Steam the milk and push the button twice- 45 seconds later your venti double shot latte is ready.
Positive Product Points
Very courteous telephone support and quick offer to refund purchase price when it breaks down and they cant fix it.
Negative Product Points
Starbucks/Saeco does not carry replacement parts for models the second they stop selling them. They do not have any service technicians or service centers to repair machine once it breaks.
I'd been eyeing this machine for several months while it was on sale for 595.00. I finally found a Starbucks that was eager to demo one. They made a shot of espresso from their own machine and then another from the Italia so I could compare- Quite honestly the Italia tasted better- sweeter with a thicker layer of crema. My second most important consideration though was how easy it was to clean. I've seen super automated machines in the past but always found them too much of a pain to clean. The Italia is pretty simple to clean. The front swings open easily and the bottom drip tray slides right out. The brew group is all one piece that pops right out and you just rinse under running water. The drip tray extends under the brew group and also holds the dump container so it catches all the drips and stray grinds. the steam wand produces plenty of steam and produces a nice thick foam exactly like you get at Starbucks- when they're paying attention, have done it right, haven't let it sit too long.... which in my experience is one out of every four lattes I get there. At home I can get the foam perfect every time. The biggest positive though is how fast you can make several drinks- I usually make lattes and cappuccinos for up to 4 other people in the morning - with this machine I can make all 4 drinks in under 10 minutes- including the 2-3 minutes it takes for the machine to warm up. With most semi-auto or manual machines it'd take me longer just to make one drink. The included DVD owners manual was very helpful.
The Starbucks sales lady was very helpful in demonstrating the machine although she clearly was not familiar with it. I actually found that that was a selling point- I got a good demonstration of how easy it is to figure out and use.
Three Month Followup
This is actually a 9 month followup. ITS BROKEN and Starbucks can't/won't repair it. From what I can determine the water sensor is broken because the water warning lamp stays lit even when it's full. Because of this stuck sensor which probably cost less than a dollar Starbucks is willing to refund my entire 600.00 purchase price. I would have preferred that they fix it, but apparently they don't stock replacement parts for any of their machines once they stop selling that model (Or maybe even before???)
Let that be a warning to those of you who think that just because Starbucks owns Saeco they'll be able to service your machine till the end of time. Try instead till the end of the sale, the end of the month, or the end of your warranty- whichever comes first. SAVE YOUR RECEIPT if you buy a Starbucks/Saeco super auto machine. Tape it to the back so you'll be able to find it when it when a 25 cent part breaks and they're forced to refund your 600.00-900.00 purchase because they don't service their machines- they only sell them.