NOTE: I own the original top-opening version of this machine. The newer model appears to have a couple less parts to clean and has a smaller footprint - but in function appears in the store to be basically the same thing.
BACKGROUND: This was my first coffee maker ever. I didn't know much about coffee at the time but I knew you should grind your own beans and use a gold filter. It looked like this thing had all the bells and whistles I would ever need. I thought I was pretty smart but a little knowledge can hurt you more than help you. If only I knew a simple manual filter or press pot makes better coffee.
DESIGN AND USE: This unit grinds for you automatically (on a timer or not), and keeps those grounds off the counter because it's all enclosed in the machine. Like most any drip machine, the Grind-N-Brew doesn't get the water hot enough and it cooks the brewed coffee on a hotplate. The grinder is a whirly blade type so the grounds are not uniform in size. But I think even using your own blade grinder will give a better grind than this machine due to its desgin. The container holding the beans does not have a large enough capacity. You can only fit in enough beans to brew a half-pot (wasn't a big issue for me). I never really liked the coffee from this thing. I always needed to add cream to stomach the stuff. But, I was just a budding coffee drinker at the time (still am, actually) so what did I know? Many people have had their unit break on them and I have heard of 2 others who broke their machine within 3-5 years. If only I was so lucky.
CLEANING: People usually complain that cleaning this thing is a nightmare due to the many parts inside. I won't say it's easy but it wasn't too hard for me to rinse the components each morning. I got used to rinsing them in the morning and leaving in the sink to air dry. Forgetting to clean it was the major hassle, because the grind unit works even worse when wet (the grinds will stick and not all will make it to the filter).
COST: I think for $100 you could buy a much better drip machine with more power and a thermal carafe. I think the quality of coffee produced in the Grind-n-brew is similar to what you would get in a $30 drip machine.
FINAL NOTES: I've switched to using a press pot. It's still easy and quick to use and I've given up on trying to automate the brewing process. I do wish I had known more and I never would have bought this machine.
Bought at the Cupboard in Fort Collins, CO. Got it for $25 off because it was a display model. Great store, lousy product.
Three Month Followup
I tried to give the Grind N Brew a second chance. I had switched to using a press pot to make coffee and was roasting my own beans. I wanted to see if the Cuisinart would make decent coffee with my fresh beans. I have to admit, it was a lot more convenient to use this drip machine to make coffee early in the morning compared to using a press pot. I was willing to start using it again and I'd even give up a little taste for the sake of convenience. But I tried it, side by side with my press pot and I hated the Cuisinart's coffee. This machine is slated for our next garage sale.