When you're ready to stop going out for your coffee, this is the machine.
Positive Product Points
Ready to move into the big leagues? This is the machine that you want.
Negative Product Points
I can only drink 2 cappucinos per day without being wired!
Having owned an Isomac Venus for about 2 years I was ready to move to a more serious machine. The Venus, reliable and able is an excellent machine, but lacks in the areas where the Tea excels. I won't talk about the aesthetics, other than to say, its stylish and functional. I am far more concerned with function over form any day of the week.
The strengths of this machine are its heaviness and consistency of temperature. For the serious home fanatic, this is what you want. The water reservoir is small, but if you can get use to topping it up when you turn the machine on, you'll never run out of water. In the event that the unit does run out, its weight sensitive breaker will save you from running the pump and boiler dry by completely tripping out the electrical to the machine. A very good idea in my opinion.
With regard to brewing, the E-61 group is exactly what the doctor ordered. Simple to use, and with a good tamp, you can get a consistent shot everytime. The lever control is a nice feature, while I don't know much about preinfusion -- its fun to play with and looks cool. The hot water delivery on the right is perfect for making tea, or heating up your cup prior to delivering a shot. It generates ample quanitites of hot water, and the knob is perfectly shaped.
I've seen comments regarding the steaming tip, all I have to say is this -- you have to think like the manufacturer. They don't consider these home machines, rather they are light use commercial. In this environment they would never steam 3 oz. of milk. Use a good sized pitcher, with a reasonable amount of milk and you can make foam thick enough to sleep on.
One additional comment. This machine is heavy, and though the "ready" light will come on after only a few minutes (1400watt boiler) the machine takes about 45 minutes to reach optimum temperature. Once that temperature is reached, you're set. Also, if the machine sits for any period of time, the group head will be much hotter than the necessary temperature for pulling a shot, running water until the "bubbling" stops brings it back down to optimal.
Chriscoffee.com is going to rule the internet coffee universe. His service is exemplary, professional and unlike some merchants he will take your calls and answer your questions AFTER you give him the money. There are many businesses that could learn a thing or two about customer service from this guy!
Three Month Followup
whoops -- see my 1 year followup
One Year Followup
Its really been a year since I bought this? wow -- well I wish I had exciting news to report. The unit has worked quite well, last month one of the valves loosened, and I had to remove the cover to tighten it, given that its a vibrating pump a little loosening is understandable.
I go to other places for coffee from time to time, but when I want a good shot, I stay at home and make my own. Its a fabulous machine, and ChrisCoffee provided great service.