Play with the big boys and get an Alexia if you don't make many milk based drinks.
Positive Product Points
It's the least expensive of the E61 group heads, with the caveat that it is one boiler. Large water reservoir and drip tray. Excellent construction. Big, shiny and well made.
Negative Product Points
Let me begin with saying I love this machine. After a wonderful 5 and a half year romance with Mrs. Silvia of the Rancilio family, I told myself it was about time to upgrade. But I couldn't leave Silvia until a freak flood in my kitchen decided it was time to part. I purchased her younger, sexier replacement from ChrisCoffee.com, which provided me with excellent advice (I called asking very detailed questions and received a prompt response).
The first shot was pure love and subsequent shots were better and better. I love this machine. Silvia could only pull great shots from a few blends, but I can put almost anything in Alexia and get a great shot. My best shots with Silvia are about 75% as good as with Alexia. My best shots with Alexia are - for me - as good as those from many thousand of dollars worth in the big name espresso machines.
I don't make many milk based drinks, so I selected a 1 boiler machine, which is where Alexia fits in perfectly. If you are like me, this is your machine.
I recommend Chris Coffee very much. I called a few weeks after the machine when I smelled a "burning plastic" smell and they told me how to take it apart and what it may be. I took it apart, but my paranoia got the better of me and the smell proved to be simply the smell of a hot machine. Chris Coffee is really great. I purchased my Mazzer Mini there on Christmas Eve 2004 (Chris was replying to me all day too!). You can't beat it. They have videos of the machines too. They're in the business because they love it, so that's all you need. Well, they are competitively priced too. You can't ask for more. Too bad they don't sell used cars.
Three Month Followup
(none - I did my first review at 2 months and missed the following three month review)
One Year Followup
One year later I am still in love with the Quickmill Alexia. It elevated my espresso experience opening the door to a huge range of varietals, blends and origins that I could not have enjoyed on my previous machine, a Rancilio Silvia. With the Silvia, I had some blends that worked really well and I would find myself using only those blends. Subpar blends wouldn't cut it and in fact taste awful (like your regular roaster down the street). The Alexia makes every blend sing. I don't know how or why, nor care! I just know that I can buy any blend and it will taste great. Subpar blends taste pretty good too. Now I can try some stuff like single origins that never pulled well in the Silvia.
And I still very much recommend ChrisCoffee.com. They're really awesome and I don't plan to buy anything from anyone else. I called them and had them on the phone for far too long having them explain how to change the pressure in the machine. I was more than worried and they were more than friendly. I had to return a bottomless portafilter due to a problem and they took it back without a problem (way after the 30 or so days they take returns). I've called asking tons of questions and they give tons of advice. So friendly, in fact, I thought to send them a Holiday Card!
My only complaint - and this is truly minor - is that the pressure seems to increase a little bit after a few months. This is probably because of the valve-to-tube connection that could slip a bit.
I had one mechanical problem: the valve that controls the pressure started leaking water very slowly. ChrisCoffee.com identified the problem, shipped me a replacement and happily coddled me through the replacement part. Minor problem.
I think I've steamed milk less than a dozen times, so I can't comment on that portion of the review.