It makes good espresso. With lots of thick crema. It's cheap.
Positive Product Points
Note: This review is of the equivalent Briel "Chamonix." Large water reservoir. Reservoir window on front of machine so you can avoid running it dry. Reservoir can be filled from top or from back (by pulling it out slightly). Removable, washable drip grill (stainless steel) and tray (plastic). Heats up pretty fast - a minute or so. At least with my local roaster's (Cold Spring Coffee Roasters, Williamstown, MA) "Cefalu" roast, makes a nice hot espresso with about 1/8-1/4" of thick brown crema. Easy to clean. Built-in storage for measuring scoop - under top lid. Not too noisy. Outstanding steamer. Although this is a separate circuit, and takes another minute to heat after you've brewed the espresso, this steamer could foam hot water! It's a beast. My wife raves about her morning lattes. ("This is WAY better than Crumpin' Dognuts!") The foam is still there in her cup when we put the dishes in to wash that night. Attractive enough for black plastic, brushed stainless steel.
Negative Product Points
Attractive enough for black plastic and brushed stainless steel, but that's what you're buying. Physically light - moves around on the counter real easily. (But this could also be a plus.) Your guests won't be filled with coffee-maker envy. They might think you're a cheap bastad. Your guests might be only grumblingly appreciative of your inexpensively-produced, hot, rich crema'd espresso or richly-topped lattes. (The clods.) You yourself might be left with unfilled chromed-steel needs. Lusting after one of those $500, gleaming commercial beauties. (Sob.)
I'd done pump mahinehunting on the 'net, and didn't find much out there that cost much less. I took a chance on this machine, partly due to my basic cheapness, and partly due to generally positive reviews. This isn't a gleaming brass or chromed beauty - it's made with lots of plastic, metal only where it counts. It does work. It makes good coffee. It doesn't give me the miseries when I look at it and I don't regret purchasing it. Neither does it give me the satisfaction of my old KitchenAide stand mixer. Now THAT'S a piece of steel! But you know what? Don't be a whiner. If you want steel and chrome and brass, pay for it! It looks real nice. If you want a good cup of espresso and don't have Ken Lay's bankroll, get something like this. No regrets. It works. Your wife won't humiliate you for having cleaned out the balance on that credit account just for a cup of coffee.
Nowonsale.com isn't the worst re-seller out there, I guess. I'm sure they're just some schmuck with a phone line and access to a warehouse in Brooklyn, but they do answer the phone, sales arrive at your house quickly. Be careful of their return policy. Like many re-sellers, they're not exactly eager to deal with returns.