This machine was everything I read it would be and I couldn't be happier.
Positive Product Points
This machine is wonderful. Once the machine is warmed up (approx. 2 minutes) , you can steam immediately. Push one button and it will grind, tamp, pull the shot and dump the puck. Clean up is a breeze, rinsing parts with warm water for the most part. Having a bypass doser is a plus -- enabling you to switch between full strength and decaf.
Negative Product Points
The plastic reservoir that catches all the liquids is painted silver and it wears off. It probably would have been better the same color as the warming plate. The Warming surface is useless in my opinion. I rather it not have one or at least be able to turn it off. Had I bought the Digital Italia, I could have done that but couldn't justify the difference in price. The machine is bulky and takes up quite a bit of counter space.
Since I purchased the Saeco Italia, I have enjoyed a whole new experience in the espresso world. With the Saeco Italia, I can make two Venti Latte's in almost the same amount of time it took to make one on my Barista. I was looking for something to speed up the process and this machine does just that. I would say the biggest reasons for that are the easy clean up and the fact that you don't have to deal with priming like on the Barista . Priming with the Italia is minimal. It makes a beautiful shot of expresso. As far as coffee, I have only used Starbucks Espresso Roast and it works beautifully. I use Starbucks Decaf Espresso Roast in the Bypass Doser which aslo works very well. Programming the machine has been very simple. Right out of the box , the machine was everything I expected.
I had a wonderful buying experience with Starbucks. I don't think I would purchase a machine from any other store. They stand behind their warranty and that speaks for itself.
Three Month Followup
It's been over three months now and I am still very happy with my Saeco Italia. I do wish I had wanted to spend the extra money on the digital. I would really like to have had all the extra features plus that machine has more metal parts. However, my machine is still behaving beautifully. I have not missed my Barista at all. Until now, I thought the Barista was the best machine ever.
One Year Followup
I have been using my Saeco up unitl a couple of months ago. The steam pump went out and I had to upgrade to the Digital Italia. Fortuneately it was on sale! Though, I wasn't happy about having to put up more money, it could have been worse! The Digital is really awesome. It is pretty much the same as the other machine but with a few more bells and whistles and of course it having more metal parts. Since this machine is only a couple of months old, I can't give it a fair review.