Top positive review
950 people found this helpful
Is this thing reliable?
on 15 July 2009
I don't often write reviews, but this machine deserves every good word said about it. I have owned one for 3.5 years now, and it's still going strong. So if reliability is what has you sitting on the fence, jump off and buy one. On to the details.
We bought 3 of these in Germany; one as a wedding gift, one for us, and one for my office at work. Unfortunately, when I moved to the UK, I lost the one in the office (office personnel had "joint" purchased it). The one that was a wedding gift is used every day and is still running fine. The office one was used EXTENSIVELY and was still working at the 1.5 year point when I bid a tearful farewell to it. The one in my home... wow. I'm an espresso nut, having lived in Italy for four years. I work that thing to the bone; it has made at least 5 espressos ~every~ single day of those three years that I was home and is still running strong. The only "bad" cup of coffee that I've had from this thing is when I bought low-quality beans.
To address some specific things mentioned in other reviews, I'd just like to say that this thing makes crema so well that sugar will sit on top of it...if you know the trick. Use a properly-sized espresso cup and heat it before making your coffee. Rather than relying on the heater on top of the machine (the silver part in the picture), just boil some water in the kettle and dump it in the cup; it's a lot faster. Adjust the dispensing spout -- the part with two little silver spouts directly above the cups in the picture. That piece moves up and down. The closer you get it to your cup, the better the crema. Adjust your grind; regardless of what others may have experienced, I find the adjustable grind to be perfect. It is, however, VERY dependent on what type of beans you use. I've had to tweak it nearly every time I use a different type of beans to get it to the perfect grind. Also, if you find that the puck grounds get mouldy from sitting too long, my only comment is this -- you're not drinking enough coffee. ;-) Last note before pros/cons/tips -- this machine requires that ~you~ put milk in a container and froth it for cappucino; it's not "fully" automatic, but the frothing bit works great (when used with skill).
*Extremely reliable (3 machines monitored over 3.5 years with no flaws)
*Capability to use pre-ground (separate compartment, one cup at a time) for the decaf crowd
*Great frothing tool for cappucino (see tips)
*Fully adjustable grind, strength (amount of coffee used) and water (for "long" coffees) with single or double cup buttons
*Auto shut-off after about 2hrs
*A touch on the noisy side during start up and when it grinds
*Can scramble your freeview signal (though this is the fault of house wiring/antenna, not the machine)
*Doesn't know when I'm going to wake up and automatically have an espresso ready for me when I get to the kitchen
*Read the manual. No, really. Read the manual.
*Use quality coffee. Always. (Lavazza Rosso or Espresso is good, Il Pascucci from southern Italy if you can find it)
*Pay attention to getting your grind set right
*Heat your cups with boiling water before making the coffee
*Make all of your espresso shots BEFORE switching to frothing mode for cappucino
*Use the descaler that comes with it, then switch to white vinegar for cleaning (has worked for me for 2 years)
*Go on vacation to Italy and learn how to make proper espresso and how to froth milk -- it really is an art
*Honestly -- it takes time to perfect the frothing. Don't give up until you've talked to someone that knows how.
So what am I doing on Amazon looking at these if mine is so reliable? Yep, you caught me ... I'm thinking of buying another one for the office here...