Starbucks Barista, Krups & Mr. Coffee machines (steam and pump)
Definitely worthy of the praise it receives from its owners.
Positive Product Points
Solid and no-frills build and design, brass internals, commercial size portafilter and basket (able to use La Marzocco basket!), and ample steam. People say the design is rather plain or that it's too commercial, but I really like its looks. Easy-fill tank.
Negative Product Points
Steam knob seems flimsy, but no problems so far. Tacky Silvia sticker on mine. No big deal -- I just removed it. Slow to heat, but that's just how it is with all that brass. Tank is a bit small it seems but I think that's just my perception from looking at it. Plastic tamper is pretty poor and doesn't even fit the included basket, but you should know that by know if you've been checking into the Silvia.
Hmm, it's not like we really need another Silvia review as I doubt I can add anything that hasn't been covered already. I just wanted it noted "for the record" really.
So far, I've only had the machine for about a day, but I am very happy with it. I just returned a Starbucks Barista even though I paid about $90 less for the Barista. My feeling is that the Barista is a solidly-built machine, but if you're considering a Barista for $300-400 I seriously recommend checking out the Silvia as well. Steam power, duration, etc. is significantly better on the Silvia which really mattered to me since my drink of choice is a latte.
Build quality in this machine is really impressive. Body and frame are all steel. Internals are brass. You can definitely feel it all when you first pick up the box it comes in! The switches are very solid feeling and the icons are nice to have as a simply reminder of what switch does what. The lights are useful as well (perhaps I didn't read enough, but I didn't really know what position was "on" and what position was "off" and the lights were handy in that instance).
Once the machine warms up, it performs beautifully. I've just switched it on first thing in the morning and it really wasn't a hassle at all. The timer suggestion is a good one if you use your machine every morning like I do.
Ordering was quick and easy. Delivery was exceptionally speedy, but mostly because the shipment originated from Houston (where I live).
Three Month Followup
I definitely feel the same way about the Silvia as when I forst got her. I have been very pleased and highly recommend the Silvia for anyone considering a machine in the $300-400 range. There are some accessories that are worth seriously checking into like a real 58mm tamper, but I don't really have any other complaints.