Great machine. Wears out after 5 years (about 1500 Capucinnos w/ 3000 shots)
Positive Product Points
Heats quickly. Great pressure. A couple of critical caveats can be resolved.
Negative Product Points
Expensive. Stock ground kit only works with European style 100% Arabica Espresso (e.g. Illy, La Vazza Gold, etc.). However, this can be resolved.
(5 year update -- the problems below were apparently just due to "newness" and went away after breaking in the machine)
I was very disappointed when the X1 arrived. Our old '94 Estro Vapore (pre-cursor to Starbucks Barista) had worn out and our new house wanted the machine to locate on the kitchen island. My wife really wanted the X1 due to looks.
Problem was, it only makes decent espresso with pods and/or European style 100% Arabica Espresso, using the ground kit, which can be expensive unless you look around.
Like others reported, I could not get any crema using Starbucks, Peets, or other beans no matter what grind setting, which was sad because I like to rotate coffee styles.
Well, on a whim I tried my porta filter from my Vapore (A Starbucks Barista would also work) -- and it fit! Now all type of ground coffees produce excellent results. I can even get great crema using non-espresso, light-roasted, light body beans, e.g. Starbucks Kenya, etc.
If you are stuck with this machine and have access to another porta filter -- try it!
My wife bought it through Williams Sonoma and it was mailed directly from Francis Francis. Note, they forgot to add the ground-kit, but it showed up later.
Three Month Followup
The machine "broke in" after about 3 months (100 capucinni + 200 shots). Works really great.
One Year Followup
Actually this is my 5 year follow up. We've really grown to like this machine. The issue with not getting crema just has to do with the porta filter being to new -- after it breaks in and sufficiently clogs the pores of the porta filter (perhaps to get enough back pressure?) it pulls thick crema shots from most any decent roast/grind/bean.
Compared to other machines, the drawbacks are: 1) Takes a long time to heat up steam and it takes a relatively long time to build up foam on the milk pitcher or latta directly. But the results are worth it -- better than many other machines I've tried (microbubbles rule!).
2) The needle valve for the steam wand wears out (3 years) and it leaks when it supposed to be off.
3) All of the seals wear out (5 years) and it leaks all over and it's basically dangerous / useless to use.
I can't see buying another $500 machine ($600 now). I'm trying to find a way to get it re-furbished. Please offer suggestions.