The first time I saw James Bond making coffee with one of these in Live and Let die, I HAD to have one.
As a geek searching Ebay at 2 in the morning one day, finding a used La Pavoni pro for $200 on Ebay was my dream. I hit the buy it now auction and the package arrived in about a week. No portafilter (That is what the auction said). So, after ordering a portafilter from orphanespresso, then an elektra double basket from 1st line ($100 for a portafilter! And they didn't send a basket! But that's the price you pay...) I was in business!
I fired up the hand grinder (GzzZzzZzz!!!), lock and load'd and..............uhhh...aahhh....hmm.
This machine apparently takes a grind slightly coarser than the mypressi TWIST. So I sloooowly....wwwiggled the poooortafilter....and staaaarted too-
As the coffee gods took pleasure in my humiliation, and after cleaning the fumey, smoldering coffee crap off my counter, the machine, the group, etc., I tried again.
And after preinfusing for~3 seconds, behold!.. A deliciously gloppy, golden syrupy substance emerges from the filter into my shot glass!
I vaguely remember volatile flavors and sensations dancing upon my palate, but I mostly remember my vocal chords involuntarily emitting moaning sounds at an intonation I had previously thought unattainable by the human body.
Or in other words, a durn tasty cuppa joe.
My experience since then, aside from a few niggles, has been identical, really. =D
DAY TO DAY:
Do NOT believe any of those BS testimonials that say you'll need weeks/months/a degree in cranial remodeling and a $X,000 grinder before you can pull a good shot. With my mediocre coordination and sleep deprived state, I can use:
-a $30.00 hand grinder (hario slim! =))
-$12.00 beans (freshly roasted from longview coffee)
-basic knowledge of espresso preparation (read the guides on coffeegeek/home barista, and Mark Prince's pavoni review!) http://coffeegeek.com/proreviews/detailed/pavoniprofessional
-weak, 220v clunker peacock that I can somehow still run on 110v
and still make some damn tasty coffee!
-Get a good tamper. Not plastic. It really does help.
-Towels. Lots of them. Espresso is frickin messy.
-Some kind of base. Lack of a cup warmer is awkward, but part of the aesthetics, I guess. =/
-One-hole steam tip. (Note: some may not need this. With my fussy european machine, it is a MUST!)
-Friends. Please don't stay inside all day with your pet dragon. Get some sun. =)
-Most sane people will never feel the NEED to upgrade. Just the other day, I ordered a nice electric grinder, but really I don't think I need a Cremina (get your pitchforks!). I like to buy things like...gas, or...clothes. Y'know, normal people stuff. ;-D
This is the benchmark machine where the only thing that can improve your coffee is your skill.
-This machine WILL overheat after a couple of shots (note: there are some workarounds: Click Here (www.home-barista.com)) If you're having a party, most people really like french press coffee. If that won't do, get an aeropress and use the Pavoni for steaming your milky drinks. You could just get new friends, I guess, but that gets old fast.
-This thing is a chick magnet. Invite women over frequently, and stun them with your coffee dragon (*gasp* "What's that!?")
Learn how to write bad poetry. Now you're artistic! Hi-five =D