Solidly built, reliable and has a great personality. Really!
Positive Product Points
The Andreja is solidly built and easy to use. I basically like the looks (see detailed commentary). It provides lots of steam and hot water from easily accessed nozzles. Itís consistency makes great espresso a lot easier
Negative Product Points
The water tank fits poorly and can get hot.
This is the first prosumer machine I have seen and used but I'm a bit of a nerd and quite detail-oriented. I did a lot of web study before I purchased it. I chose this machine over other comparables for two reasons:
It was shorter than some others in the category and I live in an old house with VERY low cabinets
This was the new direction for ChrisCoffee. Support is important to me and while I knew Chrisí service would back any machine I bought I thought they might have easier access as a current dealer for Quick Mill.
The machine is beautiful but I have to admit a bit ďtoolishĒ looking. I almost want to grunt - al la Tim Taylor - when I see it. The gauges are cool and I love the stainless, but itís a bit big and square compared to the machines made for looks. I toyed with the idea of buying a FrancisFrancis X-1, but decided I wasnít vain enough to give up superior espresso for looks. On the positive side, men who come to my house are impressed.
The impressive size and solid metal construction also means the machine is heavy. I solved that issue with Magic Sliders. These are silicone disks that you put on the legs of furniture to help them glide across the floor. I found some that didnít glue or nail Ė just gripped the feet of the Andreja. They fit perfectly. Now I slide the machine all over the tile counter to fill water, clean under it etc.
I don't have the machine attached to a water supply so I use the water tank provided. The tank isnít a nice snap fit like other parts of the machine. Also the water in the tank can get hot if the machine sits for a while. Maybe both of these are because the Andreja is meant to be plumbed, but it bothers me a little.
I donít, however, have the same trouble as other reviewers with filling the water tank through the small access hole. Being mildly obsessive means I empty the tank every day, rinse it and put in fresh filtered water. Since Iím short I put the tank in the sink and pour water in it there, then put the 3/4 full tank back in the unit (where it rocks back and forth a littleÖ).
My original espresso maker was a FrancisFrancis X-3. It never got very hot and making a cappuccino Ė on the rare occasion when I did it Ė meant either cool milk or cool espresso. I couldnít use refrigerated water, either. The heat in the E-61 grouphead means I can pull multiple shots and steam milk or add water to an Americano without waiting, even with cold water. The ball joint nozzles for steam and hot water mean I donít have to move the machine to the edge of the counter for tall glasses. Most days I am a purist. As ristretto a double shot as possible makes me happy. But I am getting more adventurous and my non-coffee drinking husband (letís be fair Ė I acquired him before the Andreja) really loves the mochas.
Sometimes the heat of the grouphead is a problem for me because I usually donít pull multiple shots or steam milk. And since my X-3 was not hot I burned some early shots with the Andreja. This is where the advice from Chris at ChrisCoffee was so valuable. He recommended that I run water through the head until the bubbling and steaming stopped. Another reviewer suggested 6 to 8 ounces would do the trick. This is more consistent than not allowing the machine the full recommended time to heat up Ė my desperation move on busy mornings.
I canít emphasize the consistency of the Andreja enough for me. The Rocky I bought to grind also helps in this respect. Being a hands-on kinda girl I love experimenting with shorter or longer shots, different amounts of coffee and different local roasters and varieties of beans. I change coffee almost every time I buy a pound. I get a bit bored by the end of a pound since Iím the only one drinking it. And itís fun to see if I can taste the lemons, wine and earth (the nice way of saying it tasteís like dirt) that the coffee tasters promote. I used to wonder if a bad series of shots meant the machine was out of whack. Now I know it means I wonít be buying THAT variety of bean again.
ChrisCoffee was and continues to remain excellent. They were a large part of the reason I chose to buy the Andreja even though it was new to the American market. They were so helpful in the buying process and they continue to cheerfully answer my dumbest questions. I highly recommend ChrisCoffee!