A hand-built espresso machine, made in the the US by a true Italian craftsman, what more can I say?!
Positive Product Points
Looks great (inside and out), performs great, solid machine
Negative Product Points
Drip tray is tiny, tank does not come out for refilling, so must be filled in-place (take care not to pour water through the vents into the machine).
I'm very much a cheapskate, but wanted to step into serious espresso drinks, and found it hard to find a high-quality machine within my budget. My first "reasonable"/used machine was a Nuova Simonelli Oscar that had troubles from the start (it was oversold to me). I was nervous after the first used machine experience and hoped to find something new or refurbished, which posed difficult, due to my cheapness. Thankfully I was able to secure one directly from Salvatore, at nearly half the cost of their new machine. While I would have loved to build a new black or Ferrari red one, the cost seemed out of the question for me, so the stainless one is perfect.
A few weeks after ordering, mine was on my way to me. It was packed better than fine china. In the process of packing and shipping 2 of the legs loosened a bit, so I decided to tighten them a bit and had to remove the case, which allowed me to see inside. The inside truly is a work of art, just like the pictures on their website. The tubing is bent copper and everything is neatly tied together and all the equipment does look more industrial than the Oscar that I had. I also noted how my name was written on most of the machine, indicating this was truly refurbished for "me".
The machine looks beautiful sitting on my counter as well and is a treat to use. Like so many have warned, it isn't a super-automatic machine so for a newbie it took quite a few shots to get consistency down, but I don't necessarily blame the machine as much as the operator. Some might find the hand-built quality lacking compared to a machine built by another machine on an assembly line, but to me it is more beautiful and impressive to have one hand-built.
The steam and hot water wands are no-burn, which I did not see documented on their website, so that was a nice surprise. It is a 2-hole steam wand, the Oscar had a 4-hole wand and seemingly enough steam power to blast itself to the moon. This exhibits less than the Oscar, but I can actually control it better and is more than enough IMO.
Being that it was refurbished, it came with one portafilter holder and the double-basket as well as the blank for cleaning. Wanting to pimp my ride a bit I ordered a Rancilio bottomless portafilter from Chris' Coffee, it was one of the cheapest I could find and hoped Rancilio wouldn't put out bad quality stuff. That was well worth the investment as my tamping is much more even and shots are way better with that portafilter (I swapped the double from Salvatore with the triple that came with the Rancilio). The bottomless does spit a little, but cleaning it is easier than the other.
I don't make Americanos but use the dispenser to heat my cups quickly, mix my mocha powder, and get hot water for tea. I'll also use it when I have to descale, according to the videos I've seen.
The pictures on their website actually make the machines look giant, I was concerned it would be as big as a Aastra sitting on my counter, but in reality it is roughly the same size as a Rocket. I do wish it had a rotary pump as the vibratory pump is a bit loud, but thankfully I don't have to make drinks when everyone else is sleeping.
I contacted Wendy at Salvatore about refurbished machines, but they didn't have any at the time. She contacted me later about an auto machine and I called her, saying that I would prefer a semi and she asked Salvatore if any would be available and he said in a few weeks. Overall it was easy - no online ordering, but more of a personal experience emailing/talking live with Wendy to place the order.