if you have the coin you'll never want to buy a different machine. It's the Paul Reed Smith/Chris King of home Coffee Machines.
Positive Product Points
Makes a beautiful coffee. The espresso's are better than what I buy in stores. Not acrid, smells good, very good creama. Everything is solidly built.
Negative Product Points
Needs to warm up for 30 min. It needs professional sized milk container to foam milk. Not totally braindead to use it. It takes a couple min of understanding to know when to foam, when to run the coffee, what buttons to press. That's not a huge negative but just a couple extra things to make it less user friendly.
Not perfected my skill at foaming milk on the machine yet, so I'm sure after using it for a while longer I'll get a good stiff foam.
The tank is a bit low but on the flip side it just means rather than having 3 days of coffee resevoir you clean and refill it daily in the morning. I kinda like that but there is that risk of running the boiler dry so you have to be more alert on the system.
Ugh,.. how much more do I have to write. I'm using a locals very freshly roasted organic fair trade beans which have a good oil on them. The creama isn't dark and tacky but nice and creamy. Plus the coffee runs out a very good rate.
We tried to buy it from a local small town guy but he refused to budge on his price which was $125 more than the larger country wide company. We'd have split the difference but I guess he's still riding the fat of his Christmas wallet.
Three Month Followup
After the initial 1-3 week learning curve I've discovered pre-heating ruins the coffee and gives you less crema, etc.
You want to bring the machine to heat (properly takes 1/2 an hour, ad hoc 5 min by flicking the steamer button on), then foam your milk, THEN attach your porta-filter and run your coffee.
I also don't rinse off the porta filter in hot water first.
lately I've been using the Saltspring Island Roasting Co.'s Metta Espresso and French Roast (the latter isn't as oily but a bit darker) and it just makes beautiful espresso shots.
One Year Followup
Still running well. I know the tricks to make coffee in less than 10 min (often turning the machine on before my shower :P ) and how to work the milk foamer properly. I wish there was one at my office.
It can overheat if you're just making an espresso. Do not turn everything on, leave the spigot in, then preheat everything. it'll just burn the espresso. I feel it's designed to run with half the stuff cold so too much heat does not build up.