I love the Chinese market. Everything is manufactured over there, and the country is this weird hodge podge of high end businesses and low end factories, crafting an economy of the very poor and the exceedingly wealthy. The advent of online shopping has allowed us in the West to take advantage of low cost products made with high quality materials. This Hamswan Coffee maker is just another in a long line of random items I get to review, and both the item in question, and the company who sells it, have all the hallmarks of China that I find so endearing.
My focus this last few weeks when it comes to coffee has been in the grinder side of things. I am very much a home brew kinda guy, so K-Cups have never really entered into it for me. I did get to test out a few compost ready cups a few months back, but I had to send them to my Dad for testing, he was the only person I knew with one of the machines. Well no longer, I now have one, and so far as I can tell, it seems to be pretty good.
There are a number of things about the K-Cup coffee market that everyone should pay attention to. The biggest issue is the waste generated. I usually make a moka pot coffee, and the refuse from that is little more than a few coffee grounds. With the K-Cups you have these little plastic pouches to deal with, and the vast, vast majority of options on the market right now are not compost safe, hell, they aren’t even biodegradable. Interesting aside here, biodegradable items aren’t all that good for the environment, as to be labeled biodegradable all they have to prove is that the material will degrade by 90% over a ten year period. So, if you want a quick and easy way of making coffee in the morning, that doesn’t muck up the environment, then be sure to buy compost ready K-Cups only.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at the company.
First off, what an excellent name. No idea what it means to a Chinese person but Ham Swan just sounds hilarious to me. The firm was founded in 2012 in the industrial powerhouse that is Shenzhen. Every product I have gotten to review over the last two years has been made by a company out that way. The company site seems to lack focus, in terms of product cohesion, and the writing on site is a little ESL, but it is servicable. They work with a number of online retailers, most notably Amazon.com, selling all kinds of things, from Coffee makers to gaming headsets. I hope it pays off for them, but my two cents here are; too broad a product line, hard to build a brand that way.
HAMSWAN CM-1177B Coffee Maker Design and Build Quality
So let’s take a look at this thing. Overall not a bad design. Fits into any kitchen, assuming you didn’t go for a more garish pastel look. Black on chrome is the only option. Would have liked to see a bit of variety, and I am certain there exists alternative colors for this item, but not from Hamswan. In terms of build quality it seems pretty good. I gave it a good shake and found the parts fitting flush, and the heft on it was comforting. If you hear any rattle I would get it exchanged, as even if it works it may break down, and Chinese firms are more likely to make good on the warranty if you make use of it early.
A major selling point is its portability. The build is quite small, and it means moving it is easy, but it also limits the cup size you can fit in it. I measured the overhead at a little under 7″, so not bad, but not great if you like a big mug of coffee in the morning. In addition to the portability you have two options for brewing. Not only does it accept the K-Cups, but it comes with an attachment for your own grounds. I still have a fair number of grinders out back, so I tested it with a variety of ground types.
Moving on, let’s see how good the coffee is in this thing.
HAMSWAN CM-1177B Coffee Maker Testing
So, first thing we need to test is the K-Cups. I got my hands on a few more of those GloryBrew K-Cups on my own dime. I reviewed them a while back, and the coffee quality was high, and the waste generated was mitigated by the compost ready nature of the K-Cups. First thing you are going to want to do is fill it with water. This is a single serving coffee maker, but it holds about 14oz of water. There are two filter cups you can use, one for K-Cups and one for fresh ground coffee. Put the K-Cup filter in there and load in the GloryBrew. Next, press the K-Cup button. There are two buttons on the build, one for K-Cups and one for fresh ground. Pressing both activates cleaning mode, which is a nice touch.
Brewing either fresh ground of K-Cups takes less than 2 minutes, so great on the go, and the quality of the K-Cup brew is exactly where you imagine it is. The GloryBrew came out identically here as in a Keurig, so if K-Cups are your standard you would be very well served by the HamSwan coffee maker. The issues I have with it is in the fresh ground brew.
Now, it might be down to me being used to espresso, and home Moka pot coffee, but the ground brew comes out like a lesser version of drip. It lacks punch. I tried it with fine ground, coarse ground and medium and found very little difference in the quality of the brew. If I had to choose the best it would be the fine, but you have to use a burr grinder for it, else you are going to get a very muddled beverage. It shouldn’t be a deal breaker to be honest, and if you are just looking for a drip like coffee experience it is more than up to the task, but if you are moving from a French Press or Moka Pot then I cannot recommend the fresh ground, better to use the K-Cups.
Overall the quality is pretty good. It is super easy to use, very quick at making a cup, and fairly versatile too. The issues are apparent, with the ground coffee being the inferior drink, but if you prefer the K-Cups, and the unending variety of morning beverages out there, then the HamSwan coffee maker has to be seriously considered, especially at this price.
HAMSWAN CM-1177B Coffee Maker Pricing and Warranty
Speaking of price, I have looked into this market, the K-Cup coffee maker market, and found that there is something for everyone. The hgih end is full of overpriced products that do exactly the same thing as the “low end” ones, so if you are moving to K-Cups I think it best to aim for the sub $100 price point anyway. The HamSwan CM-1177B is sold on Amazon.com but is generally a great price, to see the current price and view all the discounts and coupons click here. Certainly one of the more competitive prices on the market, and it is all down to being a Chinese firm. As we should all know by this point that does come with a downside.
Namely the warranty. Chinese companies do not have good warranties, they typically last a year, and if you have every read one you will know that they tend to be filled with spelling errors and poor syntax. Worse even than my own writing. The HamSwan warranty is for one year of limited coverage only, and the returns policy covers only the first month of use. Far from comprehensive, and far from consumer friendly, but we knew that going in. The benefits of buying Chinese out weigh the negatives to my mind, you tend to get a high quality item at a very bargain basement price. My advice, buy on Amazon. You get access to Amazon’s excellent consumer protection policies when you do, and in the event that something goes wrong on HamSwan’s end you have a local advocate to make sure you are treated fairly.
Overall, this is exactly what I expected. A damn fine price coupled with a less than stellar warranty. So long as you know what you are buying on the way in you will never be blind sided, and will always end up with a great deal.
HAMSWAN CM-1177B Coffee Maker Conclusion
HamSwan may be pretty new to the western market, and their product line might scream drop shipper, but I don’t think that needs to be a black mark on them. The Hamswan CM-1177B Coffee Maker is of high quality, small form factor and does exactly what you want it to do quickly and with zero fuss. It is easy to use, and should you want to, you can use fresh ground coffee to save on money. Not the best option for fresh ground, but then I am a bit of a snob in that regard.
The price is fantastic and the warranty is exactly what we expect. If you want to dip your toe into the wonderful world of K-Cup coffee makers then the HamSwan CM-1177B Coffee Maker is a good place to start, and honestly a good place to stop as well.
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