Great investment. Improves quality of life. If you have cash and electricity go for the next category up (2 boiler) otherwise you'll still be very happy barista.
Positive Product Points
I love this machine. Mr. Vetrano is there for me whenever I need him. So far no problems with him at all. With the right grind and tamp the espresso that comes out is just so tasty.
Negative Product Points
I think the only negative thing about the product is heat stability (in other words to get a consistent brewing temperature you need to flush), but as I have learned, it has nothing to do with this particular model but more to do with the fact that it is a HX (heat exchanger) machine. Once you get the hang of it, this becomes a non-issue really, as long as water is free running in your country (why do I feel like someday that won't be the case?).
This will hopefully remain the only espresso machine I will buy. I purchased this and a MACAP grinder and the team perform very well together. To someone looking to buy a machine: I have never bought an espresso machine before and I decided to do it right for the price range I was about to afford. Don't forget that the grinder makes a big difference too.
I was surprised at first how much flushing was needed mostly because were running on large 5 gallon bottled water - but now we just fill the bottle up with tap water (in Montreal) which honestly isn't the best water around (like Vancouver) but does very well anyway.
Also, a note to Canadian buyers on the price: You should know that to ship this machine and the grinder package to Canada via UPS in September 2006 was $210.00 USD. Remember to factor that in. Also... remember you will have to pay a pretty hefty GST (and PST if it applies) bill to Mr. Taxman.
Great buying experience. They have been very helpful with the few questions I have had since my purchase. I must say I was a bit freaked out about getting this thing to Canada via UPS (aka United Package Smashers... they have really been terrible for me in the past). But alas, it arrived safely. I think it has more to do with the fact that it was really well packaged so UPS couldn't really get their sledgehammers to it (nice big double-box... YES!).