A terrific machine. Highly recommended. Try Chris's Machristay Italian roast for an excellent full-bodied espresso.
Positive Product Points
Very easy to set up and use. Makes excellent espresso.
Negative Product Points
The product assembly could be better. The drip tray and left panel in particular could be better engineered. The cup heating tray does a poor job of heating anything.
I purchased this machine on special from Chriscoffe as a promotion on their part to get some public comment on the machine. The machine has functioned as expected once it was set up properly, but the instructions were less than lucid. In particular, I had no idea what the gauge on the right is measuring, and the instructions referred to non-existent levers -- and these were instructions written by Chris to make the Italian instructions clearer. Another problem was that the left panel wasn't tightly secured to the body of the machine, and it was not clear how to tighten the panel. But a call to Chris' technicians quickly cleared the cobwebs. (Answers:There are no levers, just push buttons; Don't worry about the gauge on the right it does whatever it does --( so why do you need a gauge?); You need to tighten the nut on the steam valve to secure the left panel to the machine. Go figure!)
The package included water hardness test-strips, and Chris recommends that the included water-softener not be used because of the packets tendency to break open and foul the machine. In the event that your water is too hard Chris recommends that you call him for a solution. Luckily, my water is quite soft, and I use filtered water.
Chris supplies a custom-made nozzle for steaming milk, but I find that steaming to get the rich creamy consistency I like is rather difficult when frothing about 10 ounces of milk using a 32 ounce pitcher. This nozzle works well for smaller quantities of milk.
I love a straight espresso and this machine does not disappoint. It produces a wonderful, rich espresso with an exceptional crema.
The one problem I consistently have is tamping the single shot portafilter. Regardless of the pressure I apply I cannot get a good tamp.
Cleaning the machine is quite easy. Once a week I back-flush with the supplied disk, and once a month I clean using Cafiza cleaner. Cleaning the drip tray is not quite so easy because it is difficult to get into the corners of the tray with a sponge.
We leave the machine on all day, and pull perhaps 15-18 shots daily. It is turned off ony at bed-time.
Buying from Chris has been a dream. Our salesperson was Mary De Longhi, and she was helpful, patient and courteous. Everything arrived on time and as promised. Followup was great. What more could one want? I noticed that Chris's prices were occassionally higher than competitors' (we were originally thinking of buying an Isomac Tea), but considering the customer care I received the price differential wouldn't be enough to make me go to another vendor.
Three Month Followup
After using this machine for about five months my appreciation of the machine has grown. It is easy to use, trouble-free, and best of all, produces consistently great espresso. The only glitch is that the steam assembly develops a vapor lock when I first turn the machine on. This is easy to live with -- I purge the steam valve and wait about 30 seconds for the steam pressure to build and am ready to go.