Great started unit for a non-superauto that allows for creativity with the grind settings.
Positive Product Points
Easy to use Easy to clean general part Make a good espresso to enjoy at home
Negative Product Points
Ground chute cannot fit properly Difficult to clean concealed parts Very Noisy
I bought this machine in December of '03 for my partner. The only thing he did not like about it is the lack of being a superauto. When I explained the cost difference, he agreed that it is a good machine. We are still experimenting with the ground settings to get different flavors and strengths out of the beans. We have been using Gevalia Espresso beans for a while and they do a great job. Not as charred tasting as Starbucks. We have recently cancel our subscription with Gevalia (economy in Dallas still sucks) and are looking for new beans to purchase and experiments with in the machine that will not break the bank. (We switched to 8 O'Clock coffee for the drip machine after reading a Consumer Reports article on coffee beans. That was a great move on our part. Excellent flavor.) Some tips for current owners. I got these from Mark, a technician at European Gift & Warehouse who repaired the On/Off switch of the unit. I guess we wore it out.
Make sure you take the basket for the grinds out and inspect it every 3 or so months. Even if you rinse it well, the grinds will build up over time. Soaking it in hot water for an hour and using a wire brush or soaking it in coffee pot cleaner will help.
Every 6 months, remove the screen in the coffee steaming unit (not the frother) and clean it. It takes a 14 or 15mm socket wrench. If you use an open end wrench or box end wrench, you could scratch the screen or strip the threads.
If the unit is slow to make coffee, run the unit through the priming cycle. To prime, turn unit on, leave frothing steamer off, turn coffee on and open frothing steamer while frothing steamer button is still off. You will see a stream of water from the steamer and water will start dripping from coffee steamer.
The only real nagging problem I have is with the coffee chute. If I plug the chute in rather than the round bin, the grinder unit stays on and will not stop. I have to leave one side slightly unplugged in order to use the push to grind and dispense feature. This allows some of the grinds to get behind the chute. But, it is a small annoyance and I will learn to deal with it.
I bought the unit from everythinghome.com. They were a pleasure to deal with and had the unit delivered on the date promise. European Gift and Warehouse is ok to work with since they handle the maintenance ot warranty work. They are slow in getting work done and you have to call them to get updates. They will not allow other nearby places to do the warranty work so my unit was out for 3 weeks. Since the warranty is now up, I will take it to a local place in Dallas and hope they can do as good or better of a job if it needs repairs in the future.