Great machine. Good espresso. Low maintenance. If you can press a button you can make decent espresso.
Positive Product Points
This is so easy to use right out of the box. Easy to use digital menu. Enough programming possibilities to make me happy but not too many to be burdensome. After a little tweaking I was quite happy with the espresso it made. Just press a button and your drink's on its way. The steam power is adequate for those who like milk based drinks. Clean-up is easy as is maintenance.
Negative Product Points
The reservoir at 2.4 liters is a little small when entertaining but is easy to refill. A plumbed version would have been nice. Emptying the drip tray is a little awkward, it kind of catches on the machine and you must tilt it just right. I wish there were more room under coffee outlet for mugs, though it is somewhat height adjustable.
I was quite giddy receiving this machine. And I'm just as giddy every morning when I make my morning brew. As an Americano fiend my home barrista life is very easy now. I just press a button twice in a row to make two doses of espresso. Then I press the hot water button to get hot water going then press the hot water button again to get it to stop. Voila! Americano.
For my less coffee inclined friends there are three coffee buttons. One for espresso, one for small coffee, and one for large coffee. The amount of coffee dispensed is programmable so I can program the right amount for the cups I use and the person using it. Just press a button once and the right amount of coffee comes out and stops automatically. When I have house guests I give them instructions for helping themselves to coffee in the morning. Just press a button. They love it.
It also has a digital counter for number of coffees prepared. I'm at 700 so its pretty much paid for itself. Having kids, espresso was a weekend endeavor or espresso drive thru before this machine. Now the morning is much more relaxed and my afternoons much more wired. Just as I prefer. Having been a professional barrista for three years previously I don't feel the need to grind, tamp and pull anymore. It was fun, but now time and cleanup are important. The quality of espresso is better than most local coffee shops (I live in Seattle area so there are quite a few, 4 Starbucks alone within 1/4 mile) and definitely enjoyable. I have used Zoka, Intelligentsia, Starbucks, my home roast and others and have had good to great results with all. Fresh beans make all the difference. I would recommend this machine to any of my coffee drinking friends, even those who just want a cup of coffee. Its so easy. Turn on power. Machine displays "SELFTEST". Then "WARMING UP..." "RINSING" and then "SELECT PRODUCT READY TO USE" then just press a button. It tells you when water tank is low, when the dredgedrawer is full. Again it is so easy.
For maintenance I take apart and clean the brewing unit, clean dredgedrawer, and remove any grounds in machine. This takes about 10-15 minutes. There is an automatic descaling program which I haven't used yet. The machine comes with a water hardness test strip which I used when I set up the machine. You program the results of the water hardness test in the machine and it will tell you when it is time to descale based on number of drinks prepared and water hardness.
Bought online thru Costco when it was on sale for $849. Free shipping. No tax. Five day turnaround. Item arrived double-boxed and in great condition. This is a new not reconditioned unit.
Three Month Followup
Over 2500 cups later still works like a charm. I followed cleaning and maintenance procedures and have had no problems. Clean out once a week rinsing mechanism with warm water and drying. Descaling when the machine tells me to. Use bottled water since our tap has heavy mineral content. The ease to making a good cup of espresso is a joy. Never a great cup but always better than the chains. Would and have recommended to friends. The convenience and ease of a superautomatic is so nice. Cleanup only when the dredgedrawer is full about every 20-25 cups. Fill water tank (96 oz.) and fill bean hopper. If you have the time and patience a separate grinder and espresso machine will make better coffee, but there is a learning curve on those and you need the time and patience to master to some acceptable level. Right now my morning and evenings are a bit busier than I would prefer and this machine makes it so easy. In a few years I may go back to a grinder and machine and enjoy that morning ritual but right now with my time constraints it would be rushed and not much fun.
One Year Followup
Five year follow-up. 9400 cups later. Stll works like a charm. I just follow basic maintenance of cleaning, decalcifying, and lubricating parts. Whan I have East Coast friends stay here (three hours ahead) I tell them to help themselves to making coffee when they get up. Thay look at the machine and look overwhelmed. Then I show them how to turn it on (flip a switch) and make coffee (push a single button). They are always amazed at how simple it really is. Best appliance purchase I have ever made. It has paid for itself many times over.