PID Controlled - No More Temperature Surfing - Yay! Big Grouphead Standard Size 58 mm PF Big Drip Tray Pressure Gauge Adjustable OPV - Easily accessible Separate pump and thermoblock for steam
Negative Product Points
Boiler could be a bit bigger - 700 ml Water reservoir could be bigger
This was an upgrade from a Gaggia Dose, a machine which produced very inconsistent results due to the wide temperature fluctations. So for me, the important features I was looking for were a PID and an adjustable OPV with gauge. There were few competitors in the $1000 or less price range. And the fact that the steam mechanism was totally separate - that was the thing that made the final sale. All I had to do was watch the Chris's Coffee video that shows a shot being pulled AT THE SAME TIME as the milk is being steamed... well, that did it!
Shots are amazing, and they are consistent. I love the fact that I can control all the metrics: temperature and pressure, as well as dose and volume. I can change temperature by a single degree and see what that does to the taste.
Steaming milk is a bit trickier, but I'm getting the hang of it. The good news is that there seems to be a near-unlimited supply of steam from the separate thermoblock.
And how about the fact that you can adjust the pressure from an adjustable OPV found right next to the grouphead? No need to open the machine to do it. I simply use the backflush disk and watch the gauge change pressure as I adjust the valve. How cool is that?
Other good stuff: Massive drip tray which is very convenient. And the machine looks great... nice shiny stainless steel everywhere. The only shortcomings I can see are the small reservoir... and the boiler could have been bigger. But, not a big deal.
Overall I am very happy with the machine.
I live in Toronto - purchased from idrinkcoffee.com and they shipped quickly with free shipping.
Three Month Followup
Actually, this is a 6 month followup: PID provides stable temperature, but the temperature setting and the actual temperature vary: The machine overshoots the PID setting by up to 6 degrees F, then falls back to the setting. It's fine, just takes an extra couple of minutes to stablize.
Now that I've had the machine for some time, here's what I find would make this machine better:
Some kind of pre-infusion, probably just an e61 grouphead.
A better steam wand. The one supplied is a single hole wand. A double hole wand, given the power of Silvano's TB, would make things easier.
OPV return: Excess water returns to the resevoir. Would much prefer it to route to the drip tray.
Still very pleased with the machine. For the money, I still cannot find anything comparable.