I now know the coffee houses make bad lattes, compared to the Andreja Premium by Quick Mill. What a steam engine!
Positive Product Points
Seems to be an extremely well built machine with all of the correct features. My wife even commented on how good it looks in the kitchen!
Negative Product Points
As mentioned in every review, the water fill is a pain, but there could be a solution. I have changed my operation to slightly lifting the top with the two provided finger holes, and sliding it forward about 3 inches. This uncovers the reservoir so you can see the water level when you add water, or even remove the reservoir for filling. This does not necesitate removing everything sitting on top. When the cover slides forward, it rests solidly. Chris, take note: This should be incorportated in future machines..........a sliding top.
A friend got me hooked on Lattes with his Starbucks Athena, so I had to go out and buy one too. About 2 1/2 years later it died, and was out of warranty, so I sent it up to Espresso Machine Repair in Seattle, where "Will" ultimately declared it dead. I was suddenly in the market for a new machine, but I had learned a lot since purchasing the Starbucks. After intensive Internet shopping, I came to the conclusion that the vendors were Wholelattelove, Chris's Coffee in New York, and Aarabee here in Oregon. I had about decided on something in the Isomac price line, or the Expobar at WLL, but then was amazed at the lack of information from any of the sellers. They say to call for advice, but all they could do was read the cut sheet to me. No one sold the Expobar except WWL, and I had read several "negative" comments about them. In reality, I took these with a grain of salt because they may only be a small percentage of their business dealings, but the Expobar was new and I could not find too much on it. I have developed an aversion to dealing with ANY internet company in New York, so that made Chris's suspect. Aarabee had the Isomacs with an extended warranty, but they were $400 more than anyone else and after repeated telephone calls, they could never answer why.
Oh me, what to do? Well I called Will at the repair depot to see what he thought of these machines, and he had never seen an Expobar, thought the Isomacs were a little light in their wiring, and told me that the machine that impressed him was the ECM Giotto. Trouble is, it was a lot more money, but the more I studied, the more I came to the conlusion that it was what I was going to do, or else risk being disappointed. All of the vendors sold the Giotto, and at the same price, although Aarabee offered an extended warranty and was a more local company.
But then suddenly Chris's Coffee was introducing the Andreja Premium from Quick Mill. From WHO????? There was a name I had not encountered in my education and it did not even sound Italian. Internet searching did show up indicating that it was considered as a company making upscale machines sold in Europe, Australia, etc., but not in the U.S. Seems Chris's was bringing them here.
Once again I contacted Will at Espresso Machine Repair and sent him the web site. He replied that he had never seen a Quick Mill, but the machine really looked good in the presentations, but that if "Chris says it is good, you can count on it! He has an outstanding reputation for customer service". That sold me. Thank you Will for the sound advice!
The order was processed pleasantly, and promptly. My machine arrived as promised, all double boxed and in prime condition. I immediately set out to read the manual and try to learn a new way to make espresso (remember, I have been using a Starbucks unit with a pressurized portafilter). My initial impressions were that it did not make good espresso, as it did not deliver the pressure on the guage it should, and there was no crema to speak of. No matter how hard I tamped, it would not pressurize right, even with my Starbucks burr grinder at its finest setting. The support desk had me put in the blank basket used for back flushing and immediately the pressure was up to 10, so I suddenly knew what my next move must be. I was on a one way street that once I entered, I had to go the whole route. I ordered a new Rancillio Rocky grinder from Chris's. It took me a few tries to get the grind down to the results I wanted, but now they are wonderful. I guess any of you knowledgeable people out there could have anticipated this whole scenario, but for the novices among us, plan on the complete system when you budget. It is unfortunately expensive, but well worth it in the final outcome. I now have a class set up that gives me pleasure every time I use it. Working with good tools is the only way to go.
I won't go into all the features and operations of the machine as they have been covered by other reviews, but will say that my hesitation to deal with an internet company in New York has proven unfounded in Chris's Coffee Service. I highly recommend them as honest, and reliable. Chris has answered my emails immediately, in fact they sent me one asking how my machine was doing a short time after delivery. They act as if they care. They are now my vendor of choice for anything they carry.
Dealing with Chris's Coffee Service has been an outstanding experience. What more can I say?
Three Month Followup
Wow, has it been 3 months allready? Time sure flies when you have such a great espresso machine. Over this usage period it has made a lot of lattes for many different people. It has been in such continuous use that they are referring to our house as "Ronbucks". Everyone seems genuinely impressed with the high quality of the equipment as well as the product it delivers. As for me, I have commented many times about what a pleasure it is to use such a precision high quality tool. I take great pleasure every time I turn a knob or lift a lever. It inspires that kind of response. There is not much to say about its operation other than admiration. I can not imagine ever wanting anything else. I am extremely satisfied that I made the plunge and purchased the machine.
One Year Followup
Wow, could it have been a year allready? Wonder how many Latte's that is? I love the machine and still find nothing on the market that appeals to me more. I am sure a lot of the premium machines make great Latte's, but there is more to a machine than that. There is a great sense of satisfaction in the way everything works. the valves that do not need to be cranked down tight, the portafilter that fits so beautifully. It is a delight to work with quality equipment.
I had one mechanical failure. After turning on the machine and letting it warm up, I walked into the room and saw steam coming out of the sides of the machine. I turned it off and let it cool. Tried it later and everything was OK. I called Chris's Coffee service and they said "Sounds like a pressure stat, and if it did it once, it will probably do it again". They immediately sent me a new one with detailed instructions on adjusting the pressures correctly. I have to say, they are great to deal with. Replacing that pressurestat gave me the opportunity to remove the cabinet and have a good look around inside. Quality all the way. It is impressive looking as you notice every detail. It reinforces the joy of using quality equipment.
I make many repetitive Latte's, Americano's and hot chocolate, all without problem. The machine is powerful and never seems to get behind. It has such a powerful steam capability that sometimes the milk is up to temp before you are finished doing whatever you were trying to do in the meantime. Have to watch that.
I put some hi quality powdered Mexican Chocolate in the milk before steaming it and it makes awesome hot chocolate. Now friends are requesting it.
I enjoy the machine tremendously, and would recommend it to anyone. Once you spend the money, you don't look back. You just enjoy it for a long time.