This is a good starter machine at an excellent price. Just remember- you can't have all the bells and wistles for under a c-note.
Positive Product Points
Easy to use Heats up quickly Steams decently well once you get used to its quirks ESE pod compatible
Negative Product Points
Non-standard portafilter size LOTS of plastic- cheaply built Not enough cup clearance Steam wand too short and clunky
This is my first espresso machine. Prior to this, I was using an Aeropress to make espresso-like beverages.
In six weeks of usage, I have learned to make a pretty decent shot- better than Starbucks anyway. It is fairly forgiving when it comes to grind consistency, but my new Kitchen Aid Pro Line grinder has improved shot quality in the last few weeks. I have also found that removing the screwed on piece on the bottom of the filter basket allows for better crema production. My wife has also taken a liking to the machine and frequently turns out decent lattes using ESE pods instead of fresh roasted and fresh ground coffee. All in all, this is proving to be a good first machine and is teaching us a great deal about espresso.
The EC155 does have some major flaws. The portafilter size is not close to standard so you cannot swap out the pressurized version for a traditional model. The entire machine is simply too short. The steaming wand is at an awkward position. It works well once you get used to the angle at which you hold the pitcher, but it is a pain in the butt. Also, you cannot get anything larger than an espresso cup or a shot glass under the spout- so forget about crema coffee or pulling shots directly into your latte mug.
At some point down the road, I'm sure I will get tired of the flaws in this machine and I will look to upgrade. That said, I would gladly buy one as a gift for another noob and I would even buy myself another one if I was in need and if cash was tight. It ain't close to perfect, but it gets the job done.
My wife bought it for me for Christmas, so I couldn't tell you how the transaction went. That said, I've never had a bad transaction with Amazon.
Three Month Followup
The machine is still chugging along- although it sometimes leaks a little through the steam wand, especially when making several drinks in a row. It also takes slightly longer to warm-up and recovery than when it was new. Every month or so, I find myself waiting an extra 5-10 seconds for that green light to glow. This isn't a big deal now, but in a few more months, it could be. I guess at less than $100, I shouldn't expect too much durability.
On the upside, in playing around with the filter basket assembly, I can sometimes get a more authentic tasting and darker-colored crema, but this is a trial-and-error filled affair which must be adjusted with every new batch of beans.
All in all, I still think the EC155 is a considerable bargain and a great entry level machine, but when it eventually dies, I hope to upgrade to something beefier with a commercial-style portafilter.