Anita is a great addition to any CoffeeGeek's kitchen. Great build quality, beautiful lines, timer capable, and good coffee, all at a reasonable price point.
Positive Product Points
This is a real prosumer machine and the build quality reflects this. It is gorgeous (OK, I *am* an engineer and a sucker for stainless steel), it produces excellent coffee and can produce shot after shot without any hiccups. The machine is timer-capable and it's a wonderful thing to wake up to a warm machine each morning.
Negative Product Points
The water tank is a bit of a pain. The combination of having it under the cup warmer, the openings in the cup tray, and the fact that it warms up when the machine is on for a while (read: due to being on a timer) means that the water can get stale. You really need to wash it thoroughly at least once every week or a slimey layer will form in the tank. The float makes it hard to clean the tank completely so the slime stays in the float assembly unless you unscrew it.
The only other issue is hot brew group but it's easy enough to avoid this.
I upgraded to Anita from a Gaggia Evolution. The reason for my upgrade was a desire to produce shots faster when I have company. While I drink espresso exclusively, I also have guests that like caps and lattes so I also wanted to be able to steam milk without having to wait for the boiler to change temperatures. After doing a lot of research, I decided on the Anita due to its all-metal construction, high-maintainability due to being designed by Chris's for service at a distance, and the list of features, not the least of which was the ability to be put on a timer. Anita has exceeded my expectations and I can now do an espresso every minute or less with consistent results shot-to-shot.
Steaming power is plentiful and microfoam is easier than it was on the Gaggia. You really can switch from brewing to steaming without pause and this has improved my caps and lattes.
The timer feature is actually more useful than I would have thought. Using an appliance timer, I have it come on to warm up in time to brew a morning shot on weekdays and for most of Saturday and Sunday. This means Anita's ready and waiting for coffee, tea, or hot cocoa whenever I might want it. The hot water tap means that my wife (not a coffee drinker) can have tea or cocoa whenever she wants one.
The three-way valve and the deep drain tray are very nice upgrades from my consumer machine so I can now produce a bunch of drinks in a row, without pausing to clean or worrying about the dreaded 'portafilter sneeze'.
The only issue that I have with the machine is the water tank. This is an open-top design and it sits behind the boiler and under the cup holder. It is heated by the boiler and I am concerned that dirt, dust, etc. can get into the open tank through slots in the cover. If I forget to clean it weekly, it develops a slime layer. The float blocks access to part of the tank so I can't clean that area very effectively. It's a lot better than my Gaggia but not quite perfect. The other problem is that I have to take all the cups off of the machine to add water to the tank. Not a big deal normally, but when there's a run on hot cocoas in the house, we go through a lot of water.
I had high expectations of Anita given the $1000 price range and she's exceeded them. There are machines with bigger boilers, no burn wands, PID controls and the like but I'm happy with Anita and don't foresee a need to upgrade any time soon (at least until my wife will let me run plumbing and a 220 line to the coffee bar ;) ).
Can't say enough about Chris's Coffee. They provide excellent information, follow-up after the sale to see how things are going, and answer questions (yes, even the less-than-bright ones). As a minor criticism, they are sometimes hard to get a hold of, but it's worth the effort.