I'm proud to make a great latte with this machine.
Positive Product Points
Substantial Italian manufactured machine that is impressive in appearance on the countertop. Water is easily added to the reservoir without removing it by sliding it left or right. Good brew with the right grind.
Negative Product Points
Cleanup is cumbersome. Water backflows under grillstand and the brew group leaks slightly after removing the portafilter. The single shot portafilter does not give as flavorful espresso as the double. To change the water reservoir a slightly awkward twist is needed and the machine has to be pulled from the wall and turned 90 degrees. They should supply a metal tamper for the price instead of a flimsy plastic unit.
I have owned this machine for 6 months and endured a gamut of trials and tribulations but have succeeded in what I consider a great latte. The steam wand will heat 12 ounces of 37 degree milk in about 2 minutes to 175 degrees. The espresso gives a strong golden crema that holds even when pouring twelve ounces of milk into a double shot. I team the machine with a Rancilio Rocky set on 11 for the successful crema using 14 grams of beans which brew 25-30 seconds upon which the flow begins to pale. The machine is most successful with custom ground beans, not preground espresso like Cafe Bustelo or Medaglio D'oro. I have tried Moak beans as well as a combination of organic 90% colombian and 10% french roast. I toyed with the machine for two months before buying a proper grinder. It is essential for the grinder to help the machine give a perfect shot of espresso. Turkish grind (#1 on the rocky) completely occludes flow through the head. I have descaled this machine at the four month mark. I read six pages of worthless spin about this machine at coffeegeek all by people who never even brewed a cup.
Shipped from Williams Sonoma because it was not in my local store cost an extra $80. Is that worth a new wife, who got it for me for a Christmas present in two days? So, great service but I paid for it.
Three Month Followup
In July the steam spout started to leak spontaneously, even when turned completely off. The ProLine rep was very gracious and sent a replacement. I was to simply put the old machine in the box the new one came in and return it free via UPS. The new replacement machine however had a defect. The espresso button would not stay in and was obviously defective. I returned the replacement and a 3rd machine was sent which worked. This machine now has a 2 year replacement policy from the time I received it. I have used it for 3 weeks and it works well.
One Year Followup
The machine continues to perform without incident. I have had no new trials or tribulations except that when I descaled my machine I inadvertantly left the shower screen screwed in place. The descaler tarnished the finish and the Kitchen Aid representative kindly sent me another at no charge even though I volunteered to pay for it. Different coffees produce different tails and brew times from the portafilter so that I have to adjust the grinder to optimize the draw and the crema. I'm constantly changing coffees looking for the perfect taste and the journey is enjoyable. I enjoy the hands on "barista" requirements of this machine rather than just pushing the button of automaticity. It still looks impressive in the kitchen.