I will save a lot of money by not stopping at cafe every day for my morning shot.
Positive Product Points
Easy Set-up. Cost Effective. Sturdy. Easy Cleanup. Small Footprint.
Negative Product Points
Instruction manual lacks details for beginners.
I had been stopping several mornings a week at the local cafe for espresso. At near $2 a visit I figured it was time to consider a home system. Having researched on-line, I settled on this machine.
Although, I had watched espresso made in the shop, I had never seen a home machine before. I am very pleased with this purchase. My rating are not based on any comparison other than the beverages purchased at a few cafes in town. My homemade is not as good as the cafe's but it is very good.
The machine’s set-up was easy but the instruction manual was lacking a little detail. In particular, the instructions to prime the pump by running the motor did not work on the first try; the "ok" light came on before any water flowed. I worried about the tank overheating so I shut it down for about 10 minutes and tried again. The second time worked. The manual did not speak to this.
I also had a real problem with the tamper. I discovered that it is easily removed from its holder and can be used by hand. A diagram in the manual shows it used while still attached to the undercarriage, which I found difficult and cumbersome.
I also had no experience with grinding espresso. My first few tries were not very satisfactory and I could find no help on-line. I went to the store, bought pre-ground espresso, and was surprised at how fine it was. I now grind at home with a simple blade grinder with great success. It just needs to be ground near to powder.
Fineness of grind and tamping pressure seem to be the trick to good espresso. After a few tries I was getting a nice layer of caramel colored crema and delicious espresso every time. I toyed with the steamer a bit but I do not drink milk-based beverages - only straight espresso - so I have not tried using it to make frothy drinks.
Cleanup was easier than I was led to believe by some reviews. Everything comes apart easily and washes up nicely. Reassembly is quick. I have made a two-shot cup every morning before work plus a few on the weekend. That is all I wanted, and it is working great (only had a week or so). I am saving a buck-and-a-half a day; it will pay for itself before year-end.
Typical department store purchase.
Three Month Followup
After three months, I am still using every day to make espresso. For quickest results, fill with two scoops of ground and tamp firmly. After the machine reaches temperature run the pump until the ready-light goes out. Turn off the pump and wait for the light to come on again, and then run the pump again until the light goes out again. This creates the highest quality crema that I have been able to produce with this machine. The result is a triple shot of decent coffee, which is exactly what I want in the morning before work. Turn everything off and wait a while for the puck to dry, and then clean-up is a breeze. I have only used the frothier a few times. It works ok for heating hot cocoa but does not seem to create the kind of froth you need for cappuccino.
One Year Followup
This is a three year follow-up. Not even sure you can still get this model. I have used it every day for over three years without a glitch. My son and I each make a triple shot before work/school. I am changing the rating to a 10 based on it dependability and preformance.