Bought it ten years ago, used it extensively for several years, then used it intermittently for a long time, then stopped using it entirely. Something about the new baby, then the curious toddler perhaps, subconsciously, but mostly it just seemed like I didn't have time to get into the ritual and to have to repeat the process four or five times a day just didn't cut it. The ritual is really the best part of using this machine. Like most everyone else I really love the preparation part - the sugary grind, the strong tamp, the uplift of the handle and the pulldown. It's so satisfying to see that brown liquid turn into a goldeny-brown crema...
When I was using it, I almost always used Italian Roast beans ground through the La Pavoni chrome burr grinder, first in bulk from the Rose Cafe in Venice, then eventually switched to Peet's Italian Roast. I occasionally use the Italian Roast from Trader Joe's. I never bought pre-ground coffee... At some point I bought a really nice tamp; one that actually fit the portafilter. Also, planned to build a small knock box but never got around to it, so I bought one at Peet's. It works almost as good as the one I would have made. If I can find time I'll rig it out with another short bar so the filter doesn't fall out (which it only does once in a while). I used the Cappucino Automatic once or twice the first few days I had the machine, but not since. If you keep the wand placed near the top of whatever your milk is in you can always get a good head of milky foam. I think my avatar shows a freshly made cappucino.
A short while after I started using it again, after a pause of 2 years or so, but the fuse blew. Uncertain as to why it wasn't heating up I let it sit for another 6 months. Picked up a replacement from Thomas Cara in SF and it's been turning out 4 cappucinos a day for the last ten days. All but the first one has been perfect; I fooled myself with the grind, which was way too coarse. The last time I descaled the machine was about 7 years ago, not since. It doesn't leak at all. All in all, I've never seen anything so well-made, or forgiving of neglect. I'm thinking about descaling it to see if that makes it even better now.
Reading Dr. Pavoni's webpage has inspired me to tinker with it a little; and it wouldn't be too hard to imagine buying Rancilio Rocky for grinding after the La Pavoni burr grinder gives up, if it ever does.
They're gonna have to pry my Pavoni Pro out from my cold dead fingers if they want it.
Addendum-01-19-06: Thinking about coffee, and with the ritual fresh in mind, I thought I'd describe my method.
I turn the machine on, let it heat up and grind some beans in the grinder. When the meter hits the top of the green, I release the pressure through the steam wand into the cup I'll be putting the milk into. Then I make sure my cup is ready and load the portafilter till it feels right. I tamp it firmly, then, with the cup nearby, I raise the handle halfway and insert the portafilter and lock it. Then I put the cup under the group and raise the handle. A few moments later the brown gold starts to drip. While it drips I fill the cup with about an inch of very cold whole milk, then count to whatever and pull down the handle. I feel cheated if I don't have to work at it just a bit to get it all the way down. Then I turn on the steam wand and start working the milk. I always keep the milk cup moving while I steam, sort of shaking it around. When the froth hits the upper lip I shut down the pressure and pour the froth into the coffee cup. I quickly fill the cup with water, holding a paper towel in my other hand and get it wet while I fill the cup. Back at the machine, I give the water a litle steam, then wipe off the wand with the paper towel. Then I withdraw the portafilter, give it a good knock on the rubber in the knockbox, and set it back onto the tray. Last, I pour a little Kahlua into the cappucino and I'm done. (At least it's a coffee-flavored additive...)
I just remembered that about 15 years ago I had one of those Saeco pump machines. I can't remember what happened to it, but I do remember endless cups of not-right espresso and I have visions of wet grounds all over the place. I still have, but rarely use anymore, a really nice FG (or FC) Express stovetop espresso maker which I bought in Italy about 20 years ago. Also, I have an apparently very old Barjak cast iron coffee mill/grinder on top of the refrigerator but I haven't been able to find any information on it, aside from the fact that I guess it was made in San Francisco a long time ago. It's about a foot or so tall, with a bean depository in the top, and two big wheels you crank to mill the beans, which drop into a small drawer. It's red and looks like one of the antique ones they sell on eBay for a few hundred dollars. Someday maybe I'll see how it does grinding beans for the Bodum Bistro when I'm feeling in the mood for French.