With Tips and Mods will beat most Krups/Delonghi type models. Good entry level machine/Value for the Money
Positive Product Points
-Nice Stainless Steel Exterior -Cheap
Negative Product Points
-Crema Enhancer -Cheap portafilter -Steam can be inconsistent/wet see Tip -Drill out Mod mandatory for quality espresso
I got this machine 2 1/2 years ago as a gift. Previously I have owned Krups and Delonghi Machines. Warming it up and pulling the first shot I knew this machine had potential. For the first 8 months I had a lot of trouble creating consistent shots. There have been many mornings that I have found myself cursing at having ground a bean too fine and clogging the Crema Enhancer, ending up with a pressurized mess. That is, until I followed the directions of others here on Coffeegeek and carefully performed the drill out Crema Enhancer Modification. Make sure you don’t drill through the Basket FILTER! only the Crema Enhancer. It was like night and day from that point forward. The machine became much forgiving with variations in grind and extracted excellent natural crema, using a finer grind then previously possible.
After another 8 months I became completely frustrated with the inconsistent Steam. Some rare days I could achieve decent microfoam and strong steam power, while most days a soggy water stream would come out the steam nozzle. I knew that the machine must be capable of more. After some Experimentation I discovered that there is a point on the main Espresso/Steam Knob, turning the knob very slowly to the left where you can get the machine to activate the Thermoblock heater without activating the pump. Thereafter I have been able to get consistent MicroFoam Daily! USE WITH CAUTION. I suspect it could cause a fire or something if left unattended with the knob in this position due to overheating.
TIP. Steps: 1) Heat up machine and Pull shot as per normal. 2) Wait until Thermoblock is heated and “Heating” light turns off. 3) Turn the Knob VERY slowly towards “Steam” until the heating light comes back on again but not so far that the pump is yet activated. 4) Wait about 15-20 Secs or so. (Do not leave in this position for extended periods or Overheating of Machine could occur, resulting in a possible fire, as you are overriding the thermostat.) 5) Turn Knob the rest of the way left to Steam as per “normal”
I think if I kept this machine I would install a switch with a thermostat/PID to achieve the same steam results as per the above manual technique, but I have recently upgraded to commercial Heat Exchange Machine.
Summary: This machine is good value for the money and will outperform many equally priced machines if you are willing to learn how to use it.
I got this machine as a gift for Chistmas (Thanks MOM!) .