Reliable if a bit fussy. Can produce excellent shots with care and practice.
Positive Product Points
Can pull nice shots with the right grind. Heating system flushes leftover water after each use. No stale water buildup. Removable water tank. Metal construction with plastic accents. Design. Still looks better than newer machines. Has worked consistently for 15 years.
Negative Product Points
Running steam heats unit up considerably. Manual warns to allow unit to cool and reheat before pulling a shot. Not suitable for prepping more than a couple of drinks at a time. Perfect Froth attachment is pretty useless. I taught myself how to get microfroth with the standard steam wand. I've been careful about keeping the brew head and steam wand clean. Probably why I've gotten 15 years of use.
I received the Espresso Novo 964 as a gift in 1993. At the time, a pump machine seemed terribly sophisticated to me. I thought the machine was the key to great espresso. Some of my initial shots wowed me with the crema. Others let me down. Slowly, I came to realize the importance of the grind. When I finally got a good conical burr grinder, the quality of the shots coming out of my little Krups blew me away. I went from using it periodically to daily. That's right, every morning I went through the multi-step ritual the little semi-automatic demanded. Steam milk. Run water to cool. Let it heat while grinding and tamping. Pull shots. Pour milk and froth. Sip while cleaning brew head and steam wand. I've learned a lot with this little workhorse. Both what to do and what not to do. I wouldn't call it easy to use. But with care and practice it can reward you.
Clearly this model has been long discontinued. I'm writing this for the odd person who comes across one at a garage sale, etc. Check that the o-ring around the filter holder is good. The brew head tends to clog if it's not cleaned regularly. I've revived mine by soaking and following up with a needle to stubborn holes. If the steam wand plugs up, try steaming a cup of plain water. That always clears mine in a few seconds.
I recently found a new super automatic machine at an irresistible sale price. So the little Krups has been moved off the kitchen counter. I'm not ready to retire it completely. Thinking of relocating it to the office. We've been through too much to just toss it aside.