This is my first pump machine. Before that I was using steam toys and my wife was putting a barrista through college. When I bought it over two years ago, it completely changed the way we approach coffee. I no longer use a drip machine, as it takes no longer to pull a latte. Obviously for dinner parties, this is not fast enough for anything other than two couples, but it meets my needs. I use it every day and a typical day is 3 lattes and 2 chais. So you can see that it has more than paid for itself in what Starbucks doesnít get.
Unfortunately, at about the point it went out of warranty, things began to fail. Most of this has been electrical. I sent it back to the shop, and they were very gracious in working on it, even though the failure straddled the warranty date. They even sent me a new front plate which I installed myself several months later.
It still works, but... Now making my coffee requires much more operator technique than ever before. For some reason, the steam thermostat clicks on long before there is a full load of steam. By the time I clear the water out of the line, you can already notice the drop in pressure. Then I must fiddle with the steam knob until the steam light goes off and it turns that heater back on. This is often very frustrating as it doesnít always works, and I end up spinning the knob to try to finish my first latte of the day.
The other problem that I have is that when I pull the shot, you can hear the pump for about 5 seconds and then rather than just a deeper throb, you can hear a jet of steam. When I looked around, I saw that coffee was escaping from the back side of the portafilter. This lasts for about 3 seconds and then the rest of the shot comes through the filter. I have thouroughly cleaned the portafilter and the head set, so I know that it is seated as well as it can. But it is clear that there is a gap that lets the espresso escape. I called and the service folks could fix it, but that will cost at least $200. Not a starter.
I am limping along until my birthday when I buy a Rancillio Silva. I canít wait!