Brass Boiler on a budget! Clean, simple machine that makes great coffee.
Positive Product Points
Brass Boiler Great steam Pump is quite powerfull Price! Good Looks (I have the Stainless model, with the Innova brushed steel Grinder as well) Big water reservoir with access from the side
Negative Product Points
Somwhat tinny, by that I mean that where the top meets the sides it's not welded but just fit together by tabs... After heavy usage it almost gets too hot The single shot filter seems to be too small (I don't use it much but have trouble with it)
I'd been looking to upgrade from my Krupps for a while but buying a quality machine on a budget is a hard thing to do... Finally I had saved up enough to afford the Sylvia but, before purchasing, I realized that even with the Sylvia I wouldn't be getting good shots because the grinder I had was a $20 special that would just look silly next such a fine machine. So I looked into other options, lucky for me there were several models on display and the Arc caught my attention (admittedly because of the low price tag, along with its clean and simple look). Next to the Arc was Innova grinder as well... Hmm good looking set, excellent reviews by the coffeegeeks (detailed review available for the grinder and a first look available for the Arc) and with a total price tag less than that of the Sylvia, I felt lucky so I got 'em!
As for the Machine itself, I think I cashed in on my luck. The instructions to get started weren't clear (i.e. they tell you 2 different ways to fill the boiler, huh?), clearly translated from Spanish but it's a pretty simple machine and it didn't take much to figure out what's going on. I ran water through and started tuning in my grinder to the machine. It took a little while to get the boiler and portafilter flushed out and seasoned but that effort has paid off. I've been enjoying a nice double in the morning to wake up and then a latté for the road for the last month at a quality that has just been unavailable to me before.
Yes I realize I had the Krupps and just about anything would be an improvement but this machine seems to be a winner, it heats up nicely & quickly, the steam wand is great (there is a little hole about 1.5cm up the nozzle that you can just surf at the top of milk that produces fantastic micro foam). I've been pulling 20 - 25 second doubles with outstanding crema, I'm still working on figuring out the most efficient routine for the best & most consistent shots but I'll probably be tweaking that for a while.
I worked the machine pretty hard as well; we hosted a get together where everybody asked for either a latté or a cappa. My barista skills were certainly put to the challenge... The only complaint I have against the machine is that after making 6 shots in rapid succession it got a little too hot and pressure would build up to the point that when you removed the portafilter there would be a pop and grinds would explode out across the counter. Clearly this machine is for the home user to pull a couple of shots at a time and not for what I did to it, but still everyone got their drink and were quite pleased with the quality.
The construction of the machine is OK, the steel sheeting is joined together by tabs so it doesn't feel as solid as other machines do but it's what inside that counts. Another selling point for me was that when I was told the main differences between the Innova Arc and the Innova Dream was outer construction, a pressure gauge (that really didn't mean anything) and a couple hundred dollars while the boiler and accessories were all the same. For the price of the machine and quality of the shots, I can live with the lower quality construction (I don't mind that the drip catcher is plastic with a metal grill)
Buying experience was very smooth "www.morala.com", I asked a lot of questions they referred me to Coffeegeek for extra details and when asked they gave a discount.