Aesthetics: It looks great on the kitchen counter Large boiler equals lots of steam Consistent shots when matched with a good grinder Excellent craftsmanship
Negative Product Points
Steep learning curve Requires a good grinder
Prior to purchasing the Venus I had spent nearly a month on the WWW researching Espresso Machines. It only took a few hours of research to narrow the field down to two finalist (Isomac Venus and Ranchilio Silvia). Initially, I was leaning towards purchasing the Silvia. Not only was it in the price range ($500 to $600) but it also got the nod over the Venus in terms of ease of use. As I did more research, I came to realize that the Venus had a number of advantages over the Sylvia. including a reputation as a solid reliable machine with one of the largest boiler available in the in the consumer market that is capable steaming enough milk for 4 to 6 cappuccinos in a flash. I was also impressed by how responsive Isomac has been in responding to the user concerns. After 2 weeks I am convinced I made the right decision to purchase a Venus. The first few days were a bit rough. While my Capresso grinder was good enough for the old Gaggia Classic the grind was to coarse and irregular for the Venus. My wife was less than pleased to learn that we might have to spend another 200 dollars to work around this problem. However, after a little research I decided to purchase a Zassenhaus hand coffee grinder (~$70.00). It turns out that the Venus and the Zassenhaus are a perfect match. After only 10 to 15 shots I found a setting on the Zassenhaus that on average allows me to draw a shot in 20 to 25 sec that in terms of taste and aesthetics ranges from very good to excellent. However, I must admit there is more involved in operating the Venus compared to the other machines I have owned. To get an excellent shot out of the Venus requires both a good grinder and experience. While several of the reviewers of the Venus found the lights on the Venus to be counter intuitive, I find them signals to be very useful. It was my young daughter that help interpret the lights “if the red brewing light is on you stop, when it goes off you go” (not very complicated). You use the same light to determine the optimal point for steaming. The steam wand on the Venus is awesome. There is more than enough steam to produce enough frothed milk with excellent microfoam for 4 cappuccinos in about a minute. However, if you want a nice thick layer of microfoam you can not forget to purge the wand of condensation. You also have to remember to recharge the boiler after using the steamer wand if you want to draw a reasonable shot of espresso. Personally, I do not mind all the do’s and don'ts I find they enhance my espresso experience. In summary, after two weeks the Venus appears to be an excellent piece of equipment. While it requires a little more effort than some of the other espresso machines on the market I think you will find the Venus to be a worthwhile investment.
Excellent: Next day delivery at no extra cost.
Three Month Followup
I love this machine.
One Year Followup
After a year this machine has grown on me. There were several issues raised in reviews I read before purchasing this machine including lack of reliability and the pressure being out of the 'desired' range. However, the proof is in the pudding. Based on the responses of the group of coffee geeks we hang out with the quality of coffee produced by the Venus is first rate. I have no trouble generating a sweet brew with an excellent head with draws in the range of 25 to 35 sec.