George Wachsmuth has done a great job of describing the history and function of vacuum pots here, so I won't repeat that (because I'd be largely plagerizing his review anyway!). Surprisingly, however, as long as vac pots and balance brewers have been around, they are little-known among causual coffee drinkers. Everytime we use the Cafetino at a dinner party, someone writes us a thank you note that is entirely focused on his/her amazement at seeing and tasting the brew from such a unique contraption--this is not an insult to the wine we serve; the Cafetino really can upstage a 15-year-old Bordeaux.
Patrick Van Den Noortgaete's directions, with drawings that make them look like an underground comic strip, are absolutely straightforward and easy to follow. By simply placing 60 grams of medium-ground coffee in the glass jar, filling the sphere with water, and lighting the spirit lamp, you can get a very good cup of coffee. As others have noted here, it is expedient and useful to tweak that process slightly; I pre-moisten the grounds and give them a quick stir with a chop stick in the kitchen before moving the brewer tableside. I also pre-heat a litre of water in the microwave for 5 minutes before pouring it into the sphere, so that the brewer completes its cycle in about ten minutes. This gives dinner guests an opportunity to at least notice the dessert they've been mindlessly nibbling while transfixed by the Cafetino.
Others have waxed about the high quality of the stainless steel in the Cafetino and its precise finish, as well as the sturdy and attractive hand-blown glass brewing chamber: all quite true. The spirit lamp that comes with the Cafetino is a very nice design as well, but it takes some tricky maneuvering to light it and get it in place. If you are right-dominant, you might find it easiest to light the wick with your left hand, so your more dexterious, opposable digits can place the lighted lamp underneath the lowered sphere, leaving the cap propped against the stainless server. Fuel for the spirit lamp is economical and readily available at any hardware store. In the U.S., it is called "Denatured Alcohol" and retails for a couple of bucks per quart. Its resulting flame is transparent and blue-white, a mesmerizing pyrotechnical delight. Be careful with the wooden handle on the spigot, however; I pushed ours too far back in closing it once at the start of the brewing process and singed its lovely finish.
As you can gather here, we use the Cafetino almost exclusively at dinner parties, although we have been known to operate it for our own enjoyment after dinner on quiet nights at home as well. When the air is still, it is remarkably calming on the patio at night. (We would probably use it more often, but we have to give equal time to all of our coffee toys.) The Cafetino is on permanent display front and center on the dining room buffet. Guests usually ask if it is a "still," and their curiosity isn't sated until they have quaffed a couple of cups of its home brew. Its litre of coffee will handily fill six china tea cups. Incidentally, the pictures on the Coffee4you.com web site do make the Cafetino look smaller than it is; note that it actually has equal capacity with its copper sibling the Royal. Remember to keep a towel, heavy dinner napkin, or something handy to hold the hot sphere while releasing the siphon from the top so that air can enter the dispenser and make the spigot function. The wooden cap on the siphon facilitates this as it stays cool to the touch.
I find the Cafetino exceptionally easy to clean. The large opening at the top of the brewing chamber makes removing spent grounds very simple, and I am content to put a little Urnex and water in the dispensing sphere and shake it vigorously, followed by a quick rinse, to clean its interior. The denatured alcohol leaves only a trace of residue which is easily wiped away with soap and water. The high quality stainless, glass, and wood polish up perfectly with a dish towel.
If you only live once, you entertain at all, and you want to share your passion for coffee with friends, you could use a Coffee4You Balance Brewer in your life. Personally, I think the Cafetino, with its art deco lines, and anachronistic design, is the better value. Still, it is an expensive vac pot, but you could keep this thing on your mantel!