I got my machine about six months ago, for my birthday. Chile is not a place where it is easy to find good coffee, much less a good home machine at a (fairly) reasonable price. As soon as I found that the Ripley department store had imported Silvias and Rocky´s I rushed to buy it. Got one of the last units, but there had been a mistake and they forgot to import the Rockys.
I took the machine home unpacked the box and found everything that was supposed to be there. Read the manuals (not useful), looked at videos on the web, read all the information in Coffegeeks, and prepared my first cup. It was awful espresso. Continued making terrible espresso for weeks. I tried regrinding the coffee (I had a cheap US$65 burr grinder), temperature surfing, reverse temperature surfing, more coffee in the portafilter, less coffee in the portafilter, different coffees, heavier or lighter tamping and combinations of these. I got coffee, and a bit of crema, but the espressos continued to be disappointing. They were no better than the espressos from our old Saeco Via Veneto, and sometimes worse. It was discouraging but not enough for me to give up, specially after reading reviews here of the initial bad experiences many users face.
Eventually I concluded that the problem lay in the grinder. The problem was trying to find a good grinder at a reasonable price down here. Ripley did not have Rockys, and neither did any of the other department stores. A store that specialized in restaurant equipment that offered them for sale at about US$ 550, which was far too expensive. I started looking in the Chilean equivalent of eBay. A repairman for commercial espresso machines sold me a used Rancilio Brasilia, a commercial machine built like a tank and around the same size, for about US$400. After trying a few grind settings, I settled on a fairly fine grind and the results since then have been excellent (all that previous experience of failure helped).
The machine provides consistent thick and smooth crema of a beautiful brown color. The taste is rich and the aftertaste lingers for a long time (it has a sweet component, even though sugarless). I use Britt Expresso, because the market does not provide many choices, and this is the best of the reasonably affordable coffees (Illy comes at about US$17 the can). The espresso is much better than in most --if not all-- espresso bars in Santiago,
A problem with the machine is the need to temperature surf. Not because it is complicated in itself, but because it takes time. If you need to make several cups, it can take a long time, because it is necessary to wait for a complete heat cycle before making another cup. A PID would help in this. Making a latte is even slower and prone to overheating the milk. When the foam comes out right it the latte is excellent and hot. But the whole procedure takes a long time.