Might be the best straight espresso machine on the home market.
Positive Product Points
This machine produces consistent espresso of near-commercial quality. No temperature surfing is needed (up or down!), and it's beautiful to look at.
Negative Product Points
That beautiful E-61 grouphead is very hot, very exposed and very attractive to curious little fingers. Like other exposed E-61 machines, it is not for families with young children.
After 2-1/2 happy years with my Rancilio Silvia (and 10 frustrating years with a Krups steam toy and a pump machine), I decided I deserved a break from temperature surfing. I also wanted a bit more consistency in my espressos. Unlike many others who continue to love their cappas, I essentially stopped making milk drinks when I learned how to make good espresso. So, heat exchangers (Tea, Millenium, etc.) were of no interest to me. In fact the heat exchangers would be a nuisance to me, because of the need to run water to cool off the group head.
When I met Jim Schulman and Chris (of Chris Coffee) at SCAA's Boston Conference, I told them what I was looking for. They pointed me (figuratively speaking) straight at the Isomac Zaffiro. They were right.
Shot, after shot, after shot is thick with crema and full of superbly extracted flavor. No temp surfing at all. Just let her warm up (I keep my machine on a timer), pull your shot and out comes 1-1/2 oz. of nectar. I don't know if it's the temperature consistency, the E-61 pre-infusion or the shiny stainless steel, but this machine gets the job done.
Easy and shipped on the day I ordered it.
Three Month Followup
18 months later, the operation seemed to be trouble-free and produces very good espresso. But, I am now investigating better and easier ways to adjust the temperature than removing the whole shell and turning the thermostat.
A close look by a technician revealed the boiler is leaking, one plastic electrical contact sleeve is burned through, and another has turned toasty brown. Repairs to follow.
*A few months later, the "repairs" have included an electronic overhaul with PID control monitored directly from the boiler water. See my "Bionic Zaffiro" at CLICK HERE.
One Year Followup
4 years after the PID installation (and 6 years after original purchase), this machine continues to provide daily, hiccup-free service, the last 9 months of which have been on my oldest friend's kitchen counter. He is a noted UCLA lab scientist and will let me know the moment any of the electronics causes a problem, which seems unlikely at this point.