The Dalla Corte Mini is a compact high quality home espresso machine to be considered by anyone willing to spend >$2,000 for espresso. I would buy this model again.
Positive Product Points
The Dalla Corte Mini is a well conceived, designed and built espresso maker having dual heaters and very compact size. The ability to control brewing temperature is useful for getting optimum taste from various coffees. It takes serious experimentation however to learn what fineness of grind/compaction and temperature works with the different coffees. This is something I've yet to perfect.
Negative Product Points
Messy pucks. With what seems to be reasonable control of variables to get reasonable coffee taste, i.e., grind fineness [Mazzer Mini] and tamp to extract 1.5 ounces of espresso from 16 grams of coffee in the double portafilter, there is always a puddle of water on the puck. Hitting the portafilter to eject the puck into my Grindenstein debris pot gives a splash that is messy on the counter and the portafilter needs a rinse before the next use. The puck is about 10mm thick following brewing. (For comparison, using a friend's Reneka Techno with the same coffee, grind and tamp, the puck is dry and portafilter virtually clean and ready for the next brewing.)
Clean puck ejection is still the only challenge. A slightly more coarse grind than I first used seems to help keep the portafilter free of debris for the next loading.
I'm a retired engineer that enjoys coffee and learning about gadgets, i.e., I've got the time and interest to work toward perfection in my coffee. The Dalla Corte has so far offered more variables than I've been able to optimize. I evaluated many candidate machines (http://www.espressomachine.ws/ ) and came down to the Dalla Corte Mini and the Reneka Techno. (My first criteria was machine height must be a maximum of 400mm to clear my kitchen cabinets. I didn't want to run water and drain lines for the Reneka.)
The Mini has a large water capacity (3 liters) large waste water bin that is easily removed for dumping and cleaning, very effective steam wand, easily programed dosing control for "single" or "double" brews, and is easy to use. The portafilter is smaller in diameter that most "home, professional" espresso makers at about 54mm. The double portafilter will hold about 16 grams of coffee. More than that amount and the portafilter is too full to lock on the brew head.
I purchased directly from Dalla Corte USA, Emeryville, CA
Three Month Followup
excellent and efficient machine. Would buy again.
One Year Followup
After using this machine for about 3 years I am even more content and impressed with usability and performance than for the first review. The machine warms quickly, less than 5 minutes to full steam pressure. It is very compact for a typical home kitchen-fits under cabinets. I use it multiple times each day with no complaints.