Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Entrepreneurs Need To Drink… Part 2

Coffee, that is!

We purchased the Capresso MT500 (Model 440.05). I did a long write-up of the process for how we chose the Capresso MT500. Now, the results. Did the Capresso live up to the expectations? Did it brew great coffee?

First, let's review the core requirements:

  1. Brew temperature of 195+ degrees F (ideal is 195-205 degrees F)

  2. Quality construction

  3. Thermal carafe (with vacuum seal ability)

  4. Automatic timer to start the brew going in the morning

  5. Under $200

So, the key question is pretty simple: Does it make great coffee?

The answer: Yes!

I give the coffee maker 4-out-of-5 Jelly Doughnuts overall. I can recommend this machine if your core requirements match mine. Read on for more!

Here are some actual temperature readings of the water during the brewing process.

First Experiment:

  • Water Temp Used: 101 (warm tap water)

  • Time: 0 min, Temp: 101

  • Time: 2 min, Temp: 186 (measured in basket, no grounds)

  • Time: 3 min, Temp: 197

  • Time: 4 min, Temp: 200

  • Time: 5 min, Temp: 199

  • Time: 6 min, Temp: 201

  • Time: 8 min, Temp: 190 (measured in pot, brewing done)

  • Time: 12 min, Temp: 189

  • Time: 29 min, Temp: 187

  • Time: 51 min, Temp: 184

  • Time: 1 hour 29 min, Temp:181

  • Time: 2 hour 3 min, Temp: 176

So, brewing temperature is in the proper range. But, I stoked it with hot tap water. If I use my cold, filtered water, will the brewing temperatures change? The remaining experiments are done with grounds in the coffee basket.

Second Experiment:

  • Water Temp Used: 74 (cold filtered water)

  • Time: 0 min, Temp: 74

  • Time: 2 min, Temp: 181

  • Time: 3 min, Temp: 191

  • Time: 5 min, Temp: 192

  • Time: 6 min, Temp: 198

  • Time: 8 min, Temp: 185 (measured in pot, brewing done)

So, this was a bit cooler than the first test. Likely because of the two variable changes (started with cold water and brewed with grounds). As you can see, the coffee does get above 195 degrees, but only during the second half of the pot. Still, the coffee was good.

Third Experiment:

  • Water Temp Used: (Very Hot Tap Water, but not measured)

  • Time: 1 min, Temp: 200

  • Time: 2 min, Temp: 202

  • Time: 4 min, Temp: 206

  • Time: 5 min, Temp: 207

  • Time: 6 min, Temp: 190 (measured in pot, brewing done)

  • Time: 3 hr 49 min, Temp: 148

  • Time: 11 hr 15 min, Temp: 93

Not the best scientific method, but there is some data here.

  1. You can dial up the brewing temperature based on the temperature of the water that you use to fill the unit. Personally, since these experiments, I've been filling it with the cold, filtered water, and the coffee quality has been very good. If you care, then go ahead and put hotter tap water in before brewing.

  2. The thermal carafe is pretty good, but not great. Coffee is kept hot for a good two hours, but not all day. I don't think this is the best carafe on the market, but that's OK. Since it is a vacuum carafe, it keeps the coffee very fresh all day and holds up nicely to being zapped by the microwave (when you need that late-day fix).

Final comments:

  • Construction quality is very good. Yeah, it's got the usual amounts of plastic, but it has a very solid feel to it. It looks good in the kitchen.

  • We have not had a single problem with leaks that seem to be a problem for just about every thermal carafe coffee maker out there. Never a spill. Not a drop. I think Capresso got it right, which may help me justify the high price tag.

  • The gauge that shows how many "cups" of coffee you are trying to brew is small and on the far right hand side of the unit. This requires you to pour the water with your left hand so that you can see the gauge. Very hard to read.

  • The included gold filter is nice, but causes some fine grounds to slip through into the pot. As a result, we've been using the paper filters almost exclusively.

  • Brew time is pretty fast. You can slow it down by pressing the "3-5 cups" button (which may actually help if you are using very cold water).

That's about it. I'll keep you posted when/if we start having problems.

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  1. Thanks for the update. Capresso sounds like the best available in the price range $100-$200.

  2. wow that's some nifty experiment and good review!


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