I donīt think there is a better home espresso machine
Positive Product Points
does exactly what is expected: makes good espresso
Negative Product Points
like every espresso machine I know, technical features could be better, like hysteresis of the thermostat, justage of the boiler temperature, and for example the fact, that the pump switches off immediately when the water level in the tank has reached the security contact. At this time about 0,5L of water is left in the tank, so why does the machine not finish the espresso shot in work? Only minor details, I know, but this is annoying every time and it would be no problem to change that. Drip tray too small.
During the last twenty years I owned the following machines: Gaggia Classic Coffee, which did a good job for about 10 years, until the aluminium boiler cracked. A Krups thermoblock model (which is not as bad as many people think), and after that a Jura Impressa 500 superautomatic (which I cannot recommend at all, this machine was not able to produce anything I would call a decent espresso). After that I decided to go for a real espresso machine, capable to make espresso like in italian bars. Should I buy a real commercial machine or a semi commercial home unit? I went for the latter, for two reasons: Commercial machines are really big and consume a lot of space, and, more important, to get the optimum out of a espresso machine there must be a high volume of brewed espressos. So in my opinion you cannot get a real professional machine to its best if you only make about 10 espressos or less a day, and I thought, this problem is more important with the big pro units than with the smaller semi commercials.
Why the Livia? It is very well built, I like the look, and, very important, it is available in a version with automatic dosing, which really is very convenient and for me worth the money.
The rest is already said in the other reviews, it makes great epresso, in my town only (but not always) equaled by a small Segafredo espressoshop which uses La San Marco machines and has got the required volume. Steam is very good, and it is nice to have a cup of tea now and then without using the kettle. Other important points: The machine has good (and very important) security features: automatic boiler filling, water level meter in the boiler and in the water tank, the pump switches off, when the coffee outlet is blocked (for example by too fine grinded coffee). Cups placed on top are really hot, provided you cover them with a kitchen towel.
Donīt forget to get a good grinder. As regularly mentioned, it makes no sense to buy a good espresso machine without a good grinder. I have got the Mazzer mini, which I can recommend warmly, but I think it is kind of an overkill. There may be cheaper possibilities.
Would I buy it again? Yes! (Perhaps I would go now for a plumbed in Machine because of the aforementioned water supply problems, perhaps a Reneka Techno, which on the other hand has about double the price)
I bought the Livia and the Mazzer at Pauli Michels in Weiskirchen (www.pauli-michels-kaffee.de). Very pleasing buying experience, Mr. Michels is a very helpful and well-informed man. Highly recommendable.
Three Month Followup
No problems so far. After about 1 1/2 years I had to change the shower screen and the gasket of the brew group.