Sturdy and reliable, this machine will brew up a variety of espresso drinks with minimal user effort.
Positive Product Points
Durable. Easy to use. Simple to clean. Consistent results. Excellent customer support.
Negative Product Points
If using the automatic latte steamer, milk doesn't get hot enough. This can be remedied by adjusting the "choke" to make foamier milk; this creates more contact with the steam and thus, a hotter milk.
I bought this machine NIB on eBay and have been using it multiple times daily for over 5 years. It is a joy to use. Despite the fact that I was not the original owner (eBay seller was a Starbucks barrista), I received 100% support from customer service. The original machine had an issue with the water pump. I was instructed to exchange it at any Starbucks, WITHOUT a receipt. Problem solved. Two years later I requested replacement o-rings for the water spout/milk container. They sent 2 sets, free of charge. Technical support was knowledgeable and pleasant.
Our primary drink choices are latte, cappuccino and espresso, made from whole bean. I have used all of the functions of the machine, tried numerous types of beans and experimented with different grind settings. Basically, you get what you want. Adjustments matter. I purchased an extra milk container. The ability to switch types of milk with minimal fuss is a real plus. The grinder by-pass function works, but I would recommend a gentle tap on the chute to make sure all the grinds have fallen. Static electricity and/or moisture will impede a clean drop.
Maintain this machine! I suspect that people with gripes do not clean their equipment consistently. Cleaning is simple and doesn't take much time. I never use detergent on the head; a rinse is all that's needed. If used grinds spill instead of landing in the correct container, then you'll end up with problems. In 5 years, this only happened twice, but it creates havoc.
A comment about crema. Yes, this machine will deliver a beautiful espresso with thick, luscious crema. The biggest variable is your beans and the grind.
This was a private party sale, so my experience is irrelevant.