Anita lets you focus on the coffee, like you should be! (Updated review)
Positive Product Points
Excellent value, Anita has many features/components of machines costing more
Exceptional espresso via E61 commercial brewgroup
Solid design/stainless steel construction
Simple to use and initially set-up
Adjustable brewing pressure (OPV) and boiler pressure (temperature)
Nice large boiler
Steam power like crazy
HX design means you can pull shots and steam at the same time (no waiting)
Easy to maintain for long trouble free life
Negative Product Points
Although I like the exposed brew group it does get very hot (214F or so) to the touch (keep children away)
Vibe pump can be a little noisy (but they always are)
Pour over only, no plumb in option (but I can't plumb in anyways)
Old magnetic float sensor prone to taking on water and becoming defective (design corrected as of this writing 3-11-09); new improved float now standard
I've only had the Anita for about 4 months but I think it's been enough time to get to know the machine and offer my first impressions. I really like this machine because its easy to use, is made of excellent components and is a real treat to look at. The espresso has been wonderful as well. I'll break down my review for each category above:
Quality of Product: 9
The internal components are all high quality and should last a very long time. Looking inside Anita versus my Gaggia coffee itís not difficult to see the beefiness that is Anita. She's a tank inside and out. The stainless steel shell wraps the internals well and is easy to keep clean a damp towel and a quick dry will keep her looking like new.
The Anita is really easy to use with its lever-activated brewgroup. Raise the lever to start brewing then press it down to stop. The steam valve is large and easy to turn. The steam wand pivots to accommodate any users position. The water tank is easy to lift out and refill when needed (I don't have the machine under cabinets). The drip tray is relatively easy to pull and dump. All in all doing what you need to do is fairly straightforward and simple to do because everything is laid out well and accessible.
Cost vs. Value: 10
I'd wish I could give an 11 or 12 here. Yeah the Anita has it where it really counts but forgoes some of the extras that would also add cost. The Anita is truly best in what you get with what you pay. In this price range itís hard to chose anything other than Anita. Compare the features and you will see for yourself. Excellent.
The Anita is easy to look at. She looks nice on the counter. Is she perfect? No but in Anita's defense I don't believe perfection exists. The shell while shiny is pretty simple in design. The overall look is good.
Like I have said I don't believe in perfection per say, but Anita is darn close. She's an amazing machine for the money and I highly recommend her. The more I get to know her the more I respect and love her. The espresso is amazing and I couldn't be happier.
Stay tuned for updates!
After buying from Chris Coffee I am impressed. They are a class act before, during and even 6 months after the purchase. I sent several emails before purchase and Chris himself answered each one. It's uncommon to feel like the most important person in the world when dealing with a vendor but Chris and his crew made me feel that way. I spoke to a member of his staff on the phone and it was great. A truly great group of people very highly recommended.
Three Month Followup
My experiences with the Anita have not changed much. I still really like using this machine and the coffee is very good. Recently I had to replace the pump (most likely a dud pump to start with which is very rare for Ulka) but anyways I found working on the Anita very easy and have great appreciation for the design and layout of the machine internals. Working on the Anita is easy to do and lets face it machine repair/maintenance is a part of home espresso. Anita makes it easy on you.
Paired with a good grinder (I use a Mazzer Super Jolly) the Anita will crank out excellent coffee. I'm very happy with the Anita and know I will be for years to come. Its been a great experience in every way. The Anita paired with the services of Chris Coffee Service has been great.
I find myself really appreciating the features of this fine espresso machine each time I use it. I like the peace of mind that a pour over gives me (our municipal water varies). The gages are nice to have to confirm machine settings. The lever activated brew group is easy to use. Making espresso with the Anita remains a pleasure. I also don't have any difficulty getting nice microfoam (although I can't pour latte art to save my life)! Temperature management is intuitive and I find easy to do. Frankly I would consider this machine perfect for the espresso only drinker who occasionally entertains or enjoys the infrequent milk based drink. The Anita is even better if you prefer milk-based drinks. In this price class the Anita is a great choice.
I now see that Chris Coffee Service offers the Anita with a no-burn steam wand. The no-burn steam wand was the only feature of the Quickmill Andreja Premium that I wished Anita had. Now you can have the best of both worlds!
Update: I recently got the e61 thermometer attachment from Chris and its a must have. It has made my espresso far more consistent every time. I also learned a lot about Anita after using this tool. Worth every penny and like I say a must have for dead on consistency. Highly recommended!
One Year Followup
Now at 2 years of ownership my initial comments remain intact. I really enjoy using this machine and it makes delicious coffee. Chris and his staff are great and make owning (and maintaining) such a machine as this one a real treat. I would not be making the level of espresso I'm making without them or the Quickmill Anita.
Anita lets you focus on the coffee, like you should be!