As a "Car Guy" I liken this machine to a "Sleeper Car" - low price, high horsepower, robust construction and design, and able to give a Ferrari a run for its money.
Positive Product Points
Quality fit and finish, heavy/stabile, durable materials, attractive exterior, produces high quality shots consistently, large water tank, and great value for the price.
Negative Product Points
Steam wand without enough motion, unstable metal cover over the water tank, lack of availability of parts (specified as Grimac compatible parts), and little support from Grimac itself. After purchasing a larger machine (the business is growing) I found that my much larger machine is much simpler inside than the MIA. The MIA has a mass of wiring and many wire connections - the larger machine with two heads has only 15% of the wiriing and electrical components. Not sure why that is?
I use the MIA in my coffee shop in Nicaragua (that's right Nicaragua), so I needed something robust, durable, easy to use by inexperienced employees, and not too taxing on my electrical supply (you would fall over if you saw the wiring in my 50 year old Nicaraguan building). This machine has been great in many ways. We pull probably 30-40 shots a day for the past six months, with very consistent results. It took some time to dial in the grind and proper quantity of coffee in the basket, which seem to change with the weather here (very humid and changing temps). Also, customers comment daily upon the look of the machine - nice polished metal surfaces and attractive plastic side casing.
This machine is fairly easy to use. We have three Nicaraguan employees who never tasted espresso or probably never even saw a machine before they came to work for us. After a few days they were pulling quality shots consistenly. The MIA is also very easy to clean - we wipe it down throughout the day quickly and easily. I reccommend this machine for discerning home users or small coffee houses like mine.
Overall, this machine produces great espresso shots and looks good doing it. It is fun to see customers look over quickly when someone pulls a shot, with the "thwack" sound coming from the on button. This machine produces the best coffee in my small beach town, competing with a two head Rancilio, a small Gaggia, and another small Italian machine.
I have had a problem with this machine, however. About a month ago the nut holding the steam wand assembly to the control panel facing became loose. After a week or so water began leaking from that point when using the steam wand. Nothing too serious, but a problem which could become much worse. I was unable to figure out how to remove the on/off knob in order to get a wrench on the nut, without destroying the knob, so I wrote to Grimac in Italy directly. After a week or so of run around, they finally e-mailed me detailed engineering drawings of the machine, so that I might figure out how to do the repair (I have yet to find a repairman here in Nicaragua). Those drawings were not a great help however. Tomorrow I am creating a special wrench which will fit behind the knob to tighten the nut!
The other problem thus far is ordering parts. I understand that Grimac made parts for the industry for a long time, so that the parts within the MIA are likely the same parts that are in many of the commercial machines out there. I just can't find out which parts those are for cross reference, and there seems to be no parts available from Grimac or from parts vendors. I need group head gaskets, a new water filter, etc, but cannot find a source (I am new to this game, so maybe I am not looking in the right places?) for these parts.
In any case, this machine should last for years, if properly maintained, even in my environment. Italian tourists spend hours in our coffee house sipping espresso, pulled by 19 year old Nicaraguan girls who never even saw or touched a machine until a few months ago. There are no complaints from the Italians!!
Espresso Parts was very responsive to our communications. For some reason it took about a month to get the machine through customs in New York, or that is what I was told. Other than that they provided quality service and a great product value.
Three Month Followup
See one year followup.
One Year Followup
The Mia is back in service after two months down time with a bad electrovalve connected to the hot water wand. Finally found one and had it sent here to Nicaragua. Machine works very well once again. This is a very rugged machine and continues to pull great shots. In one year I have replaced the check valve on the boiler and the electrovalve. Also replaced rubber hoses to the tank. I closed my coffeehouse for a week back in April. When we came back I found that a mouse had made a home in the bottom of the machine and had eaten through four or five wires. I patched them up and the machine fired back up again. Time to install mouse-proof wire harnesses! I am still satisfied with the machine and would recommend it highly.