Great investment if your serious about espresso. Must be paired with no less then a Rancilio Rocky Grinder. Not designed for fast multiple milk drinks
Positive Product Points
Killer Espresso. Easiest OPV adjustment of all time. Easy access to inside. Watlow PID temperature control is amazing. Love the design and build. Small size to fit in kitchen. Steaming capability is fantastic compared to what i've used in the past. I got lucky i guess..barely any sound when pump running. Easy to fill reservoir. Stock steam wand perfect.
Negative Product Points
Have to refill reservoir after every 2-3 sessions of brewing.
To refill it's easily solved: I have barely any counter space. I used a perrier glass water bottle. It easily snakes in under my cabinet and i dump a bottle in easily usually while i'm purging and refilling the boiler with water after a session.
****NEW INFORMATION as of April 2009***..WHEN PULLING A SHOT WATER IS ACTUALLY BEING DRAWN INTO THE BOILER AT THE SAME TIME!!..WHICH IS GREAT. THE LEVEL OF WATER WILL NOT LOWER AS MUCH AS I DESCRIBED BELOW BUT IT WILL LOWER A BIT.
The boiler is .75litres. The heating element is about 2/3rd's the height of the boiler so it's necessary to always refill the boiler after a session. You don't want that element exposed below the half way point for too long. It will definitely limit the life of the element. I look at it like our tea kettle which has the element at the base...when water gets low the element sizzles and it doesn't look pretty.
.75 litres is 25.3 ounces. If you divide the boiler into 3rd's you get apprx. 8.3 ounces. You guessed it.. that means roughly 8.3ounces before the element is exposed. Then i assume it's okay to leave a small portion of it exposed say like 4 ounces. The element itself takes up space inside so these numbers are not dead on.So figure you warm up the machine for 30-60 minutes do a blank pull of 2 ounces. Then you pull one shot 2minutes later. I figure you could pull 4 more shots easily and then steam milk. "if you had to make that many shots that is"...
You need a good grinder or your wasting time. On the lower end vs. Mazzers,,etc. Rancilio Rocky does an amazing job. I have had excellent results going beyond my expectations.
I think i must have got lucky with sound issues.....the machine is so quiet. My Classic was a jack hammer in comparsion.
I adjusted the OPV easily...just remove the two side screws on each panel and the two lower screws in the rear. Do not remove the two screws in the upper portion of the rear. They are not holding the cover on at all and don't need to be removed. I accidentally did and it was a waste of time. I just removed the water reservoir after taking off the housing and unplugged the silicon hose at the base of the OPV (make sure to put paper towel under it too collect any water that may come out while removing it...i had about 1/16-1/8 ounce come out. You don't want water on the wires. After that i just rotated it by hand almost 1/2 turn counter clockwise and then put the silicon tube back on by hand. The silicon tube must be removed because as you turn the nut at the base of the OPV the tube will turn with it and twist as you turn. You don't want that.
PID:see home barista read up....Suggest paying for seller to install...you will get a wicked setup. Unless your mechanically inclined. I've installed 4 PID's in the Gaggia's and after looking inside I do not want to install this myself. There is very little room to work. The OPV is like 4-6mm from the PID. Super close quarters. See write up.
I was considering the Giottio Premium Plus or the Brewtus 2. After tons of research i decided steaming capability is not of utmost importance to me. I also didn't want to purge the portafilter for the "water dance" to get to proper temps. The issues i've read about pressure stat's going and build quality had me second guessing. I know a lot of users were incredibly happy with those machines but i stuck with this one after reading the comprehensive review on home barista.
I've installed PID kits from Auberins which are good but after seeing the quality protective housings, probes,etc that PIDKITS provides you can't go wrong. It is really is a superior product. I believe that any higher end machine unlike my old Gaggia should use the Watlow setup's from PIDKITS.
"The drip tray is unreal...totally amazing...basically HUGE"
***update on serving 5 lattes and one espresso straight....it was faster then my OLD gaggia classic which needed a 3min. minimum recovery between shots to get anything decent. I made 6 successive shots one after the other with the same temp. results from the Eric S. thermometer readout. I then steamed up two sessions of milk rounds. Took apprx. 45-50seconds for each shot including dose,tamp. Steaming time was 1.30 to get there..30 seconds to purge. Then repeat steam cycle. So apprx 4min. for two steam cycles & apprx. 3min for the shots. It wasn't bad at all...i got to serve everybody properly. The straight espresso sat in warmed cups for a max. of 4min. tops. I gave that one to the newbie ;)
The overall accuracy ,execution, function and design of this machine is incredible.
I paid a huge sum in comparison to the cost during 2006 but i don't regret it one bit including custom PID install The cost in US was 2g's almost cdn.
Caffetech was good. It took me about 6 weeks to get the machine due to customs issues at border crossings which was testing my patience. In the end i got what i wanted.
ChrisCoffee & his entire crew were kind enough to give me a helping hand regarding questions i had about the machine. I really can't imagine a company like ChrisCoffee being any better.
I just bought the Chriscoffee temp. device that goes on E-61 Groupheads. This is not necessary but i'm beyond help now. The techno. gadgets have got me hoooked.
Three Month Followup
Excellent...but now i'm craving on demand steam..lol
One Year Followup
Machine is flawless...Other then having to clean out some scale due to my own neglect of not running descale solution every 3 to 6months. It's 2012 and i'm still happy with her...always performs incredibly well. My demand for pulling multiple drinks has diminished. Highly recommend Caffetech. They have been fast and helped me with any issues quickly without hassle. During shipping a screw loosened which ended up shorting a section. They sent a replacement part and instructions ASAP. Also had a guage issue which was replaced super fast..I can't thank them enough for the great support. The cost was well worth it.