Not cheap, but it does what it says. Easily programmed for good hot coffee, kept up to temperature for an extended period.
Positive Product Points
The unit has a pleasant look, and sits well with my other appliances (Stainless & Black). Programming and set-up is very easy. Carafe keeps coffee at drinkable temperature for a couple of hours. Initial brew temperature is good. Quality construction and good design for filter holder. Visible water level.
Negative Product Points
Relatively easy to over-fill carafe when filling reservoir to the maximum. Slow pour from carafe. Narrow pouring area when filling with water.
Why The MT500? I have been using a Krups Il Cafe Duomo for a while. I could not fault the drip side of things (bottom line... good coffee), but the steam-toy espresso had to go! Having a limited kitchen work area, I needed to have a single purpose drip machine to go along with the new Silvia/Rocky combo. Examining my needs, I decided that if I was to get a new unit, it would have to be come with a timer and a thermal carafe (I do not like coffee when it's been on a hotplate anything longer than 15 minutes or so).
After reviewing all the comments made on this site (as well as other consumer reviews), it seemed that the MT500 satisfied most people by working at the correct brew temperature. This was the main factor in the decision making process. The stainless/black exterior construction fitted well with my espresso machine and grinder combination.
Initial Reaction - Build Quality. First impressions out of the box were positive. I had manhandled other competitive units at the local kitchen stores (but not the Capresso) and was always a little concerned about the way the baskets swung out and reseated when pushed home. Usually cheap and flimsy, not inspiring confidence. The Capresso negates this by having the basket fixed in place with access allowed from above. Overall it had a feel of quality about it... apart from a slight uneven base and a very minor wobble when placed on a flat surface (this could easily be solved by using slightly thicker rubber feet). The downside of having access only from the top is that the unit has to be pulled out from underneath the cupboards to allow for filling both the water reservoir and the coffee basket due to the height being in excess of the standard 18" when the lid is raised.
Filling The Reservoir. The reservoir is wide, but shallow front to back. Pay attention when filling from a jug or you'll end up spilling water down the sides. I guess this is the price paid for the overall shallowness of the unit. As I said before... real estate in the kitchen is at a premium, so the ability to push the unit back against the wall without it protruding too much is beneficial.
Internal Water Filter. I cannot comment on the charcoal filter included with the system. The fitting and construction look sound, monitoring and changing seem to be simple, and the principle of having an internal filter is a good one. I charcoal-filter my water in a Pur jug, so double filtering seems redundant. I would be concerned about the on-going availability of the Capresso filters. Are these standard units that will outlive the retail life of the machine itself?
Clock/Timer. The clock/timer is simplicity itself. Initial setting of the time is easy (for some reason always have trouble setting clocks on domestic appliances. I live in fear of the morning after the clocks go back/forward!). The timer/program function is just as easy. Hit the buttons and away you go. There is a tendency for manufacturers to over-engineer the electronics on some electical/mechanical devices. It seems that if they've got to put a clock chip in there, then they'll use all the functions! Fortunately, Capresso looked at the functionality required by the user.... not the functionality available in the chip.
Carafe Size. The water level is viewable via a sight glass on the right side of the tank, graduated up to 10 cups. When I first ran the machine to flush it, I filled to the 10 mark and let it cycle. When the carafe overflowed I was less than pleased. I realise that the small excess could be that I hadn't allowed for the water retention in the coffee grounds during proper usage, but I haven't risked it yet. I just fill to 9 if I want a full pot :)
Getting It Right. It took me a while to find the best settings for the MT500. I had it pinned down with the old unit, but getting the grind and amount of coffee took a few pots - initially it seemed on the weak side. My daily coffee for morning drip is Costco's finest First Colony Columbian Supremo. Grinding about 25 on Rocky, and using one heaped measure per cup (as per reservoir measure) plus "one for the pot" seems to work well. The Krups didn't need the extra. Actually that should be "one for half a pot" as I use this methodology when filling the reservoir to 5. I'm still using #4 Melitta paper filters - for some reason I don't like the supplied gold-tone filter. I think this is just me... maybe it's a clean-up thing.
Daily Routine. In use, the MT500 has worked out well and suits the different morning routines of myself and my partner. She is an early riser, and wants her coffee at 5:40am. I'm ready for mine usually about an hour of so later. By setting-up the MT500 the previous evening, she gets her first cup as soon as she wants it, and mine comes out of the same carafe an hour or so later. We've pushed it out to a couple of hours with no problem, but I'd be dubious about any longer. If you knew that you wanted the pot to last for 3 or 4 hours, then I would certainly pre-heat the pot. This is obviously not possible when using the timer function.
Conclusion. I had noted some comments regarding the build quality (carafe especially) and strange tastes with the MT500. I haven't had these problems. I don't particularly like the three plastic feet on the carafe, and I guess that a couple of small points could be re-engineered, but overall the MT500 does what I ask of it. Good coffee, hot coffee with a style that fits in with my environment. Objective criticism of build quality may be difficult while it sits next to the solid pairing of Silvia & Rocky, but when compared to others of its type and function, it holds up well.
Ordered over the internet from Aabree (EspressoPeople). I had previously purchased from them and received the repeat customer discount. Shipping was free and everything went smoothly. Overall a good buying experience, and I'd use them again. On previous purchases, I used the phone, and was given helpful, friendly and professional service.
Three Month Followup
After a few months with a new product, the honeymoon period wears off a little and objectivity returns. So, after using the MT500, I have to say I'm still happy with a number of points... The programming is a breeze. The carafe keeps the coffee hot for a few hours with no problem. The coffee comes out hotter than other machines I've tried. The downside... I never got on with the gold filter, but to be fair, that would be true of any drip machine with one. When the carafe is warmed prior to use, the coffee goes in hot, and stays hot for a long time. When used with the timer for the morning brew, the hot coffee goes into a cold carafe, and all benefits seem to be diluted somewhat. What else... oh yes, getting the last half-cup of coffee out of the carafe is almost impossible with the lid in its pouring position. It's a good machine, but maybe I'd adjust my cost vs value rating down from a 7 to a 6.