I’ll try not to repeat the copious details, operating instructions, and gushing raves in the other reviews. I will mention some of the “problems” others have noticed because I have a different take on them. And maybe I will gush just a bit.
Some reviewers note issues around care and maintenance of the copper finish, although everyone seems to consider them minor in the context of their overall enthusiasm for the product. These concerns do not apply to my particular model of Royal, which is the Pays Bas “Palladium.” (See it on the website since it's not pictured or mentioned as an option on the previous review page.)
Since I never heard of palladium, and had to search the Internet, here’s what I found (these are quoted phrases—I didn’t make them up): It’s a precious metal, non-oxidizing, white in color, resembling platinum, harder than cobalt or gold. It is used in jewelry and watches, primarily over sterling silver and gold items, having exceptional resistance to scratching and incidental abrasions.
My clean-up routine takes about as much time as it does to do a good job on my press pot. Running lots of very hot water, I soap up the tank and glass. Rinse. Wipe with a soft, absorbent dishtowel. Now all pieces are brilliant, unmarked, and pristine. There is none of the phenomenon of leaving a new fingerprint for every smudge that’s removed. Every other usage I squirt some mild dish soap into the tank, jiggle vigorously, and run hot water through until it’s clear.
More about the palladium and the Pays Bas or "modern” model: First, the palladium costs an extra hundred dollars. It is unlike any other food service finish I’ve ever owned or maybe seen; I am very pleased that I made the choice. Photos of the Victorian style, particularly in copper, are stunning. However, it would surely not do well in my Japanese and craftsman home or fit with a woodsy and stainless steel kitchen. Frankly, I don’t think that I even know anyone in whose home or with whose lifestyle or personality the Victorian brass would “fit”. But this is clearly a matter of taste (and who my friends are), and as I say, all models are gorgeous.
Some reviewers have commented that without modification or some user intervention, the Royal under-extracts. Mark Prince suggests holding the counter weight to keep the coffee brewing longer. I have found that by using a near-espresso grind and an amount of coffee on the upper end of the recommended range, my coffee is absolutely outstanding. The fineness of the grind that the Royal can tolerate may depend somewhat on your grinder. I don’t like to switch grinds on my Mazzer Mini, so I use a Zass hand crank as the “dedicated” Royal grinder, and so far, the screen has not clogged. However, I do believe that I may be giving up a little of the vac pot’s vaunted “clarity,” with some extremely fine grounds in suspension. This is not a problem for me. I like a thicker cup, and I’m not bothered by a little powder-like residue in the bottom of the cup (or in my mouth, I suppose).
I roast my own coffee and love trying new varieties. However, lighter roasts (the only way to not kill the brighter, distinctive varietal qualities) are often too much for me because I am so attached to the caramel-like, chocolatey flavors. With the Royal, I’ve been discovering more of the pleasures of lighter (city, for example) roasts. Whereas I experience espresso as a sequence of changing flavors (from the initial bittersweet to the brighter acidy flavors to lingering aftertaste), the Royal seems to offer the multiple tastes all at once but easily distinguishable. I assume that this is a characteristic of vac brewing generally (the Royal is my first vac brewer), but I’ll give some credit to the Royal. Mark says that the Royal can equal the best of the other vac brewers and that is achievement enough—given what else the Royal offers. I agree.