Size, craftsmanship, finish, all internal components are brass and copper, itís beefy. Great customer support via email. Meets or exceeds all of my desires except those noted below.
Negative Product Points
Massive brass heat exchanger only reaches 180 degrees F, conventional reciprocating pump, internal reservoir is impossible to keep clean, and I wish the drip tray was larger.
After gallons of espresso and hundreds of lattes, this is still a wonderous and powerful little machine. Massive filter group, lots of stainless steel, heavy duty switches. Built to last.
The steam valve is a binary solenoid. I have come to enjoy this feature and probably would no longer know how to use an attenuated steam outlet to produce microbubble or chiffon style foam. The pump is loud, naturally, but it develops all the pressure necessary to extract superb espresso from coffees designed to work at the relatively low temperature of 180F. This has recently become a problem for me because the coffee I want to brew is designed to be brewed at 203F and it is horribly underextracted at 180F.
These machines are all hand-crafted by a couple of guys in California. I hope to tour their shop someday. The brass fittings and wiring harnesses all show a distinct devotion to elegance. The validity of the componentry decisions goes to heck at the reservoir, though: itís just a goofy Nalgene bottle with two holes drilled into it. Bummer. Major disassembly is required to clean it so I recently replaced the Nalgene bottle with an external stainless tank connected to the plumb-in inlet.
This is great unit for the experienced espresso hound ready for a professional quality machine or who needs the ability to brew and steam simultaneously.
However, this is not a machine I recommend without hesitation any longer, despite the wonderful service I have received and the delightful coffee it makes. There are just too many more systems on the market these days in the $1,100 to $2,000 US range that offer more style and more features.
Still, I love this thing and it will be in use at my home till the parts are no longer available.