Our experience with this machine has been great. The cost is steep but we would pay it again in a heartbeat, especially after my first buying experience in Troy!
Positive Product Points
Great looking machine. Good quality build. Fairly easy to use. VERY popular with guests.
Negative Product Points
Price. A lot of filling, emptying, and cleaning required. If its not the grounds needing to be emptied or the water needing to be filled then it must be the brew unit needing to be cleaned or the drip tray needing to be emptied...(I know, I know, but I'm kinda lazy about this stuff!) VERY popular with guests.
I'll start by saying that I am not a real coffee guy. I actually bought this machine for my wife as a Christmas gift. I figured the cost would be offset by the savings from my wife not having to visit the local coffee shop a couple of time a day. Turns out this is the second best gift I've ever gotten her (the first best would be the engagement ring I bought 5 years ago at Christmas time to save on a double-gift. I know, I know, lazy AND cheap!)
WOW. I don't know how else to put it. My wife at first agonized over the price for a couple of days before setting up the machine and trying it out. But once she got going the price was never again mentioned! Her drink of choice is a soy latte. Apparently the machine makes outstanding soy lattes. She must drink 6 a day. I mentioned above that the machine is popular with guests and that this is good and bad. We've had to make house keys for 4 relatives to avoid tongue lashings for inconveniencing them with not being home when they want coffee! The upside is that we have not yet had to pay for espresso beans and our cupboards have mysteriously been stocked with "to-go" styrofoam cups and lids and all sorts of condiments. The down side is that we have a seemingly endless stream of visitors throughout each day and night. Weekend get-togethers and the women's scrapbooking parties somehow happen at our house every week now which interferes with my football viewing.
As for the machine...I really bought this machine for my wife because she loves her lattes. She has refused to buy a coffee maker for years because she "does not like drip coffee". This was hard for me to understand as I only drank coffee to stay awake and it was usually from the local gas station. The machine is more than a hit in our household. It has become a mandatory part of our existence. Life seems to revolve around that machine.
Keep in mind that I have nothing to compare this machine or the experience to. Also know that I half expected the machine to either break or be stuck, unused, in the garage after a week or two.
This machine looks very nice in our kitchen (a demand from my wife). It is pretty well built and works without difficulty so long as routine maintenance is performed. Minor irritations occur in the form of containers needing to be filled or emptied and cleaning needing to be done. But its all easy enough. The dvd included with the machine is short and to the point and helped us to get started, though I highly recommend reading the manual too! I found Mr. Leslie's article at Earthlink.net to be very helpful too! I've found that washing the brew unit about once a week helps keep the machine running at its best. Not washing it makes the machine seem as though its having a hard time extracting the espresso.
Those who've visited that know espresso say the machine is better that satisfactory. Some are now saving their pennies to get one of their own. My brother, who loves black drip coffee, now shuns it for Americanos extracted from this machine. And even I make myself at least one "coffee" a day though purists would shudder at the amount of syrup, chocolate, caramel, and whipped cream I add.
The machine pulls appoximately 20 shots of espresso a day on average in our household. Some days less, some days much more. We have had absolutely no problems whatsoever. All of our settings are where the factory put them. We run beans that look dry and we run beans that look oilly. Granted we are not baristas and don't have a great deal of knowledge about expresso but the drinks the machine makes are awesome in our opinion.... and that of our guests!
I know this review is not very technical for those looking for specific information but let me say this... I bought this machine thinking that disappointment was inevitable. Instead I find myself with something that has added enjoyment to my household that is pleasant to look at and that gives a little bit of happiness to us and anyone visiting on a daily basis.
Outstanding! I drove 65 miles to a Starbucks in Troy, Michigan to find one of these machines shortly before Christmas and was rewarded with one of the best shopping experiences I've ever encountered. I was reserved about dropping 900 bucks on a machine that, at the time, didn't seem like itdid anything important. ( I should note that I researched a number of machines and this website was what made me decide to go with the Digital Italia.) The staff was extremely friendly, helpful and enthusiastic and did not pressure me one bit. When I decided to purchase they took the sting out of the price by throwing in a couple bags of free espresso beans, a couple bottles of syrup, some chocolate powder, and a deep discount on accessories. And to top it off they sent me away with a free venti caramel machiatto! All with large smiles.
Three Month Followup
Had one problem with machine in which door hinge broke. We always take it easy using the machine so it was a surprise that it happened. When I called customer service the gentleman I spoke with seemed sort of skeptical about my explanation that the hinge just seemed to break on its own. He actually seemed a little annoyed but informed me that another representative would be contacting me about solving my problem within 48 hours. 2 days later a very kind lady phoned to tell me that a replacement was ready at the Starbucks nearest my home and that I could trade in my broken machine as soon as I was ready. And she seemed genuinely happy to assist me! I was surprised at how convenient and easy they made the process of replacement in this day and age. I actually offered to fix the hinge on the old machine if they could have just sent the part (it was only attached with a couple of screws). But they felt replacement was the best way to go. I should also say that the steaming wand on the new machine seems to work better than the wand on the one I traded in. Why? I'm not sure. But we have noticed a considerable difference in the quality of the froth. We are still enjoying the machine and finding new drinks all of the time though my wife is newly pregnant and is tortured at not being able to drink them! I guess I'd have to say that this definitely turned out to be a worthwhile investment. We are very happy with the machine and with the customer service from Starbucks (maybe the one guy was just having a bad day?!).