A great machine, simple, easy great results for the price range.
Positive Product Points
Easy to use! Makes Really Good Espresso with Crema top layer better than some coffee houses. Narrow design is great for the kitchen coutner without taking up too much space. Strong aluminum design.
Negative Product Points
Minor gripe: Steam wand is a bit too short if you buy the 'Espresso accessory kit' the rest of the kit is a great asset and I'd still buy it. (i'll explain later)
Minor gripe: Smoke colored water reservoir makes it hard to see water level. (explained later)
2 Week Review:
At this time i've only owned the machine for a few weeks after receiving it as a Christmas gift. I've had the chance to test it with two variations of coffee beans. 'Starbucks Espresso Roast' (A half pound of beans was given as a gift with the purchase and NOT included in the box so it was as fresh as Starbucks gets)
Watched the video and as a newbie to this sort of thing I was ready to go. It was so simple and the results were great. I've made Epresso, Americanos, Cappuccinos, Caffè Latte, Caffè Mocha.
I went though the half pound in about a 7 day period. The espresso shots came out sweeter than expected and i was actually able to enjoy the flavor of the beans. Something I was not able to do with a cheaper steam powered machine or a stovetop espresso machine.
The steam wand works okay but i have been having some problems getting a lot of foam. I attribute this to my own error and probably using 2% milk reduces the results.
No tamping is required but I have found that a light tamp to slightly compress the beans helps add more flavor to the espresso.
I've found that my results have been great with this machine but the foaming wand seems to not give me the thick foam I am looking for. (probably due to errors on my part I need more practice)
The water Reservoir is a smoked design which looks good in the store and when you're not using the machine however. it is hard to see the water level. I've read that a simple ping-pong ball will solve the problem but I don't have any at the moment.
'The Espresso Accessory Kit' that Starbucks sells is a good value with its pitcher, shot glass, Thermometer, Coffee scoop. all made of stainless steel. The steaming pitcher is a bit too tall and i can't get the wand down to the bottom without putting the pitcher at an angle. however, they are all well made and I really like the shot glass.
I've tried the Starbucks Christmas Blend in espresso and it comes out extremely bitter compared to the smooth flavor of the espresso roast. I'd suggest using it for only with milk based drinks to boost the flavor.
I've only used the machine for Two weeks so i'll update this posting in a few months.
Sorry I didn't buy it, it was a gift but i hear that Starbucks was friendly and helpful
Three Month Followup
I didn't write a 3 month followup sorry
One Year Followup
I've had this machine for a yeard and a half now. Still working as well as it did the day I purchased it. I feel the steam wand could have a bit more power . Reguardless I enjoy making capuccinos on this machine and it still puts out a mean shot of espresso.