the next garage sale.

Last updated on Apr 29, 2016

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