Getting a Used Machine
I bought this used and once I declacified, soaked the group parts in Cafiza, and backflushed, it was clean and ready to go. Initially it was a mess and I thought 'what have I bought', but after a good cleaning it looks like new.
Compared to the Breville I owned previously, which I "learned on", it's night and day. With a good grinder (I have a Rocky, I think a Macap/Mazzer would make the Club even better), fresh beans and moderate technique, I'm able to get a very rich and tasty 2.5 ounces of espresso with lots of crema, 8 out of 10 times. The other 2 times the shots are not as consistent, usually because of bad dosing/distribution/tamping and are very drinkable, just not 'great shots' IMO. Because this was an upgrade for me, and I've not used a Sylvia/Gaggia, I can't compare other than to say that if you can find one for a good deal, it's well worth it.
I always make a double shot of espresso. Sometimes I froth milk for a macchiato or cappucinno after the shot. Half the time I make a 2nd double right after consuming the first.
Using the machine is easy, my usual routine:
- fill the resevoir and with the machine plugged in but NOT on, with a cup under the steam want I open the steam valve and hit the water button, this primes the boiler (when water starts to flow out of the wand the boiler is primed...I usually let about 5-10 ounces through to get fresh water into the boiler)
- close the valve, hit the on switch (wait about 15-30 minutes), leave the PF with basket attached
- flush water through the group/pf/basket into a cup (thus getting everything hot, including the cup)
- remove the basket, dry, grind into the pf/basket
- load pf and immediately hit the brew button
- you can remove the PF almost immediately after, though I usually leave it as I have my espresso
- if frothing milk, you have to open the steam wand and press (continually, or for enough time?) the steam button, I usually bleed the water into a cup then replace with the milk...I open the valve as much as necessary based on volume of milk
- wipe down the wand, run some steam through it into a cup/cloth and wipe again
- run water through the group, PF wiggle, whatever it takes to clean the group
- every few days I do a freshwater backflush with a blind filter, every month or so (not sure of best frequency) I'll use Cafiza with the flush
I don't know if this machine has temperature stability issues (I'm not that much of an expert to comment), but I've hit the brew button at various times in relation to the boiler cycling on/off and I haven't noticed the difference in shot quality. I think this has let to the good consistency.
I can't make nice microfoam on this machine because their are 2 holes in the steam tip. I can steam the milk and get froth, but it doesn't combine very well into that nice microfoam...doesn't affect the taste IMO.
The machine seems to get hot very quickly (to the point where it hurts to touch the group)...usually 15 minutes to get this although I often leave on to heat up for 30 minutes.
I've tried to find out information about that machine, and I believe this is it's greatest weakness. It's not a very popular machine, so getting parts is challenging. Also without a lot of other users posting information about the machine, it's hard to learn/share things as it would be with a Sylvia or Gaggia. However, if you find this for a good deal as I did, it's a great buy.