All the basics with good quality and reliability- serves 2-3 people best
Positive Product Points
durable, easy to use, delivers quality and consistent shots
Negative Product Points
as with every coffee delivery system, cleanliness is key- make sure you buy it on sale (Christmas, Valentine's Day, etc)
I bought this machine when I worked for Starbucks, so I got a great discount on top of the holiday sale. You may want to befriend a barista and ask them to purchase it for you (it's actually not against policy, as long as the barista is not trying to make a profit from it). If you are not too experienced, it comes with a decent video, but you may want to ask a barista to demo it for you when they have time. After you have learned the basics, I do have one trick not mentioned in the video- If you have steamed milk and you are ready to pull shots, press the shot button long enough for the light to go off- when the green light comes back on it is ready to give you your shots, and you can avoid any air bubbles. A key to keeping the water or steam flowing is to avoid vapor lock. It's kind of like having air in your brake line. It is actually easy to avoid if you follow the video and prime machine if it has been a few days since you last used it. Make sure you use filtered water. It will make machine work without the need for extensive line cleaning. Keep the head and areas around it clean after each use. I dedicate soapless sponges for this purpose. Don't use soap if you can help it, but do change the water often enough so that it doesn't get slimy. Using your portafilter basket, you can actually pack up to 3 shots at once without a significant decrease in quality- but you can also do one or two ounces just as well. If you do 2 or 3 shots at once, make sure that you level the grinds to below the top of the head for easier cleaning. If you make 2 or less shots, you really don't need to tamp it much. Anyway, it is a great machine for what it does. If you need to make drinks for 6 or more people on a frequent basis, you may want to get a bigger and more expensive machine. This one is best for 2 to 3 people using it at about the same time. You can always ask a barista for help and they have a good warranty.
Get it on sale!
Three Month Followup
keep machine clean and you will be happy
One Year Followup
okay- FYI this machine is still going strong several thousand shots later.