Not for the faint of heart. Patience is rewarded with many pleasureable returns.
Positive Product Points
Very tasty shots Solidly built Easy to use controls Very good price/value
Negative Product Points
Difficult to get consistent shots Drip tray is too small No visual water level gauge
Our Baby Gaggia was purchased from Starbucks in 1984. After two pump replacements the steel case was finally too rusted to contemplate another replacement pump. Went on-line and read reviews from CoffeeGeek and ConsumerSearch.com. The Silvia was consistently rated highest (warts and quirks included). Looked at several on-line resellers and settled on Aabree (at Christmas free shipping was offered and no sales tax when shipped to Seattle).
Positives and negatives are listed above and are consistent with other reviews. It has taken me a long time to "dial in" the grind (#6) and tamping (I purchased a euro/ergo style tamper from Cafe Vivace in Seattle right away). I'm almost at the point where I get pretty consistent shots even when switching between decaf and caf beans. Beans used include Peets Major Dickison and Special Decaf, Cafe Vivace Dolce, Vita and Decaf. I use the Vivace Dolce almost exclusively now. I drink only doppios (usually 2 - 3 short shots every morning). I make one latte for my wife usually every morning.
If the process of making espresso (working with the machine, dialing in the grind and tamping, and etc.) is as important to you as the consumption of the shot, then this machine is for you. If not, then another machine may be better. Personally, I like the challenge and when I get a good shot, it's worthwhile. I've gained a greater appreciation for baristas who pull consistently great shots (if you're in Seattle, order an espresso ristretto from either of the Cafe Vivace locations).
I called Aabree to check on in-stock and spoke with a sales person who answered my questions honestly and succinctly. Would order from them again in a heartbeat.