Performs flawlessly, looks awesome, a real pleasure to own and use.
Positive Product Points
Gorgeous styling - I love having the gauges HX for shots and steaming together Thermosyphon for excellent temp stability Easy maintenance with standard parts Big and solid drip pan
Negative Product Points
Steam weaker thab big boiler machines Difficult to get at reservoir Reservoir sensor needed to be reset
Many folks have already seen my enthusiasm over this machine, as well as my espresso porn pics post6ed all over coffeegeek.com. Simply put, this machine is a solid performer that's beautiful in the kitchen and easy to maintain. I've used it to make the best espresso I've ever made before.
The whole story is that I purchased the machine used from another coffeegeek. The machine originally came from Chris' Coffee and he should get props for the mods they do and for the service he provides.
NOTE: I spoke with Chris before I decided to buy the machine and he said he'd support it (and me) because the machine originally came from him. That was the determining factor for me in the end for getting the used machine, plus it came from another coffeegeek and I felt like it had been in knowledgeable and caring hands before it came to me.
Out of the box I was impressed by the fit and finish of the parts. The heavy skin is beautiful shiny stainless. I did file down some edges (the bottom edges of the top cover were a little sharp for my tastes). This was my first experience with preofessional E61 portafilters and I love how thick and heavy they are (Relax does use the standard size and shape).
My initial results were pretty good. I used beans from a local roaster and I was dilaed in after just a few shots. This is my first prosumer machine but I had made espresso for decades so I knew my way around a bean, a grinder, and a steam wand. Once dialed in the shots are amazingly consistent. I have been able to tweak my style and technique so that my espresso has steadily improved. (Now I'm trying to work on latte art).
The performance of the machine has been flawless for me. I use a timer so it's ready before I am. The brewing temperature and pressure is dead on for me and fits my routine for grinding and tamping individual shots.
The steam isn't as strong as my previous machine (a 2+ liter boiler manual lever machine) but the steam is dry and consistent and strong enough to whirlpool 12 ounces of milk in a 32 oz pitcher for 2 latte drinks at once. I have the EPNW 2-hole steam tip for improved microfoaming.
One thing that's been great is that the group is easy to take apart so I can keep the dispersion screen and plate clean. If you'll check the forums you can find the photo series I posted showing the cleaning and assembly.
So what else is there to say? I love the machine. The only upgrade I would even consider is a double-boiler PID (like S1 or Brewtus). I have made head-to-head shots with an E61 and can't taste the difference using the same grinder and beans.
Purchased from another coffeegeek who was great through the whole process. He included some home roasted coffee and now I'm totally hooked and an avid home roaster myself (but that's another story).