Design, Construction and Performance: Best in its Class
Positive Product Points
• High quality parts • Boiler pressure gauge and group pressure gauge • Large water tank • Good size drip tray • Attractive styling • Two portafilters
Negative Product Points
• Drip tray depth a bit shallow
I moved up to the Anita from an Expobar Leva. The difference is striking.
With the Expobar I had to carefully monitor the HX flushing procedure since it was easy to have the water too cool or too hot. With the Anita, you have temperature stability that is remarkable. An ounce or two of water through the head (enough to warm the cup) and you're ready to pull your shot. Even when pulling two, three or four shots in a row, the Anita temp stays very stable. Like most HX machines, when you first turn it on in the morning, you should wait at least 20 minutes to get everything up to temp--I usually wait 30 minutes to be sure.
The portafilters are heavy and feel comfortable in the hand as you work back and forth from grinder to machine (I use a MACAP stepless grinder). I like the filter inserts since they have the indented ring and it is easy to calibrate the amount of ground coffee you need by referring to that ring.
The power and boiler heating lights are bright and easy to read. The power switch is heavy duty and gives a solid click when turning on and off. The boiler pressure gauge and the portafilter head gauge on the front of the machine are easy to read and should be helpful in checking out the operation of the machine. Again, these are responsive and high quality gauges that look good.
My one quibble is that the drip tray could extend a bit more forward. Situating cups under the portafilter for extraction is not the problem; rinsing out a portafilter with all the splashing of hot water can put a little bit of water on the counter in front of the machine if you're not paying attention. This is not a serious issue, but you will have to learn to control your portafilter rinsing movements forward and back. Having said that, I really like the design of the drip tray and the steel grating shelf: nicely machined and welded edges, the drip tray slides out and in easily for cleaning without having to also take out the shelf.
I love the overall design of the machine. Stainless steel and a slight bit of curvature on the front two side edges; nothing fancy but it's an eye-catcher for visitors in your kitchen! The machine is heavy--about 50 pounds--and sits solidly on the counter. It fits under a standard cabinet height. Because the water tank is mounted left to right in the machine, at the back, I've found it is easier to just take off the top cup-warming plate and stick a funnel in the top and fill with water that way, rather than taking out the tank altogether to fill at the sink. It's really nice to have a magnetically-controlled water level safety mechanism that lets you finish the extraction you're on while protecting the inner mechanism by shutting off the temp momentarily. I have a dual under-sink filter system in my kitchen and I use the filtered water in the Anita.
Steam is plentiful and powerful. I like the single hole tip that comes standard. I achieved good microfoam from the very first. The hot water tap delivers at a very fast rate. Both steaming and water wand knobs open to full very quickly and are easy to operate.
The manual is good and Chris Coffee sends a nice "How to get started" instruction sheet.
Bottom line is: this machine exudes excellent quality and thoughtful design. Absolutely a best buy in its price range and I would recommend it without reservation. If you are already a coffeegeek, you'll get wonderfully consistent results with this machine since it won't hold you back from fine-tuning all aspects of your technique. On the other hand, a beginner who really wants to take the plunge will be delighted with this machine as well since it is so predictable with temperatures.
I purchased from Chris Coffee. I was initially interested in the Quick Mill line and after calling and chatting for a bit it became clear that the Anita was a good choice for me. Friendly and informative pre-sell service. The machine came quickly--no shipping cost!--and although the free pound of espresso blend they put in the box was torn during transit and one rubber cap on a leg of the machine had come off, the packing was excellent. The instruction sheet that Chris Coffee sends with their machines is informative, clear and should get anyone up and running. Yes, I strongly recommend that you consider the machines Chris Coffee sells since they stand behind them and have an amazing reputation in the espresso machine community.