A great choice for newbies looking to learn to make real espresso and cappuccino
Positive Product Points
Makes great espresso and cappuccino when you develop some skill. Heats up quickly, pretty compact.
Negative Product Points
boxy design, but not completely ugly. lots of simple stainless sheet. No frothing aids, but the setup is what you want to make real foam. Portafilter leaks a bit when I don't have everything just right
We are very happy with the Lelit, although it took us some time to learn the nuances of a machine "with no training wheels". We wanted to learn to make real espresso and cappuccino and that's what this machine is for. After a few weeks, my espresso shots were much better than any I bought at any coffee shop. Of course I needed a real grinder (I chose the Baratza Preciso, so far so good) and I found a local source of fresh-roasted beans (Pie in the Sky, Woods Hole MA, they have really great beans roasted right there). The only other real machine I've used is a Gaggia Classic, but my technique and understanding of the process were very poor at that time so I can't really make a fair comparison.
For both pulling shots and making foam, some youtube and forum time is well worth it. If you try to use a machine like this without some decent technique and coffee you won't understand why you spent > $400 on the thing.
I'm a bit surprised about the subtlety of the grinding for a machine like this. To get a 20-25 second pull I need to play with the grind for each different type of bean and roast I buy from my local guy. I now understand why some gurus on this site consider the grinder to be your main tool, not the espresso machine. A machine like this without a good grinder is a waste, I think.
In summary, we are very happy with this choice and the Lelit is an enjoyable part of our morning ritual. I haven't been able to do a real comparison to other similar machines, but I like this machine a lot. We had looked at lots of other machines (including automatic pod-machines like Nespresso and integrated machines with built-in grinders like the Breville). In hindsight I wouldn't enjoy any of those as much.
The folks at 1st-line were knowledgeable and patient with my questions