Awesome super-automatic machine made by Saeco. I previously had the Estro (Saeco) Profi for 8 years and the wife NEVER used it. She now uses the Italia over the drip pot for beautiful café crema’s. You have to love rolling out of bed to a warmed up and waiting espresso machine. Great coffee is just 30 seconds away, no fussing with grinding, water, etc. The Digital Italia has a swivel base, nice small footprint, and metal front, sides, and wand (including socket). The machine takes about 10-15 seconds to produce steam.
Made a good shot out of the box, and an even better one that it is now dialed in. The programming is relatively straightforward, and quite extensive. I have the grinder set at 5, which according to Starbucks is too fine, but produces a very nice shot of espresso with a nice deep caramel colored crema (I use a local coffee houses fresh roasted beans which I buy 1-2 times per week). The consistency is almost identical to the Illy fine ground (wife thinks I’m crazy for crumbling pucks to check grind). The doser is set to 1 dot before max which should be about 8 grams, and the shot size set to 1.5 oz. There are three different size programmable shots (single, long and café crema). The temperature control also has five settings mine is on max, but I still find I need to preheat cups to satisfy myself. I ordered an espresso from the coffee house where I buy the beans, and the Italia makes a better shot than the one I was served (although a more skilled barista would be able to produce a better shot than the Italia).
The bypass doser works great for making decaf, we keep a can of Illy decaf fine ground next to the machine. The Italia has pretty much replaced the Barista thermal drip maker we used to use. Once you go to café crema, there is no going back (except with large amounts of company). The machine has worked flawlessly, and is simple to use, keep clean and maintain. Convenience was a major issue for me. I am sure with practice you can make a better shot some of the times, but the Italia makes a very good shot all of the time. I only use one type of bean, and one type of decaf to keep adjustments to a minimum. It makes better espresso, cappucino’s and latte’s than most shops. Steaming power is more than adequate, and reasonably fast (under a minute).
Starbucks customer service is great. They have all the records of the Estro Profi that I bought eight years ago, and registered the machine over the phone. Also have to love the two year warranty. What they won’t tell you is to adjust the grind lower (finer), and to do it slowly (run at least ten shots through as it takes time for the grinder to adjust). I recommend the rinse cycle. The removeable brew group is also a very nice feature. Rinse once a week with hot water. Get a lube kit from Aabree (they are VERY knowledgeable about the Saeco super-automatics) which includes lube, gaskets and instructions in german. Clean and lube with q-tips every 2-4 weeks depending on useage. Run 1-2 oz of water out of wand EVERY time after steaming a pitcher of milk. This reloads the boiler and cleans any remaining milk out of the wand. Not a bad idea to also run a blank shot (hit bypass doser, don’t put in any ground coffee) at the end of the day (rinse cycle runs it every morning). I empty the pucks, and drain tray often because I run a lot of rinse cycles to keep machine clean. The machine uses a counter to tell you when to empty grounds that does NOT reset if you empty often (10 seconds with tray pulled out will rest).
If you are looking for a machine to make quality espresso every time, with minimum fuss and muss this is the way to go. Excellent build quality, excellent feature set, good looking and great support.