Skip the Giotto and use your savings on a home roaster, the combo can't be beat!
Positive Product Points
Outstanding price point and value for this range of HX machines. Excellent backing and reliability from Chris Coffee.
Negative Product Points
The biggest risk is really the new introduction of this machine to the US market.
I'll try to articulate this review from the user perspective without all of the technical specs. There are plenty of other reviews and coffeegeeks that are way to technical for me. I'm just searching for killer crema and I got it with Andreja.
My first machine was the Silvia and I agonized for a good year with upgrade fever moving into a HX machine. Is it really worth the additional $1,000?? The rationalization was easy on some days, but lets face it, we all have priorities and goals with our hard earned dollars and if we make a significant investment you want to see the ROI. So in doing some analysis and sifting through the reviews and information on this class of machines I had narrowed my decision to the Giotto and Andreja. I've followed much of David Schomer's writing's which leaned me towards the ECM. But after really comparing the 2 machines (definitely read the detailed analysis of the Andreja on Chris' site) there really wasn't much of a difference except for $600 (now $400). My biggest concern was how new this product was on the market. I was confident Chris would be able to repair any potential problem, but who wants to have to ship their machine to NY for a week or two for service?! Or even replacing parts could be time consuming. I also didn't really find a great source to purchase the ECM. So that led me down the Quickmill path with Chris.
After ordering Andreja on a Tuesday I sent a request to see if I could have it by Friday to have fun over the weekend. Sure enough the delivery made it quickly which was the first confirmation of quality service from Chris. After plugging in Andreja and trying to familiarize myself with the instruction manual and operation I was really impressed with the usability. I learned all of the key barista techniques of dosing, tamping, grinding, roasting, etc. with Silvia so the first shot I made was an excellent pour :) So now my efforts only needed fine tuning. The really impressive part was that my wife who also used Silvia previously (but not expertly) made her first latte with no fuss on Andreja! I anticipated a breaking in period- but the learning curve was minimal and she tells me we should have upgraded a long time ago.
From an operation perspective I can validate all of the other reviews posted here on CoffeeGeek. Bob Yellin's was also one of the best I read, thanks Bob! The non-burn wands really are great, I was a bit puzzled with only a 2 hole steam tip however. After converting to a 3 hole on Silvia microfoam was a breeze. With the 2 hole I was perplexed as to why it wasn't a 3 or 4 hole especially after all of the mods Chris put into this machine. But after getting used to this a bit more I have really discovered that the 2 hole takes a little more art but gives you more ability to stretch the milk as you like so I'm fine with it now. I love the size of the drip tray, esp compared to the Silva- I can go several days without even emptying it. But rather than point out all of those features you would really gain with those HX machines in this class like the E-61 grouphead, boiler, temp, steam, aesthetics, etc. I thought it would be more valuable to discuss the Andreja differentiators and what led me to making this decision.
So the bottom line is that there are subtle differences between comparable machines. You may weight one feature more than another based upon your needs. For me the boiler size and temp stability was paramount for pouring great shots. But, other than this it really comes down to cost vs. value and the Andreja is a 10+!!
Excellent. I was originally looking at the Giotto based upon Schomer's endorsement but was curious as to why Chris didn't carry ECM. This summer he explained to me in great detail the distributor market with Isomac, ECM, etc. He told me all about the Quickmill and said there were shipments on the water. As promised the first machines were ready in early September. I was very impressed with his knowledge, the credibility of the company, and overall values. As my twisted never ending search for great espresso continues it was really a no-brainer to invest with Chris and company :)