Simplistic unit that does everything it is supposed to do, and nothing more.
Positive Product Points
Does exactly what its meant to, nothing more, nothing less.
Negative Product Points
Build quality appears a little less than expected.
After being introduced to the joys of coffee (or so I thought at the time) while at university, I'd always wanted to own and use a decent coffee machine. I'd had a Sunbeam cafe crema for a couple of years, and being the naive sort that I was, I hadn't bothered with grinders or looking at good techniques for frothing milk or anything else. I had also previously been convinced that the preground coffee purchased at the supermarket was quite alright.
But one day catastrophe struck. The sunbeam no longer functioned, and I was forced to make a decision, either go back to the wonderful world of instant coffee, or purchase another espresso machine to replace the sunbeam that had performed such loyal, if intermittent service (the sunbeam was somewhat of a pain to use at times). After much deliberation, and reading, I was enlightened to learn that grinders were important in terms of good coffee, and that thermoblock units were not the best for making good espresso in the morning.
I'd considered a Gaggia, though the smaller boiler and materials used to make said boiler put me off. It was also a matter of convenience, in that I could readily purchase a Gaggia unit, and a grinder separately, off the shelf, from a shop here in Darwin, though I would have to order a Mokita / Quaha online, as it seemed that no one had heard of them. I located Alan's website through much searching and a couple of recommendations from various forums. I was impressed with the information and the way it was presented on the website, and duly ordered my Mokita.
It is at this point that I must stress that I am unimpressed with the coffee world in general. For I am a Project Engineer, and much of my work involves site work away from home and the general conveniences and luxuries that one gets used to. This machine corrupted me to the point that I could no longer stand the percolated coffee served for breakfast every morning in the hotel. I longed for the simple pleasures of making my own coffee at home, with good beans and a reliable machine, and I certainly wasn't alone in my opinions of the coffee served at work locations. I dreamed of turning the Mokita into a travel compatible machine, and thought about transporting it in my suitcase, despite the strict baggage weight limits imposed by the airlines. I even considered, but for a moment, moving closer to the roasting house that sold me the machine, in order to prevent such further calamities.
Am I happy with the machine? Certainly. I'm not the sort of pedantic person that spends hours over a log book in search of the perfect espresso, field work and the lack of good coffee there precludes me from getting more pedantic than I already am. The machine works, the grinder is consistent, I can froth milk quite well, though its more of a challenge if I've had a big night before. It does what it does, at what seems to be the lowest price for the machine of its type in the country. Separating the grinder would set me back at least another AUD $100. Buying a Gaggia would result in a smaller boiler, made of aluminium. Sure, it could all have been precision machined, made by very qualified midgets that also specialise in watchmaking, but for the price I'm prepared to accept that, certainly it doesn't justify buying a Rancilio or better for me, I'm just not home often enough to use it.
Buy it. Be happy. Ignore those who wave fancy multiboiler preheated grouphead units in front of you, because you cannot do better than this at the price. Further more, with a little dilligence, it makes good coffee. Coffee good enough that you won't want to go to cafes again.
The unit was purchased, after much web hunting, head scratching and looking around the various discount appliance chains, from Coffee for Connoisseurs. Alan Frew has a detailed website that gives reviews of different machines, including ones he doesn't sell, as well as giving information on how to operate the espresso machine.
There was actually very little interaction in terms of the sale, the unit was ordered, a confirmation email was sent and the unit arrived within a week, which is to be expected for the location (Darwin). Everything that was meant to be done as advertised was done, including the test run to ensure the machine was operational before shipping. 2 free samples of superb coffee were also sent as part of the package, as well as finding that the unit shipped with the bean hopper full. While this created rather a bit of mess while unpacking, it served to provide trial beans with which to experiment with grind settings before wasting the good beans.
Overall the experience was a good one, enough information is provided on the website, along with backing from other happy purchasers that would indicate that the purchase would be a success, even with little human interaction. The coffee is quite good too.