Easy to learn. Great power. The ability to switch back and forth between brewing and frothing with no waiting. Incredible value.
Negative Product Points
Wish you could access the water tank without having to take off the cup warmer cover. (Tank holds quite a bit of water, though...)
Requires decalcified (softened) water, but proper boiler function requires that the water retain mineral content. WLL told me that this means you can not use a Brita to filter your water, but others dispute this (see commentary on this review). Assuming WLL is right, this means you have to use bottled water or have a water softening system. WLL sells a water softener extension for 20 dollars (designed for Rancilio Sylvia) which, though a tight fit through the water access hole, appears to work.
I LOVE this machine. I cannot imagine getting a better piece of equipment for the money.
Our Starbuck's Barista died after 4 years, and we debated whether to replace it with another Barista (which we knew and liked well enough) or to upgrade to the next level of espresso production. That debate now seems laughable. The difference is the difference between a 27" tube t.v. and a 40 inch HD plasma. That one can achieve this difference by paying only $200 more (Barista lists for $400 and Expobar $600) makes it the definition of a no-brainer.
I cannot comment on how easy the Expobar is to use for someone who has never made espresso and espresso based drinks at all. But I can comment that the learning curve from a more basic machine like the Barista to the Expobar is virtually nil. Yes, you will need to play with grinds, tamps and frothing to get to where you want to be, but this is part of the fun. In no time at all, you will be pulling shots and preparing drinks that are far better than all but the best of the country's coffee houses.
At the end of the day, this is what this purchase was about for us -- being able to prepare drinks that exceed what we can purchase here in Nashville. In less than a week we were so far beyond that benchmark that it's criminal. :-)
From an aesthetic standpoint, the machine is very attractive and has a surprisingly small footprint. It fits under the cabinet without problem.