Makes outstanding espresso once you've dialed in correct grind. Heavy brass portafilter and same innards as the more expensive machines.
Negative Product Points
Plastic housing, but what can you expect for less than $200... Frother drips a bit sometimes.
I just bought a second one of these machines for my office after having the other one (at home) for a year or so. Quite a step up from having the Capresso 101 machines before. It took a few times to get the right grind dialed in for 20 second (give or take) double-shots, but once I found the sweet-spot on my grinder, the shots were awesome! With fresh espresso blend, bottled water and the right grind, I can't imagine anyone being disappointed with this machine. I bought both from Wholelattelove.com- they come with instruction books and a "how to" CD-ROM that explains how to correctly use the machine. I already had some experience with espresso makers, but it was nice to see & hear tips and demonstrations to fine tune they way I made it; very helpful. This machine does not have the three-way solenoid valve or whatever that the Rancilio Silvia has, but I always just crack the steamer wand after every shot to release any excess pressure- seems to make a better puck for cleaning up. The reservoir is nice size and also has a water intake on the back so you can just pour water in from a pitcher rather than having to pull out the tank every time, like some other machines. I read several reviews and spec information on this machine before buying. I believe the aluminum boiler is the same as on the more expensive Gaggia machines as well as other components to include the portafilter. The portafilter is nice and heavy- really gives a sense of quality holding such a substantial portafilter, especially after holding some of the other machines' portafilters flimsy light, cheap feeling handles- like the Starbucks Barista, or Capresso models. I suppose if I had lots of extra money I probably would have bought the Rancilio Silvia, but for less than half the money, this is a superb machine with lots of power (I think between 16-17 bars)...
I bought both from Wholelattelove and have only the highest praise for them including their customer service. I had a chip in one of the reservoir lids when I got it and called them to explain; they shipped a replacement lid right away. Packaging was perfect and arrived super fast!