Great coffee, Fun to Watch, But treat it with TLC and use a cleaner periodically.
Positive Product Points
Makes great coffee. I love seeing the oils floating on the surface of my cup after brewing a fresh pot. Pot can be placed on the table at dinner as a carafe. Starbucks provides good support.
Negative Product Points
The pot can be difficult to clean. Some parts are fragile. The control buttons are small, but the features are easy to set.
My wife bought this at an auction before I knew what vacuum brewing was. The first pot was an incredible improvement over the drip machine we were using. After tasting the first cup, the old machine went down to the garage. As noted in other reviews some elements of the construction are weak. We broke two parts of the filter in the first month. The loop handle broke when twisted, and the filter mesh tore. In both cases Starbucks replaced the parts no questions asked. Now I never touch the filter mesh, it just gets a rinse under the tap. The carafe lid broke about two months ago. It finally let go completely today, and I'll be calling Monday morning for a replacement. We'll see if it's still free. The filter basket is easy to clean. After letting it sit in the fold-out holder for awhile to dry, I just invert it over sink and lightly bang it over the drain. Virtually all the grounds are expelled. Then a quick rinse and she's ready to brew again. The polycarbonate carafe builds up deposits, as does the heating element plate. The shape is hard to clean. After no heavy cleaning for a year I ran two doses of Cleancaf through it today, and it almost looks new. (Note: Cleancaf came with my new Rancilio Sylvia, which was purchased after a coffee strength dispute with my wife. She likes weaker coffee, busted me adding additional coffee to the basket at night. Anyway two of the packets had broken open, so decided to try it out on the Utopia.) While brewing definately keep the grind to a medium. The grind size effects how long it takes the coffee to be pulled back down into the carafe, and too fine a grind slows it down and gives you a bitter overextracted brew. (part of the dispute with my wife, she thought it took too much coffee to make a pot, so ground finer and used less...) The timer on the brewing cycle makes it very easy to take advantage of the high quality of the vacuum brewing method. And the kids love to watch it.
My wife brought it home from an auction, so it was painless. The prices have dropped down to $99US now that Bodum can sell their version.