You can work with it, but there is a better strategy to getting into espresso (grinder and fresh beans) and for a couple hundred more you can get a much better machine.
Positive Product Points
Good looking machine.
Decent at frothing.
Can produce a decent shot of espresso.
Negative Product Points
Pressurized filter baskets.
Water reservoir on top of machine.
This machine was an upgrade from a Krups Brava (steam) machine. Without question it's much better than the Krups and brings you closer to true espresso. This is a decent intro to espresso, but given the pressurized filter baskets and thermoblock, it's near impossible to get great espresso; even with a good grinder and fresh beans. If I had to do it again I would spend the extra couple hundred and get a Solis SL70.
If you've bought this machine (User Tips):
- either modify the double filter basket or get the Krups double filter basket, as the pressurized filter baskets are an issue (search the forums for more info on this) - if you use the pressurized filter baskets, make sure to run water through the portafilter & basket prior (or I guess after) use, this removes some grounds/oils in between the 2 layers in the basket...I didn't do this until recently and had noticed the shots were getting worse, when I did this many grinds came out and the shots got better - heat the machine up for 15+ minutes and run water through the group head and steam wand before getting started, this will get things nice and hot
If I was to do it all over, I would buy a good grinder first (Rocky or something better) and just use drip or french press. With this equipment I would focus on buying freshly roasted beans and grinding prior to each use. Then I would buy a machine (this is the most valuable piece of information I pass along).