I bought the Estro "Vapore", now known as the Starbucks Barista in the Fall of 1995, during my second year of college. During its 11 years on my countertop, it has steamed milk for somewhere between 2,500 and 4,000 drinks, and over twice that number in shots poured. Below is the list of parts that had to be replaced during that time:
1- Portafilter. reason- Liked the (then) new ones that automatically unlock to pour when pressure is reached.
Yup, that's it. It wasn't until about a month and a half ago, when it began to leak hot water into my shots, (a likely sign that a gasket had finally gone) that I finally deceded to break down and buy a new Barista this last weekend. Had my wife not been able to use a significant Starbucks Partner discount on the already Christmas-Sale priced machine, I would have had the gaskets replaced and done right back to business with the old one.
While more expensive (and less expensive) models exist out there, the Barista outperforms everything below it at most machines above it.
Controls are very simple and the machine has consistently brewed shots in 15-25 seconds (20 seconds being the reccomended shot time at the time of purchase. Steam pressure had fallen off slightly over the last few years, but not enough to cause concern. From turn-on to turn off, I had my drink ready to go and my machine cleaned in 5 minutes flat.
Part of the longevity of my machine undoubtably came from proper maintenance of the components. Here's what I did, and I would reccommend you do, as well.
- Use filtered water. Aside from being better for your coffee, its better for the parts inside which can get build up over the years.
- Descale it evary month or two with citric acid based coffee machine descaler. Even The purest water still has trace metals, including Calcium, which forms a scale on internal parts when heated and then cooled.
- Relieve the pressure after steaming water. This is done by turning off the steam while the steam knob is open. This prevents pressure from remaining in the system and prevents overheated water from being brewed through the espresso.
- Clean the portafilter after you use it and run the machine through it afterwards until clear water comes out.
- Clean the coffee grounds from the mounting area on the machine for the portafilter. Use an old toothbrush. Don't forget to remove the protective screen for the water supply and clean that too. An old toothrush works perfectly.
- Clean out the water reservoir periodicaly (when you descale). So nothing builds up it it.
All in all, I loved it. By boss has owned his for 7 years and had the gaskets replaced at 5, my aunt has had hers for 8 without any repairs or PM. If you do actually require repairs or maintenance, just call Starbucks Warranty Services (regardless of warranty status) and they'll take care of you.