A good way to experience real espresso, but probably not the last machine you'll buy.
Positive Product Points
Cheap and cheery -- makes legitimate espresso much of the time. Great machine to gingerly try the waters with.
Negative Product Points
Plastic-y; flimsy; drip tray too small; reservoir too small; noisy in a grating kind of way.
As a good scavenger, I was excited to find a "real" espresso machine for 30 bucks. In it's relatively short time with me, it taught me both that I want good espresso as a regular thing, and that I have the temperment to have my countertop covered in coffee grounds most of the time.
Bringing up this baby hasn't been incredibly easy, though.
First, the machine didn't actually heat up when I got it home. After some troubleshooting and blah-blah with a service guy, I found that it was an incredibly cheap thermal cutoff fuse that had blown. (Note, these don't look like I'd expect fuses to look. They look more like resistors.)
Second, my naivete about grinding: I didn't realize that I needed a good grinder. Don't leave the cost of one of these out of your plans.
Generally speaking, I can coax good shots about 1 in 10; drinkable shots 6 in 10; and dump-down-the-sink shots the other 3 in 10. A good proportion of the dump-shots are probably the first ones pulled, which might be related to me being impatient first thing in the morning.
Regrettably, the machine is starting to leak more and more (despite a new gasket), so it's out the door as soon as my new machine arrives. (Or maybe it'll be shelved until I can rebuild it in the image of this machine: <http://www.cbindustries.ch/louis.htm>).
Buying used is rewarding, but hard sometimes. If you're buying a used machine, know what parts should come with it. Generally, they're not expensive to replace, but it's just more bother.