Dual boiler system, heats up quickly, unbelievable frothing ability, direct plumb in, on-demand hot water, easy to get excellent results very quickly (short learning curve), programmable buttons for 1 or 2 shot espressos (or for any amount of liquid for that matter)
Negative Product Points
no plumb in available for drip tray, if you don't have 20 AMP electrical easily available (although most newer houses have it and can easily change out the outlets to get it) dual boiler somewhat compromised
I am fortunate to have been able to afford to travel extensively to Europe over the past 25 years and in doing so developed a real taste for great espresso. Unfortunately when I got back home there was nothing like it - and Starbucks is NOT the answer for these cravings. My wife hates coffee and this has been a sore spot for us for years - eventually I bought a Krups (yes Krups) machine to see if I could learn to make decent espresso and whether or not I would keep at it. I did for about a year - until the little thing gave out on me. So - what to do - I knew I would never go back to plain old coffee, and even though there is a Starbucks very close to my house and on the way to work I could not see myself paying them money over time for an inferior experience. So I did what any analytical type (I have a Ph.D. in a technical discipline) would do - research myself silly. Thanks to all you reviewers out there I was able to narrow the field significantly and ultimately make my final purchase (of which I am most happy). Of course my wife can't understand why I would spend this kind of money just to have a good morning brew, I can't understand why she drinks 10 diet cokes a day either! Do the math and my "habit" over the long term is comparable.
The La Spaziale had everything I was looking for - dual boiler, fast time to heat up, frothing abilities only dreamed of at the lower price levels, and a look I can appreciate - some of the E61 group head units really looked a bit over the top for my taste. And while it is by no means cheap, I think for the money it is a very good buy.
My only concern was hooking it up to a direct plumbing connection. Well that was quite easy even if it was somewhat complicated. I have to put my unit iin the "butler's pantry" which has no water source. Even though it iis near the kitchen, it was too far away to tap that area as a water source. Fortunately the the pantry is adjacent to the laundry room which of course has water running to the washing machine. I drilled a hole through the pantry wall and ran the piping (1/4 inch braided steel - sounds stiff but is really flexible) through the hole and up to my cabinets in the laundry room and connected it to 1/4 inch plastic tubing; I then connected the plastic pipe to a pressure regulator (set to 25psi - my water pressure at home is 85psi which is way too high for this machine - high pressure can cause the expansion valvle to leak). Next I had to run more piping from the pressure regulator (I learned it is ALWAYS supposed to be the closest thing to the unit in terms of "downstream" parts/filters/etc.) to the water filter and water softener units (I also had very hard water so needed a softener) and from there I ran the pipe to the cold water outlet that typically goes to the washing machine. To do that I had to get a "Y" faucet that I connected to the cold water faucet, and then had to screw in a reducer to get the line down to 1/4 inches. As I said, it sounds complicated but I did the whole thing in about an hour or a litlte more. And with the John Guest fittings that I got from the vendor I have no leaks and it was a snap to install.
Not being an expert at pulling espressos on "prosumer" machines (this required some different techniques than I used on the Krups machine) in only a half dozen pulls (I have a Pasquini grinder set to 3.5 and an Espro 30lb tamper) I was able to get something I was proud of and wouldn't mind serving to guests. I am still working on my frothing skills and while I've made some decent cappuccinos, I'm sure I can do better as I get more experience. As of now they are very good and should be worthy of serving to guests soon. Again, thanks to all of the writers who offer tips on how to make a good cup - without you I would really be having a hit and miss start on this machine - or any other for that matter.
Another thing worth mentioning, clean up is relatively easy - particulary since you can program this machine (unlike many of the competitors and I love this feature particularly in the early mornings) to essentially just hit a button and backflush (OK there's more to it than than but not much).
I would recommend this machine to anyone who wants to make great espresso - and in particular if you are interested in making milk based drinks.
I purchased this through Chri's Coffee and would definitely recommend them to anyone. Expert service, advice, and willingness to give me a great deal on a super machine.