Produces a great product. Factor in price and you'll win by picking this machine.
Positive Product Points
Produces a high quality shot Excellent value
Negative Product Points
Double wall filter baskets Slow steaming
I acquired this machine almost accidentally. My boyfriend and I don't live together. I had a Saeco Vienna Superautomatica at my house and when I visited his house I was always wanting to go out for a cappuccino. Yard sale hound that he is he saw a craigslist ad for a yard sale where they were selling an espresso machine. So he bought the Breville 800ESXL--barely used--for me to use at his house for $50. My initial reaction was "there's no way that machine is as good as mine." And then I started using it. The crema was was better than my Saeco. And so was the flavor. This machine made me realize my Saeco didn't cut the mustard, so I sold it on eBay and now drag the Breville back-and-forth between my house and my boyfriend's--really.
I used the Breville for some time with the basic supplied dual wall filter baskets. My grinder is another yard sale find--a vintage Zassenhaus manual grinder for $1-- and I found that if I tamped the espresso at all I couldn't extract espresso through the dual wall filter. So I didn't tamp and still got some really nice product, better than 90 percent of espresso-based beverages I would buy when I was out. This is probably helped by my discovery of George Howell's Terroir espressos--the BOMB! What I didn't get with this method was the syrupy stream I see at high quality coffee shops. To froth milk I activate the steaming wand and let the stream of water turn into steam before inserting it in the frothing pitcher. The steaming process is slow but once I studied frothing techniques I was able to produce microfoam pretty reliability.
In poking around on this site and others in recent months I discovered that Breville sells single wall filter baskets for this machine and that they would up the already good quality production from this machine. They were out of stock for quite some time, but they arrived yesterday. I bought a metal tamper (the standard plastic one that comes with the machine is pretty crappy) and put the new setup to work this morning. I'm still fiddling a little with grind adjustment, but I have to say that the improvement is fairly dramatic--the espresso is indeed the syrupy stream I'm looking for, flavor is great, etc. I've been wondering if I should upgrade to a machine that allows me to control temperature, but I have to say I'm having trouble imagining I could do a heck of a lot better than this machine and would be really disappointed if I spent a bunch of money for no reason.
I highly recommend this machine.
Yard sale find, negotiated the asking price from $75 to a selling price of $50.