Thermal Stability - The E61 group is a 9 pound hunk of brass that acts like a heat sink and circulates water to keep it hot.
Commercial size porta filter and handle.
Recommended by David Schomer of Espresso Vivace in Seattle. See the following link for his review. http://www.lucidcafe.com/cafeforum/schomertable22.html
Recovery time is faster than I can work. It seems the more espresso you make in one session, the better it gets.
Makes great consistent espresso.
It looks incredible in my kitchen.
No mechanical issues after 9 months of use.
Negative Product Points
The boiler heats up in 10 minutes but the E61 group needs at least an hour. You can leave it on 24/7 but I have it on a timer to come on at 4am.
Hot water comes straight from the 1.9 liter boiler, therefore, there is a limited amount and it slams the heat load.
The fresh water reservoir is only 2.8 liters and if you manage to run it out, it is kind of tricky to get the pump primed again.
Only one pressure gauge for the boiler.
Documents and tamper that came with the machine aren't worth much.
I started making espresso at home in 1995 with a Saeco Rio Vapore, a Braun burr grinder, and Starbucks coffee. I was perfectly happy in my little espresso world until I took a trip to Seattle. There I learned what I was truly missing. So with the bar raised, I brought some Vivace Vita home to try on the Saeco. After 6 months of frustration, I gave in to the fact that my old equipment just wasn't going to cut it and I was going to have to start saving my pennies for a major purchase.
I bought a Giotto and Mazzer Mini in April of last year and I haven't looked back since. The Giotto arrived first and I tried making espresso with a Solis 166 grinder. It worked OK but when the Mazzer arrived the difference was night and day. In other words, if you are going to spend +$1000 on an espresso machine, don't penny pinch on the grinder.
The only adjustments I had to make on the Giotto out of the box was to turn down the boiler pressure because I was burning the espresso. Dialing in the grinder was a challenge but I'll save the details on that for the Mazzer Mini review.
After perfecting my technique at home, I volunteered to make espresso drinks at a benefit my friend was hosting. I went through 5 pounds of coffee in four hours that night. Amazingly, it seemed like the more espresso I made, the better it got. The only time the machine had a hard time keeping up was when someone wanted hot water for tea. Even then it was only about 30 seconds recovery time.
If you have the desire to make great espresso at home, you can't go wrong with this machine. However, it doesn't operate itself. There are lots of variables involved so you will have to do some reading on proper techniques and be prepared for lots of trial and error. Treat it like a hobby you have a passion for and you will be greatly rewarded.