Espresso nirvana is possible with this machine--what more could anyone want?
Positive Product Points
Easy to use, easy to clean (I *love* stainless steel), makes great espresso. Does a good job of frothing milk, too.
Negative Product Points
Leaky steam valve, and the handle finally broke. Have to turn on the steamer to get the temperature I need.
It takes a while to learn how to get the best out of the Silvia, but the results are outstanding once you do. Yes, it does take a while to heat up, but that fits my lifestyle just fine, since I have to prepare my wife's breakfast before I fix my first cup.
The only real mechanical problem I've seen is that the steam valve doesn't stay tight after the machine cools, so you have to tighten it again later, or you end up with a puddle of water on the counter top. I finally broke the plastic valve handle by over-tightening it, but that doesn't actually affect its operation. It's just that I can now slide it out. Now I keep a cup under the end of the wand, just in case I do forget. I'm not sure how avoidable this problem is--hot metal expands, cold metal contracts.
The machine doesn't quite get up to the temperature required for a perfect cappuccino unless the steam switch is on, but if you turn it on too early, it gets too hot. So, I turn it on after the initial 25-30-minute warm-up, while grinding the beans and getting everything else ready. Then, I brew the espresso as soon as the light goes out. The result is perfect espresso.
I had thought that "zero bitterness" was just hyperbole, but now I know that it's really possible. Many, thanks to Mark for turning me on to this machine. I only regret that it took me a whole year to decide to buy it.