Top of the line guts with a budget price and an ugly body - are you drinking the body or the coffee?
Positive Product Points
VERY inexpensive and does a great job
Negative Product Points
Aesthetically not pleasing to look at
Okay, first I want to say that I've owned this thing for 5 years and totally intended to get a "good one" when this one broke down. Well, as it turned out, I'm waiting for that to happen. I've repaired it once: I replaced the O-ring washer for the steam valve - twenty cents at Home Depot. Now while I was messing around in there, I thought I'd poke around the guts (I'm an engineer and couldn't stand not knowing EXACTLY how it worked). It turns out that the pump that runs this whole gizmo is the same pump that runs the pro units and is considered THE pump to have in your machine. I think it's an ULKA vibratory pump. I went on-line and got some documentation on it and took it apart (there were some instructions on how to clean it...what the heck!). It was totally clean as I only use microfiltered water in my machine.
Bottom line - guts of a pro with a frumpy body. I've tried VERY expensive machines at my friends' houses and haven't noticed a difference in quality at all. What made an incredible difference for me about 2 years ago was that I switched from a lower-end burr grinder to a Kitchen Aid Pro grinder. Even my stale beans tasted better than the fresh beans from the old grinder. Whoda thunk it??? I've talked all of my coffee-lover friends to bite the bullet and buy that expensive grinder and not one of them regrets the investment.
It was from Target...I went in, put the box in my cart and checked out. If you like shopping like that, then it was great...