Champagne quality on a sparkling wine budget. Commercial equipment for the home.
Positive Product Points
Rock solid (like use it as a bollard in front of your house solid), commercial quality build. Attractive in an industrial kind of way. No shortage of hot water or steam. Easy to clean. Well considered design (access for water refill etc). All the thermal stability you'd expect from a HX machine
High quality stainless steel. Minimal cleaning is required to prevent tarnishing.
Negative Product Points
One or two parts could be polished on both (rather than just one) side to improve the aesthetics. The cooling flushes take about 30secs to acheive steady streem flow (a bit long?). Limited freeplay for PF insertion. Water (especially when bubbling in a cooling flush) goes everywhere as the drip tray isn't big enough.
As with most of these machines, a sight gauge for the water reservoir would have been nice. Being commercial equipment by a commercial manufacturer that's scaled the butterfly down for the home, consideration isn't given to displaying the water level. A 'we don't need it for our big machines so why would we for this one?' kind of approach.
Instructions: "Enjoy your machina. Ciao!" Well, not far off. Detailed instructions including owner maintenance would be great. A parts diagram/cataloge also to aid ordering consumables. This may not be a problem for those who buy from a local retail establishment with after sales service.
<<Detailed commentary is within the followup sections>>
Being new to the game, I don't feel I'm in a position to write a detailed commentary at this point. For now, I'll let the +ve/-ve points above say it all and write more when I return for a 3 month follow-up.
The only things I've found thus far are: it's rather intolerant of updosing, the stock steam tip holes are too big (tip now changed) unless you want to steam a Starbucks sized drum-o-milk and the noise really doesn't bother me at all. :)
The stock PF's are good and I was impressed with the quality of the baskets. Holes uniformly machined.
Very competitive pricing, best in region. Great communication and delivered earlier than expected.
STAY AWAY from the Hong Kong 'agent'. Words won't do them justice.
Three Month Followup
<<Actually 6 months>>
A convex tamper has made a huge difference. The curved shower screen had been causing channelling in the puck due excessive expansion at the edges of the puck (with a flat tamper). I buy my beans from a Cafe that roasts on the premises and witht he single PF and convex tamper, I'm actually getting coffee's to their standard (no mean feat).
As an aside, if anyone is in a location where repair would be difficult, I would highly suggest this machine. It's robust, simple and a pleasure to use. From viewing the internals, it also looks quite easy to repair (as long as you know what the problem is in the first place).
One Year Followup
<Written at 2.3 years>
Notwithstanding the points already written, I just can't fault this machine.
I had expected to change the group head gasket by now but it's not even close to needing doing. It's quite a good design on the Butterfly. Once the gasket wears out, it's designed to drop the shower screen. A rather nifty way of telling you it's buggered really. I just hope the cat isn't walking past at the time :O
My desire to plumb this machine is unchanged but I must continue to wait until circumstances (machine location) allow.
In making long blacks and cups of tea I've found the hot water tap doesn't quite deliver. After an initial flow of water, it becomes mainly steam. Whilst frustrating, it's also a waste of energy. As I use this function quite rarely, it's not a big problem but those that do make frequent long blacks and cups of tea are forewarned. Running water though the group head is an option but you'll get the unavoidable rogue coffee grinds with it too.
Ease of cleaning, reluctance in staining/tarnishing (despite constant heat and water stress) are still great. Notwithstanding a steam tip grommet that needs replacing, it's performing just as it did post-purchase over 2 years ago.
If there was the provision to give an 8.5 in overall rating, I'd be increasing my score to that.