A classic espresso machine that hasn't been idiot-proof'ed for lazy Americans
Positive Product Points
Small--It doesn't take over your kitchen (I even took it with me on vacation!) Quiet--no motorized parts Hands-on feel Inexpensive--once you learn, you can make espresso as good as (or better than) a machine costing thousands of dollars
Negative Product Points
Finicky--any number of things can throw the espresso off. So you have to be able to tolate the "what the #@%$ went wrong?" moments. Small quantities at one time-4 to 5 double shots max before it starts overheating the water
I spent 10-15 hours reading and re-reading reviews on various espresso machines before I purchased this one. So I knew what I was getting into. It is a simple machine that puts most of the responsibility on the user for doing things right. But I really enjoy the challenge and experimenting with different techniques. It takes about 10 minutes to heat up. After that, well, read the forums on this and other web sites for more info. One of them has a forum dedicated to lever espresso and the unique issues that arise from these type of machines. The machine itself is very attractive and easy to maintain. After 5 months, I did have a problem with a seal on the grouphead. However, I was able to replace the gasket myself($7.00)--and I'm no mechanical qizz. Even though I froth milk only about 1/3 of the time, I like the availability of instant steam after pulling a shot. A good burr coffee grinder is a must for this machine. I'm glad I took the advice written on these pages and took the $300-$700 I saved by getting one of these hand lever espresso machines and got an excellent grinder instead.
Purchased new from an Italian retail store that also sells on-line and lists on e-bay. Delivery took longer than expected--about 3 weeks--but otherwise OK.