I know what espresso is like when it's made as good as it can be, on a good commercial machine, and I want to make it that way at home. But there's a big tradeoff -- I'm not skilled or knowledgeable enough to make it happen on a little home machine, and I can't spend the $6,000-plus for a commercial machine that would make it foolproof.
So, it's a tradeoff. What I like about my Vetrano is that, for me, it's the perfect tradeoff, and here's why:
It's state-of-the-art for what I can afford, under $1,500. When I read up on all the mainstream machines in that price range, the Vetrano had everything that the best of the others had (plus a few more things as well, I thought.) It certainly had everything that the REAL coffee geeks, in the discussion groups, were saying machines needed to have. (I consider myself to be a pretend coffee geek.)
The vendor had the machines built to his own specs by an established Italian manufacturer, and he imported them himself for sale in the US. So, he's got a vested interest in them, way beyond passing them thru his warehouse from origin to end user.
The vendor is a real person who is easy to talk to and is very responsive. Now, for all I know, everybody selling these machines is a real person who is easy to talk to and etc. I only talked to Chris, but he was always there for me, every time, from start to finish and still now close to a year after my first e-mail. My first inquiry about the machine was on a weekend afternoon, a holiday weekend at that. Chris responded the same evening. Maybe he was just up late trolling for buyers, but it's been pretty much the same ever since, except that I quit e-mailing on weekends. And not only with him, but also his back office people and his service people.
Service. Espresso machines have a lot of pieces for things to go wrong. You don't want to be on your own, air-freighting in parts from Italy, and discover too late that Italian word for the "boiler" you needed was "caldaia", not whatever you said to the lady on the phone, and what you're getting is a fertile crocodile egg. I thought I'd have an advantage on service since Chris designs and imports the machines himself, and sure enough, when I had a service thing occur, it got fixed immediately by Chris' tech guys. (Actually, it got fixed by me, with them coaching me on the phone, so the machine didn't even have to go back.) Maybe other vendors can do as well some of the time, or maybe all of the time, I don't know. But Chris and his people sure have come through for me.
Honest advice. For example, I told Chris what my grinder was, and asked him if it was junk and did I need a better one. He said, yes. Well, no surprise there, I guess any vendor would have said yes. Then I asked him if I needed to buy Model X, and he said no, that was overkill and too expensive for home use, Model Y would do. But my point here is that by the time this occurred I trusted him, and so I bought the new grinder, and sure enough, I did really need it. Otherwise I'd probably still be trying to make do with the junker.
Finally, the coffee tastes really good.