Wait for the annual sale to buy; be faithful to follow the instructions; save the box for the inevitable replacement under warrenty; DO call the 1-800 tech number for help. They're friendly!
Positive Product Points
*Easy return to any local Starbucks when (not "if") you have major problems *Looks descent in the kitchen and cleans ok *Large reservior which can be easily filled *I CUT MY ESPRESSO-MAKING EYETOOTH ON THESE MACHINES and they've given me not-so-great to very-great results
Negative Product Points
*Very fussy about tap water and needs consistant descaling - even with filtered water *Inconsistant production of quality espresso *The "cleaning routine" as set out by Starbucks must be adheared to religiously to ensure consistant operation - not just results *Did I say it needs CONSISTANT CLEANING AND DESCALING?...
This is my third machine and it has lasted the longest since aquiring my first in 2000. Three of my (now adult) teenagers worked at Starbucks and got me the Barista as a gift with their emplyee discount.
The initial Barista died within a year as it failed to produce pressure. A couple of calls to their tech support failed to fix the problem, so they had me return it for replacement to a local store. (It was during this time that I learned the importance of filtered water from their tech support. Up to then I used tap water - and Santa Rosa Municipal Water isn't bad at all...)
My second Barista died within six months of that time because it - once again - failed to produce pressure. Called tech support and they determined the problem was with the machine, not with me, the user. (No, it wasn't scale build-up, either...)
This is my third machine and I've learned to coddle it along and get some really good cudos from friends and family on the lattes and mochas I make. When FAITHFUL to the Starbucks Barista Routine, I get a nice shot. I've also learned to make merrange-quality foam which is a favorite of many whom my wife and I will have over for dinner. So, the Starbuck Barista CAN produce....
I'm writing this review because this third machine is really showing it's age and is failing to produce the pressure that I'm used to through both the wand and the portafilter. (The portafilter especially is only allowing a dribble of espresso to be produced, even with consistant cleaning, descaling and a call to tech support.) I've used this machine almost daily in my morning routine and three of four times a day when entertaining. It would be unkind to say it isn't worth the money, and if you especially don't want to go with a commercial portafilter, this machine will get you going in the right direction. (When I get reviews on my drinks as being better than what is had at the corner ****bucks, I'd say the Barista is working OK...) For now however, THIS coffee drinker is looking to move to a Gaggia and learn how they do it in Italy.