I have had my machine for almost a year, and have been very pleased.
With no Starbucks on the way to work, I needed a way to get my daily latte. With no experience in espresso making, I did a lot of web research before I purchased this unit (based on reviews and cost). I wanted ease of use at a reasonable price and I did not want to have to learn the art of manual espresso making. Since I drink latte, I had to learn how to froth milk. Other than that, it is a button press operation that took me about 2 tries to become proficient. I use a thermometer (additional purchase) to know when the milk is hot enough.
This model is not too big, but does take up some counter space - about the same as a sturdy 4 slice toaster. Mine is brown. The controls are easy to read and simple to use. There are three lights that indicate if the unit needs beans, water, or grounds removal. There is a NON-removable bean hopper (with adjustable grinder) that holds plenty of beans, and a large removable container for water. The water container sits in the back, so you have to reach around to remove and replace it. It is not hard, but with the unit under a counter, you have to be careful of bumping into things and sloshing water. A knob on the front determines how much water is sent through the grounds, so you can make shots or up to a 8oz cup. There is a basket that slides into the side for the used grounds. I dump it after each use, but it can probably hold around 10-15 shots of grounds. The front swings open to allow the brew unit to be removed for cleaning. (Removing and replacing the brew unit is easy, but getting into all the nooks and crannies for cleaning takes a little time. There is a light grease on a lot of surfaces, so I am not sure sometimes if I might be removing some needed lubrication.) There is a removable catch tray on the front that collects *some* spills and drips. The steam wand is on the right (facing the unit). It has a frother attachment that slides off for easy cleaning. The wand hangs down so low that it is hard to get a pitcher or cup under it without spilling. The wand swings out past the catch tray to insert into the milk. After the milk is frothed, the volume has increased - so I almost always spill some on the counter when removing. I will probably sit the unit on a block of wood to raise it an inch or so to help with this issue.
READ THE MANUAL and watch the video before using the unit. It is not complicated, but much easier after you know what to do. As I said, I had no espresso skills to apply - but I did not need them to be successful.
My morning routine:
Turn on power and wait a couple of minutes for unit to settle. (Good time to get milk and cups ready) I press the steam button and run some hot water from the sink into my cup to warm it up (No warmer on this unit). When the steam indicator lights, I turn on the steam wand and run water into my cup for a second until steam flows freely. Then I put the wand in the milk to heat and froth. Once the milk is correct, I press the steam button again to toggle back to brew temp. I turn on the wand to pump steam/water into my cup to speed up the cool down period until the indicator lights to indicate brew temp. Then I press the brew button twice to get two shots. Once the shots are complete, I can pour the milk, shots, syrup, and foam into my (warm) cup. I then dump the grounds, rinse the catch tray and frother, and turn off the unit. Ready to go !
When the unit is powered on, it makes a lot of grinding and popping noise. This could be annoying in an office environment - or if others are sleeping nearby. You can leave the unit on all the time if you prefer.