if your going to spend $500 on a Gaggia classic or Rancilio Silvia definitly consider this upgrade you won't regret it!
Positive Product Points
professional type machine, maintains heat for a long time, good size drip tray
Negative Product Points
No water level gauge, have to remove top to refill, short steam wand, placement of power switch/light
I originally purchased a Gaggia classic, thinking this would serve my needs. That machine arrived broken, so was unable to test its espresso making ability. I did get a chance to use the steaming feature. I donít think I would be happy with the wait time between steaming and brewing. If you were making more than one or two drinks this would be a bit of a hassle.
I decided to upgrade to the Expobar pulser. (Once youíve committed to spending $500 the upgrade to $800 goes a little easier) Over all Iím pretty happy with it. The E61 style group is pretty impressive. The head and portafilter heat up and stay nice and hot, the group head is still hot an hour after I shut the machine off. The espressos are coming out quite good. Iím learning how big a difference coffee, water, ground and tamping can make. If bottled water is to be used, count on using a lot. The cooling and back flushing that E61 type machines require will send a lot of expensive water down the drain.
There is no comparing Lavazza blue pre-ground in a can to fresh roasted & ground coffee. With the Lavazza I used more than 14g and had to tamp it real hard, a double shot still only took about 15 seconds with just a little crŤma. With 2 full cans of pre-ground Lavazza blue, I was unable to make a good tasting espresso. I wanted a machine for good espresso & Americanos, with good fresh roasted coffee it can make a great shot.
The steaming power seems pretty good. I only wish the steam wand was a little longer, like the type used on their higher end models. I can only compare the steaming to a Gaggia Classic. I found the Expobar to be far superior.
The hot water dispenser works ok. It seems to have a lot of steam coming out. (Iím not sure if this is normal).With the handle used to open the hot water valve right above the short water dispenser, your hand can get hit with some pretty hot steam. A longer dispenser like the type used on their higher end models would help this. I guess these are cost cutting measures to help get to this price range.
The machine is a little different than the pictures on the website and in the directions, which are very poor. The water reservoir is different. You have to remove a steel cover tray from the top of the machine which is easy enough (if you donít keep cups on top) but with the machine being so tall I have to slide it out from under my kitchen cabinet to refill the approx. 3 liter plastic jug. There is a automatic cutoff switch under the water reservoir that activates by the weight of the water in the tank. This is a good thing but there is no way to see how much water is in the tank so your likely to be in the middle of a perfect shot when the pump shuts off due to low water. Inside the reservoir is what looks to be a water softener but there is no mention of it or how to maintain it, in the directions.
The location of the power switch and ready light make no sense to me. When Iím using the machine I donít even see the lights. Up top in front would be nice.
Buying experience & Quality I must say I was disappointed with Whole Latte Love. My first machine was a Gaggia classic. This arrived with a broken solenoid valve. I then decided to upgrade to the Expobar Pulser. This machine arrived with the group head installed crooked, this caused most of the espresso to flow out of one side the double portafilter. I took the top cover off the machine and found that one of copper pipes that feed hot water to the group head was improperly bent. This was forcing the group head to one side. I sent Whole Latte Love pictures of my machine with the bent pipe and another machine with the pipes bent at the proper angles .http://www.coffeegeek.com/proreviews/firstlook/expobarpulser/details (thanks to coffeegeek.com) I requested they send me a new pipe bent correctly. They refused and suggested I loosen the group head and twist it straight. I did this but feel that with the heat and pressure on the fittings, this is not the correct solution.