Well featured machine for the price-point, maybe still not that final upgrade for some, but rather a stepping stone before a LM GS3.
Positive Product Points
Accurate control of brewing temperatures, Ample steam production for home use, relatively short heatup time from cold - also no vapour lock (Ability to put machine on a timer). Solid portafilter which accomodates larger baskets(Interchangeable with common San Marco baskets). Dual boiler machine - Meaning great brewing stability and no down-time between steaming (Not dual purpose as review specs suggest)
Negative Product Points
Cheap looking/feeling buttons on fascia- not very responsive, Water resovoir not well insulated - Container gets very warm, Difficult to backflush - lots of recesses for grinds to hide, No exterior adjustment for p-stat or pump, Cup tray must be removed to fill water container. Drip tray made of plastic, Low flying diffusion block allows only very "standard" dosing.
This was the machine that I had considered to be the last home upgrade I would need. Basing my decision to buy mainly on the Minis' ability to adjust brewing temperatures on the fly; I am often playing with different blends, and saw the Mini as the machine to help me to find the missing variables in the equation. Having come recently from a plumbed-in E-61 styled machine, the tanked Mini has taken some adjustment. Straight out of the box I simply could not get the pump to take in any water, after scratching my head for a while I took of the casing and searched for any type of valve I could release, as the pump seemed to have some sort of air lock preventing water getting to the boilers. After screwing out completely the over-pressure adjustment nut, water was able to now travel freely through the tubing. Although I now had no idea where to reset the adjuster. I had to use an external mounted pressure gauge to reset the pumps pressure (this could be an issue for some) as the machine has no Gauge for pump pressure. Luckily the thread on the portafilter wound onto my portafilter gauge reasonably well, albeit not completely but also not wanting to be in the position of stripping the thread of the sole portafilter completely.
I am now after a few weeks enjoying the ability to pull and drink the first shot of the day, unlike my previous machine where I always had to make a sink shot first. Temperature adjustment only requires very small tweaks, and the tiger-striping has returned to my most of my shots. I am tasting new things in old familiar blends with the combination of temperature adjustment and the design of the Dalla Corte filter baskets. Some believe the deep and narrow design of the baskets superior, and I am beginning to agree. Having worked with La San Marco machines in the workplace (Very commonplace in NZ) , I am quite familiar with this extraction quality and its worth pointing out that the filter baskets are interchangeable with Dalla Corte. I swapped out the Dalla Corte 14gram for a 18gram San Marco, and the results are great, now I just need to get hold of a thinner diffusion block.
Private sale, but originally from Altura Coffee Roasters, whom have always provided fabulous expedient service in the past. I have no reason to believe that they would have any problem sorting out any future issues.