With the addition of the non-pressurized baskets, this baby can make some killer expresso and it will look great while doing it.
Positive Product Points
Gorgeous styling. Easy to use. Easy to clean. Heats up fast. Versatile. Not bad value either, considering it was marked down from 300 to 200. Comes with a nice frothing pitcher. Good espresso with non-pressurized baskets.
Negative Product Points
Pressurized baskets. Gimpy plastic tamper that doesn't fit that well. Sort of drips water at times. Non-standard basket size. It looks like it needs a 50 or 51mm tamper, but they are hard to find and the ones on the net are like 60 or 70 bucks. I think the plastic tamper is a 49mm, and it is definitely a little small, but I'm making do.
I had credit at Williams Sonoma and wanted to get a machine and when they knocked 100 dollars off the price, I settled on this one. We have a modern kitchen with lots of stainless steel and the Breville looks like it was made for our place. At the time, I was not aware of the pressurized baskets issue and I'm not sure how that would have affected my decision, but I went ahead and got the Krups non-pressurized double basket to see about any differences. I was actually fairly pleased with this product even before I got the non-pressurized basket. I was a little distressed to read posting on the net about "false crema" and I started to get worried. It still made pretty good expresso, not great, but definitely drinkable, particularly in lattes. Though I am still mastering the frothing wand, the machine is certainly capable of making delicious microfoam. You need to make sure to drain the wand of excess water before frothing.
Upon receiving the Krups baskets, I immediately banged out a shot. Utter disappointment. No good at all. But I was not too worried because I have two cheap grinders and the beans that I had on hand were not particularly fresh. So I needed to figure out, was the problem, the machine, the coffee, the grinder, or my barista skills, or some combination. I went to our local coffee roaster here in Portland and bought a small amount of their expresso roast: quarter pound ground and a quarter pound whole bean. Immediately went back home and threw the some of the grounds in the Ikon. I was actually shocked by how good the shot was. It was by far the best shot I had pulled after many many different types of grinds, old coffees, different filters, tamp pressures etc. It even had the tiger quality about it with a hint of indian red in the crema. It was so simple. Fresh coffee + good grind + Ikon = Excellent espresso. So what was the problem earlier? Most likely the grind.
It does occasionally drip water from where you attach the portafilter, which always results in soggy pucks, at least on top, after you bang them out. But that doesn't affect the coffee and I'm not worried about it. If you simply push the button to start the water flow, it squirts the puck three separate times to "prime" it and "enhance the crema" which seems really gimicky or you can hold down the button to by pass this feature. I have pulled equally impressive shots doing it both ways, so that was kind of interesting. I will probably use the normal water flow feature because I assume the "crema enhancing" is for use with the pressurized baskets that come with it.
It was fine. It seemed like there was a run on these after WS cut the price so drastically. I called, put one on hold, and picked it up.
Three Month Followup
Still working beautifully. I got the Breville burr grinder and the two work well together.
One Year Followup
Well, the honeymoon is over. It has been a very frustrating process and I think some of the other posts are spot on when they cite the pump problems. Its not that this machine is incapable of producing great espresso, it is, but just not consistently. For the price I paid, $200, it was worth a shot, but could not recommend this to anyone. I'm going to go with an Italian manufacturer in the future.