If anyone is torn between a Lelit and other machines in it's class, like I was, GO FOR LELIT, you won't be disappointed.
Positive Product Points
-360 DEGREE STEAM WAND W/1 HOLE & RUBBER GRIP SO YOU DONT GET BURNED -LED PID -LARGE DRIP TRAY -STURDY KNOBS AND SWITCHES AS OPPOSED TO BUTTONS -EASY TO USE -MAKES GREAT FOAM
Negative Product Points
WHEN LOCKING IN PORTAFILTER HAVE TO SLIGHTLY HOLD MACHINE SO IT DOESNT MOVE - BASE OF MACHINE COULD BE HEAVIER TO AVOID THIS. PLASTIC TAMPER IT COMES WITH IS OF POOR QUALITY. I PURCHASED A HEAVY ALUMINUM ONE SEPARATE AND IT IS WORTH IT TO DO SO. MAKE SURE ITS 27MM THOUGH. VERY SHINNY SO HAVE TO CLEAN IMMEDIATELY AFTER DOING ANYTHING SO IT STAYS LOOKING GREAT. 27mm PORTAFILTER.
My Lelit PL41TQE w/PID came yesterday, and I made my first latte with it today. I have a double Starbucks latte a day habit, and was looking at this investment as a cost saver. I read all the forums and reviews on this machine before I purchased it, and decided to go with the PID version of the PL41 with modified steam wand from 1st-Line. I have never worked as a professional barista, but I have made a ton of espresso drinks at prior jobs, but I always made my espresso drinks on commercial machines, and probably hadn't made one in five years . After reading about temperature surfing and grinder and grind specifications, I was very nervious I had gotten in over my head thinking I could make my own coffee at home. I upgraded to the PID to try to simplify the process and I'm glad I did, it works exactly as it says.
I read the manual and went through the set up of the machine. I let it heat up and reach a stable temperature of 202 degrees (about 45minutes) before I pulled the first shot. I pulled my first shot and too my surprise I got the desired color and slight crema on the first shot! (It could definitely have more crema, but I will post more in the future about whether this is the best the machine can do or whether it will get better with practice). For todays coffee, I just went down to my local Starbucks and had them grind me a small amount of espresso to their grind specifications. I plan on using this method unless there is notable difference in my espresso in the future. I was very worried about choosing this (as opposed to purchasing a grinder right away) because everyone seems to feel the grind makes all the difference, but my personal experience today was that the Starbucks espresso ground to Starbucks espresso grind specifications pulled a fairly high quality shot of espresso with crema and hard puck, being I drink lattes this was good enough for me.
Of equal or more importance to me was the ability of the machine to steam milk. The photo next to my name (if it shows up) is the foam I got on my first attempt. It was pretty close to micro-foam and tasted sweet, and is probably the best feature of this machine, and after reading reviews is why I ultimately chose this machine.
First home purchase. I purchased from 1st-Line. The machine was shipped in one package with all accessories I purchased as well. Very well packed. I got this machine normal retail $750 for $549. I could have saved around $100 dollars for one w/out PID (and realize I could have saved installing one myself but again was interested in simplicity) or could have gotten a refurbished one for $350 (a good option 1st-Line has), but wanted what I wanted after reading reviews. The machine came on time, had tracking, I received email confirmations, and recommendations for other products. 1st-Line was the only company that wasn't sold out of Lelit at the time of my purchase, but I did research others' experiences with them, and did not find any bad ones. I also checked them out on Facebook. I did call 1st-Line before my purchase to ask questions, and was put through right away to someone who knew the answers. The 800 number on 1st-Line's website (I don't remember if it was the .net or .com website) went to a random person not 1st-Line, but the alternate number went through without issue. Overall good quality experience.
Three Month Followup
Decided I needed to buy a grinder. The trips to get fresh grounds every couple days got old pretty quick. I ended up purchasing the Baratza Encore grinder and I am very happy with it, and the quality of my coffee is much better.
One Year Followup
Still loving it! Its a solid great little machine that makes terrific lattes.