There are lots of shortcomings on the FMF4, but it does brew a mean cup of coffee. Does the price, poor design make up for it? I'm still debating that over a mug.
Positive Product Points
The FMF4 makes a great cup of coffee which is the most important feature. Has a 1-3 cup setting for brewing smaller cups of coffee. The timer feature is convenient for early mornings. The basket is easy to clean basket. Looks nice.
Negative Product Points
Controls are unintuitive (requires reading manual, but you only have to learn it once). The rubber feet come off the base when unit is pushed on the counter. Carafe is light and thin - beware of breakage! Construction feels a bit cheap (my old Sunbeam machine was more solidly constructed).
If you do any research into this machine on the web, you will find a lot of negative reviews. While I don't dispute any of those opinions, many of this machine's problems can be overcome with some simple fixes. But for the price you pay for this unit, you would expect everything to be perfect don't you?
The design is a bit poor. The opening for the reservoir is too small, the latch on the basket swing is a malfunction waiting to happen, and the machine's controls are confusing. The rubber feet on the base are not fastened/adhered to the base in any way, so when you push it along the counter the feet often pop off. Either take them off, or glue them on (I keep mine off to make it easier to push the FMF4 back into the corner of my counter). The water level indicator is a bit small, but mangeable.
The construction is a bit cheap - the glass carafe being the most obvious offender. The glass is thin and it's no wonder many customers complain that the carafe does not retain temperature well (thicker glass equals better insulation). The work-around would be to buy a seperate thermal carafe to put your coffee in after brewing, but it's an added expense to the customer. The plastic on the machine feels a bit cheap despite its good looks.
Despite the above issues, the coffee from this machine is superb! My cheap Maxwell House coffee never tasted so good! The temperature of the coffee is HOT as it comes out and should be poured and enjoyed promptly. Otherwise the coffee does lose some heat over time. After 1.5 hours, the coffee is still hot, but not the scalding temperatures I enjoy sipping at.
There is a small-brew feature for smaller batches which is convenient since there are only two people in my household who drink coffee.
I'm debating whether to return this machine or not. The price tag is a bit high and there are some faults, but the FMF4 does make a great cup of coffee. I'm going to give myself 2 more weeks before deciding.
Bought the machine at The Bay retail store using gift certs and a 10% discount sale. Nothing noteworthy about my buying experience.
Three Month Followup
I returned this machine after reading some more reviews and doing some more testing. In the end, I felt dissatisfied with the price I paid and the quality of the machine I got. While it did make great coffee, the cheap construction was a concern since I would be using it daily for multiple cups. I would have expected something a lot more solid for the price. In the end, I bought a Cuisinart Brew Central and never looked back. The Cuisinart doesn't make as good of a cup, but it's a sturdy machine that gave better value.