Hot water, convenience... all the bennies of drip with Italian style, high-quality materials and a thermal carafe.
Positive Product Points
I used a very-accurate ThermaPen we use for tempering chocolate. I got a reading of 198F (after running about 1/2-carafe of water into a COLD pot because this is my habit) as soon as the brewing light went out. That's plenty hot for my AeroPress needs, and that's all I'm really interested in.
In the interests of furthering science, I ran that water back through the machine and into the now fully-heated carafe. This time the water in the pot was 206, despite losing some heat by my having to open the lid to take the reading. So, by promptly pouring directly from an unopened, pre-heated carafe (as the MT 500 manual suggests) the water would make an acceptable French Press brew.
The carafe keeps it hot for a surprisingly long time if the lid is closed tightly. I also like that it's got a stainless-steel heater so there's less worry about scaling.
It makes very good coffee for a drip machine, but I usually just heat water for my Aeropress or to make gunpowder green tea. The timer has been a real boon... no worries about my grind sitting out all night. I still grind just before I pour the water, but hot water's waiting for me... mere convenience, but a useful one nonetheless.
The Capresso's well made, good-looking, nicely finished and a pleasure to use. It comes with an in-tank activated-charcoal water filter and filter-life monitoring lamp, and a high-quality gold coffee filter that works well with the grind from our Solis.
I also like the water level indicator and the cool control pad. There's a very useful "small brew" setting for 3 cups or so, which is how I've used it most often for actually brewing coffee.
I've also found that it's very well designed for impatient people. I often pull the carafe out while it's still brewing. There's not even a single drip from the filter chamber when I do this. I pour some coffee into a cup and slide the carafe back into place and again, no drips, no mess. The liquid just drains right down into the carafe as it should now that the pot's back in place.
Some folks report trouble screwing the lid onto the carafe. Not a problem for me at all. Just spin it 'open' a bit first until the grooves settle in. It's just a screw top, after all.
Negative Product Points
Nothing, really. No kidding... can't think of a thing I don't like. Well, my wife didn't like the loopy Capresso logo on the front. I'm a graphic designer, though, and it doesn't bother me.
Read the instruction booklet!
The MT 500 is not complex to use, but it's worthwhile to know a few tips that are clearly pointed out in the book.... how the timer works, about the water filter and the filter lamp, setting the clock... the other touch-pad controls. How to avoid over-filling the tank and a messy overflow is the MOST important instruction... common sense but still, it's clearly there.
The water heater happens to be built partially into the base below the pot. It doesn't actually heat the pot itself, but that area does get slightly warm while heating the water in the tank.
I find the carafe very easy to use, elegant, in fact. The lid is easy to open and close, though, again, read the book to be certain about the lid position markings for closing and pouring.
The Capresso's touchpad is not unlike a German automobile's dashboard... some unfamiliar markings on the controls that take a bit of initial orientation. Afterwards it's all second-nature and comfortably routine.
I appreciate the build-quality, design details, and the rise in resale value of our kitchen counter real estate after this gleaming beauty took the place of our old, plastic, leaking-but-otherwise reliable, Krups. The Capresso actually dispenses real hot water, which is a nice change. And the carafe keeps it hot reasonably long.
It makes the best drip coffee I've ever had, and the versatility and convenience are very compelling.
There have been no negative aspects to this purchase. The coffee we've made (when we have too many coffee-drinkers to bother with the Aeropress) has been very good... smooth, strong, rich. The included gold filter does require a less-fine grind than the AeroPress!
It cycles pretty quick, is fairly quiet, and there's no forgetting to turn it off so we're probably using less electricity, too. There's cable storage in the base. Other people may be blase about this but it's a new era for us.
The least-expensive source: I found our refurbished unit on the Capresso web site for $103 plus $16.50 for UPS shipping. It was delivered quickly, well-packed with all the right parts and a good instruction book, packed in the original retail box. There were NO blemishes or any sign of it having been anything but factory fresh. Capresso sent prompt confirmation emails and even mailed a proper paper receipt that arrived a few days after the MT 500 arrived.
So, I'll recommend Capresso's refurbished units. There's a generous, no-questions-asked return policy if you happen to just not like it, as well as a full factory warranty.
I was poised to splurge on a Technivorm but at double the price it didn't hit the spot. I figured I'd try the MT 500 first and return it if I didn't like it. But I do.
For hard core gearheads, it's also possible to get a Technivorm refurbished and save 20% but it's still nearly twice what I paid for this Capresso. Still... for that mad-scientist atmosphere and even hotter water, there's apparently no better choice than Technivorm. Be aware though that the Technivorm carafe isn't well-insulated. I was advised by their very helpful staff to just buy it with the cheaper glass carafe then buy a good stainless thermal pot. Good advice, much appreciated, but still adding more to the cost it didn't click with me.
Three Month Followup
Still very pleased with the Capresso. It's been flawless, and is very satisfying to use.
I think for anyone who's truly a CoffeeGeek, a more hands-on device would be better than any automatic drip coffee maker. We use this machine for pots of drip and single-cups of AeroPress coffee, random spur-of-the-moment cups of tea, and the odd package of Sapporo Ichiban, which requires a special Capresso noodle filter. Just kidding.
One Year Followup
Has survived several lightning-induced power outages, needing only the clock to be reset after the power comes back on. Still a very satisfying device to live with on a daily basis. Gets used for coffee and hot-water purposes several times a day. Not a thing to complain about.