Good value for the money and you get to say I own a Bezzera.
Positive Product Points
A pioneer in the espresso buisiness. Cost less than similar products.
Negative Product Points
It does not microfoam like a Silvia.
I purchased a Rancilio Silvia a few months earlier and rapidly out grew it. I know that is not what Silvia fans want ot hear but she and I just did not get along. I needed to replace it a.s.a.p.
I bought the Bezzera BZ99s because I recognized that it was a Pasquini Livia in disquise. I bought it on Ebay, listed as a factory demo ($645 total). A new one lists for $895. If it didn't work out I could cut my loses and move on, especially since my hopes weren't too high after going to the dance with Ms. Silvia. I figured I would at least use it as a stepping stone until I could justify buying a Giotto or a Mini Nova.
What I wanted in a espresso machine above and beyond pumping a good shot were these qualities. It should be 24/7 capable, have a large water tank, would provide instant steam, and fit under my kitchen cabinet.
What a pleasent surprise! This machine works great...just read the reviews on the Livia. Bezzera makes the Livia for Pasquini to his specs. For the record, I do not know if the internal mechanism is identical or not, but I am assuming that it is. Externally the BZ99s has easy to use push buttons instead of rocker switches. It has more of a retro appearance as opposed to the Livia's more modern look. Bezzera also manufactures machines for Gensco, which look identical to theirs. The BZ99s's big brother the BZ40 has a rotary pump, plumbing hook up, and a larger boiler all for about $500 more.
Care must be taken when locking on the portafilter. If it is not twisted on properly it can vibrate off. It has happed to me more times than I care to admit to. It really makes a mess when it happens, luckily I have not boken a cup yet. As for the buisiness of foaming milk, it is really fast but I have not produced microfoam like I did with the Silvia. The BZ99s came with a metal four hole tip. I am on a quest to buy a better foaming tip. Tips always seem to be out of stock where ever I call.
One VERY HANDY thing I discovered (well it was really my wife's idea). We put the machine on one of those paper thin plastic cutting boards. With this set up I can slide and spin the unit with ease. This makes water fill up a simple task. It will also prolong the life of the unit's rubber feet. It is easy to clean, very durable, and inexpensive. Consequentially you may need two hands to load and lock your pf.
The BZ99s I bought was set up to use Bezzera's coffeepot system....like a pod, but in a little plastic pot. The BZ99s arrived with a broken plastic water line. So when I called for the replacement part I also ordered a coffee conversion kit which was sold to me at cost. The kit consisted of a whole new head unit (3 bolts) and a coffee filter basket for the existing portafilter. Be advised if you buy a pot system the conversion kit's retail price is about $100.
I had to replace parts on the BZ99s and the Silvia. Both were easy fixes and were covered by warranty. I chose to replace the parts myself rather than ship them back. I was amazed at the difference between the internals of the two machines. It was very apparent why one cost twice as much as the other.
I am so pleased with the BZ99s that I don't even think about upgrading anymore. Maybe my next house will have a coffee pantry with a plumbed in machine and King Kong size grinders, but for now all I have to worry about is beans.
I bought the BZ99s from Peachtree Traders via Ebay. They were very pleasant to deal with and quick to resolve my problem.
Three Month Followup
See my one year followup.
One Year Followup
My flying portafilter problem finally got resloved. Peachtree sent me a new head unit for my machine. The conversion kit that was originaly sent included an older head which used a flimsy O ring instead of the normal thick rubber gasket. I have had no new problems and I use it everyday. My wife discovered that Windex wipes with vinegar does a great job shining the chrome. Bottom line is the Bezzera is an excellent value.