Get this machine if you're starting out but want to learn. Also get the non press. basket and the Rocky. Quite a Team
Positive Product Points
Makes mighty fine espresso if non-press. basket is used. Steam capability...OMG this thing can foam. A pitcher of shaving cream if you want. Reliable....haven't had a problem yet (knock on wood).
Negative Product Points
53mm portafilter is non-commercial size. If this baby had a commercial p.f. it would be an even better machine. Seems the best stuff is inside. Outer body is a little cheap. Body will flex a bit when tightening up the portafilter. Aesthetics are basically bland. This machine is not going to impress anyone with its external appearances,
I love this machine. Over 6 months and I have gotten so much better since I began using it. I started with the press. basket and this was a big leap from a Braun steam toy. Good thing I had ordered a non- press. basket from Aabree because I was really curious to see if there was a difference. Oh, boy is there. You MUST use the non-press. basket. The beverage I get now is completely different. True espresso from what I've been told. Heavier body, tons of crema and a much smoother, complex taste. Because the p.f. is undersized you can't, in my opinion, pull a double of more than 2 oz. I keep my doubles just under 2oz. and they are richer and more complex this way. It seems the smaller basket with less coffee volume has its limitations. The p.f is hefty though and made of brass. It retains heat very well. I really wish this baby had a commercial p.f. It would be the ultimate machine in this price category. I thought the machine was a bit expensive because the body is made mostly of plastic, but it does have a brass boiler whereas some machines in this category are aluminum (Gaggias). Steaming is amazing. This thing can foam! Easy to do and with great results. I make the shot first then flip on the steam switch. Make sure you bleed of all the water before you steam your milk. There's quite a bit of water and it takes at least 30 seconds or so. As long as you bleed off the water you should have no trouble making great microfoam. My brother loves my cappas. Can't believe the amount and quality of the foam. Says it better than Starbuck's which isn't really that amazing of a compliment when you think about it, but hey I'll take it. On a final note. You have to have a great grinder. I started with the Solis Maestro Plus. Wow was this grinder all over the place. Not consistent at all. Pull a good shot then have to change the setting the next day. Traded it in for a Rocky. This is an amazing grinder. Very repeatable. Set it and forget it :)