Great machine while it works, wish it would have held up longer than 7 months.
Positive Product Points
Easy to use and straightfrward controls. Unit looks great on the counter; real stainless exterior, not plastic. Customer service was excellent, no haggling with quick results.
Negative Product Points
If you don't dump and clean after each use the grinder will clog and back up. Frothing wand broke a week after I bought it. Had two warranty claims, the second resulted in them refunding me the money for the machine.
The espresso is great, the longevity of the machine is not so good. I used this machine, loved it, made a lot of coffee each day, and then it broke. The first thing to go was the knob/shaft that is turned to unscrew the filter screen for cleaning. The o-ring on the shaft started leaking and the thread boss pulled out, allowing pressurized espresso to cover part of the inside of the machine. I was sent a part and fixed this quickly. I have now had the machine for 7 months and it has developed an internal leak near the steam knob on the side, but up inside the machine. Saeco customer service has been awesome, I will always stick with the Saeco brand. They informed me that no repairs can be done to that machine and that it is out of production. I had to take the machine in to my local Starbucks for a full refund, which was arranged ahead of time by customer service. Thatís fine, since I basically got 7 months of espresso for free, but now I must get another machine fast. I will opt for either the Digital Italia or better yet step up to the Saeco Comfort Plus or Professional. The machines for Starbucks have a nice stainless outside, but from what I can gather the Saeco machines sold through the chain are probably not as robust as their top end machines without the Starbucks marketing. Overall the espresso is quick and easy, the company is great, just realize the machine could have problems in the near future.
Starbucks is Starbucks. Walk in and buy the unit, hopefully on sale, take it home with you and use it
Three Month Followup
OK, so maybe I was not as unhappy with this machine as I first let on. I have reviewed other machines and the prices on the market today and ended up buying a NOS special edition red Italia to replace the one that died. To be fair, I was very green with my first machine and tend not to be very gently with my equipment. I have used the new machine for over a month now, rinsing it thoroughly after each use, descaling about once a week (we use it heavily, 2-3 times a day), and using quality water. I have yet to have it even mess up on one shot, which my old one would do occasionally. The espresso is great, and the only comment I would have is that I wish it held more water and beans, but that's probably just laziness on my part. It also doesn't have the amount of steam the larger, better units have, but again that just means heating a pitcher of milk just takes a little longer. It still gets it up to temp and does make an acceptable froth. I'm happy with it. Just make sure you take care of the cleaning and realize that it isn't an industrial model and you'll be just fine.
One Year Followup
The 1 year follow up pretty much is summed up in the 3 month writing. The machine is still cranking out the espresso shots, no problems. The only thing to report is that the machine shut off one time by itself, but came on the next time I hit the button with no problem. This could be due to a power surge. I still feel this machine is a great value for what you get. There are now a bunch of these on Ebay at bargain prices since they are no longer in production. Saeco will still supply support for these units.