Very ease to use, makes good coffee, but doesn't like oily beans
Positive Product Points
Ease of use Good tasting coffee Self-cleaning Good looking Informative display
Negative Product Points
Problem with oily beans Pump seems not strong enough for finer grind settings (see update)
The main thing that convinced me to buy this unit was ease of use. I've owned a Saeco Rio Vapore for years and am OK with the quality of espresso it's capable of however I really find manually pulling shots to be too much effort so consequently it mostly sits collecting dust on my counter. My wife, who also likes espresso, will not even go near it on her own. After reading Mark Prince's first look on the S9, I was excited by the idea of having a machine that would make decent espresso and even regular coffee one-button simple and so was my wife. Don't discount the wife factor because with a machine this expensive, she's gotta be convinced! So I did the research, read as many reviews as I could find, convinced my wife, and took the plunge. So far I'm pretty happy, however there are some things you need to know before you buy:
The oily bean problem that others have reported. I don't normally use oily beans, so it's not an issue for me, but be aware that they will "clog" the bean hopper. It's not a big deal to get the beans flowing again but it does mean that you'll have to monitor it while grinding which does sort of defeat the whole concept of "superautomatic".
Pump strength. The machine came from the factory set about midway on its grind range. I've tried to adjust it to a very fine grind for espresso and the machine was not able to complete its brewing cycle. What seems to be happening is that the pressure builds up too high and the machine just stops and asks you to basically vent it using one of the steam buttons. This doesn't seem right to me and I'm going to call the manufacturer about it. Has anyone else experienced this? To be fair, I haven't seen this problem reported by anyone else so it's probably just my unit. Update: I called Capresso and the support person told me that I'm trying to grind too fine for the beans I'm using. Perhaps true, but if this is the official answer it doesn't speak well for the pump they are using. In any case, the coffee tastes fine so I'm not going to do anything more about it.
Regarding S7 vs. S8 vs. S9, I will echo what I've read elsewhere on the web - think hard before buying the S8 or S9. Is the color silver really worth $200 extra to you (only difference between S7 and S8 and it does look good in black)? Is metallic bronze plus the automatic frother really worth an extra $400 to you (only differences between the S7 and the S9)? They definitely weren't worth it to me. Heck, my vendor actually congratulated me on my good sense in getting the S7. The manual frother, by the way, is easy to use and does a fine job and if you just have to have the automatic, you can always add it to the S7 later for $80. The bottom line for me is that the machine lives up to my primary goals - to make coffee brewing as easy as possible. while producing an above average cup of coffee. Hopefully, I can get the pump issue sorted out but even if I can't I'm still keeping the machine. My wife can now do her own coffee in the morning and guests are thrilled that they can make themselves a nice cup whenever they want. I know that there are better espresso machines out there but I'm deliberately making a tradeoff in favor of convenience.