Let me start this by saying I am extremely particular about my coffee. I like to drink it within ten to twenty minutes of its having been brewed. I am not impressed with good espresso, but rather with exceptional coffee. I prefer 4 cup brewers due to the fact that I am only brewing the amount of coffee that I am going to drink in a rather short time, so I don't end up with hour old coffee in my pot. And, for a 4 cup brewer, Melitta nailed it with this one. It is the Chevy small block of its class; they got it right from day one.
Like most people during the 1990's, I tried the Gevalia Kaffe subscription. There wasn't a lot of alternatives in some parts of the country, and it came with this cool little coffee maker. In all honesty, I don't remember if it was included free, or if (and how much) I actually paid for it. But something tells me that I paid around $20 for it, one way or another. And, like most people who got one of these, I relegated it to the duty of brewing the ocassional pot of decaf for visitors who required it. For quite awhile, it saw no regular daily use.
Then, a few years back, I decided to use this 4 cup dripper for my morning coffee when I started experimenting with other brewing methods for my other daily brews. I needed something that my wife wouldn't use, as she is death on coffee and coffee makers (and quite possibly anyone who drinks her coffee). Since this one has a filter basket that actually attaches directly to the carafe, it was bound to be more trouble to use than she would like. I was right; she never had the desire to use it, and it has long since become my daily morning routine; pumping out enough coffee for two large mugs each morning.
The 650 watt Melitta is rather cleverly designed. As I mentioned, the filter basket attaches to the carafe. It also has a lid that acts to properly disperse the hot water over the grounds in the basket, as well as keeping the heat in. The whole assembly, carafe and filter basket, fit rather snug under the water dispenser, so there is very little heat loss throughout the brew cycle. And by my meaurment of putting a thermometer inside the spout of the carafe, I'm getting a temperature of around 192 degrees; that's the temperature of the coffee dripping into the carafe. While not the optimum temperature of 200 degrees, I figure that it is pretty close. It certainly makes better coffee than any other drip machine I have ever used. And, comparing the coffee made by this machine side by side with coffee made in a manual pour over brewer, I cannot tell the difference.
Aesthetically, I feel that the Melitta still holds its own against the newer models of coffee makers. Its filter basket is rather angular looking, but it doesn't look 'dated' as many other older coffee makers do. If you had to guess by looking at it, you would figure it was a current model. Mine was actually made in 1991. It has been in use for somewhere around ten years, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Even the hotplate shows little wear. It is very basic, but very simple. There are no additional features that can go wrong, no timers to go bad. It just makes coffee when you turn it on. Many people would find this inconvenient I suppose, not having coffee waiting when they wake up, but it takes only a few minutes to brew a full pot, so I don't think the wait is that bad.
Now, why bother writing a review for something that is no longer available? Well, it may not be available through any retailer, but there are lots of these machines out there. I have found them brand new, in the box at yard sales. I have found them used at thrift stores, and always with only a little use. Ocassionally, a few will pop up on ebay, both new and used. And for an average price of $5 used, $10-15 in new condition, these are a bargain. Taking into account that most of the 4 cup brewers out there are Mr. Coffee and Black & Decker, you are far better off with a used Melitta.