a very reasonably priced machine to learn the basics of coffee preparation, especially if found used.
Positive Product Points
This machine served me very well for 10 years without a single problem. It's strength is it's appeal to both the casually interested coffee maker who just wants the convenience of making a latte at home, right through to the fairly serious coffee hobbiest who wants to learn the basics of espresso preperation. It's small foot print makes it realistic to use in virtually any kitchen.
Negative Product Points
The only negative aspects that I found on this machine are things that are inherent to it's price and design and therefore can't truly be considered negatives. You can't criticize a Ford for not being a BMW (but some days you can thank it!). This machine is designed and priced to make a drinkable coffee beverage for people who do not necessarily grind their own beans or drink espresso without lots of milk or hot water.
I owned this machine for 10 years. Through daily use I learned how to use it to it's full potential. When I bought this machine I was buying my coffee at a local roaster and having them grind it for me. 10 years later I was roasting my own coffee, spent $500US on a good grinder (Mazzer Mini), cut out the bottom of the portafilter so I could watch the pour from underneath, and learned how to surf both temp settings on the single heating element (brew and steam) to make a better americano or macciatto than what I could get from all but the best local shops. Through these years I learned how to dial in grinders, dose without clumps, tamp, and steam micro-foam. The Barista served all of these years without ever giving me a problem. What I mean is that if you own this machine there are an awful lot of things you can do before the machine itself is the biggest limitation to your coffee experience. Don't think that by spending more money you will get better coffee without learning all of the basic skills which are the largest determinative factor in good espresso. As I said earlier, the only "problems" I faced were inherent to it's design as a small single boiler machine. But, to put it all in perspective, I've had my so-called "serious" machine (Cimbali Junior) for almost a month now, and my coffee is not yet as good as I had it on the Barista (this could be because the Barista did not have the means to really show up the flaws in my home-roasting, but that is another story for another day). These machines are readily available used on craigslist and such places from people who get them as gifts for birthdays or weddings and hardly use them. At $50-150 they are a bargain.