People who know me know that I am an avid lover of coffee but I do not regard coffee/espresso making as a religion or an art form. Baristas are not mystical creatures who have spent years learning the secrets of Higher Wisdom denied to lesser mortals but rather hard working guys and gals who have mastered the practical skill of coffee making. I have no time for people who worry that the temperature of the brew water varied by two degrees during the brewing cycle, or who claim that they can tell whether the beans were ground ten minutes ago versus an hour ago, or who write esoterically about identifying six fruit flavors in a cup of (you fill in). I write this so that you will read my review with the understanding that I am not a "true believer--holy grail" individual but rather a good-tempered, coffee-craving curmudgeon with a cynical streak.
I've used this machine for a number of years to my very great satisfaction. In a burst of generosity, I gave mine to a friend and just obtained a replacement from Boyd's. It was gratifying to note that the years have not resulted in any reduction in the quality of the product. In fact, about the only difference that I noticed that might have any effect on the finished product is the slightly different design of the spraybar.
Speaking of spraybars, I find that the multi-hole model saturates the coffee quickly and evenly. Of course, the old one-hole job did too, so...
I do think that the suggestion that one close off the cone drain for the first thirty seconds or so is a good and sensible one. I must try it some day.
All the Technivorm brewers have a distinctive appearance that tends to inspire love or loathing at first sight. I can tell potential buyers that the machine looks better in the flesh than in pictures and that the cone suspension mechanism is nowhere near as fragile and ungainly as it looks. In fact, the construction is very sound throughout and should last the typical user for a decade or more. For an oddity, I think this brewer looks better in white than in black.
Perhaps the Dutch have a different approach to design priorities than do other manufacturers because the people who build these brewers seem to be almost totally unconcerned with aesthetics and focused solely on the quality that ends up in the carafe. While the brewer is not fussy in any way, it is also not designed for the bozo who wants to slosh water in the top of the Mr. Coffee, drink the bilge that comes out the bottom, and toss the cone into the dishwasher between uses. There are just enough parts and pieces to make the brewing experience a little bit special without elevating it to a sacred ritual.
As to the quality of the coffee, I will simply say that it is the best I've tasted in any consumer setting and I've been sucking up brew for over half a century. I'm fond of Peet's old reliable Major D. Made in most auto drippers it has a bitter edge (yeah, I know lots of people think it's just too damn strong, but...). In the TV, there is never any bitterness and the full complexity becomes apparent.
I've noticed an odd phenomenon with the TV brewer. Often the first few swallows taken immediately at the end of the brew cycle have a remarkable sweetness. I've not noted this with other coffeemakers or in coffee shops, possibly because I rarely get the coffee to my lips within seconds of brewing. So I don't know if the TV is capable of extracting something that others miss or if that sweetness is often present in other pots and I just haven't experienced it. Whatever the case, it is an evanescent phenomenon that usually vanishes before I reach the bottom of the first cup. Maybe this is old hat to the true coffee connoisseurs in this forum. I'd love to hear comments from others on this point.
A word about the carafe heater. Even on the low setting it is very hot. I strongly recommend tipping the brew into a good thermal carafe (preheated first, of course) just as quickly as the brew cycle is complete. Otherwise, within ten or fifteen minutes the coffee left on the heater will be nasty. Because transfer to a thermal bottle is my custom, I considered buying one of the TV models with a thermal carafe but the comments of other reviewers changed my mind.
I cannot tell that the odd pipe on the bottom of the carafe cover does anything useful. According to the manufacturer, this mixes the brew as it is made, eliminating the need to stir before serving. I've always found that the circulation brought about by the water dribbling into the pot plus the convection currents produced by the heat of the coffee did as much mixing as necessary. Pots made with and without the cover seem just the same to me. I can't say that I've done any double-blind studies on this, though.
Oh, and by the way, with all due respect to another reviewer, there ain't a damned thing wrong with the handle of the carafe. It is plenty big and sturdy, even for my huge hands.
If you like really good, hot brewed coffee and you appreciate sound engineering and quality construction, the TV is definitely worth the price.