Very happy I made the decision to buy this machine.
Positive Product Points
I've had my machine since 1981. It was serviced once in the early 90's to replace gaskets. I am planning to make the same overhaul of the gaskets very soon. It is a good, sturdy machine and from what I can see on the coffeegeek site it has appreciated in value. Small foot print. Easy setup and cleanup. Simple operation. Consistent and more than sufficient pressure to steam milk. In fact I don't know of a better home machine for steaming milk.
Negative Product Points
I consider this machine to be reliable but the grind must be just the right texture. If the coffee is too fine it will be very difficult to push down the lever. If it is too coarse you will get a beverage that resembles tea. In addition the pressure created in the group head if the coffee is ground too fine will result in a very dangerous situationóremove the basket to reload too early and hot grinds will splatter everywhere. Because of the risks outlined above this is not a machine for family use. I would recommend only one person to operate this machine.
I purchased this machine in 1981 after reading a recommendation from Creig Claiborn the renown New York Times food writer and chef. I was very excited to be able to make espresso at home that was the same quality as what I was used to drinking in New York City and while a student in Italy.
This machine became my gold standard for any future espresso machine purchases and in fact was never outshone by machines owned by friends or family.
I was able to learn how to steam milk and create lattes and cappuccinos on this machine because it produces a consistent strong steady steam. The fact that it required a particular grind in order to operate properly forced me to learn about grinders and seek out coffee roasters rather than buying canned pre-ground coffee as was the custom in the early 80's.
It was an expensive purchase for someone in their early 20's. In hindsight I'm very happy and lucky that I made the decision to buy this machine.
I purchased this machine at Zabar's in NYC which was always a wonderful place to shop. NYC was at the height of a food revolution in the early 80's so it was a very exciting time to shop for equipment of this quality. It was a very pleasant experience.