A solid unit that makes good coffee and offers a very high quality-to-price ratio.
Positive Product Points
Hot coffee, programmed brewing, appears to be sturdy, good deal for the price
Negative Product Points
No thermal carafe, controls are not intuitive, not stylish
Well, the much-maligned Capresso drip maker I've had for the last five years finally bit the dust around Christmas. After checking out the Coffee Geek reviews and doing a bit of soul-searching, I came up with some criteria for a new model. First, I wanted a unit that would make the best coffee possible for a reasonable price. My Coffee Geek research as well as my own experience confirmed that brewing temperature and a "shower head" type of water dispenser would be required. Second, I wanted something with programmed brewing. Yeah, I know, that means I grind my coffee and then I let it sit out all night before the water hits it. Horrors! The sordid reality of this situation for me is that coffee is a drug. It's a drug I need to get myself up and going at 5:30 every morning, and I am unashamedly addicted to it for that purpose. Although I usually grind my coffee immediately prior to brewing, there are times when I know I'll want it ready and waiting for me when I stumble downstairs to the kitchen, so some form of timed brewing is essential. Last, although I like using them I didn't really care about having a thermal carafe - I have a couple of these already. The Capresso MT500 was my first choice, but this was right after Christmas so dropping $160 on the new coffee maker was not in the cards. After several shopping trips (and a lot of Melitta-cone-brewed coffee) I finally ended up purchasing the Krups FME-2.
I bought the FME-2 for the following reasons:
- They made a point of advertising a 1200 watt heater, which showed they were at least making an attempt to get a good brewing temperature.
- It had the "shower head" water dispenser
- The unit allowed for programmed brewing.
- The unit appeared to be sturdy, with no flimsy-looking parts (the downfall of my old Capresso).
- It was $80
This was the only unit I ran across from any manufacturer that combined all of the above features for less than $100.
The FME-2 I bought is all-white and not particularly attractive. There's a black-and-chrome version that looks better, but it ran $20 more and I was determined to be a cheapskate. There's also a unit with a thermal carafe, but it ran (IIRC) $40 more and offered only an 8-cup capacity vs. the 12-cup on my unit. I already own a couple of thermal carafes, so the $40 extra was definitely not worth it.
After getting the thing home, I found that a good read through the manual was essential. My old Capresso had pretty intuitive controls. The Krups unit does not. There's an LCD display (that glows like the Timex Indiglo watches when you switch it on - kinda cool) surrounded by four button. These four buttons allow setting of the clock, brewing control (including the "3-cup" setting), hot plate control (how long the warmer stays on after brewing is completed, 1-5 hours), timed brewing, and on/off. I think you can also set a beeper to go off when brewing is completed. This is a lot to accomplish with four buttons, so there was no way to figure it out without the manual.
There are still aspects of the controls that surprise me. One Tuesday morning, I woke up to find a strange set of hieroglyphics on the LCD display. Everything else seemed ok, so I pulled out the manual to try to get a translation. It turns out that the when you set this unit to do timed brewing, it does not reset itself afterwards - it expects that if you wanted it to turn on automatically yesterday, you will want it to turn on automatically today. I had set it to turn itself on on Monday morning, so it turned itself on on Tuesday morning. I hadn't held my end of the deal up by putting water and coffee in, so the translation of the hieroglyphics was "Hey idiot! There was supposed to be water in this thing at 5:30 this morning and there wasn't!!!" Now I remember to switch the brewing timer off after each use.
On to the important part: the coffee that I've made with this thing is quite good and very hot. I don't have a thermocouple to measure it, but my "mouth thermometer" puts it very close to what I get at the local coffee houses. Flavor seems quite good, although I have no way to compare it directly to any other auto-drip coffee maker. It does compare favorably to the Melitta.
So far, everything's worked flawlessly. I've only had it a month, so there's no way to know how long it will hold up. But overall, I'm very pleased with my purchase. I feel like I got a very good unit for half the cost of the very best units.
Bought at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, a brick-and-mortar retailer. The box had the wrong price marked on it, but this was quickly and easily resolved.
Three Month Followup
At one year, it's still making very good coffee every morning. It's required one decalcification recently (as indicated by the LCD front panel display). No complaints whatsoever.