It's easy to spend more and get less. It's easy to spend a lot more and get more, too, but I'd rather blow the savings on exotic coffee.
Positive Product Points
Beefy internal parts, strong pump, heavy portafilter
Negative Product Points
Tiny drip tray, vibrates a lot, reservoir awkward to put in place when full
I had an old Gaggia for nearly two decades and after it died I went through a bunch of crummy low-cost machines such as Briel and Capresso. My wife finally said why not get one good one, so I went back to Gaggia and can't understand why I ever "strayed."
I gave the Carezza a slightly low rating for ease of use because it does require experimentation to find the right grind, tamp and coffee amount to produce good shots. It's not that the machine is hard to use; rather, it requires some learning and effort. People who want the machine to think for them should buy something else.
The plastic body is less appealing than my trusty old metal battle-axe Gaggia, but has no negative effect on function. The drip tray, however, is tiny, meaning you have to have various containers handy for flushing and brew group cool-down afer steaming -- the tray will never hold enough for these functions. Not a big flaw, but odd considering Gaggia has had huge "buckets" to catch drips in their past models.
This machine seems to prefer very finely ground coffee, so only if you are willing to buy a decent grinder (I got a Solis Maestro Plus to replace my worn out Capresso), will it deliver excellent shots. And it does it for a surprisingly low price. Its compromises to meet that price point seem to be 1) plastic (no problem); 2) no three-way valve (very slight inconvenience when emptying the portafilter between shots with hot water still in it); 3) small boiler (fine for home use).
Bottom line: you'd have to spend a lot more money to get a substantially better machine, and "better" in this context might be beyond what anyone really needs for a home setup.
Aabree was fast and easy. No problems with the machine, so I didn't get to test their customer service.
Three Month Followup
- none -
One Year Followup
After a year of use, the drip tray turns out to be a non-issue. The ease of use has gotten even better as I get used to how run this rig. It's like setting exposure on a camera: you can adjust grind, amount and tamp pressure to aim for the perfect shot, using one or two of the variables to make up for a third that may be temporarily out of whack (like press harder if you use less coffee or it is getting a tad stale).
No breakdowns or problems after 12 months. I still highly recommend this machine as a great value for the money.