I would have no hesitation buying the Millenium again and, if I were to do so, would not think of doing so without going back to Chris.
Positive Product Points
The Millenium is everything that Chris and other reviewers have said it would be: solid, quiet, consistent and aesthetically outstanding.
Negative Product Points
Again, as most reviewers have noted, the Millenium has a few quirks: the water reservoir does need refilling on a fairly regular basis, the unit does generate a fair amount of heat and (subject to trying the new steaming tip that I understand that Chris has sourced) steaming can be a bit finicky.
Late in 2002, my Rancillio Jacky and Audry (which I have had for over a decade) were clearly on their last legs. I began searching for insights on what machines might be suitable replacements and a "step up". Information from a variety of sources, including CoffeeGeek, suggested that the Tea or Millenium were worth looking at. Unfortunately, neither was available locally in Toronto.
I did manage to hook up through email with a number of individuals who had the Tea and Millenium. Their experiences were almost uniformly, consistent. They were happy with their machines, had experienced no significant difficulties, and would make the same decisions again.
Following the trail that they sent me on, I hooked up with Chris Nachtrieb at Chris' Coffee. More on that below.
Since the machine arrived in December. I have had no reason to second-guess my decision. The Millenium originally looked a bit bigger on the counter than my wife or I had imagined when we had blocked out the dimensions that Chris provided, but that may just have been in comparison to our older and smaller Rancillio. Now the machine looks like it has always been part of our kitchen As others have commented, the workmanship on the casings of the Isomacs is flawless. The Millenium, with its curved sides and uncluttered face (it's missing the additional gauge found on the Tea) looks good, is relatively easy to keep clean (notwithstanding all the stainless steel) and is solid. The drip tray is huge compared to its predecessor, which has resulted in a work area that always seems to be easy to keep clean.
Beyond appearances, the Millenium is an incredibly solid piece of machinery. It is simple, quiet and consistent. Everything on the machine "fits" with precision. The portafilter snugs into the group head solidly but with little effort. The water flow is engaged through a lever that moves smoothly and engages consistently. The two valves, steam and water, close tightly without requiring excessive tightening. (They seem to do so even more effortlessly since I replaced the round knobs that come on the North American units with the original star-shapped knobs that Chris is able to secure.) Although the group head and wands get hot, that hasn't been a safety concern (no scalds) or even an annoyance.
Although it took some practice, shots now are incredibly consistent. I have the unit on a timer so that it has an hour or so to warm up before its first use in the morning. After that, shots can be pulled in succession with no delay and no real change in quality. Steam also always seems to be available in sufficient volume to be able to keep up with whatever numbers of drinks are being prepared. Although I hadn't anticipated this, the hot water is being used on a fairly regular basis for tea.
The one drawback that many have commented on is the size of the water reservoir. While this may be an issue for some, I have not found it to be more than a minor inconvenience from time to time. My perception may be based on the fact that the Millenium's reservoir is significantly larger than the one on the machine that it replaced. However, even when making drinks after dinner with a fairly large group, all that has been necessary is to have a Brita on the counter along side the machine - really not a big deal.
As others have noted, many of the roads to the Isomac machines seem to lead to Chris Nachtrieb. My experience with Chris seems to be the norm, rather than the exception.
Chris is an inidvidual who clearly prides himself and has built his business on client service. In response to my first enquiry, I received a call from Chris the same day. He patiently walked me through the differences between the machines that I was considering, but didn't push me to any particular conlusion. I was one of the first sales that he made to a Canadian customer, and rather than viewing it as a problem, Chris and his staff quickly worked to figure out how to most efficiently get the machine to me with with the least aggravation on my part. They succeeded. The Millenium (as well a a Mazzer) arrived within a day of when they said that it would.
The evening after the machines arrived, I spent about a half hour on the phone with Chris as he walked me through what he felt were the most important points that I might not otherwise pick up from the somewhat sparse manual that Isomac provides. His patience and concern that a customer understand their machine and get the most from it were obviously genuine.
Can I think of a suggestion as to how Chris can improve his service? Not yet, and at his request I have tried.