Good looks, easy to learn, dual wall crema system seems to work every time, accessories are a nice feature, value for money (especially from Ebay), a very nice first machine.
Negative Product Points
Must give it some time to really warm up, frothing steam consistently wet (sprays water when starting frothing steam if it hasn't warmed up), hard to see water level, doesn't always pour two shots evenly between two cups, a heavier, higher quality filter basket holder would be nice.
I have not owned this unit for very long, but I love it so far.
I am a first-time owner of an espresso machine and did a LOT of research before making my first purchase. I agree with this website. . . the grinder is as important as the machine when you're dealing in this price range of espresso machines.
Sounds like Breville may have upgraded the frothing steam system and I have the 'older' model. As said in other postings, many of the negative points are legitimate, but for me have not been a significant hindrance or a deal breaker. It has not clogged once, even using a fine grind.
I am using a Capresso Infinity grinder (under $100) that seems to do a spectacular job. I started by using the coarsest 'fine' setting and worked my way down. I am now using the coarsest 'extra fine' setting and it is pulling a tasty 25 second double shot. I've only been using the double-shot filter basket, as I did not receive a single-shot basket from the ebayer from whom I purchased it.
I rinse out the filter basket after every pull and after rinsing, run the espresso pump through the empty basket to clear out any grinds. I've had no problems with clogging at all, and I've been tamping the grinds down very firmly. I am starting to use very fine grinds. I will update this later after I've used it with even finer grinds.
I'd like to know if I can replace the filter basket holder with another, higher quality basket holder. This is not currently affecting the quality, but would be nice to see if it improves the experience. Also, its been mentioned you can buy a Krups filter basket that outperforms the one in the box. I do not know which to purchase, though. Buy a higher quality tamper. Flat and European curve have worked well. I have a convex on the way as well.
You can find these on Ebay for $80-$150 with shipping included. I would buy it refurbished rather than used as I didn't receive all of the original accessories. The accessories it comes with are great. Frothing jug, cups, saucers. . . a nice first machine all the way around!
Three Month Followup
Machine works great. Frothing steam wand takes a little practice to get microfoam, but I have the old style of steam wand and I can get good foam with about 1-2 minutes of effort.
I would like to try using a different filter basket and filter basket holder. I'd like to get a more substantial filter basket holder (maybe brass if I can find one that fits). I'd also like to find a filter basket that fits so I can practice tamping. The dual wall crema system is pretty flawless and its time to get a little "artsy" with producing my own crema.