I am utterly impressed with this machine. First off, each machine is hand made by Salvatore himself. The machine is solidly built - it weighs 25kg - and the craftsmanship is clearly of the highest quality. This machine is designed and built to professional standards for the home and small business user. It has elegant and sleek looks, and comes with everything you'd expect from a much larger machine: heated cup holder, heated E61 brewgroup, large water reservoir with the option to plumb into a waterline, high pressure boiler, ability to pull shots, steam milk and get hot water all at the same time (although how you do that with only two hands, I don't know).
It comes with two heavy 58mm portafilters, a single and a double basket, a backflush cover, a tamper, a milk frothing jug, and cleaning tabs and utensils.
You get personal attention from the company; they ask that you call them when the machine arrives, and they'll help you with any questions you may have. I did not do this because of the holiday period, but setup was easy. I did call them afterwards to say so, though, and we had a very fun chat.
Setup was very trivial, pretty much all you have to do is fill it with water, turn on, and follow a simple procedure to draw the water into the pump and boiler, and vent the air that was inside. Then you're ready to go.
The machine has a power button, a pump/brew button, a valve knob for the steam wand and one for the hot water. Four controls. Couldn't be much simpler. It's ready for use about 7-8 minutes after turning it on.
Following a standard brew procedure: using freshly roasted beans, a typical fine-sand-like grind, a good 7-8g (single) or 15-16g (double) fill, gentle even packing and a firm tamp, all of which takes some practice, I've started to manage pulling 100% crema shots every time, now. The shots have wonderful aroma, the flavors of the coffee are present and full, and the aftertaste is what you'd want. I have lots of different beans here, and with the shots from this machine, I can easily tell the different characteristics of different beans, blends or roasts now; I couldn't distinguish anywhere near as much before from former machines. The machine must have good temperature control and the right pressure, because I've not had any worries which appear due to machine deficiencies of that ilk.
The machine does demand a good technique. It's not an automatic, and it won't make good coffee for you if you don't make the effort to learn proper technique. It took me some experimenation to determine the right grind, the proper fill amount, the tamp pressure, and so on, before I had those good shots. But the technique required is pretty standard: there's nothing special or awkward to learn.
This machine is so good, that it became very obvious recently when some beans I'd bought had been around too long and had started to go stale. The shots became rather average, with a quickly reducing crema, and the vibrant flavors I'd had from the same beans the week before just weren't there any more. With fresh coffee again, I'm back to excellent. The machine encourages you to get the freshest beans, and work hard at your technique to make sure you're on form.
As for cappuccinos and milk frothing, the steam is ready the moment you want it, thanks to the machine's heat exchanger system: no waiting while the machine comes up to steaming pressure or releases pressure and cools after steaming. The wand tip supplied has a large steam hole and side holes to draw the air in through. It's taking some practice, but I am steadily mastering my frothing with this tip. Salvatore will supply a professional, four-hole tip if you want, but they believe the one it comes with is better and they've suggested I don't swap to the other for now.
One final point, when I spoke to the company, they asked if I'd already opened it up and looked inside?! No, this wouldn't void the warrantee. On doing so, behind the hand-made stainless steel panels, I found a solid, copper boiler (also personally made by Salavatore himself), carefully crafted copper piping and brass fittings, and a neat electrical wiring harness, properly tied off and routed well away from the hot parts. Very impressive. This thing looks like it'll last me for the rest of my life!