Produces the best espresso I have ever had, easy to use and clean, excellent transaction when purchased, easy to open and tinker with. Steam wand swivels making steaming an easy experience. Also has a hot water dispenser, excellent for the occasional tea. Cup warmer actually warms cups.
Negative Product Points
Gets very hot and I have injured myself on the group head multiple times. A few sharp edges. Stainless Steel may not be as aesthetically pleasing to everyone as it is to myself. Goes through water like nobody's business. Heavy! And the size makes it difficult to place on every counter top.
I purchased this machine from Chris Coffee Service after much research. What I was looking for was a machine that could produce consistent shots, commercial steam power, and could be used as a pour over. I had narrowed my search down to between the Brewtus II and the Alex. As a renter, I would have to run any massive kitchen renovations I would like to do by my landlord. The versatility of the Alex, along with the slightly cheaper price tag, ultimately sold me on the machine. I must say, I have not been disappointed in the least.
Out of the box, I was (along with the UPS woman) surprised at how much it weighed. After a little heavy lifting and running a few liters of water through the boiler, I was up and brewing. Until this point, I had no idea the extent of how horrible the espresso I was brewing at home was. My grind (on a Rancilio MD50 with essentially brand new burrs) was a good 40 seconds off of what I wanted to be at. The next few days I spent adjusting my grind (I used Zoka's 'Espresso Paladino') and playing with the set up of the machine.
The only adjustment i have made so far to the machine is to bring the brewing the pressure up to 9 bars. This seemed difficult for me to do at first (I have had little experience with the tinkering aspect of espresso machines), but a brief review of homebarista.com's Alex pages quickly revealed the simplicity of the Alex design. Unscrewing a few screws and wrenching off the bolts that connect Alex's body to the main machine (which i left off) reveals the screw that controls the boiler pressure. One and a quarter counter clockwise turn later I was brewing at my ideal temperature.
Alex and I are getting to be close friends. She (she is a she: Alex is the creator of Izzo's daughter) is a prosumer machine, caution and care are a necessity around her. Top of the line in her class, I would buy her again in a heart beat.
I couldn't recommend Chris Coffee more. After a brief phone call, the service department sent me a 4 hole steam tip for Alex for no cost, only the request that I contact them back. The stock 2 hole seemed to function well in the controlled production of microfoam, but I like the power of 4 holes. If you decided to purchase this machine give Chris' Coffee a call and talk to them about it.
Three Month Followup
Been through one semester with Alex and I am still in love. The sticker that says "Alex" fell off during one cleaning session a week or so ago, it would be nice to have had it etched in or something a little more permanent then whatever adhesive was holding it on.