I guess you can gather from above this is a great buy, fun to use and makes a great shot of espresso.
Positive Product Points
As a beginner I found this machine very easy to use. I have used the machine everyday for the last three months and the quality and consistency has not deviated. The video is helpful and the technical support is outstanding. I purchased the stainless steel model for $299 however, the other models are also well built. I would probably have gone with the grey one and saved $50.
Negative Product Points
The espresso pods are a waste of money. Also, I had an in store demonstration where they told me that the milk would be steamed in less than a minute. I find it takes up to four minutes to warm the milk. I think that is way too long. I would have given the machine a higher rank if this was more efficient. The last negative comment is that if you have to make more than a couple shots (2) it takes a good amount of time because you have to restart the process after two shots. These are minor inconveniences relative to the benefit from a nice shot of espresso.
If you are a beginner, than you will learn a lot with your purchase of this machine. There is a whole subculture around making your own shot of espresso and you will become much more fluent with the lingo.
This machine meets production requirements for 1 or 2 people admirably and produces very good espresso shots with a nice layer of crema. It's consistent, easy to use and easy to clean up. The unit heats up quickly and produces adequate steam for frothing although it takes some time and you do have some milk wastage because you need a good amount of milk/cream given the small size of the steam wand. Its 96 oz water tank is handy to handle priming, brewing and steaming for producing several espresso drinks. If I have any complaints about this machine it would be that it takes a long time to heat the milk/cream. Also, it does not always produce a very hot espresso shot, but simply switching on the steam switch for a few extra seconds before brewing helps overcome this issue. Another side benefit is that it produces near instant hot water if you are a tea drinker.
Overall the Barista is a very good value. I would not let the Starbucks logo deter the coffee snobs. It is a very good and affordable machine that is easy to use. The technical support will guide you through set-up and use which is also a huge value.
Very easy and no need to pay full price as it comes on sale frequently. If you come accross a nice manager they will throw in extras such as shot glasses, a pound of espresso and the premeasured stainless steel scoop. Technical support will also send you another pound if you call them during the initial setup. You need to run the machine a few times to get your first good shot of espresso.