Super tasting coffee for novices- sturdy and functional.
Positive Product Points
The machine is very sturdy. It has the right temperature and pressure. It says it uses 3 bursts of steam to "prime" the grounds, but I don't know if that matters. The water is easy to load, the drip tray is easy to clean. It heats up fast, and has a little cup heater on top. It both heats and froths milk well and efficiently. The espresso tastes great, and we are only just learning. Even my first cup was excellent. The kids are even happy because they get frothed milk on their hot cocoa.
Negative Product Points
It is a little loud, and you'll want a different tamper. It also seems to pull one of the two shots faster than the other, but that's probably my own inexperience with tamping.
My husband and I are new at espresso brewing, but we love lattes and are tired of paying for them. This was our Christmas present for each other. We also have a Starbucks Barista burr grinder. My very first try with the machine was as good as any coffee I've ever ordered. My husband's is even better. The machine is very sturdy- he doesn't feel like he's going to break it and most machines make him nervous that he'll snap their little parts. The cleanup is easy. The espresso is great- it heats milk well, froths well, and is fast. Water loading is easy, drip tray is easy.
We watched Good Eats with Alton Brown and did just what he said. We measured 15-16 g of fine grind, tamped it with 50 lbs of pressure, and timed it while it filled 2 shot glasses. It took 19 seconds and it is supposed to be 20-30, with 25 seconds being ideal. Still tasted excellent, but we'll keep playing with the grind and the tamping to see what difference it makes. It is so great to be able to make a latte with the strength I like without paying for an extra shot at a coffee shop.
This machine heats up the milk very fast, and the wand moves around convieniently. It even has a little handle so you don't burn your fingers on it. It also has a little frothing attachment for the wand that froths the pitcher to overflowing so fast that I usually heat the milk without it, stop the machine, stick the frothing attachment on, and then froth the milk. If you use the attachment from the beginning, and start with the pitcher 1/3 full, it is overflowing at 120 degrees, and never reaches its ideal 160 degrees. My way gets it hot enough and frothy enough.
We used a 20% off coupon at Bed Bath and Beyond, which brought it from 399 to 343 including tax and a decent tamper.