Great machine for the price. I highly recommend it for the novice to intermediate that wants a good cup of espresso without a lot of hassle or money.
Positive Product Points
Looks great, fairly easy to use, makes a pretty consistent cup of espresso.
Negative Product Points
All the usual priming and cleaning needed for a semi automatic.
I was paying the usual $3-$4 per day for coffee so my wife got me this as a gift during their annual sale (make sure to watch for those if you can wait and you will save $50-$100) and this thing paid for itself a LOOONG time ago. We got it in 2002 and it is now July 2007 and it is still running strong. As long as you clean it regularly and use filtered water it will last a while. When I thought I was having issues I was able to find some, but not a lot, of support online. As an aid to beginners the machine comes with a how to video for using it and making the various drinks….or at least it did when I got mine. Since I had never made espresso before this was a big help to get me started.
Comment added 2/6/2011 - Well, the run has hit a bump. :-) The machine still makes great coffee, but the pump has been losing pressure (so I am sure quality is dropping). It's still hot though. This week it completely stopped being able to push thru the coffee in the basket. Unless the basket is empty it just stalls out. I found a blog for replacing the pump and am going to give that a try (link below). I will update when complete.
The people at Starbucks were great, as long as you get the 1 or 2 that know what they are talking about. Fortunately their expert was there when we were buying so he was able to help us out a LOT.
Three Month Followup
See 1 yr and detailed commentary.
One Year Followup
The machine is still going strong. I have had some issues with the "pipes" getting clogged, but a good cleaning cured those ills. Also, there is a nut that keeps coming loose right next to the basket. All I have to do is screw it back on and it is good for a month or so. Regular checking and tightening and there is no issue with that. Overall I have had this machine for 6 years now and I am very happy with my purchase.