Well, it had to happen. My faithful Krups Expresso Novo Compact, after many years of service, was brutally murdered by the movers. The fat chain smoking newbie dropped it (carefully boxed, of course) off a stack of boxes. I heard the screams. This is after he dropped a case of wine. Luckily, only one bottle broke. I won't mention the moving company's name, as they may still come through with an insurance replacement.
Now, I know the Krups wasn't exactly the greatest, but hey for what I paid for it, it made a decent expresso, so let's not knock it. After all, our fearless leader, Mark Prince, used one in his succession of machines. Actually, I also recently purchased a Starbuck's Barista burr grinder, before I knew of CoffeeKid! I had a sneaking feeling that I would follow the same path as Mark! I planned to buy a Rancilio Silvia, but just couldn't choke up $400 for a machine I couldn't put my grubby paws on prior to the purchase. I know, I could've sent it back, but that's a hassle.
So, after reading the reviews here, I went to my local Starbucks intending to get a demo of the Barista. They were too busy, I was told. Hmmm. Well, fine, I'll go to the Starbucks near my workplace. There, I was greeted by the manager, who said they didn't have one in stock, but he'd get one by the next day. I said, BTW, this thing goes on sale all the time, right? Can you give me the sale price. Sure, he says, It was on sale for $319 over Christmas, so I'll give you that. Sure enough, he called the next day and said it was in. I picked it up the next day. I even skipped the demo, since they said I could take it back if I didn't like it.
So, I took it home and fired it up. Easy to use, holds lots of water, good dry steam for froth. Great crema. Stainless steel looks good in the kitchen. By george, I think it's a go. One wierd thing, the frothing nozzle is on the left. Oh well, good to work the left arm once in a while anyway. No complaints.
Two weeks later, I'm in Starbucks and I notice machine on sale for $299. I talk to manager, who refunds the difference. Not bad service, huh?
I'm still curious about the Silvia. If I could have seen one locally, I may have done it. But, the local buy, plus $100 cheaper makes the Barista a fine machine in my eyes. I'm sure there are better machines out there, but, to quote Mark Prince, I'm a "cheap bastard". This one is just fine.
Mini rant coming. What's with everyone's anti Starbucks agenda? Sure, it kind of sick when you can be on a street corner in San Francisco and see three Starbucks and a Peet's coffee. I prefer Peet's coffee myself, but I love knowing that if I see a Starbucks, I can run in and get a pretty good latte every time. Once, I had a sub par latte from them. I just went up to the counter, told them it was a little off. They cheerfully made me a new one. I can't tell you the number of times that I've gotten a latte at a little coffeehouse and had it taste like bat dung. Probably because the high school kid running the machine has no clue. At least Starbucks trains their Baristas and offers a reasonably fresh coffee.