For a tight budget espresso lover who wants to have an espresso machine, there are things that makes me consider an espresso machine. First is the price (as low as possible), second is the overall quality (both brewing and frothing), and the last is upgradeable. Krups is on the top of my wish list because of it is cheap, could produce fairly good espresso, and upgradeable. Yes, this machine is upgradeable with the aftermarket parts you could found on the net (try hkcoffee.com).
First look for this machine, it thought it wasn't an espresso machine. Not shiny, not elegant, small, light (even my rocky weighted more). All looks like a toy rather than espresso machine. But with a little bit curiosity, i found that this machine could be upgrade to improve the shot it made.
For the espresso, well what would you expect from a pressurized basket shipped with this machine. I could say it is better than $tarbak, but won't compete with a real espresso made from your fave cafe. But don't worry, you could improve your espresso with this machine by replacing its pressurized basket with non pressurized one. Those basket were krups novo basket with part number 0907163 for double basket and 0925592 single basket. Using this basket would improve your shot significantly.
The portafilter itself made from heavy weight brass. It is a good point for a cheap machine like this. But as the size is too small, there are no tamper that fit perfectly for this portafilter. Most of the store would say 49 mm is the size for the tamper. Actually, the best fit tamper size for this machine is 50.2 - 50.5 mm. You couldn't find this kind of tamper size anywhere except Reg Barber that could create custom tamper size for you. For me, i bought 58 mm tamper and resize it into 50.5 mm.
Steam power is enough to create almost micro foam, just almost not micro. But to create these kind of foam you must modify your steam wand. Just pull out the steam tip that made from rubber and you could produce smooth foam. But by pulling steam tip, your steam wand would be shorter, and almost couldn't reach milk surface in the pitcher (even 12 oz pitcher). You could also replace steam tip with after market steam tip made from brass from the store i mention before.
Drip tray is so small. This machine is not for you who lazy to clean up everything after making espresso. I have test this machine by creating 7 cup of latte simultaneously. The result is, every 1 cup of latte, you should empty your drip tray. Otherwise, it will overflow just after the second latte finished to create.
The boiler it self is interesting. It seems krups understand that their boiler were too small, then they decide to turn it on every time it pull a shot. As the result, the water temperature is stable. Some people measures that temperature only drop around 1 or 2 degrees (compares to silvia that could drop around 10 deg). And it also has some kind of preinfusion system. Just hear when you pull a shot, the pump will work for around 2 second then stop for another 2 second and work again until you stop it.
Another fancy things is that this machine always back flush the water in the boiler to the drip tray after you use the froth, and sometimes after pulling a shot. As the result, we should wait the pump flush out all the stuff from the boiler and re heat the cold water. Well it is not a big deal until my finger got burnt because of the steam that came out when I pull out the drip tray. This steam also create a mess under the machine.
Well, for me as an espresso newbie, this machine is acceptable. Simplicity to pull a shot and froth a milk is a big plus for this machine (but cleaning the mess this machine produce is not simple :D). The result also not too bad compares with the machine with the same price range. And modifying this machine also a great thing i like. With around 20 bucks modification this machine will produce great shot.