Breville 800esxl will produce a shining example of espresso to match it stainless steel machine with a few added shot making techniques.
Positive Product Points
It's compact and sturdy. Although discontinued and quirky it appears reliable. Easy to clean and use by a relative newbe with my unconventional technique.
Negative Product Points
The excess water and filter cup issues are real but solvable.
I've taken a great bit of time before writing this so it would be an aid to those who have stuck with this product despite its' shortcomings. I read the reviews as I was looking for an upgrade from the lowest end of espresso makers. After I received it, I went through the growing pains of the sloppy clean up, and the too fast /thin flavored shot. I'm not an expert, but I do have a few ideas if you want what I believe to be a good shot and an easier clean up.
I have teamed this Breville up with a Baratza Virtuoso grinder with the newer precio grinder section. This isn't the best option for what I need as one of my techniques utilizes different grinds to create more back pressure to increase the shot time and fuller flavor. I use about 1/4 of my coffee on the top of the filter pack that is ground to turkish fineness. The finest grind level on my grinder is used as the primary level and that level is coarse enough to prevent any clogging that has been discussed in other reviews; it acts like a filter inside of the filter. When packed with the turkish on top, the added back pressure is achieved. Unfortunately, my grinder doesn't go that fine.
I combine a bit of cleanup and another trick to aid in the last stage. After making the shot, I switch to hot water to partially fill a glass to clean the frothing wand. I then switch to steam to aggitate the water to aid in the cleanup and get a little pressure going in the boiler. Now the last trick. With my shot cup still in place under the filter I quickly switch to brew on the selector while pushing the off button. This prevents the pressure/temperature reduction relief valve from activating and a small amount of steam to route back to the filter cup and forces the residual water and the last of the shot into my cup. This not only firms up the puck for cleanup but also produces more flavorful final drips to boot.
Obviously, this is more effort for some coffee drinkers who can spend considerably more money on a near commercial espresso maker to get that consistent painless shot. This machine and modified user process works for me to get a great shot or two on a very modest budget. As with any machine, trial and error will be required to take my less than precise explaination of my technique and procedure to your way of understanding. Good Luck.
I hope this review/blog yields greater enjoyment for those who have Breville's 800.
These are still available, some in new condition, because of a few user issues. I went through ebay and was happy with the process.