The F9 is a very cool machine that makes a great cup of espresso.
Positive Product Points
GOOD coffee. Fast, easy, consistent, and it looks great.
Negative Product Points
Expensive and a bit noisier than I'd like.
There may be more esoteric machines out there, but this machine makes much better coffee than you typically get in the real world.
The controls are easy to use, and you get a CD-ROM tutorial that allows you to run simulations on your PC to make sure you understand how to program and use the machine. After a few minutes of practice, it's easy to program in your various cup sizes, choose strengths, and memorize the settings for your favorite cup of coffee.
The machine wakes up quickly, either with a button push or automatically. Once awake it grinds and brews quickly enough that it's actually a pleasure to watch. The temperature of the brew is perfect as long as I use heated cups. Waiting for steam can take long enough to generate just a bit of impatience, but it's still very reasonable.
I typically use espresso, a double shot more often than not. The crema produced is thick and the flavor is noticeably better than all but the few percent of cafes and restaurants that truly go the extra mile. I'm not among the extreme coffee connoisseurs, but I've refined my tastes over decades of international travel. I am very satisfied with the F9 each and every morning.
I'll admit that I bought this machine partly because of its looks, and I won't apologize. It looks great on the counter and people notice and comment. I'm an engineer, and I like machines as much as I like coffee. This is a truly cool machine. After comparing this to the Saeco Incanto series, I was convinced that the F9 had better fit, finish, and quality. I'm a bit annoyed that I can't get a US version PC connectivity kit, as I'd like to customize some of the display messages. A few of them have an "English as a second language" feel.
I've used a variety of Espresso blends and have always gotten great results. I once ran out of my preferred beans, used a French roast, and got a somewhat bitter brew. I've only had this thing a month, so I'm still figuring out what blends will work best.
So from a guy who's a coffee lover and a machine connoisseur, I definitely recommend the F9. It's a great combination of quality, looks, convenience, and it makes a very good espresso.
Buying at Williams Sonoma was a pleasure. They actively run their machines and allow you to try before you buy. Their staff also had a surprising amount of info compared to most salespeople today.
I could have bought it for a few bucks less on-line, but I decided that the convenience was worth a bit extra.
Three Month Followup
After three months, I'm still highly satisfied with this machine. It's great to have something so quick and simple that even my six year old son can make me an espresso.
I can't see myself ever being without a super automatic ever again.
The only imperfection of this machine is that the drip tray is a bit awkward to change. Other than that, I don't think I'd change a thing.
One Year Followup
I'm somewhere around my 2000th cup of coffee, and remain highly satisfied with this machine. I was a bit worried about reliability since there seems to be so much going on inside of a superautomatic. Everything continues to work normally, and the machine operates without any new noises or changes in behavior.
I'm impressed with the quality, and changed my previous cost vs. value rating from 7 to 9. I've had friends try to duplicate my results with other superautomatic machines, and their machines seem to strain much more when doing their jobs. The F9 seems more solid and "industrial".
The only downside remains the difficult to change drip tray.
Even my wife has finally conceded that this $1800 coffee maker was a good purchase.