Have a hobby, buy the Ariete Novecentro, and you will know how hard life can be...
Positive Product Points
It really look nice with all that chrome and long handels. It has better appearance than most of the espresso machines, and that was main reason why I bought it. Well, it was also cheap at the discount price of 175 €.
Negative Product Points
Made in China, that should tell everything needed, but let me explain some details: Did I mention those nice long handles, which are used to operate the switches of the machine? Well, when you combine 4" lever with the Chinese switch which cost 2 cents , you are asking for trouble. You don't need lever to operate that kind of el cheapo switch, in fact, that kind of leverage will destroy the switch. At the end the levers roll around like the gear stick of the russian supercar, Trabant, and you can only guess if the switch is on, off or steaming. Quite funny. If you manage to find the sweet spot of the rolling lever, you can try to squirt some coffee out from the machine. It has really fine and big portafilter, which is pressurized model. There is tiny little hole, like one atom missing at the bottom of the filter, so it make crema even without any coffee. Amazing, you can fill the filter any freaking way you like, and you get lot of thick crema, which taste bitter. Well, there is nothing which you cant fix with Black & Decker, so I widen that hole to 2 millimeters. Now you get crema only if you have correct grind and tamping. After these little tweaks and troubles it makes decent cup of espresso...
When I carry it home and try it first time, I was wondering how these levers continue movement after they have turn the switch. I didn't put any effort to that because I was eager to test how delicious espresso it can make. After first mouthfuls of that bitter and burnt coffee, it seem to be bad decision. I was quite disappointed, but as an engineer I know that these things may need some tweaking. First point to learn was the temperature, it seem that temperature slightly more than 95°C gives best results. Unpressurized filter was big improvement, but only after these changes the coffee became decent. How about the steaming, if you want make some latte? Well, if I warm up the machine carefully, it make some steam, but it spits lot of water with it. If I take 1,5 dl of milk and steamed it, I have 1.5 dl of milk and 0.5 dl of hot water in the cup. Nozzle of the steamer is ridiculous, next to impossible to clean, and it has tiny little silicone o- ring in it. When you screw it off for washing, that little o-ring comes along the steam pipe, and when you screw the nozzle back, the o-ring will be in wrong position. What it does is that it makes the nozzle sneeze like a elephant with the flu, and you have hot water all over your kitchen. Anyway, after few try I bought a little whisk to make milk foam. I have owned this apparatus few years now, and most of the time it stands useless, because there is too much work to get a decent espresso. If I had known what kind of piece of junk this machine will be, I wouldn't take it even if the seller would give me that 175€ just to carry that machine away. In fact, we bought one even cheaper to my workplace, it cost only 25€ at the discount, and it make just as good coffee as this Ariete.
I bought it at the finest department store in Finland, Stockmann, and seller used all kind of nice words to describe that happiness what the machine will bring at my home. Just imagine how incredible dumb did I feel when I stand at the front of that machine, tasting bitter coffee and cleaning boiling hot milk from the walls and the ceiling.