entry level bliss.... and then some... Unless you are going all the way from the get go, this machine will make you smile....
Positive Product Points
Easy to use This is a SAECO branded Starbucks Barista Relatively small foot print, and not an offensive counter top item Pivot steam wand, large drip tray, cup warmer area, reservoir fill port (you don't have to take out the reservoir to fill) pressurized PORTAFILTER-Makes for ease of use Solid machine, with parts still available
Negative Product Points
pressurized PORTAFILTER-not a purist machine Tinted reservoir- it is hard to see the water level in most lighting conditions. Also, the max fill line should probably read "to late, it's going to make a mess" The steam wand could be longer to facilitate the use of larger frothing pitchers without having to use more milk than required. In other words, get a smaller frothing pitcher probably something else, but i'll be damned if I can think of what.
I am not a Barista, nor coffee professional of any sort. I am, what I would consider a coffee aficionado, with emphasis on the enthusiasm over the knowledge. I am a coffee lover, and espresso, while awesome, is not my only coffee love(read: Turkish,press,pour over,vac pot etc). With so many wonderful and fun ways of making a brew, I wanted something that wouldn't break the bank, yet would add to my enjoyment, and produce far superior beverages than the steamers of old. A thorough reading of coffee geek while intimidating and somewhat frustrating (due to the plethora of varied opinions) proved fruitful, and ultimately led me to my final purchase. While I mean no disrespect to the "Espresso" purists, I noted during my research, that reading reviews and opinions was dangerous....as in, several times I found myself contemplating disposing of non disposable income lol. In the end, this machine, with minimal experimentation provides, quick palatable shots, especially if mixing for milk based drinks or americano. This is a solid machine that gives you room to grow, and experiment, while reducing the need for specific tamping and grinding issues. You do not require a fancy espresso specific grinder, although a descent consistent grinder will assist. When you have figured out your shots and wish to further expand your espresso art, you will find you can upgrade this machine relatively cheaply, by either modifying the PPF or purchasing one the new Non Pressurized ones that are offered. There is also a PID available all while still keeping your costs relatively low comparatively speaking lol . WIth the other methods of making coffee that I enjoy, this allows me to dabble in an area that might otherwise be cost prohibitive. The fact you can find these machines or similar SAECO machines in good shape, fairly cheap with parts abundant and the ability to upgrade make them a mint starting point. Not to mention, the PPF is a lazy man's handy tool for quick shots for caps or americanos etc. In the end, I no doubt will push this machine beyond its capabilities and will then contemplate something more advanced. An upgraded grinder will be money well spent firstly.
Purchased for an elderly Italian that loves him some espresso and moved to a fully automatic.