Good starter machine. Could be improved with a better portafilter.
Positive Product Points
Reasonable price on sale
OK Steaming ability
Easy to use
Large Water resevoir
Negative Product Points
ONLY OK steaming ability
"self tamping" crema enhancing portafilter is awful
Steam wand on left side
Underwhelming espresso due to portafilter. Perhaps with a regular portafilter, the product would improve.
I own a Rancilio Silvia, so my perspective is a bit biased.
I helped a friend buy this machine, and taught him how to use it. He is thrilled by it. However, after using it several times, I was seriously underwhelmed by its quality when compared to the Silvia.
I thought that the espresso it made was seriously substandard when compared to the higher quality I could produce with a better machine.
In particular, I HATED the portafilter. The "crema enhancer" helps you make good _looking_ espresso, however it does nothing but hurt your ability to produce great espresso.
I also felt that the steaming power of this machine was underwhelming. Generally, I expect to steam enough milk for 2 cappas in about 35 seconds with silvia, but I spent closer to a minute and a half steaming with the Barista. The steam wand on the left didn‘t help, either.
On the plus side, the design of this machine (steam wand excepted) is outstanding. It is well made, nicely constructed, convenient to use, and pretty.
This is a good starter machine, but not for those who want the next step up.