Excellent machine, makes great coffee. You will be happy with the MT500, but make sure that you read the manual to avoid a few common operator errors.
Positive Product Points
I've owned commercial grade equipment in the past when I owned a coffee shop. The MT500 is a more than worthwhile unit for the home. Quality of the coffee made by this unit is great. The machine is beautiful to look at on the counter, and easy to use.
Negative Product Points
The clock could be slightly angled for better viewing. The water gauge on the side of the unit could be moved to be read from the front of the machine.
I read many reviews of this machine here prior to purchasing the MT500. I found three recurring complaints that I feel are due to operator errors, and two that were reasonable. I shall address these first, then give my personal review of the machine.
"The coffee isn't hot enough." The MT500 is an airpot system, and no heat is applied after the coffee is brewed. This engineering choice has tradeoffs. The temperature that the coffee is brewed at is excellent. But if you don't warm the airpot before you brew, some of the heat of the fresh coffee will be transfered to the pot itself. I believe this is the root of the complaints about coffee temperature not being hot enough. The solution is to put hot water into the pot for a minute or two, then emptying the water prior to brewing. This is what is done in coffee shops and works perfectly, keeping the coffee hot in the pot of the MT500 for a couple of hours. Given the better performance when the pot is warmed, when preprogramming the unit to brew automatically the user should opt for the closest time to when the coffee will be consumed in order to avoid losing heat. The alternative to the airpot system is heat applied to the base of the pot (your typical Mr. Coffee design). The coffee brewed in that system will stay hotter, because heat is continually applied. But, you will lose nuances in the flavor of the coffee because of the heat, often contributing a either reduced coffee flavor or even a burnt tasting brew.
"The coffee overflows from the basket." This could only happen if one of two conditions were met. First, if the user puts too much ground coffee in the filter/basket it 'could' overflow. I say 'could', because I have never seen this and am figuring that flow of the coffee thru the grinds and into the pot 'could', in theory be slowed by a packed filter/basket. I've kept to what the manual recommended (10 to 11 scoops with the included scoop), and never had any problems. My coffee has been perfect to my palette, and not weak in any way. The second way that I could foresee brewed coffee overflowing from the filter basket is by the operator removing the pot from the machine (to pour a cup during the brew cycle) and not returning the pot in a timely manner. Without the pot in place, the coffee would have no place to fall during the brew cycle. The solution to this is to either to wait for the machine to finish brewing, or to realize that to if you wish to pour a cup during the brew cycle you should do so quickly, relatively speaking. I often sneak a cup during the brew cycle, and have never had any overflow issue. So, I can only think that perhaps people complaining about overflow might be taking their time when sneaking cups during the cycle.
"The coffee overflows from the pot." The MT500 has a reservoir that will accept more water than the pot can hold. There is a gauge on the side of the machine, which goes to 10 cups, that the operator is expected to use when adding water. The gauge works, and I see this problem as being purely operator error. There is no other possible explanation that I can see for this problem. If the operator doesn't want to use the gauge, then using the pot to determine how much water to put into the machine is an alternative method. After all, if you put a pot of water into the machine (and no more), then only that much water can pass thru the machine and back into the same pot. I'll agree that it is a bit of an oddity that the reservoir volume is larger than the pot volume, and that is probably throwing some people off.
"The water gauge is hard to read since it is on the side of the machine." Fair comment. Having the gauge on the side does make it harder to read. Personally I think that they put it there so that it wouldn't detract from the aesthetics of the machine. The machine does look better without the gauge on the front. But the gauge is a bit harder to see on the side. I'd keep it where it is, myself. But I can see where other users complain about it.
"The clock is hard to read/should be angled." Fair comment. I'd tilt it up a bit if I were going to redesign this machine, maybe to 45 degrees from the counter surface. Furthermore, I'd like for it to be brighter. As it is the clock is functional, and okay. But I can see why people have complained about it.
Okay, with the common complaints dealt with I shall commence with my review.
This machine makes very good coffee, and I love it. All of the operator errors I outlined above could have been avoided if the manual had been read. I was able to pick up a refurbished machine at 1st in coffee for a great price ($99), and feel like I got this thing at a steal!
The MT500 has a built in charcoal filter that needs to be replaced every couple of months. I suggest buying extra filters when you buy the machine, if for no other reason then to save on shipping. The coffee brewed on the MT500 tastes great, and I think it has a lot to do with these filters. The coffee tastes very clean, I believe the advertised claims about the filter removing impurities from tap water. The filters are very easy to change, and replacing them only takes a minute (if that).
The machine has a special cycle for brewing 3-5 cups, and I use this feature quite a bit. I like to brew right when I want my cup, and not always a full pot. This works very well, and quality of brew is consistent with full pot brewing when using the feature.
When brewing a full pot, I find the machine is fast to complete the task. I am happy to report that the MT500 brews coffee quickly and consistently for me.
The clock and programming capabilities of the machine are straightforward and easy to use. I did read the manual, and have never had any problems with the functionality of the electronics.
In conclusion, I have had nothing but excellent experiences with this machine and wholeheartedly recommend it.
Excellent. 1st in Coffee was a great vendor, and I would buy from them again. Additionally, they had this machine in the refurbished area of their site, providing me with a truly great price.