The best HX machine for the money! Consider the VBM if you need a steaming machine.
Positive Product Points
- Huge 3.8 liter water reservoir - Steaming Power - Quality, commerical components - Classy & simply beautiful on my counter!
Negative Product Points
- Drip tray a little sharp (not a big deal) Hard to think of anything bad to say about this machine-really!
After frustrations with my Gaggia Coffee and the anemic steaming capabalities, and only getting occasional god shots, I decided to upgrade to an HX machine. My Gaggia did serve me well for 2 years and was a great starter machine. We mostly make capps and entertain quite a bit so my Gaggia wasn't cutting it.
It took long months of convincing my husband (he thought it was insane spending $200 on my Gaggia). At first I told him I wanted the Anita, which cost a little over 1k, and he said "no chance." I don't give up easily & I finally covinced him we really needed the upgrade.
After doing long hours of research I determined the most important thing for me was temp stability, a reliable machine and very importantly a steaming powerhouse. (again-we do entertain & make lots of capps/lattes).
I also added Andreaj & Izzo Alex to my list. The reason being was I was concerned about some of the CG'ers comments about having to constantly refill the water reservoir on the pour over models (like Anita). Would I get tired of it too? Perhaps then the Andreaj was a better option? After talking with Chris from Chris's Coffee I was all set on buying the Andreaj.....then I stumbled across Home Barista's benchreview on Vibiemme. After looking at all the pictures of the inside, outside , reading their review and checking out the steaming video I was convinced the VBM was the machine for me! I called Jim at 1st-line and he spent forever on the phone patiently going over all my questions.
So of course I now have to convince my husband who was still thinking Anita price range. Jim spent a great deal of time talking to my husband too. I was suprised when my husband readily agreed to buy the VBM for my bday gift. (thanks Jim!) What sold my husband was the commerical components and they way they were laid out inside. He said if there was a problem he felt it would be easier to get in there & repair things himself. (he is an engineer so of course this is very important to him!) Since we live all the way in California he wanted to be able to do some of the maintence himself, should something go wrong.
Other than buying my house the VBM has been the BEST purchase of my entire life. I love everything about it. I was surprised how easy it was to operate. We do have hard water, which is a killer for espresso machines, so we add the water softener cartitidge every month. Not a big deal, really. Because the water tank is so big we aren't really filling it up as much as I feared. The steaming was a little challenging but I took the advice of others and don't open the valve all the way. Also, read Home Barista's benchreview --it easily outlines all the steps to perform great microfoam.
Oh! I forgot to add another another important reason for buying the VBM.
The VBM is UL Commercial Tested from Underwriters Laboratories UL. I used to work as an Engineering Aide here in San Jose (at their facility on Scott Blvd-ages ago!) so I know personally how rigorously they test products. I was surprised to learn a lot of other espresso machines sold in the US are NOT tested/listed/certified by UL. I know this isn't a big deal probably to most Coffeegeeks but to me it is.... I have heard too many horror stories from the testing engineers of things blowing up LOL.
1 YEAR LATER--hmmm....for some reason I never did get notified for my 1 year followup. Anyway, I still highly recommend my VBM. I have owned it for 14 months now & still love it.
Jim has been wonderful. I bought my Rocky grinder & various other espresso stuff from him in the past. He sent us an upgrade recently for our VBM without being asked to. Stellar customer service!
Three Month Followup
I have had my VBM for a little over 7 months & I'm still in love with this machine. I'm so glad I picked it over the Andreaj/Anita/Alex etc. I'm pretty sure we'll never plumb it in & the water tank is extra big on my VBM. I think I would have gotten tired of constantly refilling the tank if I opted for one of the other machines.
I can't think of anything else to add? I'm definitely happy with the quality of my shots, not to mention, my VBM is still shiny and looking as beautiful as ever.