Great starter machine. Buy with confidence. User friendly. Makes a great cup, provided you use good coffee...can't fix bad coffee...not a magician in that respect. LOL!
Positive Product Points
Great starter machine. Makes foam easy...even if you aren't that good at it. Love the resevoir on the back. Makes a great little crema.
Negative Product Points
After several years, it will wear out. Use good coffee. No machine can make inferior coffee better. Don't try to use a regular sized coffee cup, it won't fit. Takes a bit longer to warm up first cup of the day. Tamper is useless and should be just left off. Handle occasionally drips. Call these things it's quirkiness and move on. Doesn't do well if you pack your shots too tightly. (Doesn't have to be loose or large grind, but it slows waaaaay down if you pack it too tightly).
This is really a great introductory machine. I bought mine several years ago and have had no problems out of it. In my research, I learned it was identical to the EC155, just a different exterior. I have a Bialetti at home, but could not have an open burner at work. I'd tried other machines, (Mr. Coffee, Krups)...those were a complete waste of time and money.
I have just recently upgraded to a La Pavoni at home (still waiting on it to arrive) and after several years of use (minimum of twice daily, five days a week) mine is starting to lose a bit of momentum. It still makes a good shot, about 19 shots out of 20 but every once in a while it decides to be fickle, but this is a recent change. I did buy another Bialetti EC155 to replace it for work...if this tells you how pleased with it I've been. Got it on Ebay for < $50.
Usually, I drink straight espresso, so the few times I've taken this machine home (had back surgery, worked from home, this was quicker and easier than my Bialetti so I used it there) my daughter wanted cappuccino and the frother was easy to use given that I didn't really know how to use it. Foam was not really my forte...but this made it simple and straightforward enough I did pretty decently at it.
I recommend using a good coffee. For work I don't want to irritate my coworkers so I buy small bricks of pre-ground. These suit my own personal tastes: Lavazza Crema e Gusto; Lavazza Cafe D'Oro; Caffe Tazza D'Oro; Segfredo Intermezzio to name a few. Poor coffee will yield poor results. The machine can't fix that so if you aren't fond of the shot, try something different before you think it is the machine. I have had some awful shots drawn from this machine...but it winds up being the coffee I chose, not the machine.
I assert if you really enjoy the machine, you will want an upgrade in a few years, but it is a great foot in the door to let you know if your coffee habit is worth pursuing. Right now, my coffee habit costs me about $4 a week and it is a rare retailer that can get me to part with my money for a cup of espresso since I know mine is consistenly so much better. (I do buy espresso when I travel, but in our area there is no real good espresso to buy).