Great looking machine that makes lots of great espresso. No need to upgrade ever again. Machine is big, but not so large that it is silly looking on my counter.
Negative Product Points
Steaming is tricky and I am not sure if one can create microfoam of the same quality compared to a rancilio silvia with the stock steam tip.
I am a mechanical engineer and I am obsessed the mechanisms that make these machines. I did a great deal of reading reviews of the various HX, E61, large boiler catagory machines. In the end - Java Man (Espressopithecus)'s review was a very helpful. His review is well organized and, from my personal experience, accurate. The ISO 9002 certification was of some value, at least the manufacturer is aware of quality control and process. My one comment would be that the pictures of the machine do not do it justice. It is really good looking on my counter.
Coffee Quality -
The espresso is consistantly good with out much of a ritual. Recovery is fast, faster than I can reload the portafilter. My wife can use this machine with good results (not true with Silvia).
Steaming is a bit tricky. It steams very fast and requires perfect technique and there is NO real instructions on how to use the 5-hole tip. I am considering designing and building a 3-hole tip for it.
I opted to install a water softener followed by a carbon filter. I am very happy with this combination. I used all plastic tubing and quick connects. It was a breeze.
So far it has been easy. Machine comes with a blind for back flushing.
Vender was friendly and tried to be helpful. But they were not even close to an my previous experience with Chris Coffee ( excellent responsive knowledgeable service), unfortunately Chris did not have this machine. The machine was NOT double boxed but it did arrive with out damage. After I ordered it on the web ,the vender called me and required that I fax a signed copy of the credit card reciept, which was a slight pain in the A$$. They were a tad slow to ship, I ordered on a Friday and it took 6 days for them to ship. The product also had to clear customs which took time, venders knowledge of all the shipping options was poor. All in all, I would order from them again but only if I could not get from another vendor like Chris's Coffee.
Three Month Followup
The machine has been great over the last 3 months. I would buy it again. I have learned how to steam milk (my only negative comment in my initial review) by reading a variety of articles specifically about steaming milk with the Lyra/MiniNova. So far I have been very happy with the quality and performance.
One Year Followup
After a year, I still love the machine and use it daily. I have designed and machined my own custom steam tip which has corrected the only flaw of the machine. I would recommend.