I tried really hard to like the Nivola, and when it comes to the beauty of the product, it wasn't all that hard. To be perfectly honest, I do like it - I think it's a capable brewer despite the quirks that can annoy, and if I were some rich dude living down in False Creek, in my two story penthouse condo, I'd seriously consider buying one of these machines "for show" and occasional use, sitting all pretty up on the corner of my kitchen nook bar.
For beginners, or those who really do want a functional piece of art for their home, the Nivola is a real candidate. The solid construction of the body, the sweeping lines, the very capable pod performance (again, all things relative) make it a good choice for those who value beauty in a product. The good shot production is a plus, one that makes it a superior choice over another "pretty boy" product on the market - the Francis! Francis! X1. Given enough time, I think most owners of this product will get used to its quirks and feature set, and will be producing some great espresso shots with it.
I couldn't help but think during the course of my evaluation that the Nivola would perfectly suit a Jaguar owner - you know the old joke about Jags coming with their own mechanics... because they need them? People buy Jags because, well, they're Jags! Not because they are the finest example of engineering perfection and totally trouble free, mechanically perfect vehicles. The Nivola would suit that crowd - not because the Nivola breaks down, but because, well, it's a Nivola! It's a work of art! And it just so happens to brew a decent espresso, when it wants to, that is.
For people like me, people who are more discerning home made baristas who demand a lot of mechanical perfection and preciseness from their machines, but also a lot of total control over what the machine does, the Nivola is not a good choice. In my own everyday use, I found it to be a frustrating machine to use - I didn't like the hand holding the machine was constantly doing.
In fact, the machine is very "Microsofty", if you will: I've harped in the past (in different forums) about how I don't like Microsoft's way of making assumptions about how I want to work with software, and setting a bunch of 'presets' that slow my work flow, or how I like to do things. The Nivola is the same way. Elektra has made a series of decisions with this machine that I have no doubt suit the machine's target market well, but the don't suit me, at my level of barista skills and, if you will, demands.
Once again, CoffeeGeek would like to thank Dr. Fregnan from Elektra, and Elektra SRL for sending us this machine for review.