The straigjht shot espresso drinker would be hard pressed to do better than this machine.
Positive Product Points
An excellent machine for the individual who focuses mainly on straight espresso shots.
All steel body with solid construction.
Purchased with the PID option.
Easy to learn and use.
If you are consistent in your preparation, it is the same with its results.
E61 grouphead with lever.
Brew pressure gauge.
Negative Product Points
The PID may cause lights in the house to blink. A minor annoyance but otherwise harmless.
A single boiler non-HX machine. Basically, this is the Quickmill Eliane which Chris' has upgraded into the Alexia. You can view their website for changes made to the machine. Bought with the PID option, it gives rock solid temperature control. If you have them install it, the PID adds $300 to the base price, well worth it. The two PFs (single and double) have a good solid feel to them. Everything is encased in a good looking steel body. If the switches are side to side instead of up/down, make sure they are all to the right before turning on the Alexia.
I wanted to move up to an E61 grouphead machine after reading about it for years. Also, a lever mechanism was desired, more for looks than any advantage over switches/buttons. A pressure gauge was wanted to better monitor the pour. It was between the Alexia and the Fiorenzato Columbina. Once the Alexia had the option of a PID installed by Chris' people, it was an easy decision, and one that I don't regret.
The Alexia arrives pre-set at 10.5 bar. Most folks, myself included, lower that to 9.5 or 9 bar. It is easily done by removing the outer cover (undoing just a few screws) and adjusting the OPV.
Paired with a good grinder (currently, a Rancilio Rocky), this machine is capable of making amazing shots. As with other machines of this type, you will have to wait if you wish to do some steaming. You probably should look elsewhere if you do a lot of milk-based drinks.
Although it is suggested to leave the machine on for at least 20 minutes to heat all the internals, the boiler does reach a useable temperature within just a few minutes if you are in a rush.
The companion machine to the Alexia in my home is a La Pavoni Europiccola. There is a noticeable difference in the cup between the two. The Alexia's PID make brewing cup after cup much easier. It takes about 30 seconds for the Alexia to re-reach its setting after brewing an espresso. With the large drip tray, there is no worry about over filling during a brew session. For a pump machine, the noise isn't too bad.
For anyone who primarily drinks their espresso straight, I would heartily suggest buying the Alexia.
The rep from Chris' took the time to answer any questions I had w/o rushing the process. They even threw in a few "extras". The machine arrived within a few days. It was well packaged and arrived in excellent condition. A CD on milk frothing was also included. Shortly after recieving the unit, I had e-mailed a question regarding the PID. Within two hours an answer was received from both Chris and one of his technicians (Jim) - on a Sunday!
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Chris regarding questions for the care of the Alexia. Again, there was no rush; almost an hour, from the company owner. Chris spent time giving explanations and simply chatting about a wide variety of subjects. He is clearly passionate about his business and wants to do right by his customers.
Three Month Followup
Continue to enjoy the Alexia.
One Year Followup
October 2009 - The machine sees regular, usually daily, use. It continues to make amazing coffee with no problems or issues. The build quality is solid. I want to move up to a stepless grinder to extract even more potential from this machine. No regrets with the purchase whatsoever.