This is a great beginner machine for this price class.
Positive Product Points
Easy To Use Cup Warmer (especially for this price class) Decent Crema ESE Pod Compatible Good Pressure (feels right) Great Beginner Machine
Negative Product Points
Mostly Plastic Housing Low Wand Clearance Low Cup Clearance Not "Real" Crema (see below) Odd Portafilter Size
First off, let me say that if your looking at buying a machine in this price class, this machine is great! It's easy to use, heats up fast, has good pressure (advertised as 15 bar and it feels right), and makes pretty decent espresso...better than both coffee houses in town and one is a Starbucks! I haven't been back since. I've done my homework and while it can feel plasticky and obviously isn't going to win style points, this machine makes a decent cup of espresso with the right tools to back it up, especially considering your not dropping half a K on it! Consider this a great beginner machine for the money. Some things you should know: The portafilter size isn't standard! If you want a tamp for this machine (and you will, the one built on is just ok) you'll have to get it custom made. Also, while the crema produced from this machine is satisfying, it isn't "real" crema. It has a special backpressure system that helps make the 15 bars it advertises and also produces the "crema." However it makes it, it is decent. I've been in a hurry and rushed a shot from this machine and gotten espresso with absolutely NO crema. So, it isn't ALL gimmicky. Lastly, most of you should know this already but I feel the need to emphasize that what can make or break this beginner machine is the grind you're using! Illy's espresso grind is great! ESE Pods do ok too, but I'm not a fan of the flavor from those... Hope this helps!