A good machine for the money and without the E61 group issues of overheating.
Positive Product Points
Quality parts and construction. Built by hand with care and attention. Produces great espresso and steams all day. Comes with two steam tips. Water tap. BP gauge. 6 year warranty.
Negative Product Points
No vacuum breaker. No brew pressure gauge. Reservoir is small and not well thought-out. Extremely loud pump. Low cup clearance. Small drip tray.
This Salvatore One Black is from the end of the first run of machines built in 2008.
During the first uses of my machine I noticed a few things right away: the pump is extremely loud, the reservoir inlet connection is leaky and there is no vacuum breaker.
Maybe it's just me but the machine seems to be trying to tear my kitchen apart with vibration. Removing the shell and placing some little sticky foam dots here and there between the shell and frame has helped tremendously.
Not sure if it would void warranty, but I'd replace the reservoir with a large jug and create my own reservoir that sits behind the machine instead of above the boiler. The original reservoir leaks a little from where the elbow barb was screwed into it and the idea of hot water in the reservoir bugs me a little.
Upon startup you have to open the steam wand to relieve some air from the boiler before the thing will fully heat to true pressure. This means the machine must be baby-sat during startup to some degree. A brass T connector and a breaker valve may fix this but, again, not sure about this voiding warranty. There is a brass 4-way connector atop the boiler that connects to the Pstat, the steam wand and the BP gauge. You can (I'm assuming) fit the breaker in there somewhere.
There's a bit of flex that occurs when I lock in the PF and I'm a bit worried that the machine frame is bending, though I can't tell for sure. It may just be the give of the rubber feet.
The gasket for the group is soft rubber and seems to get sucked down with the PF after backflushing. I replaced with a harder E61 gasket I had lying around and this seemed to eliminate the problem. Possibly, after backflushing, run the water for a second just to eliminate a vacuum inside the PF/black basket.
Boiler pressure was set at 1.2, which is sorta high unless you're not planning to let the machine fully warm up and aren't going to keep it on very long. The group is thermosyphon style, which means that boiler water flows around it. You will see there are two boiler tubes connecting to the back of the group - one for warming and one for brew water. This is great for temp stability. No cooling flushes are needed. I turned my Pstat down to get about 1.1 bar and I get about 198 degrees F at the PF now. Before it was over 200, which is too hot for my liking.
The steam is killer, but both tips that come with the machine take a bit of getting used to. The two-hole tip can be used by keeping the arm and tip pointing directly straight down into the pitcher. It will create a vortex of roiling milk on its own. The single tip needs to be used more skillfully. Plunge it deep, open the valve but not to full blast (it's a fine line). Pull back to get the tearing sounds. For me, with this machine and the single hole tip, I seem to be able to get microfoam using two methods - swirl and roll (Swirl is the method defined by the tip being off-center and the pitcher being somewhat angled to cause the milk to spin in the pitcher. Roil or roll is caused when the tip aims more centrally causing the milk to go down and around the bottom and come back up the other side). Be careful with smaller volumes of milk because it will heat it to 100F in about 5 - 8 seconds killing your milk-stretching time. Use cold milk and keep the pitcher in the freezer to slow down this initial stretching phase. It has taken me a lot of practice to get milk that is not overly airated. Plunge the tip at 80 or 90, not at 100.
Overall I am happy with this machine though, for me, it doesn't meet the hype. Others have fallen more madly in love with their Salvatore machines. I rank it slightly better than the Expobar Pulser.
Very little communication from the company. Getting status was like pulling teeth and often 2 or more emails had to be sent before a response would come. Original production time was quoted at 8 weeks, soon after I ordered it became 12, but it took 16 weeks for me to receive my machine. No discount or consolation was offered and when I asked about it I was given a response that was akin to saying if I didn't like it I could cancel my order. Salvatore would do well to not sell direct but to distribute, possibly or not sell a machine until he has a stock of them. Also a rep with some customer service skills would be a fantastic asset for them.