-Compact -Nice looking -Easy Maintanance -Decent Espresso -Good cost (other than new at SB) -Portable -Great way to get addicted to the whole Upgrade cycle. ;) -Good tech support from SB, even if not bought from them
Negative Product Points
-A bit difficult to find the perfect time to pull your shot -Steaming is a bit weak, but will get the job done with practice -Pressurized portafilter can cause some inconsistancy -Brand new they're over priced
I got a wild hair and decided to get a "real" espresso machine before Christmas time. After much searching, including on this forum and ebay, I decided on a Barista. For the money it seemed to be the best bang for the buck.
All in all I really liked this machine. It's solidly built, quick to heat up, easy to keep clean and looks nice in the kitchen. But after reading about all these "perfect" (aka GOD shots) shots I decided to upgrade to a Silvia. In someways I miss the ease of pulling a shot on the Barista, but I have to admit the Silvia's worst shot is better than the Baristas best, but it takes A LOT more work to get there.
If you drink Cappas and Lattes or just want a quick espresso (better than what most local places serve) then the Barista is a great machine. But I would definately look for one used, or at least on sale at SB. $399 retail is a bit steep.
Ebay, it's a gamble. I got two, both were functional, but not great. Took some intense cleaning and patience to get them back up to par. Others have had better results.
As mentioned prior, Starbucks customer service/tech support are very nice and patient, even when they knew I didn't buy the machine from my local store.