If you love micro-foam-there is a technique not found in the directions
After spending $20 a week or more on cappuccinos, I decided to invest in a machine. I ended up spending more than I wanted, but I have owned a $50 espresso machine and they just don't perform. You will need to buy a burr grinder & espresso machine with a decent frother if you want to come close to the results of the professional machines. Also a coffee tech working on the espresso machine at my local coffee bar said a thermablock heater was just fine for at home use in making up to 10 drinks a day. I don't know about you, but I am making 2 or 3 in the morning and that's it... What I liked about the Delonghi Magnifica 3400 was the ease of use and cleanup, plus the built in grinder. You also have the option to use pre-ground coffee. The quality of the espresso and crema produced is just fine. Making micro foam is the challenge if you like your cappuccinos "dry". However, I used a technique described here on coffee-geek that works. In a nutshell, you will need a cold metal pitcher & themometer. When making the foam let the tip surf the top of the milk creating a funnel until you reach 100 degrees. Then plunge the tip down into the milk until the temp is 150 degrees, all the while lowering the pitcher as the milk rises. Stop, then scoop the foam out with a big plastic spoon or spatula. Also make your espresso first. I used this technique for the first time & BINGO it worked. If you like the usual amout of foam or aren't picky about the consistency this won't be an issue for you. Bottom line, is unless you are going to buy a commerical machine & spend hours and days perfecting your technique, this is a great machine. One more thing, most of this machine is plastic, however this could be a plus because there's nothing to rust. And if you think about it, most at home coffee makers are plastic.