while the andreja makes fabulous espresso, the vibratory pump is too noisy for me. i'm upgrading to a QUIET rotary pump machine.
Positive Product Points
beautiful machine, solid construction, and the manufacturer's attention to detail is quite evident
Negative Product Points
the machine uses a vibratory pump. it is rather noisy, especially first thing in the morning. after using the andreja for 1 year, i am selling it in favor of a machine with a quieter rotary pump.
i'm new to home espresso machines, but not new to espresso. recently, i started work at a new company and they have a commercial espresso machine (a carimali automatic) onsite for everyone to use. i began having an espresso in the morning, instead of a cup of regular coffee. then, the single espresso became a double. then, it became two doubles! after that, i knew that i had to have an espresso machine at home! and the search for the perfect machine began ...
my search started with the francisfrancis x1 machine. not only did it look cool, but was reasonably priced. and, they made it in red, which just happens to be my favorite color and the color of my kitchen. but, then i found coffeegeek, while looking for reviews of that machine. after reading through many reviews of many machines, and seeing chris' coffee service mentioned time and time again, i checked out their site. to make a long story short, i decided upon the andrea premium. it had what i really was looking for (solid construction, durability, and great looks), and i was willing to pay the price for quality merchandise.
specifically, there are things which i believe make the andreja permium an excellent choice for a home machine:
the price. indeed, these beasties have a no-nonsense price tag on them! the andreja premium is not your bargain basement espresso machine. but, compared to a genuine commercial machine, the andreja is very reasonably priced. the used cariamli machine at my work had a $5,000 price tag! at less than 1/3 of that, the andreja compares quite favorably. in my opinion, the andreja also makes better espresso than the carimali, but let's leave that discussion to the "quality of espresso" section. so, the upshot here is that the machine is costly enough to be a real espresso machine (not a toy one), yet reasonably priced compared to small commercial machines (too much machine for most homes). they hit the price-point right on the head.
the looks. since the andreja is a home machine, looks count more than if it were sitting in a backroom somewhere, making espressos for a coffee house or resturant. the andreja, again in my opinion, is a beautful piece of equipment. it's not just the shiny surface that makes it beautiful. like a harley-davidson motorcycle, this machine is meant to look like a big, heavy solid piece of coffee-making steel! the e61 grouphead that sticks out gives the machine a real "in your face" feeling. the andreja premium is an imposing figure on my kitchen counter top, dwarfing everything else around it. the steam and water tubes, the drip try cover, and the two gauges on the front only add to the "largeness" that this espresso machine exudes. one's attention is quickly and easily drawn right to the andreja, immediately. it can't be ignored, and has a commanding presence.
quality of coffee. i'm not a barista, but have enjoyed espresso since college, when i worked in restaurants. i used to make very strong drip coffee, using peet's french roast, and was happy enough with that. but, once espresso was freely available at work, i switched from strong but regular coffee to straight espresso (i don't "do" latte or cappucino). i began noticing that i'd feel ripped off if the crema was not made perfectly by the carimali machine. also, i started noticing how different each shot of espresso was coming out of this automatic machine. even today, it's best-guess as to the quality of each shot. in contrast, the andreja premium had consistently produced not just good, but excellent shots of espresso, time after time. i have only had the machine for a short period of time, but there's no guesswork with the andreja. using the same beans, espresso from the andreja is richer, fuller more intensely flavored, and with perfect crema, as compared to the commercial machine that got me started. one double espresso from the andreja in the morning is all i need now! i may make a shot or two at work, but only for the aroma. work espresso just doesn't have the kick that home espresso does. the only difference is the machine.
out-of-the-box experience. i have to admit that i was a little intimidated when i first learned of all the steps necessary to get a shot of espresso out of the machine. there was the heat exchanger to learn about, there was the grinding and the tamping, the timimg of the shot, the crema, the water tank, the temperatures, the pressures ... the list seemed to be endless! knowing that all this was just "fear of the unknown", i started reading the paper about heat exchangers provided by chris' coffee service (there's a link on the andreja premium page), and taking it in stride. like anything new, as you go through the motions more and more, it starts to become second-nature. and, pretty soon, second-nature gives way to personal technique! i now have developed my own techniques to make shots of espresso just the way i like them. all told, my out-of-the-box experience was a good one, though i do not want to discount the amount you need to learn to operate a home espresso machine well - not just the andreja. chris' coffee made learning about it very straightforward, and it doesn't hurt to have the andreja used as an example.
customer service from chris' coffee. this is the PRICELESS piece of the puzzle! while you may be able to buy the andreja from many sources, you can only get chris' service from chris' coffee. the folks at chris' took the time to answer all the questions i had, reassured me when i was not certain if i had done something wrong, and even sent me a few more water filter parts free of charge after a call to talk about hooking up the water filtration system. oh, and did i mention that since i bought a direct water connect kit for the andreja that chris' installed it for me? i was very pleasantly surprised to find that, when the machine arrived, i did not have to take it apart myself and install the kit. they correctly assumed that i would hook it up to a water supply immediately. this is *service with a huge smile*! i know i can count on chris to make anything right, but with a quality machine like the andreja, i doubt i'll ever need to make use of that.
overall, i am extremely pleased with the machine, its ease of use (after some amount of getting to know espresso machines), the consistency of each espresso shot, and the psychological satisfaction of knowing that chris and his company are behind my machine all the way.
what can i say? i'm yet another extra-happy, very satisfied chris coffee service customer. like others who have posted here, chris' company made the buying experience smooth and easy, i have already recommended them to my friends, and would recommend chris' coffee service to anyone.
Three Month Followup
after 3 months of using this espresso machine, i am still impressed with the build quality, the feature set (notably the 2 guages on the front, which allow you to know the precise moment to pull a shot), the looks and most importantly, the taste of the espresso. i'm still improving and perfecting my espresso making techniques, but his has nothing to do with the machine. the andreja premium pumps out consistently excellent shots, time after time.
there was one thing which put a small blemish on the shine. after about a month of owning the machine, i started having a problem with the pump not shutting off when the brew lever was lowered back down. what i noticed was that the little black button behind the brew lever was always touching the lever - there should have been a small gap once the lever was lowered. the little button is really the pump switch, and because it was in constant contact with the brew lever, it was not shutting off properly. the switch needed to be moved very slightly - about 1/16" back.
after a call to chris's coffee, i had a choice: pack the unit back into its box and send it to chris's for service, or take the cover off the machine, and adjust the switch myself. rather than suffer the time and shipping expense (3,000 miles) of returning the andreja, not to mention lack of espresso during the service, i decided to fix it myself. this involved taking the cover off the machine (chris had photos online showing how to do this), removing the switch, putting 2 flat metal washers as spacers behind the switch, and then putting the whole thing back together. while this wasn't horribly difficult, i was annoyed that i had to repair a virtually brand new unit. something is lost when a customer has to open up a product. the mystery is gone, and the product is removed from its pedestal. there's something magical and unapproachable about brand new items. this feeling is ruined by taking the product apart.
since i chose to do the repair myself (which was successful), i do have a machine that works the way it is supposed to (the pump now shuts off when the brew lever is down) but, the magic was lost. now i just think of it as part of my kitchen gizmos. i know nothing is perfect, and do not fault anyone or anything for having some imperfection. it's just too bad that it needed repair so quickly, and that its fall from grace was almost immediate. however, on a positive note, the machine still makes the best espresso i've ever had, hands down. credit where credit is due!
One Year Followup
SOLD! I'm now the proud owner of a La Cimbali M21 Junior DT/1. Oh, what a difference a genuine commercial espresso machine makes! :->