Quality java with minimal effort, yet tweaking is still rewarding. A fun machine that makes it easy to drink espresso every day.
Positive Product Points
On the plus side: easy to use, easy to clean up, all-in-one design, still tweakable despite its push-button design, cheap at half the price
Negative Product Points
On the down side: Bigger and heavier than Mr. Coffee (but actually svelter than most comparable models), nearly as loud as a commercial machine (no midnight espresso), owning this means having to admit your obsessive relationship with coffee
I cried when I first used this machine. Tears of joy! The Pavoni Club Combo is a great little espresso machine. Owing to manufacturing flaws, which compelled Thomas Cara, Inc. (local Pavoni dealer and refurbisher and roaster of the best damn espresso I‘ve tasted) to stop carrying the non-manual machines, this gem of a machine can currently be had for a song (under $200 vs. original retail of $400).
It has a large water tank (a couple liters), a built-in burr grinder, doser, and an easy-cleaning rotatable steaming wand. Two alleged "knock-boxes" nee drawers underlie the drip tray. It‘s not self-priming, but that takes all of twenty seconds. Although self-explanatory, the machine comes with an instruction manual and a video. My machine came sans a coffee basket, which Europena Gift, Inc. very kindly replaced gratis. Nice guys!
But how well does it work? Apparently really, really well. The espresso naturally varies a bit from cup to cup, but is consistently rich with a thick crema. Warm, roasted flavors with an absence of bitterness revealed to me the subtle interplay of flavor and acidity as I had never before experienced it. Although the pump is loud enough that I have considered earplugs at times, the result is, perhaps sadly, as good or better than any espresso I‘ve had in all the cafes I‘ve patronized over the years. Is this simply because the young co-eds behind the counter just don‘t care if you get good espresso or not? Maybe. To put it in perspective, I have tried numerous coffee makers (I prefer the Turkish Method or the French Press incidentally) ranging from the fancy gold filtered Williams-Sonoma models to the bitter liquid reconstituted from the "coffee concentrate" by the machine in the hospital basement (lesser cousin to the steam-powered psuedo-espresso makers that are far too common). I have tried a lot of espresso from a lot of commercial machines, like Mr. Espresso, La San Marco, Rancilio, etc. Of these, the Rancilio is by far the best, although the Club Combo runs neck and neck with it. One further caveat is that I have never tried the elixirs of the Rancilio Sylvia or La Pavoni Europiccola home machines, so I can‘t comment on a comparison there.