I guess it's time a Texan that has been making and eating chili all their life threw their "dos centavos" in on this subject.
Not all chili powders are fiery hot freshly ground right from the factory, or made at home (Gebharts, Fort Worth Light, McCormick's Texas Style are all fairly mild). They are a spice blend that is used for its flavor -
not trying to make the top 10 on the Scoville chart. Many prize winning chili cooks will use more than one brand of chili powder to get the taste they want if they don't make their own from scratch, and then use cayenne to adjust the heat. If you want that 3-alarm burns all the way down feeling, add some cayenne or other hot chili peppers to the mix. But then again, how hot they are is a subjective opinion - one person's "bland and boring" might be another person's "too hot and spicy for me".
Adding beans to your chili is your choice, it traditionally is taboo here in TX and forbidden in chili cooking competitions. I don't because I find it "dilutes" my chili. Some people will get a bowl of beans (pintos) "on the side" so they can add some to tone down their bowl of chili if it is a little too spicy for them.
Regarding "ground" meat ... the regular "hamburger" grind is a little too fine for most chili lovers that I know. We have "chili grind" available in the regular grocery stores that is coarse and about 1/4 inch diameter. This is a lot easier and more convenient that dicing the meat into little 1/4 cubes. Of course, if you have a store that still has a butcher that can grind the meat for you, something that is getting harder and harder to find, you can select the cuts of meat you want and have that ground for you.
The basic ingredients in most chili recipes is the meat (beef or a mix of beef and pork), tomatoes (puree or paste usually), a mix of ground hot and mild chili peppers, onion, garlic, Mexican oregano, paprika, cumin, salt (some or all of these are in chili powders with variations in amounts). Some people use beer, or stock or just plain old water for the liquid. Thickening, if necessary or desired, is usually with a slurry of masa flour (masa de harina which a little different than plain corn flour but both will work) and water added toward the end of cooking - about the last 5-10 minutes.
I don't know if your store carries them but there are some decent chili making "kits" (the spices and directions) on the market. The best, in my opinion, are either Carroll Shelby's or Wick Fowler's 2-Alarm or 3-Alarm chili fixin's. These are usually in the spice section or if you have a Mexican food section they might be there. They are, at least, a good starting point - you can always gussy them up with a little more of this or that if you want. Oh, Carroll Shelby and Wick Fowler are both award winning champion chili cooks.
If you want to look at some chili recipes to get some more ideas:
Recipes from past winners of the Terlingua International Chili Championship
Carroll Shelby's Chili Recipe
- this site has some other recipes, some that include beans! On Shelby's recipe - if you don't want to use the cheese you can use corn flour for the thickening, and for the beer I would use a lager or something like Bass or Harp (Carroll used Lone Star if I remember right).
LOL ... I think I know what I'm having for supper tonight ....
(and this doesn't even get into the green chili's of New Mexico and Arizona ...)