Overall, an excellent espresso machine that I doubt I will ever out grow.
Positive Product Points
Programmability - lock in your settings and relax Quiet - the rotary pump is almost silent Consistency Quality components under the hood
Negative Product Points
53mm portafilter view of pressure gauge obstructed
I have been pulling shots at home for over six years. I started with an unmodified Silvia which served me flawlessly all that time. I recently found myself having less time in the morning for the complicated coffee ritual and decided to upgrade. I was looking for an espresso machine that was more consistent and required a little less time and input from me. My choice came down to the Vivaldi or the Brewtus. I chose the Vivaldi because it fulfilled my most important requirements.
I was hesitant about plumbing the machine in. But, I have to tell you, drilling a small hole in the counter top was not nearly as painful as I thought it would be. The convenience far outweighs the small eyesore I drilled in the counter top. What a joy it is having the Vivaldi connected directly to my undersink water filter. Functionally speaking, the Vivaldi is more than I expected. It is convenient, consistent and easy to use. I programmed the water temperature and water quantity for the ground coffee beans I use. All I have to do is be consistent with the amount of ground coffee and the tamping pressure. Everything else is already set and ready to go. One only has to load, lock and push go.
Frothing the milk was a bit overwhelming at first. Compared to the Silvia, it was like trying to drink water from a fire hydrant. Over time and after a little experimentation, it is an easy and quick task.
On the negative side, I have a few comments. I prefer the larger portafilter I had on the Silvia (58mm vs 53mm). The portafilter that comes with the Vivaldi is substantial and well made, but I miss the bigger size. The position of the pressure gauge is not easy to see while pulling a shot. Also, the gauge does not line up with the hole in the back splash panel. I had a problem with one of the electrical contacts on the boiler arcing because it was loose. The contact may have come loose during shipping and all it needed was to be tightened. The arcing melted the plastic cap and insulation on the wire. It was very concerning at the time - I don't particularly care for the the smell of burning plastic early in the morning.
I thought I would miss the shiny chrome and steel gleaming on the counter, but I don't. The Vivaldi has a look and feel all its own and it does all I expected and more. The end results leaves me with no complaints.
Chris was very helpful and responsive. Included with the machine was all the tubing and connectors I needed to plumb it in. No complaints!
Three Month Followup
It has been more than seven months since I purchased the Vivaldi II. I can truly say I have no complaints or regrets about it. It is a wonderful espresso machine and delivers on all of its promises. As for my negative comments, the pressure gauge has not moved and is still almost unusable in a practical manner. As for the 53mm portafilter, I have grown accustomed to it. Other reviewers have speculated that the smaller sized pf may prevent channeling. The machine is very easy to clean - something that is not usually mentioned in reviews. Making espresso with this machine is pleasureable, routinely predictable and uneventful. The results are wonderful.
One Year Followup
I have had the Vivaldi for a couple of years and I am very happy with it. A while ago, preinfusion was added as a feature to the newer models. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my older machine could be upgraded by having the motherboard reprogrammed. WOW!!