I'm not a total aficionado about my coffee but I'd say I'm fussier about it than the average Joe (whoops, no pun intended). I stay the hell away from office coffee unless I'm desperate. I meticulously grind my coffee beans prior to each brewing. Additionally, I'm partial to burr grinders as opposed to blade since they crush the coffee beans to a consistent texture without friction. So ever since I learned of this machine over a year ago, I lusted after it. Burr grinder attached! Freshly-ground coffee every time with minimal effort! The price kept me away but eventually, practically breathless with anticipation, I made my way over to Williams Sonoma and purchased the sucker. Took it home, read the instructions, selected my settings, and away I went.
The outcome? I wanted to like it. Especially since I had dropped $200 for the contraption, I *tried* to like it. But the sad truth is, I could not lie to myself--I was disappointed. Was it an anticlimax after desiring it for so long? Well, maybe partially, but there are some tangible reasons which I will outline for you here.
Before I diss this product, let me start by illustrating its positive points. First, it looks cool. If you have it sitting on your counter, your guests are bound to comment on it. Second, the operation is pretty ingenious; you can entertain your guests with a demonstration (you swing the filter basket beneath the burr grinder and after the grinder deposits the grounds into the basket, it swings by itself back beneath the spicket where it then auto-drips). Third, there's a much-touted filter inside the water chamber to remove impurities from your tap water. Fourth, you can't beat the convenience. At the single touch of a button, you can have the machine grind the coffee beans and start brewing, just like that. No grinding your coffee in a separate apparatus and then transferring the messy grounds to your coffeemaker. Furthermore, you can set the timer to have your coffee freshly ground and brewed before you even get out of bed in the morning! How handy is that?
At this point let me comment that the burr grinder is LOUD. That could be interpreted as a good thing since it can be used as an alarm clock when set on auto-timer. It is guaranteed to rouse the entire household. Followed by the smell of fresh coffee, however, I'd say there are worse ways to wake up.
I had no problems with the use and maintenance of my CoffeeTeam Plus. Standing there looking at it for the first time, I had no clue, but the instructions clearly explain everything you need to know.
Now for the dirt. Remember when I said it looks cool? Well, it's also huge. So I hope you've got plenty of countertop space in your kitchen. Me, I had to set up a separate table for it.
As for performance, in my estimation this coffee maker sacrifices quality for convenience. My overall feeling was that I had diminished control. The burr grinder doesn't grind as finely as I would like, and it doesn't grind coffee amounts for odd-numbered cups. The machine allegedly has the ability to electronically program the brew strength of your coffee, with cute little graphics of coffee cups in the control panel to indicate light, medium, or dark. Even on its darkest setting, though, the coffee wasn't strong enough for my taste so I wound up fiddling with the water level anyway. There's no window in the water chamber so it takes some practice to learn what measure of water brews your desired strength.
Additionally, I felt that the presence of the water filter was overkill. I wonder how much it adds to the sale price of the unit, when it's just as easy to use a Brita system or bottled water instead. Plus the replacement filters are expensive and you have to change them every six weeks to prevent breeding a colony of the heebie-jeebies.
Finally, my coffee was not hot enough. I wound up nuking it after adding the milk, which pretty much negates the "hassle-free" aspects. And I think since the water didn't reach a high enough temperature, the optimal coffee flavor was not achieved.
So the final result: lack-luster coffee. Not bad coffee, but not great either. And considering the money I spent on this gadget, I guess I was expecting something equivalent to liquid gold. Bummer, dude. So what did I do? After considering off-loading the machine on EBay, I wound up giving it to my sister-in-law. She's not quite as particular about her coffee as I am, and the function of the CoffeeTeam Plus appeals to her nature (she's an engineer). So I'm cool with that. I'd rather give it to somebody who appreciates it, because I certainly did not.