Espresso with body and taste, a solid delivery from a solid machine.
Positive Product Points
-Great tasting espresso -Good espresso body -Good steam wand for price point -Solid build -Looks great -Good value -Easy to use
Negative Product Points
-No release valve -Looses temperature very quickly while pulling a shot -Not a dual boiler -I don't get the temperature gauge -Small water tank (but not compared to class, just small in relation to jugs of water) -The pressurized portafilter is a LITTLE bit of a pain to clean, but it DOES come with a regular one, and it makes good espresso
This machine is worth MUCH more than $230. Would I pay the $700-$800 full price? Maybe, but I would put a lot more thought into all the other machines on the market. Overall I really like the machine. It makes good tasting espresso (based on the brand you buy) with rich crema and body. It doesn't take a lot of time to learn this machines ins and outs either, but I do happen to make espresso for a living.
This machine is built well compared to a lot of machines I have used. The portafilter is very solid, the steam wand is thick and well made, and the body of the machine is solid and seems like it would stand a lot of abuse. The shine is not easily lost, you would be able to quickly shine it up if you get coffee or other liquids on it. The steam wand works very well compared to other machines I have tried. It has great pressure and can steam quickly once the machine is fully warm.
This machine does not have a release valve, but it doesn't really bother me since you can let the pressure out slowly after about 30 seconds; I've never had it sneeze really badly. Plus no valve allows me to give it a little rinse run and then release all the pressure to shake loose any grounds that may be up around the gasket. I don't really get the temperature gauge. It shows the machine is heated right away, but as all machines do, it takes a good amount of time before it's really heated.
This machine does not have a duel boiler, and I don't like putting my portafilter into place while steaming as I believe the machine shoots too much excess steam onto the puck before I pull the shot. But with a little practice and some good coordination steaming milk and pulling a shot before the milk separates isn't too hard.
Overall, I feel I got my money's worth. I enjoy using the machine, it seems built to last, and I get good espresso and good milk out of it.
Good, about the experience you'd expect from the big mermaid. They don't really know anything about espresso or machines, but they know how to sell them.
Three Month Followup
The machine is still working very well. I haven't noticed any problems & everything stated before is still accurate. To keep it short and simple the machine pulls consistent shots, steams very well, and does everything I would expect from a good espresso machine; I don't even question the fact it will perform every morning as well as it performed right out of the box. I definitely am not disappointed & would recommend this machine to anyone.