Remove the pressurizing rubber part, you can make a good espresso! Remove "perfect frother" attachment, you can create a good microfoam!
Positive Product Points
KRUPS NOVO 2000 PLUS #984
Clean Design Manufactured in Germany Quite Operation Easy Maintanance 58mm Portafilter Pressurized Filter Basket can be converted to Non-pressurized by removing rubber part
Negative Product Points
Wet Steam though capable of good steaming Aluminum Portafilter Mostly Plastic Small Water Tank Small Drip Tray No Dial or Switch for Steam Heating cycle Group Head is hard to remove and clean Odd Looking Portafilter (huge plastic disk surrounding aluminum portafilter collects ground coffee all the time)
First, I got this old machine (almost new) from Craigslist for just $20. So I may be biased, because I got it so cheap.
This machine's outside shell is all plastic. This may discourage some, but to me, it looks handsome and doesn't look cheap. Many Krups Under $300 espresso maker these days are made in China. This old one was made in Germany. Fitting is tight and quality is that of typical German product. I think KRUPS didn't change their under $300 machine's design that much since this NOVO 2000 plus. I also have KRUPS XP4020 and I can see that new one only changed the outside a little (taller and more metals). NOVO 2000's inner parts are all metal though except fittings and tubes.
This machine operates very silently compared to my KRUPS xp4020. XP4000 series are notorious for dancing tray (they vibrate too much, so the shot glasses dance on the tray), but NOVO 2000 is so much quieter with very little vibration. Portafilter screws into group with almost no resistance. I was worried about the leak between gasket and portafilter, but no leakage so far. The instruction manual says this specific model is designed for smooth portafilter installation, so I guess it's OK. Thanks to this, even though the machine is on the lighter side of typical, I don't have to hold the entire machine when I twist the handle. One hand operation is possible.
Use of 58mm portafilter gives huge benefits over newer KRUPS'. I don't know why Krups moved on to smaller size (they currently use 49-50mm ones). You can buy different filter basket of your choice. I don't know if the portafilter is standart 58mm yet. It appears that if you use different (and better) portafilter, I think the position of the handle would be different from the stock.
I removed the pressurizing device that is attached to the bottom of filter basket right away. Now, with good coffee/grind/tamping I can create good crema. I really hated pressurized filter basket of XP4020 that gave me fake crema. Unfortunately non-pressurized filter basket for xp4000 series is hard to find. I'm still experimenting with good combination of coffee/grind/tamping, but certainly this machine has the potential of giving real espresso.
Temperature variation is relatively consistant. It needs some waiting time though (I would say 10 minutes are enough). I normally turn it on before taking shower and the machine is ready when I'm clean. Don't just start brewing when the light goes off. Wait more until everything is hot. Running a blank shot would certainly help, but aluminum portafilter cools too fast compared to brass ones.
The steam is a bit wet, but you can create "almost" good microfoam. Get rid of perfect frother (the device which just sucks in air) will just make a bubbly foam. Without it, and with good practice, it will give a good foam for latte.
It has weired portafilter design. There's a plastic disk holding aluminum portafilter. Ground coffee always gets into the flats of the disk and it's not easy to clean that area. Little brush is a must for this. I will look for an standard 58mm brass portafilter and will see if it fits into the group head.
Drip tray is somewhat small. This machine (and most KRUPS) is designed such that, when you finish the cycle, it spits out the stale water into the tray. That's actually good thing, cause I don't want to taste a day old water kept in the machine next time I brew. However it fills the drip tray too fast. Larger drip tray would certainly help.
New KRUP XP4000 line has 4 position dial. Brew - Stand by - Heat the steam - Steam. I don't like this design because you have no control over the amount of steam. But at least, with this type of mechanism, you can turn the steam on / off while maintaining steam pressure and temperature. However NOVO 2000 plus has only 3-position dial. Steam - Stand by - Brew. When you turn the nob to steam position. The machine heats up the steam, steam gradually gets stronger out of the nozzle, and it takes about 10-15 seconds until there's a full blast of the steam. Worst part is that, when you turn the dial to stand-by position, bottom relief outlet spits out all the built-up steams to cool down and make the machine ready for next espresso brewing. You have to wait another 10-15 seconds if you want to use a steam again. Definitely not a good design.
Water tank holds about a liter of water. Due to the no stale water process, it wastes more water than typical machine. But it's not a big problem for me since I anyway empty and fill in the fresh water everyday. And I drink only 2 espresso a day.
I can't say much about the durablity of this machine because I've owned it for only a week. Only the time will tell.
KRUPS NOVO 2000 PLUS has the potential of being a good espresso maker with few modification (nothing special, just remove pressurizing rubber part and perfect frother attachment.) It's not easy to find this old machine these days, but with luck, you may find a bargain at the local flea market like Craigslist. You may not want to miss it. So far, I'm happy!
EDIT (8/6/09): I found a good combination of ground and tamping. With stock basket, it requires very fine ground and hard tamping (more than 30lbs for sure) for 25 sec shot. Note that I removed pressurizing filter basket attachment. Unlike better machines which give almost dry puck right after brewing, puck will be very wet right after brewing in NOVO 2000. Allow it to drain 1-2 mins, puck will be pretty dry and will come out in one piece. Espresso tastes much better than avarage *bucks with fresh beans and ground. I have been able to consistantly get good thick crema with very fine ground and hard tamping.
Look for craigslist! I only paid $20 for this good machine.