Throughout the years I have had basically every kind of drip maker out there. My first big coffee equipment purchase was a prosumer Bunn teamed with a Braun burr grinder which produced coffee quickly for 6 college housemates. It made good coffee, but nothing great. For better coffee, I would take out the $10 manual drip I bought at a coffee shop. I started to learn, at least for drip, that cone filters and water temp control were the way to go. Since then, every other coffee maker I bought had to have the cone-style filter... but, as you know, water temps on these things can be very unreliable. Why, I have no idea, but that's another discussion altogether. The coffee they produced was nothing to get excited about and unfortunately, it was mostly about just getting caffeinated to wake up. So for better coffee when time allowed, I would still take out the old trusty manual drip.
In comes the Capresso - I bought the Capresso with a return credit I had at Williams Sonoma based on some good reviews here. It was to replace a steam toy drip / espresso combo. I know, I know, you don't have to tell me. Would I have paid the $169 if I didn't have the credit? I didn't consider it alot of money if it made great coffee, but the machine just didn't seem that substantial. Since WS has a no questions asked return policy, I figured I had nothing to lose. Also if I didn't have the credit, I would have probably bought a Technivorm based on the reviews.
My first few weeks with it were mixed. I liked the alloy metal construction and finish but I wasn't sure if I liked the design. I had no need for the charcoal filter since we have a springwater well, but it is a nice feature for those using city water. It had way too many programming buttons for my taste. If you want to make great coffee, you don't put fresh ground coffee in the filter the night before, period. But that's a rant for another time. So, I had no need for all those fancy programming buttons, just the single brew button.
I learned after the first week not to fill the reservoir with the carafe. It spills and the carafe should really be warming up as you grind beans and fill the tank. I have a separate glass pitcher I use to fill the reservoir, which makes filling much easier while the stainless thermal carafe is being warmed up with hot water from the tap. This maintains the heat of the coffee for well over 4 hours. The brew temp of the water seems ok, right at the bottom of the acceptable range. I know others have had problems with the temp, but they never say how the coffee tasted. The machine makes coffee fast, around 6-8 minutes. We had problems with the carafe dripping coffee everywhere when we poured - make sure the dot on the lid is at the pour location, problem fixed. (RTFM) So with all that done, the coffee was good, very good, but not great. I honestly didn't expect great. But then I started fiddling with the grind. 25 past zero on my Rocky seems to be the sweet spot for the city roast we use for drip. The coffee got a bit better. Then I started fiddling with the quantity. The machine brews 10 cups so I tried it at 8 cups, which is all we get through anyway. The coffee was great, really great. Now I really look forward to it in the morning, as much as I look forward to an espresso... well almost as much.