Well built; hard to foul up; produces a good shot; a lot of value for the money, I think.
Positive Product Points
A stoutly made piece of iron, nicely finished. The Rio Vapore has a good sized water tank and doesn‘t occupy a gross amount of counter space. If you‘re not offended by a pressurized portafilter, I think it can make fine espresso - quality dependent more on the bean and the grind than whatever shortcoming inherent in the machine.
Negative Product Points
Steams a 12oz. pitcher fine - may peter out with a 20oz. Portafilter needs spoon-scooping for cleanout. A knockout is not advised as portafilter is prone to damage.
I found a Rio Vapore on internet closeout ($179) and decided to try one, hoping it would by easy enough for an inexperienced nincompoop, but still make a decent drink. It is, and does. (But you still have to clean up the mess when you‘re done. That has not been engineered out for the novice.) Crema is good with the enhancing portafilter, but an assault on the purist. I mainly make cappucinos, so a lot of the detail is lost anyhow.
I‘m getting way better-than-cafe espresso every morning. And I am a hero with my wife every morning, too.
I think this is a great machine for a novice or someone not looking to spend a fortune for a cuppa coffee. One day I‘ll get a fancy job for three times the dough a see if I‘ve really been drinking swill all the while. Until then, I‘m happy!
Three Month Followup
14 months later (learning curve): The Rio Vapore still makes pretty darn good espresso. A grinder upgrade and a non-pressurized pf replacement handle has kept me quite happy with this modest machine. I would recommend it (or the Starbux Barista twin, on sale) for anyone who wants good coffee but limits their purchase price to $200 approx.