Buy it cheap, learn the quirks, fix the portafilter, use it often.
Positive Product Points
Inexpensive Substantial build quality Can produce good shots once you learn the quirks of the machine Stock pressurized portafilter can be modified to standard portafilter Large water reservoir Relatively easy to use
Negative Product Points
Temperature surfing necessary Steam wand pressure fluctuates wildly Pressurized portafilter is a silly gimmick that could impede the process of discovering how to make excellent espresso
My coffee journey to this point consisted of numerous moka pots, stovetop espresso pots and the pitiful bunch of Krups machines everyone tries before they know better. I found a new in box stainless Starbucks Barista on Craigslist for $100 a while ago and figured it was worth that price to experiment.
With fresh beans, a stepless grinder and a determination to unlock its potential, this machine can create fantastic shots of espresso.
Don't be fooled by the pressurized portafilter's goofy fake crema. Rip that thing apart and learn how to properly grind, tamp, and temperature surf your way to consistently excellent shots. I've been extremely pleased with the purchase. If you can find one in good shape for a good price, grab it. You'll be glad you did.
Standard Craigslist transaction...I gave them money, they gave me the machine.
Three Month Followup
Used it almost every day for the past 5 months. Consistently inconsistent results. It's served its purpose and is worth the hundred dollars I spent. I'll be upgrading asap.
One Year Followup
2 years later- Overall, possibly the best $100 I've ever spent. Used it numerous times daily for a couple of years with no problems.
I've been getting consistently inconsistent shots since day one. I use the best fresh beans and a super jolly grinder. I temperature surf/ guesstimate. I highly recommend it as a cheap first machine. You'll perfect your technique, pull relatively good/ ok shots, and when you upgrade you'll be ready to get the best out of a real machine.
I wouldn't recommend it at all if you want to drink espresso. Milk based drinks hide the taste of its inconsistent sour shots.