Outstanding performance right out of the box for straight espresso
Positive Product Points
Outstanding machine. Attractive and an excellent performer on straight espresso. Straight out of the box equalled the performance of a highly modified Silvia . This is a superb machine.
Negative Product Points
The manual is somewhat laughable in translation, but usable. The temp was fairly on (199F), but there is a bit of a deadband (see CG review), so it helps to surf the machine to element shutoff (top of band).
I had this machine on loan from Dave at espressodeals.com to evaluate its overall capability, in particular in comparision to my modified Silvia.
Just to set context, my Silvia differs from stock by being PID'ed, having the pressure reduction mod, and running a 'LM style' PF and 3x basket. Grinder is a Rocky. All shots in the comparison have been ~25second 1oz ristrettos of fresh local beans from Cup A Joe. The brew temps were consistent at about 198F on both machines, very suitable for the beans. For the comparison I used the same 'LM-style' PF and 3x basket on both machines.
Having pulled a number of shots so far, the one thing that stands out is just how close the two machines are. This is actually a very impressive thing to say. The mod'ed Silvias are known to pull shots that are equal in quality to almost anything that you will find anywhere, so to say that a machine straight out of the box can duplicate this is actually a wonderful thing. The Zaffiro is pretty darn idiot proof, and a very nice machine for the money. In the right hands either machine will produce equal quality shots in my experience so far.
If you want a no-hassle solution to getting remarkable quality shots, go buy a Zaffiro and be happy. If you want to get under the hood, invest in the PID, violate the warranty ;), and potentially have a little more control (via dynamic adjustment of the PID temp), go for the Silvia and invest the hours and money into modifying it.
This is a great machine, and I would recommend it highly to anyone that is looking for a top quality straight espresso machine.
Dave at www.espressodeals.com was great to work with, and has super prices on machines. He's been very responsive to phone calls and emails. I would definitely do business with him in the future.