EC-701, Easy to use, Cheap construction, Over Priced, Stylish!
Positive Product Points
Water reservoir is easy to fill Stainless Steel looks nice Lots of Steam Easy to Use Large drip pan
Negative Product Points
Apart from Stainless Steel, rest of machine is plastic Quality is poor for $300 machine Cup warmer useless Cheap construction of Portafilter push buttons feel cheap
This is my first Espresso Machine, I wanted to play around before I bought somthing more Prosumer. The EC-701 comes with clear instructions, a double shot portafilter and a POD compatible portafilter, both are made from cheap metal, and have plastic parts in them. The machine itself looks great on the kitchen counter but when it is actually used it has a cheap feel to it. The water tank is easy to fill and also has a water meter which is useless because the tank is made of clear plastic and fits into the side of the machine so you can clearly see the water level without needing a water indicator, the tank is a little small, I have found that after a few shots your out of water. When you power on the EC-701 it only takes a few seconds to heat up although the instructions say leave it running for 15 minutes before use, The portafilter is difficult to attach and does not feel like it turns all the way into place. occasionally you might think it is attached correctly but when you make a shot water leaks out through the seal. however Operation is easy and the Espresso comes out nice, although a tad bitter, I do not have a grinder yet and so I am experimenting with grind setting from my local Whole Foods. The milk frother works great even though it is plastic, I have no problem making as much foam as I require, the steam lever is of very cheap contruction and it feels like it will break every time I use it, so I am extra careful not to over turn it. The cup heater is completely useless, I normally let the machine heat up for 30 minutes before I use it and my cups are still virtually cold when I take them off the heater plate. Clean up is easy, and the drip pan is large. Inside the machine (I had to take it apart) the boiler seems small and the pump is attached to the machine very loosely although this maybe to reduce vibration, the heat plate is basically a piece of metal that sits on top on the boiler mechanism, so as the bolier gets hot it heats the heater plate. Everything inside the machine is connected poorly including the hoses, which on my machine were not connected properly. The EC-701 IMHO is not worth $300, but it is probably worth $100 if you can find one on ebay!
I bought my EC-701 on Ebay from a seller called Soulfer, he is selling quite a few of these machines, and I was a little suspicious, so I emailed him to ask if he had tested the machine to make sure it works, he emailed me back and said he had, but when I got my machine water would not flow out of it, all I got was steam, so I had to take it apart, found that the water hose was not connected to the pump, I reattached it and now the machine works fine. Soulfer would only replace the machine with another one, so if I had sent it back to him and had another one shipped it would have cost half of what I paid for the machine in the first place, hence I took it apart and fixed it myself. Yes I would buy from Ebay again, NO I would not buy from Soulfer again, in fact unless the seller has a 7 day refund policy I will not bid on an item.
Three Month Followup
What a piece of junk, if you are only making a couple of espresso's per week then this could be the machine for you, if you are making a couple a day steer clear of this machine. About 2 weeks ago the group head started leaking steam and water while I was steaming milk, turns out the valve seal between steam and the water boiler has started to give way, the problem now is that I can't steam as much milk as I used to and even when I can there is no where near as much foam as there was before. The Espresoo has also become very inconsistant, I think that since this valve leak has occured i no longer get the pressure I need to make adequate Espresso, and I mean adequate, you will never get anything close to a perfect espresso shot out of this machine. I took the entire machine apart including the boiler to see if I could fix the problem, but without spare parts there is nothing I can do. By the way when I did take it apart I found some screws had washers some didn't, very poorly put together, Delonghi should be ashamed of themselves selling junk like this. Beware that if they are using the same internal parts for their automatic espresso machines then they are also way over priced and probably junk also.
Don't buy Delonghi, not even cheap on Ebay, they are only worth the scrap metal that might be inside them.
One Year Followup
I Delonghi for something else, but it works, I have had to take it apart a couple of times to reconnect hoses, it makes mediocre espresso, mainly i think because of the 48mm pressurized portafilter. The main issues is it does not have the guts to push out good espresso, if I grind even slightly to fine it chokes, Also milk frothing is hit and miss, if I froth enough milk for two drinks even though I am only making one it will froth milk adequetely sometimes. The reason I keep this machine is mainly because I make latte's most of the time, so the milk covers up its inadequacies. I can't really complain to much though, for $96 plus shipping, I got a years worth of espresso drinks. I can't see this machine breaking anytime soon, so I guess I am stuck with it. Really that is the bottom line, yes it will make espresso drinks, yes you will hate this machine if you have learnt anything about the art of espresso making.