Nuova Simonelli Oscar, Gaggia Baby, Delonghi, Misc.
The Quickmill Andreja is a great choice for anyone who wants the look, feel and operation of a truely commercial machine.
Positive Product Points
Power, power, power, Best group head I've ever had, Smooth operation, Solid construction, Great SS finish, Did I say power?
Negative Product Points
Tank could be larger and is awkward to fill (can you say direct connect?), Hot water tap takes some getting used to Looks really expensive (yes, dear).
I've been making home espresso for 20+ years. Each of my machine upgrades has required a learning curve. This purchase was no different. Prior to the Andreja, I used the Simonelli Oscar daily for 6 years. Though the Oscar is considered a commercial quality machine, next to the Andreja, with it's E61 group head, it has the look and feel of a much more home style unit. The Andreja is so solid and powerful I can honestly say it has taken me to a new level. I am much more aware of dosing and tamping technique, brew head pressure and overall coffee quality than ever before. It's also very easy to keep the group head clean. I've only had it a week, but all is good so far. I'll post follow-ups if necessary.
I've bought from discount houses, department stores and espresso dedicated online sites. Chris' Coffee is the first "local", about 15 minutes away, shop I've bought from. Chris' is not as much of a shop than it is an institution. Mostly geared towards the commercial end of the business, the staff was nevertheless welcoming and informative. Chris, the owner, toured me around his facility. They have a excellent demo room, with many, if not all, the espresso machines that they sell. I saw the warehouse, the tech department, and probably most impressive, the new roasting facility. Though small by some standards, Chris seems to approach everything with the same level of attention to detail. As he says, this is not rocket science (not being a rocket scientist, I wouldn't know), it's a matter of caring about the quality of coffee and valuing the customer above almost all else. Chris is an intense guy. I got the feeling he would have spent the entire day with me, delving deeper into the esoteric aspects of the fine coffee, machines and business relationships. Chris' coffee is a fantastic local resource for me and is gaining a well deserved reputation on the web.