ORIENTATION I'm cheap. I own two working Presto Scandinavian drip makers. Aside from the plastic smell (still slightly present) I have no issues with them, and I paid no more than $30 each, total. But this came up on Craigslist, and I knew that capresso has good build quality at the high end of drip makers, so in the house she comes. (Currrent retail fron Capresso is $169)
OVERVIEW This machine features proper brewing temperatures, a great showerhead, and wonderful carafe performance. She is a big, rounded, stainless wench, a massive, gleaming amazon with no crisp visual features, requiring 11 inches width, 12 inches of depth and a whopping 20 inches of height for the pop up door to open. The protruding handle adds three inches to the depth. Very good build quality. She will not brew unless you insert the spout deeply enough into the indentation between the two shining, taut-skinned, cylindrical pillars to hit the switch. (Those designers are oh-so-subtle;-). If the Presto Scandinavian has the shape of an elegant sword, this thing is like a shining bazooka.
TASTE One notch (maybe two) better than the Presto, and that means truly great. It may be because of the better showerhead (three inches wide) or the special brew cycle (my wife brews six cups every morning and I get a sample on occasion; I rarely drink coffee before 10:00). Just richer in general, with sharper accents, than any auto drip I have experienced, (Anyone want to loan me a Technivorm? ;-) )
THE CARAFE The carafe performs amazingly well. Even when brewing only six cups, the heat retained after six hours is great for me, but I like my coffee hot and not scalding. A thermal carafe means there is no question of scorching the coffee after brewing; you'll never go back if you try a good one. I'd still prefer a glass-lined thermal carafe. Pouring is elegant and dripless, but not super fast. The handle is comfortable, strong, and large, (any motifs coming through yet?) but the carafe is a squat cylinder.
I once brewed into a full carafe and had coffee all over the counter. Watch for that with thermal carafes! Get in the habit of a dump-and-and-empty. I now always fill the machine with water from my glass teakettle so the carafe is never filled with water, ever. (Given the tea and coffee use and original source quality no worries about hardness or oxygenation)
LOOKS AND OPERATION It's big and stainless and consists of two cylindrical shapes smoothly connected by a stainless wrap. Bold, clean, yet to my eye it's like stainless Modernist-Stalinist architecture. A bit of a cone to humanize the shape, or something for the eye to focus on for a moment would suit me better. Two dimensional curves are not sexy.
General operation consists of pushing the big button. That's it. The special cycle for small batches consists of pushing the big button for four seconds and releasing it. Simple! Programming for my beloved wife's morning necessity was simple. The top-mounted display is back-lit, huge, and angled for easy viewing. Nice touch! If you see the small button lit green, your coffee will be ready as programmed (as long as you leave the carafe in place). If the big button is lit red, your coffee is brewing; do not open the top. The across-the-room visibility provided by these top-mounted indicators is great, especially compared to the Presto. The materials and build quality are very, very good. No plastic smell, (I got mine used) and the controls operate solidly. Replacing the filter holder will take you a few times to get used to, as the orientation is not symmetrical. No big deal after a few uses.
HEIGHT 20 inches to open this beast? What's next; two feet for a home coffeemaker? Could a pivoting, horizontal door for coffee and water work as well as the pneumatic or hydraulic hatch pop-up hatch? I wonder what brewing would be like if the pop up system (or the latch!) fails. With horizontal action, the height problem would be eliminated.
SPECIAL KUDOS TO CAPRESSO The manual was available on line (all manuals should be). When I recently called Capresso to speak with them about a consumer-replaceable part I was pricing in order to bid on an ebay item, they said "No charge, we'll just send it to you, No shipping fee either" I had to convince them not to. (I do give tremendous phone, but still, that was amazing!!!)
SUMMARY This is an expensive machine at $169, but it really delivers. It brews top quality coffee and is easy to use and clean. The carafe offers great insulation and graceful pouring. It has all the visual appeal of a massive piece of two-dimensionally curved stainless steel. It needs huge real estate. There are several thoughtful touches such as the top mounted display. Some may like the interior cord storage; I'd have much rather seen the machine with a smaller design and a dangling cord or a cheap cord-wrap area at the bottom and a clip in the rear. But cheapos can't be choosers when the coffee (and the deal) is this good! I envision great coffee for many years and doubt she will ever be displaced from the real estate she has earned. Come by on Saturday for a cup.