Amazing espresso with great crema from a small, inexpensive machine when coupled with a good burr grinder and fresh beans.
Positive Product Points
Cost for quality. I used a Gaggia Carezza daily for one month and never achieved the quality of espresso I am able to produce on this machine. Yes, yes I was using a fine burr grinder (Gaggia MDF) and tried a variety of settings and beans, but never acheived the body, lack of bitterness and incredible crema that this little baby gives me every time. The same is true for frothing. I'm getting gorgeous mounds of microfroth from this machine (cold milk, steel pitcher) that I could not acheive with the Gaggia Pannarello wand. Plus, I have a tiny kitchen and this machine takes up very little space and is light enough to tuck away and pull out for use whenever you want.
Negative Product Points
A bit of a learning curve with the boiler and frothing. Release excess water and steam until the ok light goes out, now the boiler is engaged and you'll get great turbulence in the milk resulting in amazing froth in 30 seconds. Use a small (12 oz.) stainless steel pitcher and you'll fit under the frother easy.
Oh, and forget the attached plastic tamper and get yourself the real deal in steel or aluminum.
Wow. This has got to be the best kept espresso secret out there. I've tried the more expensive machines for months and this machine gives me more consistent quality than I ever achieved before. I did receive equal consistency and crema with a Nespresso, but quickly tired of the limited selection of coffees and their inclusion of robusta in the blends. By the way, if you go that route, the Arpeggio and Livanto blends are 100% Arabica and lovely to taste.
This machine heats up quickly, produces espresso with wonderful crema. I'm using a Solis Maestro grinder set at 7 and tamping at 30 lbs. pressure, my favorite results are with Illy and Whole Foods "Bel Canto" decaf espresso blend. Frothing requires a little experience. Use a 12 oz. stainless steel pitcher chilled in the fridge and filled with 4 oz. of cold milk. Turn the steam control knob before you start and release the excess water and steam. When the ok light goes out, the boiler is engaged. Place your pitcher under the frother, hold it under the milk about 1/8" and firmly to the side of the pitcher. Let the steam knob out one full turn. Now you've got enough power to create a whirlpool of turbulence and the beauty of microfroth.
Enjoy delicious espresso for $100 and a decent burr grinder (Solis Maestro, Maestro Plus, Gaggia MDF or Rancilio Rocky). Delonghi better keep this baby in their line-up. Their other machines don't compare in price, power or ease of use.
Easy, picked up from a department store and carried it (all 6 lbs!) home.