Quality espresso. Great machine for beginner or intermediate without tons of $$ to invest.
Positive Product Points
Cost effective. Built-in cup warmer. Consistent, pungent, and tasty espresso shots with proper tools, ingredients and technique. Steam wand is great for getting hot water (for use in tea or heating cups) and steam pressure is good, froths effectively. Can be used all day long with no decrease in quality of the beverages yielded.
Negative Product Points
Complaints about the plastic construction are reasonable but I just don't care since it is reliable and the espresso is up to snuff. Built-in tamper is a waste of space.
Afflicted with the need for rich, flavorful and STINKY espresso, I quested to find a used pump-driven machine on eBay. Enter the Krups Maximo 863. I could not really spend much more and used machines were readily available, so I figured what the heck.
This was a big step up from my burnt-brown-water-spewing steam-driven capresso. I finally have real, actual crema, consistently - it doesn't even fall down after several minutes. Initially my shot times were way fast and there was no crema at all. As I got the grind finer and the tamp harder this improved. I had decent results with my former grinder - the Solis Maestro. The replacement - a Capresso Infinity - has taken the espresso to a whole new level. Fresh, oily beans can be made to produce dark red/brown crema and a shot that is totally outstanding.
I read a review where someone complained about the single/double baskets and the portafilter that come with this machine. I'm not sure why because they seem well made, reasonably sized and work great.
Built-in tamper is a waste of space. I got a hand-tamper so I'm not trying to apply 30 lbs upward in a cramped space - which is REALLY awkward and yields inconsistent results.
ebay, $65 shipped.
Three Month Followup
-Still reliably producing really good coffee with the right grind and fresh beans. I've had 2 picky latte drinkers and one very picky espresso drinker all tell me that my product is on par with the best they've had previously, if not better. -Lots of steam pressure after a quick priming. My friends who are soy latte/cap drinkers are consistently amazed at the volume of foam. -RELIABLE. With regular descaling and cleaning this machine keeps up easily with my substantial demand for: Espresso, Lattes, steamed chai lattes, steamed hot chocolate, and various teas. I've literally made many hundreds of beverages with it in the past few months.