Compared to HX machine, pricey but worth the additional money.
Positive Product Points
Rotary Pump, dual boilers, electronic temperature control, 20 gram capacity dual basket, volumetric dosing, attactive styling, fast steaming, plumbed in design (for those for whom this is a positive). Large drip tray. Economy mode for power conservation. Boiler standby option.
Negative Product Points
Must be plumbed in. ( for those who rent or move around a lot, although there are work arounds). The 53 mm portafilter ( for 58mm commercial brew group fans). "Always-on" design that won't work with an appliance timer. The high price for many. The temperature controls are slightly less than intuitive. My machine could be quieter (see Chas Rimpo's site for quieting info.)
I bought my S1 as a show demo at the Atlanta SCAA convention in April, after it had been used for extensive evaluation by Dan Kehn. If you haven't read his review, do so. Click Here (home.earthlink.net) . It is far more detailed than mine. Also check out Chas Rimpo's La Spaziale site at http://www.rimpo.org/s1/ . My review is intended to be a first hand account that is based on my day to day use.
Starting with looks, the S1 looks great in my kitchen and in the kitchens of others whose setups I have seen. It is not an all chrome machine. This is a blessing to me as coffee making is a messy business at my house and the black plastic portions require a swipe with a damp cloth while the chrome portions require a swipe with a "clean" damp cloth (big difference) and a followup with a clean dry cloth to avoid streaking.
The metal is magnetic so my timer clings to the front without a problem (or velcro).
The cup warming tray is large and easily holds 6 cap cups, an espresso cup, shot glasses and spare filter baskets.
Installation was a snap-literally! By that I mean, that Chris provided snap together John Guest tubing and fittings enough for me to connect to my sink cold water supply. For those who have visions of drilling holes in their counter tops, let me suggest that you consider doing what I and at least one other satisfied S1 owner did. Find a convenient sink orifice to drop the supply line through. I used the soap dispenser hole, my colleague used a vent hole. We have both placed our machines on the right side of the sink so the steam nozzle overhangs the sink basin. This is convenient for cleaning and clearing the nozzle.
Steaming is a joy. As you would expect with a 2.5 liter steam boiler, steam is plentiful. Expect dry steam in sufficient quantity to heat your milk in about 20 to 30 seconds. I do mainly soy milk based drinks so I am not the one to comment on microfoam and latte art. Dan Kehn has said plenty about that already and he is the expert. The hot water tap is also used a lot in our household for everything from preheating cups to supplying water for my press pot and cupping endevours. And yes, my wife makes tea and soup with it, too.
Making espresso with the S1 is fun. In my household our normal routine is soy lattes all day long with peak demand at breakfast and in the evening during TV prime time. I drink straight espresso shots between breakfast and my "before-bed" drink but wife and daughter are into splenda sweetened soy lattes all day long. Whenever we have guests or workmen in the house, my "go-to" drink is the soy latte because of the "Starbucks" syndrome. With the S1's 24/7 operation it is alway ready for peak demand (which can amount to 10 double lattes in a short period). On the other hand it is always ready for a single drink as well. If it has been sitting for awhile, I will pull a blank to warm up the portafilter and brewhead a bit (that's right warm not cool, again read Dan's review for details). I usually, grind, dose, load and lock. Hit the volumetric doser button for a double, wait five seconds to see if the pour looks right. Once I confirm that, I start steaming the milk. Milk and shot are finished at the same time.
It is a fast smooth no glitch operation. One thing that makes it so is the temperature control. Control of the temperature to one degree makes it easy to compensate for the many different beans that I brew. And as a relative newbie I can experiment with temperature one degree at the time, until all I find the perfect temperature for each bean.
Of course, cost is an issue and at over $1,700 the S1 isn't for every one. Still it isn't out of sight for anyone who want's a temperature controlled dual boiler machine with all of the convenience that implies.
Chris' Coffee is a great to do business with. Very positive experience AND I got to know Chris Nachtrieb at the SCAA convention in Atlanta