Two gauges (boiler and group head), a beautiful and well made machine with consistent results
Positive Product Points
• Nice looking • Solidly constructed by European craftspersons - Industrial quality materials and components • Gauges for boiler pressure and group head pressure • Isomac has been in business since 1977 • Fast warmup, recovery time
Negative Product Points
• Relatively small boiler - only an issue when drawing hot water for beverages - no issue at all when pulling shots, even multiple shots • Steam & hot water wands only rotate in the 3 to 9 'o clock positions, left and right that is. Not always at the most convenient position for steaming milk optimally.
I have been home roasting for a few years now since it is virtually impossible to drink fresh roasted coffee otherwise but have still been stopping at the local coffee shop for cappuccino (of varying quality) on my drive home multiple nights a week. I had taken an espresso class at an excellent roaster in Durham, NC and had been warned not to attempt to pull a consistent shot of espresso unless the machine could match the formula for a perfect shot - which is: 19 grams of espresso blend fresh roasted coffee (3 days to 14 days from roast date), ground by a consistent burr grinder to a fine grind and tamped at 30 lbs. pressure -- that will resist 9 to 10 bars of pressure from 195-200 degree f water for 25 to 30 second which yields 2 - 1 ounce shots of espresso (the school suggests not to pull a single shot, btw). Anyway, Im thinking - "Crap, I'll never be able to afford a prosumer machine that will meet those requirements." Then I do the math. I'm buying 4 sometimes 6 cups of cap every week - with tips, that's close to a five-er every time - $100 or so a month - for average to mediocre coffee from beans of unknown origin and roast date. Well, that's my justification anyway - so I bought the Tea II and have no regrets. Now I am roasting espresso blends and pulling incredible shots and it is worth the wait for the drive home for sensational caps with my wife. The machine is built like a tank. The fit and finish is a work of art and it really looks impressive sitting on our counter top - adds a lot of class to the kitchen. I can watch the pressure at the group head during the shot and it gives me another view into the consistency of my grind and tamp. The boiler pressure is never a mystery (I activate the steam wand, causing the system to cycle before I start - the green light is on in 30-45 seconds - and I can steam and pull shots back to back. I am totally satisfied with the TEA II and have had no problems with it. I turn the machine on at about 6 or 7 AM and leave it on until about 7 or 8 PM and my Kill-A-Watt meter says that it is costing me about 5 to 6 dollars a month for electricity at our rate in Western North Carolina. Some say to leave it on all the time. I dunno. I empty the reservoir and refill it every morning to have fresh filtered water at all times. I love this machine.
No problems - paid the advertised price and it was shipped in one day - arrived in less than a week.
Three Month Followup
No problems at all, I love this machine and the ability to have superior results regularly. Can make beverages for a large group - back to back. I empty and refill the water reservoir every morning - for me this is quite do-able and the only other maintenance is regular cleaning and polishing the gorgeous finish on occasion.
One Year Followup
3 year followup: I purchased the Isomac TEA II in February of 2008. The machine worked flawlessly until December of 2010 - at which time I needed to replace the gasket which seals the heating element against the boiler - a simple and relatively inexpensive repair. Then in mid January 2011, the machine would heat up and work normally for about an hour and then would not cycle again, the boiler cooling off and no lights but the power-on light were visible. This repair required replacing the control board on the machine - a bit pricey but still a relatively easy repair. I'm not sure if the leaking gasket caused the early failure of the control board or not but will be more careful to observe tiny leaks in the future. The machine is working perfectly now - 3/28/2011. Hope this helps