Looks Nice, Nice form factor. It's nice and narrow - doesn't take up too much counter space, doesn't stick out far from the wall. The power cord is also long (over 3 feet). Brass boiler, brew group, portafilter, etc - everything stays nice and hot. Huge water tank - 100oz, easily removable, don't have to refill constantly. Built in stepless grinder. Quiet pump.
Negative Product Points
Grinder is LOUD! Built in tamper (push upward on machine to tamp) is useless - have to open machine body to remove/unscrew it. The ready light is lit when it's not ready, and unlit when it's ready - very counterintuitive. Cup warmer could be hotter (Now I'm just being picky)
I was looking for a combi machine with solid parts. And yes - like other reviewers, this is the same thing as the LeLit PL042E that's available in Australia. I think the features change slightly from year to year (steam wand, drain hole shape, wording/markings), and the version I got has push buttons (not switches), and round grills holes for the drainage.
My version does have a three-way solenoid valve, so it does not have excess dripping/pressure out of the grouphead after brewing. The wand does pivot from from 12'oclock to 6'oclock in a counter-clockwise motion. But does not swing from 12'oclock directly to 6'oclock in a from to back motion. Either way, there's enough clearance for me to get a 20oz frothing pitcher in there and foam with no problem. Oh, and the weird frothing aid on mine is removable - there were previous lelit/del opera/napolitanas where the froth aid was permanent.
I love this thing - The insides look simple enough for me to try and fix 5-10 years down the line (no mystery black box like with the Nespresso I use to own). the 57mm portafilter is a slightly let prevalent size, so tamper and extras can't really be bought conveniently unless you go online.
The espresso is great so far, crema on the first shot! Foam with the frothing aid is not too bad - though I still have to try it without.
Either JL Hufford or the factory had already pre-tuned the grinder for me, so there was no issue with getting a good grind setting on the machine. The folks are JL Hufford communicated well and were very nice. The packaging was solid, but it did show up with a dent where the froth aid hit the metal casing... no big deal though. They also added an extra year to the Pavoni warranty, so I'm not too worried about its durability.
Three Month Followup
It's been about 4 months now, and I sill love this machine. Some of the highlights: -Huge water tank, with daily double shots, I refill the tank about once a week. -Portafilter and grouphead heat up in ~7min, and then holds its heat well. -Grinder is holding well with even very oily beans. I refill the bin about once a week too. -Love love love the push the grind button with the portafilter design.
More details: So I've been using the machine pretty much daily - once, sometimes twice a day for a double shot, and then about 10oz of steamed latte milk. I find that the steam light comes on and then switches off again during the middle of my steaming, but I just plow through anyways. It takes me about 1.5 minutes to get beautiful white chrome latte foam milk in my 20oz pitcher. I've taken the frother thingy off of the steam wand, and am just using the inside of the wand to steam the milk (1 hole). The frothing aid is collecting dust.
The shot quality improved significantly when I finally got my 57mm tamper (easy to find on Amazon) - I can't stress enough that you should order a solid 57mm tamper when you get his machine. Even with a solid tamp, I get some grind/oil residue on the grouphead screen and have to wipe it down after each use - there's a lot of pressure there, and the built in tamp is not only the wrong diameter, but the machine (even though it's heavy) can't support 30# of upward pressure to tamp.
The portafilter-pushes-grinder-button design is awesome. Some older reviews have commented that the button is set too far back or is slightly mis-aligned, but I haven't found this to be the case. Maybe I have a newer iteration of the machine, but the grinds fall dead center in the basket. Only a minor gripe - the bracket that the portafilter rests on when pushing the grind button is a bit higher than completely desirable, meaning if you want to heap the grinds in the portafilter all in one go, the top of your mound of grinds will be scraped off by the bottom of the grinder funnel. If you play around with your movements, you can balance the mound without scraping off too much coffee. Alternatively, you could just use a screwdriver and remove the bracket.
The machine is still making beautiful espresso and crema - I started with a drier roast and have switched over to a very oily bean, adjusted the grinder setting...and still beautiful crema. A shot pull takes anywhere from the 20-40 seconds...I run the shot until I have a dark blond crema coming out, usually just under about 2oz. However, just like a previous reviewer, I have also found soupy grinds if I try to know out the filter immediately after I pull my shot. If however, I pull a shot, leave the portafilter in, press the steam button, wait ~1 minute for temp, steam (~1.5 min), turn off the steam button, then knock the grinds, I have a solid puck in the basket. Note, while I'm steaming, there's a slow dripping from the portafilter...about a drop every two seconds or so. So, I just wait until after I steam to knock the grinds out. I guess if you're going to make two shots back to back, you will have soupy grinds. I've adjusted the tamp and grind, and can't get rid of the soupiness without letting the portafilter sit through a steam cycle. (suggestions?) Either way, the shot is still smooth - not over or under extracted.
The materials of the machine are still just like new...shiny!!! I can't speak highly enough about my machine... I don't know what it's like to own a rocky/silvia combination so I can't speak to that comparison. But I can say this is giving me better espresso than my Nespresso D290, local coffee shops (except for Gimme! Coffee), high-end restaurants, or Starbucks have ever given me. There was a slight learning curve to get consistently good espresso from the machine (tamper is key, adjusting the grind is key) ...but I think that comes from moving from a fully automatic machine to a semiautomatic one. If you're getting bad espresso from this machine - it's probably not the machine's fault.
One Year Followup
Actually, it's been almost 2yrs now, and the little machine still looks brand new, still working like new too :) It's still giving me solid performance, with no kinks. I went on an extended vacation for about 2 weeks, and when I came back I had to re-prime the water system ( I guess air bubbles got into the hose)? And that's about the biggest drama that I've had from this machine. I've descaled twice with no issues. It's currently making about a latte a day...
Still gives a wet puck if you don't run the steam after the initial shot pull, but no biggy on that. It's handled a variety of beans well, though I've gotten into the habit of tapping the output chute to knock loose grinds from oilier beans...they'll plug up the output chute if you don't look out for that - I learned that when a house guest kept grinding away and no grounds were coming out.
PS - the drain grate makes a wonderful spatzel sieve if you're going to make spatzel!