Fantastic looking machine. Incredible steaming power compared to the sub $1,000 category of espresso machines. Professional grade components. Optional no burn steam wand and brew-head thermometer are a MUST!!!
Negative Product Points
The water resevoir is incredibly small when you have to do the flushing before pulling the shot. It's okay though, as I wouldn't want the unit to be any bigger. I did buy an in tank water softener, but after doing the testing of my water (good), and seeing how the filter displaced even more water out of the tank, I chose not to use it. I get a little impatient at the 30 to 40 minute warm up time, but that is more of a personality flaw than a problem with the machine. They all need that sort of warm up time.
Can't say enough good things about the machine itself. Buying the optional no-burn steam wand makes the experience so much nicer as well (who loves to scrape off caked on milk on a wand?). The brew-head thermometer (optional, but also HIGHLY recommended) makes you realize how important it is to be able to know the temperature when you are doing any flush-and-go or flush and wait technique. Top quality components used on the machine.
My previous espresso machine was a Gaggia Classic, and I really enjoyed that little unit, and it paid for itself about 20 times over. However, I could never go back after having the Anita sitting on the counter. In a completely different class for sure.
Looking back, it took me I'd say a few weeks before I was really making a good cup of coffee. Was pulling pretty good shots within a few days, but it really took some getting used to on the steaming, as I wasn't used to so much power. I had difficulty stretching the milk without it creating a big foam head on it. But again, a little practice cures any flaws in technique.
Chris' coffee is fantastic. Helpful over the phone, and over email.
Three Month Followup
I continue to be so impressed with this unit. Make a couple of cups a day. Looking back on it, it really did take me a month or two to fully understand the unit, and to not only pull great shots, but to steam quality milk. Using a flush-n-go technique down to about 202 degrees ends up making a great shot, and steaming non-fat milk (scooping off a dolop of loose foam before the pour) ends up making a great latte. I would purchase this machine again in a heartbeat. I simply can't believe I used anything less than this, for so many years.