Value priced and consistent quality by being easy to use and is an investment in good coffee, not an expense of wasted counterspace
Positive Product Points
Easy to set up, use and clean up. Pressurized portafilter (PPF) reduces need for tamping. Good-sized water reservoir. Minimal buttons and controls. Pump is relatively quiet. The PPF can dispense two one-ounce espressos in 25 seconds consistently and they are never bitter.
Negative Product Points
PPF handle is hollow and feels weak. If the machine isn't used for making espressos for a length of time, the steaming function slows down. But a thorough purging will fix it. No other issues.
I read all the other reviews about this product before buying a slightly used machine. My only prior experience is a Mr. Coffee steam toy so this is an improvement. I'm aware that many true coffeehounds would not waste their time witha unit like this. I consider myself a coffee student and am very happy with the quality of shots I've pulled so far. I grind my homeroast in a simple burr grinder and fill until the PPF basket is leveled. I do tamp most of the time, but the quality hasn't been affected when I haven't done it. I have filled two espresso cups in 25 seconds - I use a stopwatch - with light colored creamy extraction. After making the first one using tooo coarse a grind that looked good but tasted thin, I made sure to use a fine powder to make the next one that WAS as good as it looked. Rich smooth flavor that doesn't need sweeteners and is not bitter. The consistency has been one of the most satisfying parts of my purchase. Like I said, I found enough instructions on technique by other reviewers and won't go over them again. I will say that this machine should provide my wife and I with our 'spro and lattes for a couple of years before Upgradeitus strikes.
The ebay vendor was upfront and easy to communicate with. A delay in closing the deal with an issue with PayPal, not the vendor. Shipping was reasonable and arrived safely.
Three Month Followup
After 3 months, we still the machine daily for steaming and for espressos on weekends. Everything still works well. Although I haven't had the occasion to use it for entertaining yet, the holidays are coming and I feel confident enough it will do what I want it to do.
One Year Followup
The only problem the machine has developed is that, sometimes, the steam wand will leak even when the knob is closed. It could be a gasket or washer needs to be adjusted. It's not a big deal so I'll let it go for now. It is still part of the daily routine after a year. The quality of the espresso hasn't changed - it is still good and consistent. Still a great investment.