I've waited a few weeks before writing this product review so I could more accurately describe my experience. Granted, I'm very happy with this machine, but one would expect to be after making such an investment. I wanted to let some of that "honeymoon" infatuation fade so that I might be able to give a more factual assesment. That being said, I highly recommend this machine to any level of espresso afficiando. I am by no means a pro-barista, but I sure feel like one when I use this machine. Just this morning I made a cappuccino that is far and away better than any I've ever bought at Starbucks. Really!
As I mentioned, I am a novice in the prosumer espresso arena. I knew nothing about grinding and tamping save for what I read on this website. I did my homework and research on machines and had pretty much narrowed it down to the Andreja Premium and the La Spaziale S1. I liked the idea that both were able to be plumbed in - actually, the S1 has to be plumbed in. I just felt that if I never had to bother with filling the resevoir, that I would love that. As it turns out, I do.
Both seemed to be excellent machines and I honestly feel that I would be happy with either machine. However, I did like the idea of the double boiler, the precise temperature control, the rapidity with which shots could be pulled, and the rotary pump of the S1. The price was a few hundred more, but I feel it was well worth it.
It took me a few times to dial in the proper grind on the Mazzer before I felt I was pulling decent shots. However, the S1 has been a very forgiving machine for my novice endeavors! It really has been quite simple to use. The ability to adjust the temperature is quite convenient and easy to accomplish. The dose of water is equally easy to adjust. Recovery time with both boilers is very fast.
If you are reading this review, then I will spare you the details that you have undoubtedly read in more lenghty and professional reviews. From a novice viewpoint, this machine is not too complicated to learn. The S1 has been extremely forgiving while I am still perfecting the grind and tamp. It allows me to pull very good shots of espresso with plenty of rich crema. I am very glad that I didn't go with one of my earlier considerations that was a manual lever machine. Although the spring lever machine I was looking at got an excellent review, it also required a more experienced operator. I can think of nothing more frustrating that needing to learn on a machine that is exacting. The S1, although intimidating at first to the beginner, will quickly become familiar and comfortable after a few hours of use. I am much more confident today and, I feel that is due, in part, to the S1 allowing me to experience success almost immediately.
One thing to mention in case the plumbing is turning anybody off. I am not a plumber, but it took me about an hour and a half to get the machine installed. It really wasn't that difficult. I bought the water filtration and softener kit from Chris' Coffee and that came with a great deal of parts needed, however Gene provided some parts that also proved necessary. The toughest part was drilling the countertop, however seveal members have found ways around this (i.e. the soap dispenser, etc.). The only tools required were a sharp knife and some wrenches. That's it! Oh yeah, don't forget the teflon tape! Other than that, the installation is fairly simple.
I certainly do not regret my decision to purchase this machine. I have found it to be an excellent fit under my kitchen cabinet. I can actually stack espresso cups two high and still manage several inches of clearance. There are just too many pluses about this machine to not give it a serious look if you are in the $1500.00 and up market for a machine. Indeed, I consider it to be rather a very good bargain at the close to $1800.00 price tag. You certainly get a whole lot of machine for your money. In fact, I would not be surprised to see the price shoot up on these machines, especially considering the current state of affairs with US currency exchange rates. I would recommend this machine to anybody who is considering a top-notch prosumer model.