no brainer for the first time espresso machine buyer
Positive Product Points
classic by name and nature: a great looking entry point to the world of real coffee. solid design and body, long lasting & reliable mechanism.
Negative Product Points
aluminium boiler, poor quality handle on portafilter
i bought mine in a little venetian sidestreet hardware store over 10 years ago and brought it back to london with me on easyjet. best buy i ever made, took it to france with me and it's only just died (boiler cracked by frost! i'd emptied it before leaving for winter but evidently not well enough).
this has to be the first espresso machine of choice: it has always faithfully produced the best espresso i've been capable of, and has never needed any more attention than the requisite regular descaling and cleaning needed by all such machines. it's easy to use, yet with room to experiment by varying coffee quantity and strength to personalise and improve your espresso. took me a while to work out the heating time between shots though - didn't have this site back then :)
i'd have bought another in a heartbeat, but came across a fully automatic gaggia at an unmissable price which better suits my changed lifestyle (basically, producing 6-10 espressos at a time rather than 1-4).
bought on a whim in venice - what more can i say?!