All in all, a great machine which turns out consistently great coffee with no fuss and no mess at any time of the day.
Positive Product Points
Absolutely great coffee, every time, in minutes, with no mess, when I'm half asleep or any other time...
Negative Product Points
Takes a chunk of counter space. Began leaking after about a year and a half...
I've owned just about every other type of coffee maker over the years, including a simple sauce pan, drip machines, bodums, Biala stove top espresso, an older electric espresso maker, along with all the paraphernalia including a good burr grinder. I could find only half-hearted reviews on this machine along with the other super automatics, all of which seemed to offend the sensibilities of the most exalted coffee geeks. I get this type of interest and passion and possess it in other areas of my life, so its not a criticism of reviewers who take the time to develop an appreciation for the finest nuances of coffee making. And at say 2 in the afternoon I might have enough ambition to refine my skills in that area. The problem is that when I first wake up and stumble into the kitchen, I just want a good cup of coffee. Its not a chicken or egg thing as I can state unequivocally that if I had a couple of cups of coffee first, i might have the energy to pursue a more scientific approach to coffee making. So after agonizing over the cost of this machine and then discovering Starbucks was getting out of the equipment market and marked it down in half, I took the plunge and bought the machine.
It only took about three cups to dial in the built in grinder and I've been enjoying really great coffee every day since. Sure I can get a somewhat better cup at some of the great coffee outlets in town, but that's a theoretical advantage when I'm standing in my kitchen in my housecoat looking for coffee. I just reach out, put a demitasse cup under the spout and press the power button. It takes about a minute to warm up, so I use that time to download a couple of newspapers into my Kindle. Then I dump the hot water that the machine pumps as part of the warm up cycle and push the button for a 'long shot'. This fills a demitasse cup with room for cream. Literally within 3 minutes of arriving in the kitchen I'm drinking a great cup, with a lovely crema on top. No grinder mess, no grounds all over the counter, no placing filters, no monitoring a stove top machine, no waiting for the kettle to boil - its just all so simple and clean and in perfect harmony with my half awake self.
Every 7 shots you must empty the used coffee pucks out of the removable basket ( a message appears to tell you when). The water reservoir makes about 10 cups before you refill it ( another message). Every few days I remove the brewing component and rinse out. Every couple of months it tells you to descale it, which is a bit of a process but the machine prompts you at each step. There is a built in timer which can turn it on for you at a desired time - which I dispensed with as the start up process warms my cup and saves running water until hot to preheat the cup. You can set the timer to turn it off after a pre-determined time which suits my forgetfulness.
The leaking began about a year ago and was somewhat worrisome. I looked on-line for solutions but was not greatly encouraged. The YouTube videos revealed a plumbers' nightmare. I'm pretty handy and like building things and have some familiarity with electronic stuff but wasn't sure I wanted to get into it. I finally decided to get it repaired, as it was becoming bad and not putting enough water into the cup, but there is no repair depot in Victoria. I searched online and found Forum Appliances in Vancouver. I asked for the technician to get an idea how long it would take. They stock many of the parts. He said it was usually an O-ring and if I could open the machine and determine where it was leaking it might be easy to just ship the parts. He offered to email a parts list and diagram which arrived in minutes. I was skeptical but opened the machine and it was quickly apparent where the leak was from. I called back and ordered the parts along with some descaling solution. (Great customer service - check them out) The existing O-rings actually looked fine so I started thinking about why it was leaking. I decided to try some food grade silicon grease on the O-rings. I very carefully applied some to the rings and reassembled it. Turned it on, it leaked a couple of drops and suddenly the assembly snapped into position and it hasn't leaked a drop since. About thirty cups later and its still good. The new O-rings arrived and I'll keep them in reserve.
I calculated that I've made around 2000 cups with the machine. Its more than paid for itself and my wife appreciates the clean counter where the grinder used to sit. I use beans roasted at Cafe Fantastico. Wonderful flavour. Friends and family all love the coffee experience. So, if you don't have the time to become a semi-pro barista maybe a super automatic is for you.