In a nutshell- we wanted a very reliable machine, with good customer support that can produce amazing espresso, if all other qualities of the process are in order and I think the Brewtus fulfills all of that-- it just needed a quick "makeover".
Noisy vibrating pump, flimsy drip tray, and to some, the exterior cabinet looks like a commercial dish-washing machine...
We purchased this machine after owning the Pavoni lever machine for about 6 yrs, and realizing that we were ready for an upgrade. What we were looking for was something that would encourage my wife to participate in the ritual of making espresso, which the Pavoni was just too intimidating given all it's quirky behavior. After reading reviews for about a year (and narrowing the selection down to the Pasquini Livia 90, La Spaziale S1 or the Reneka Techno), we began reading about the Brewtus and some of the customer interaction with Todd Salzman and Wholelattelove (all very positive) and figured it was a machine that without a doubt could produce great espresso "right out of the box" (which it did) and would last. If you dig long enough, you can find information (both bad and good) on nearly any machine out there, and it seemed like there were more good things about the Brewtus (even given it's limited time on the market), and the style (in a general sense, because it's all metal) was more appealing.
We make espresso for ourselves daily, including 1-2 milk-based drinks 2-3 x/week when we're in the mood for some early morning calories. Steam power is incredible, and learning to steam w/ the 1-hole tip has been easy and fast, which I did on this machine- it is easy to create the velvety smooth microbubble with whole milk for latte's and cappa's.
The only modification I've done to the Brewtus was cosmetic. The exterior cabinet (and all the little screws) has been electroplated. All knobs and levers have been replaced with finished wood (Mexican Ironwood) manufactured for the machine by Les at Thortamper.com. To do the electroplating, it is necessary to completely dissassemble the machine so that all of the metal cabinetry can be taken to someone for that purpose. There were no warning signs stating that the warranty would be voided, and armed with the knowledge that other owners were doing more extensive internal modifications (PID, etc...) I felt comfortable taking it apart. This gave me a good familiarity with the machine (although a bit hair-raising, perhaps). Taking pictures along the way, so as not to completely rely on my aging memory to reassemble it properly, helped considerably when I got all the pieces back from the plating company. One word of caution- if you choose to plate anything with a mirror-finished copper, it must be sealed to avoid tarnishing. This requires a clear-coat (not powder coating, which requires baking at 400 deg F)- heating the copper to those extremes turns it into a variety of rainbow colors, none of which are very appealing on an espresso machine... unless you really want a one-of-a-kind. Gold plating was done on the group head, portafilter, all hard-ware protruding from the front, the steam/hot water wands and the "Expobar" nameplate. Gold is not much more expensive than brass, and is food-safe and heat-stable. Total cost for plating: $600. There are pictures posted in the machines section of this forum for viewing (search for these using my name - "Rainman").
Not much to say, really-- the purchase process was uneventful. The machine arrived, double-boxed, but with a fair amount of condensation on the machine and a bunch of wet paperwork (including the user's manual). This was due to testing at the factory (some water remains in the boilers) and did not effect the machine in any manner (either functionally or cosmetically).