Full featured, home performer with good aesthetics and quality.
Positive Product Points
Professional appearance, Stainless & Black Adjustable water flow 3/4 oz - 6+ oz Excellent value @ $250 Quick heat up & recovery Easy to use frother (new models) Excellent espresso & Cappucino
Negative Product Points
Briel only supplies "enhanced crema" filters (no biggie-see below) "No drip" feature is not 100% but better than most Supplied manual should be used as packing materials (and it is out of date) Briel North America not very responsive. Briel Portugal, very responsive
This is an excellent, in the mid-range of the home level espresso machine. The workmanship and design is excellent; it has good "countertop" eye appeal.
The proof is in the production however and I am very pleased with the espresso and due to its ability to vary the amount of water generated, I can be a bit creative with results wthout having to glue myself to the machine (although I love to watch the rich crema wend its way into the cup). Did I say rich crema. You betcha.
This machine produces very rich espresso (usually) topped by a thick layer of crema. The Briel comes equipped with the now ubiquitous crema enhancing filter. As stated above, Briel does not offer a straight-forward filter as does solis but (here goes my warranty) the solis double filter (see Sweetmarias.com) fits and works fine so you too can be the judge, crema enhancer or not. I use both methods, tamp the same amount, etc. and I can't tell which filter's in the holder. If the beans are fresh (I roast), the grind is right, I tamp in the 20-30 lb range (estimated) and the equipment and cups are all at the right temps, I get great results (and this is with decaf), excellent espresso with thick crema. If I use prepacked and ground, or old coffee, etc. I get the results I expect. Sub-standard! I am a firm believer that its what's in the filter and how its put in the filter that contributes to fine espresso as opposed to those who continue to argue about filter mechanics.
The steam wand with a chromed froth enhancer works fine but I seldom use it in favor of much simpler frothing methods that are now available. Being able to call myself a "true" barista means less to me than efficiency and results.
At $250 (note: amazon just increased their price $50) this equipment belongs at the front of the home pack.
With Amazon, you buy it, they ship it. No problems.
Three Month Followup
Still produces a fine cup of espresso. Unless you are going to make raspberry-melon-tutti-frutti flavored lattes then toss the pod thing. who invented that travesty?
I have since upgraded to a larger, heat exchanger/boiler system because I make a lot of americanos but really because I have a psychological problem when it comes to hobbies/passions/obsessions & money.
Interesting note: I bought from Briel USA a couple of spare parts. The porta filter that comes with the machine isn't a Faema but it is plated brass with some heft to it. The replacement they sent was diecast zinc or aluminum. Cheapo.
Still I give it good marks. In use, I left it on all day. No problems. I noticed that the price has been jacked up considerably at Amazon and elsewhere. Likely due to my earlier review. At the new pricing I would probably shop other models in the $3-400 range a bit closer.