Makes large amounts of good coffee with no hand-holding and somewhat questionable esthetics.
Positive Product Points
Produces large amount of vacuum-brewed coffee with little fuss. Coffee, as expected from a vacuum brewer, is full-bodied and flavorful. Capable of unattended operation.
Negative Product Points
Must be cleaned by hand. Plastic filter slightly coarse, leaving a little mud. Requires decent grinder for good coffee. No vacuum carafe, requiring coffee to be decanted into a separate carafe if it's going to be held.
I'd used the Hario and Cona vacuum pots for some time, to produce after-meal coffee for guests, primarily. We wanted, though, to be able to produce decent coffee for a crowd without standing over a brewer when that wasn't to be the center of attention. For this the Infuze performs admirably. It ranges in capacity from 26 to 65 ounces (Black & Decker's cups appear to be 6.5 ounces, and it brews 4-10). The plastic filter is slightly coarse, so some mud will be in the coffee. This will be less, of course, with a good grinder, and is in any case much less than a French press would produce. The water temperature in the top is 203į F, right in the desirable brewing range. The time up top is about two minutes, so the slightly coarse grind required for the filter is right in the range for the brewing time. The coffee is full-bodied and full-flavored. Black & Decker seems to have looked at the Bodum eSantos and designed around that machine's flaws: its timing doesn't vary with how close to level it is, it's much easier to clean, and so far it hasn't leaked. It does, contrary to the description in TechnoScout's web site, have to be cleaned by hand, but unlike the Bodum the opening in the carafe is large enough for all but the largest of hands to fit. I've used Urnex Clearly Coffee to clean it, with no problems and no staining. The Infuze does have a timed mode of operation, and will keep the coffee warm, but neither of those will give you good coffee, the first because it requires pre-grinding and the second because the coffee will oxidize. Brew it and pour it into a separate vacuum carafe if you're going to keep it. When I first used it, I had trouble getting the top off of the upper section, but then figured out that you have to lever it by prying up with your fingers from the handle attachment point. This isn't covered in the instructions. The top does hold the top for the carafe, and the base has a swing-out holder for the funnel after brewing, both of which are nice points. It's too early to tell whether there will be any reliability problems, but so far none have appeared. The all-plastic design is not going to wow your guests as much as the Bodum will, but the coffee likely will.
I got one of the first units TechnoScout shipped, and so the shipping time was delayed because of backorders from Black & Decker. They did send a letter offering to cancel the order if I wanted, and my credit card was not charged until the unit shipped. Other than that, the transaction was smooth. I believe that TechnoScout has the exclusive US distribution rights at the moment, but I'd expect that to change once they've ramped manufacturing up.
Three Month Followup
After five months of use, the Infuze continues to please. Iíve now made a ďfour-cupĒ (i.e. 28-ounce) batch, the smallest of which it is capable, and the results were just as good as a full batch. It hasnít leaked, nor have any other reliability concerns surfaced. The filter, which is a plastic mesh and about which Iíd originally been concerned, hasnít torn or otherwise given trouble. I gather from other users that something like the Urnex Clearly Coffee I use is necessary for easy cleaning, but thatís widely available. As Iíd suspected, once the retail channel was filled, the price dropped: Iíve seen it on Amazon (as the VB-100) for US$50 instead of the US$70 Iíd paid. At that price Iíd recommend it even more highly.
One Year Followup
Still working fine after a year now. I've pretty much abandoned my Cona, using the Hario for small batches and the Infuze for large ones. Still highly recommended. I'm told, although I haven't done it, that if you can't find a cleaning product like Clearly Coffee, a denture-cleaning tablet will also work.