I LOVE this machine. It has it's share of faults: the grinder (which is a burr grinder, unlike the inferior blade mechanism with the Cusinart Brind & Grew) tends to deposit the coffee with a "hill" off to one side of the filter, so if you've got it on timer and won't be there to tap at the filter a bit to the coffee leveled, you'll likely end up with some grounds that never gets properly saturated in brewing.
Another consideration: I like my coffee fairly strong, and find that even at the highest strength setting, it brews weak to my taste. One solution: set it for 10 5 oz. cups and then only brew about 8, or a tad more to compensate for evaporation and grounds holding water.
The machine is not too messy -- dry grounds that come out of the machine are a minor nuisance, and most noticeable on low humidity, "static"-y weather days. (Note that the fine setting on the grinder is *very* fine, start with medium and then tweak.) The assembly is
easy to clean, with the exception of the grinder hopper, which can't be removed, but only damp ragged. You do have to properly assemble a three part filter/filterholder/cover assembly to brew, and yes, if you forget, you'll have grinds and hot water all over your counter. The good news is, since you have to remember to lock the filter chamber over beneath the grinder before it can make that mess, you'll probably remember the assembly, too.
You can program 2-10 cups at one of 3 strengths up to 24 hours in advance, and it's not at all difficult. The machine has a substantial footprint but still less than a grinder and coffee machine separately.
You'd think the novelty would wear off after a few weeks, but I'm still getting a great kick out of being able to roast coffee the night before, have it grind when my alarm clock goes off, and enjoy the freshest possible A.M. brew, without overtaxing my morning pre-caffeinated abilities. If you know what I mean...
My model is the 451, which I got for $111 shipping included from mothernature.com. The newer 452 is apparently identical except for an added water purification filter, and it retails for about $240 at Barnie's and elsewhere. Capresso's own site (www.capresso.com) is constantly selling $99 refurbs, click on the "parts" link.
Reliability? We'll see. I haven't heard all good about Capresso's espresso machines in terms of reliability, and there is a mechanism on the unit that moves the filter basket from under the bean hopper to over the carafe, that looks potentially vulnerable to wearing out -- it makes this alarming "CRACK" when it finishes the grind and moves over. But with the 1 year warranty and the price I was able to get, I'll take the chance.