Dalla Corte Mini was the best choice for me, but your decision might differ.
Positive Product Points
Robust, very high-quality build. Stable temp--no "surfing" Very high shot consistency. Very small footprint for any machine of this quality- - -especially a double boiler.
Negative Product Points
Small size takes getting used to if you've been using a bigger machine. Cost
Some introduction: In October '08, I sold my La Spazialle Vivaldi II in preparation for a West-to-East Coast move. I was entirely satisfied with the La Spaz. Look for my positive review in CG (5-15-07.) But I was facing a year or more of temporary housing (at least 3 moves,) and I wasn't about to schlepp and install a direct plumb, rotary pump, counter-space-hogging machine into tiny NYC apartments. The LaSpazialle Mini was a logical choice, but that would have seemed like a lateral move--maybe a step down. The somewhat upgraded (and much pricier!) Dalla Corte was getting some favorable buzz. So I jumped.
Please search for more information: There are technical features of the DC (and the La Spaz) that are important to me, but I’m not qualified to explain these. Search threads here on CG; HomeBarista.com has a useful, detailed, maybe overly-geekish review, along with some good links; and WholeLatteLove gives a brief sales-oriented overview with key specs.
I'll put my remarks in the context of my unique experience of spending over a year with each of these two DB machines that are frequently compared. In fact, the designers of the DB have had prior relationships with LaSpaz, so there are a number of similarities.
Shot quality: About comparable. The DC seems even more consistent than the La Spaz. I think that a side-by-side comparison would give slight preferences to the DC, but only slight. Some have “complained” about DC shots lacking “clarity.” I understand this criticism. But that’s a fair description of the LaSpaz, as well. It can be addressed. Both machines have a similar learning curve; old favorites of commercial or homeroast coffees will taste different; and on average, both machines bring forth distinctive coffee flavors when grinds are slightly finer and roasts are slightly lighter than with my past experiences with HX machines. I prefer the DC’s very-easy single analog temp dial to La Spaz’s digital buttons. Pulling shots “by taste,” I’m more inclined and more accurate to raise or lower the temp by “just a smidge” than to target a particular temp.
Fit with lifestyle: In California, my kitchen was half the size of my entire temp NYC apartment. Counter space, ease of refill, fast warm-up, ease of moving (sliding) are now crucial. Nothing on the market is comparable to the DC for getting so much quality into such a compact unit, and the La Spaz is big. The DC cabinet is solid stainless and robust. Appearance is that of a high-end kitchen appliance as compared to 20th century sci fi look of HX E61 machines. When I first plumbed in my LaSpaz, it was a huge relief not having to hassle refilling my Isomac tank. But the DC tank is large, slips in and out easily, and minimum flushing means that a refill last a long time.
Is it worth the higher cost? The DC has definite advantages in build, engineering, and many (but not all) materials and components. I think that the La Spazialle is a real bargain for it's shot quality and features; but the DC shots are also of the highest quality and I would choose it again.
James Warren of Dalla Corte USA is helpful and responsive. WholeLatteLove also sells the machine. I've had no reason to "test" service help because the DC has been problem free.