If you want a removable tank, this is your machine.
Positive Product Points
-- removable water reservoir -- no hot plate -- small brew setting -- great coffee
Negative Product Points
-- a bit complex ... I would have settled for everything but the frother -- good luck removing the frother from the steam nipple
I looked and looked for a replacement to my trusty old Black & Decker Spacesaver, whose primary virtue was the removable water reservoir and under cabinet mounting. It had lasted for almost 10 years, but it was time for a change. I decided to upgrade, but I had trouble finding a department store unit with removable tank. Actually on further review, it seemed the only "upgrade" offered by the department stores was in price!
So I began hunting for some more specialized machines. I was looking basically for 1) removable tank or 2) possibly a "fill once a week" tank, 3) good quality/durability 4) ability to brew a small or single serving. I'm the only coffee drinker in the house, so I don't usually make that much at once. Otherwise it goes cold or gets baked.
I found the CoffeeTeam THERM at Williams Sonoma, but it was $300 and although I was willing to pay more, that was just too steep. Also, I didn't want the grinder to be integrated. I have a grinder, don't I? But I liked the unit so I started looking more at Capresso.
The CoffeeTEC seems to fit the bill. It has the removable water reservoir I like. It has a "small brew" feature which works well. It really does taste better than the regular setting. Good for me because that morning cup is always a small brew. I consider the lack of hot plate to be a big plus. I ALWAYS turned my old pot off as soon as it finished because I hate baked coffee. So why bother having it? I'm glad to be rid of it, and the thermal carafe works great.
I didn't really want the frother. I already own an espresso machine (although it's a bit of a hassle and I rarely use it). I figured the frother was just something else to break, but the model without it (MT500) didn't seem to have the removable tank. That was important to me because I hate dragging the pot out from under the counter just to pour water in. I also don't like pouring water on the machine because sometimes I miss.
In any case, despite my misgivings about the frother, I really does work amazingly well. I have NEVER made froth this good. Everyone gathers around to watch it come out. Actually, I think I'm going to be frothing quite a bit now that I have this machine. I haven't had any leaks or any suction problems with the frother unit. My only issue is this: it's difficult to remove the frothing nozzle (the silver thing) from the steam nipple. I'm worried I'm going to break it, because I really have to wiggle it hard to get it off. I've taken to just unscrewing the whole nipple because milk does get up in there.
I could not figure out how to use this machine without the manual, which is a first for me with coffee machines. But having read the manual and watched the nice instructional DVD, I had no problems.
This coffee machine is really cool. It looks great. It's designed very well. It's impressive. The parts are all very solid and good quality. Nothing flimsy here. Everything fits snugly and "snicks" satisfyingly into place. The rubber around the tank connections is very substantial, giving me confidence that I won't experience the leaks some others have reported.
So far, I'm delighted with my purchase, and I haven't regretted paying $200 for a coffee machine.
This was an internet purchase and I wasn't sure, but no one in town had it. Actually I had never seen this product so I was taking a big risk. 1stincoffe had 1) a 30 day "satisfaction guaranteed" policy and 2) offered 1/2 pound of free coffee. So I chose them over Amazon, who had the same price. The package came very quickly ... it arrived the same week. They forgot the coffee, but a quick email and it was on the way the same day. I would buy from them again.
Three Month Followup
I'm still happy with this machine. It has performed wonderfully and I've had very few issues with it. The coffee tastes great and stays hot longer than the advertised 4 hours. It does take some experimentation to get it tasting the way you want, especially if making smaller brews. It is very difficult to make hot chocolate, but it is possible; I've done it. Keep in mind: you simply can't use whole milk, and you have to wiggle and squeeze together the suction pieces if it's not working. Also, the hot chocolate isn't all that hot, but wonderfully frothy. I've been following some advice I read somewhere (maybe here) to empty the water completely after each run, and to use the steam occasionally, even when not frothing. One problem I've had is the drip stop doesn't really stop. Seems that some grounds get in there and keep the valve from closing. Not really a major problem since it's only a few drops and it's not dripping onto a hot plate. Overall this has been well worth the purchase.