Don't listen to the bad reviews, this is a great & easy to use machine, AND a piece of art.
Positive Product Points
I can't see why anyone would have any problem with this machine. It is extremely straight-forward in operation, and is built like a tank. The FIRST shot I made was very good.
Negative Product Points
The only thing I can say that could be better is the way the steam comes out of the safety valve. It could be re-routed so it doesn't get on the beautiful machine (I have the brass & copper, which is a piece of art).
This is a very sturdy and easy to use machine. Just grind properly & tamp pretty firm. The first shot I made with this machine was great, & a little practice got the crema way up. I liked it so much I am now roasting my own beans, which is not so hard either. So many people bad mouth these machines, but the machine makes great espresso. The capacity could be a problem if you had a coffee shop, but for home its just fine. I makes 4 doubles or so. It heats up quickly, 5 min or so, & is easy to clean. Get the brass & copper if you can find one, it is beautiful. Anyone who can't work one of these is either a clutz or lazy. The supposed "ritual" takes 5 min of warmup, in which you can grind tamp, and then a 3 second pull on a handle. Ritual? I say fantastic espresso.
I bought mine used on ebay & got a good one for $370.