Great control for an amateur barista. E61 group head makes parts easy to obtain. Produces great coffee after great coffee.
Negative Product Points
Requires regular maintenance more than the average machine for a beginner. The water tank is small so plumbing is essential.
For complete control over brewing at an affordable price you cant go past the Alex. This was a step up for me from a basic Sunbeam entry machine. It has proven easy to use and great for experimenting with various pressure and temperature settings. It is an easy machine to impress the friends on and is capable of making many cups in succession.
The only minor drawback for an amateur is the constant maintenance and replacement of seal/valves to keep it working in good order. I suspect that with a bit more experience I could have done this a bit easier for myself in the beginning but it was a steep learning curve. On a positive note, the machine can mostly be repaired at home and the E61 group head makes parts easy to obtain.
I would recommend this machine for anyone wanting to make the step up from the basic consumer thermoblock models.