Research, review, and mostly ask! The SAECO CLASSICO RS is a wonderful machine.
Positive Product Points
The Saeco Classico Rapid Steam is by far a much better machine than my previously owned Delonghi Bar 140. The weight of the machine reinforces its solid construction. The espresso brewed was thick, dark, and tasty. And i could froth imediately after brewing a 25 second shot.
Negative Product Points
I got a few feedback burps removing the portafilter. A little messy but cleanable. Also this is NOT a SELF PRIMING machine. So it is a few extra steps befor you can actually brew.
As a middle/advanced amateur coffee and espresso consumer, I have been enjoying good, bad, and ugly coffee beverages over many years. Recently I decided it was time to invest in an espresso machine.
BACKGROUND: I previously have ground my own beans for maybe 8 years, recently with a capresso #551. I have gone through several coffee pots from $15-$45 Black and Decker to Gevalia and beyond. I am a bit hesitant to spend $100 or more on a machine that probably won’t live to be 2. I found a Mr. Coffee model #UN12 Wal-Mart cheapy to be hot in the drip and produce a fine full flavored brew with a nice near chocolate color using Seattle Mountain Sumatra (Costco 2 pounder). Unfortunately there is a design flaw inherent to the drip control lever and you can wind up with hot coffee puddles on your counter top. I took it back and got a different Mr. Coffee model #UNX37GPC (made in GERMANY) hoping it would drip hot. Well it doesn’t brew as good, and oddly it has a notice about decanter placement, as if they realized the design flaws. But it has a timer and a plate warmer control which is nice so you don’t burn the coffee after too long on the plate. Well I decided however it was time to move into the big leagues.
A QUICKY, NOT A GOODIE: I did much research and in being frugal made a bad decision. I bought a http://www.costco.com/ special Delonghi Bar 140. It was shipped fast from Costco, and I was excited. Well the first day I opened it up, cleaned it and ran some initial runs. It took nearly five minutes to get a shot that looked like espresso. It was as if the new Delonghi was a drip coffee maker. So I lessened the tamp and changed the grind a little. Well I got a much faster process, but it tasted like burnt water and looked like light syrup instead of resembling coffee or espresso. Back it went to Costco the very next day, with no hassles.
A SMART SOLLUTION: Much more research including http://www.coffeegeek.com/reviews/consumer and ALT.COFFEE and Click Here (www.espressopeople.com) and I decided to go with the Saeco Classico Rapid Steam #SIN 015R. I paired this up with a Solis Maestro grinder. Well I just got this set today and WOW. I moved up from a sucker to a smooth barista kinda guy. Needless to say I am pretty wired on the 5 or so shots I have had the past 2 hours as I practiced. Straight out of the box I dropped in one of the included pods and the very first shot glass was half full in about 25 seconds. The product was dark, heady (crema) and although a bit sour, not a bad shot. Then I advanced immediately to the first grind of the Maestro. I had a burp (and a little mess) after the cycle, but once again this Saeco Classico proved its worth as a medium investment for a good espresso machine.
OTHER IDEAS: I tried the froth wand and following the directions on the included machine video, I produced a fast and frothy milk. I dropped it on top of a shot made just moments prior and enjoyed. The Saeco not only came with the instructional video (great for beginning espresso brewers like me, I recommend this highly) but also it came with 2 nice little espresso cups, 12 pods (which actually work), a great book, and nice little puck disposal box. All for the price I paid has left me and my wife happy and a bit jittery.
CONCLUSION: Do a lot of research and listen to what the other people say in their reviews and opinions. It really paid off for me and I am very happy and proud to own the Saeco Classico Rapid Steam and the Solis Maestro. The maestro does emit an electrical or metal odor, but works great. I hope the motor doesn’t burn out.
I enjoyed my experience with espressopeople.com they were informative, and friendly. My buying experience was great...well waiting for the fedex guy was a total drag..but hey...good things come to those who wait. And free Shipping efectivley made this a $200 machine. Additionally i got my MAESTRO for $109. TOTAL=$339. What a deal!