I found myself in trouble when pressing the brew button on my trusty Mr. Coffee 12 Cup machine resulted in no gurgle, steam, or brew. I quickly triaged to a single cup French Press nearby to get me through the door until I could get to work to make a full size French Press Pot of delicious coffee. Sufficiently satiated, I began the painstaking process of finding a replacement. Though faithful to the end, I was a little excited at the prospect of upgrading my primary life support machine from Mr. Coffee. I immediately landed on CoffeeGeek and began reading reviews, personal accounts, first looks, and rating the ratings. I started at the Technivorm, but couldn't justify $300 on a drip pot, though I did add one to my watch list on Ebay. It didn't take long before concluding the MT500 was the obvious choice. Even at the MSRP, the quality of the performance as well as the aesthetics makes this pot a solid match between cost and value.
I placed my order on 1st-In Coffee's website for $99 with free shipping and awaited my destiny. I was able to satiate my coffee needs between Starbucks breakfast promos and French Press pots for the next two days. Shipping day arrived and I frequently checked the UPS site tracking my new machine's progress across America. Finally, I found the entry I had been waiting for... Delivered! I texted my wife the jubilent news, who already knew because she signed for it. When I got home, she and the kids had already unpacked it for me and had it setup on the counter for inspection.
At first look, I was very impressed. I had been using a brushed stainless Mr. Coffee which was mostly just black plastic with a couple of stainless steel accents. This was a very shiny, very expensive looking work of coffee art. I liked the way the aluminum housing encompassed all but the filter basket and control panel and the stainless steel vacuum carafe shone in it's own light without a drastic difference in contrasting metals. I have to agree with Drew. The clock is really cool looking. I also liked the right offset of the control panel versus the center front mount found on less sophisticated equipment. I prepped the charcoal filter by soaking it in water and ran two full pots of water through the unit to remove any charcoal sediment.
Afraid to reload so late in the evening, I opted to save the first test drive for the morning. I woke up with the giddy excitement of a kid on Christmas morning and loaded the chamber with Sunburst Coffee Dark Roast Shade Grown Organic Costa Rican Tarrazu using just the gold tone filter supplied with the machine. I filled the reservoir with 6 cups of water (my normal dose) and pressed the brew button. Almost immediately the Capresso sprung to life with heat and aroma. Within 5 minutes, I had a hot thermally protected pot of tasty brewed coffee which announced itself with a slight anemic beep which can only be captured in print if there was something lower than lowercase. If you miss the beep, just ensure the brew light has extinguished itself. I understand there is a pot removal protection feature that allows you to pour a cup while the brewing is in progress, but I have not been impatient enough to interrupt the delicate ballet of coffee creation to test it. I also don't bite hunks out of my steak during grilling.
The process was simple and elegant, but how was the coffee? That's why we're here right? You wouldn't buy a coffee maker because it was pretty, but made Prussian crude oil office swill would you? I have to be honest, the first cup was not what I was expecting. I'm not sure if I didn't get the water and grounds ratio correct, or what, but the resulting brew was a little weak. Still, it was clean and the taste was pleasant. I tried again the next day with a full 10 cup pot. This was much better, and I got a stronger, more flavorful cup. I ended up drinking the full pot myself. This is when I discovered the gold tone filter problem (feature). With no paper filter to stand in the way, the tiny dust-like portions of your grind will collect in the bottom of the pot in a fine silt, not too unlike the last drought from a French Press cup. This effect is lessened if you swish the carafe before pouring a cup as it distributes the small amount of fallout amongst the multiple cups of coffee. If this isn't your thing, you might want to opt for the paper filter. You'll lose a lot of the flavor profiles and oils when you filter through paper, but then again we're talking drip coffee, not espresso. Some people will take a slight hit to flavor in exchange for easier grind disposal, and the gold tone requires a good rinse after the dump.
The stainless steel vacuum insulted carafe is brilliant in it's striking and obvious simplicity. Why the hell would you boil your coffee after extracting it through the grinds? Would you steam vegetables and then put them in the oven on low heat for an hour? I don't know why this is an accepted practice on 90% of all drip pot coffee makers. At least the major coffee chains, cafes and even some of the truck stops are now brewing into and dispensing from insulated dispensers instead of leaving the coffee on a hot plate. It seems odd that this is practice is rarely applied to the consumer market offerings. If you are still stuck in the glass pot, burner plate apocalypse, you can immediately transfer the finished brew to an insulated dispensary carafe of your choosing and save some face in the coffee community.
Overall, the resulting pots of coffee from the Capresso MT500 have been very good. I've started using the 4-6 cup brew button for smaller pots of coffee and can tell a difference in the time the water has to extract the flavor from the beans. I am pleased with the machine from both a functional, taste, and aesthetic perspective and would enthusiastically recommend this to anyone looking to upgrade their 12 cup coffee baker. (No, that was not a typo.)