Best semi-automatic on the market, high learning curve but worh the effort.
Positive Product Points
Damn solid machine that feels like a tank. Really amazing steaming capability--nothing iike it on the market. Good crema, when you pull a good shot. I had a gaggia titanium that fell apart, and when I started using the Sylvia again I realized just how much better the espresso was. Much better. The gaggia was easy, but not after it started its round of leakage and sprewed grounds that wound up requiring more cleanup than than this semi-automatic. Impressive machine.
Negative Product Points
I have not been successful in actually becoming confident in maintaining a correct temperature. The first shot is always excellent, but subsequent shots require multiple attempts or resignation. I drink mostly lattes so I have not had to be as careful, for it covers a lot of mistakes. I have read and tried all of the tricks on temperature surfing, but just have not been able to duplicate them. I wind up wasting quite a bit of coffee as I generally throw out the first pull, but in the end I generally get what I need.
This is an excellent machine in almost every way, save the small water container-- a minor hassle. The temperature problem would probably be solved by a more consistent study and dedication, which I don't seem to have. I'm now wondering whether my grind my be a little too fine, so that will be the next experiment. It seems to me that after the first pull the machine just gets too hot. I've tried using a different filter and rinsing (and drying) the portafilter with cold water, and I have also tried the timing method and surfing. Just can't get it on the first try. Still satisfied, though. Steaming is easy, the multi-holed attachment is really not necessary and does not produce the same quality steam. I remember being frustrated by the steam wand when I first got it, and even called customer support, but can't remember why now. It seems second hand. And it has amazing power. Almost too much--there have been times when I have not been paying enough attention and spattered the milk well outside the container-- when it steams, it steams.
Don't quite remember specifics, sure it was fine or I would remember.