Isomac Tea is a machine for the home barista who cares about their coffee.
Positive Product Points
1) Simple and straight forward to operate. Boiler and pump pressure gauges are in the right place - easy to glance at. 2) Consistent espresso shots are possible if you pay attention to the grind and the tamp. 3) A solid, well made machine that can be kept clean and since the machine uses parts that are standard and therefore available, this is a machine that can be maintained and repaired, if needed.
Negative Product Points
1) Water reservoir is inadequate if you pull a lot of shots. The best thing to do is get a direct water line or at least set the machine up with access to bottled water.
This machine has been reviewed quite a bit. Many of the reviews are excellent and worth reading. I have not found it necessary to tweak my machine at all. I do mess around with the grind and tamp pressure. Essentially I try to get the grind and tamp such that doubles are complete at around 20 to 30 seconds. I don't actually measure time typically, but look at the rate at which the coffee fills the cup and also at the color of the crema as it exits the portafilter. I hope this does not sound complicated. It is most definitely not complicated. Certainly, this whole thing can be made complicated! However, if the machine can deliver fairly reproducible water temperature and you provide well roasted, ground and tamped coffee, then you are good to go. Since my shots taste good, the temperature must be pretty good. Can I get a shot at any coffee shop around here that tastes better? No. Lots of the shops deliver a shot that tastes a lot worse, though. Bottom line, this machine performs just great for the home. The only improvement would be to hook this machine into your water line or a large (5 gal) water reservoir. Note that the the waste reservoir is huge, so no worries there.
PS: Ample steam is generated by this unit, and the tip that is provided by Chris Coffee helps steam milk just fine.
Chris Coffee is the only place I would buy such a machine online. Chris has a well deserved reputation: no nonsense, courteous service.