From the seller:
From the seller:
For details as to how this item received the given rating, see below:
This product does exactly what you expect it to do, make great tasting espresso. The quality of coffee you get at home jumps exponentially with this machine. As much love as there is for local coffee shops or big chains like Starbucks, with a bit of practice and taste tasting you can match the taste to what is familiar. Aside from cost savings from going out and making your favorite lattes at home, the machine is fairly easy to use with some practice.
It took some time to figure out the right grind setting, grind amount and quantity to produce perfect espressos and extracting the crema. The machine has two settings, for single or double shots. This applies to both grind size and shot size (the espresso that pours out). It has a nice sized hopper to give you a couple of double shots without having to load more beans.
Prep time, such as waiting for the machine to heat is minimal. Within a few seconds it's ready to go. Grinding takes little time and tamping gets easier with practice. Cleaning is probably the longest time as you want to avoid build up and having coffee grinds or smears anywhere. There is a clean/descale cycle that you have to do (there are two clean cycles). Each of them is rather painless and doesn't come often (depending on use).
One of the challenges is learning how to get to perfect espresso range. Even though you have the manual, numerous forums/posts and a few youtube videos, what worked for me was practice. I went through gallons of faulty shots (this was intended as a joke, it was more like a couple of tries). The issue was under extraction and the root cause is not tamping enough/not having enough grinds. After much reading and testing, I realized the fault was due to the following:
The simplest way I can explain this to anyone, is do not use the razor tool. Don't rely on the auto grind settings until you figure out what works best for your coffee beans. Grind to the recommendations provided on the coffee bean bag, such as a fine grind for dark roast (preferred flavors for us). If using auto-grind, ensure it doesn't over flow, that way you tamp down, then continue to grind and tamp until almost full to the rim. You can also press and hold to grind manually.
Another tip is to bounce the portafilter slightly while grinding, that way they shake and even themselves out a bit. When tamping, ensure to twist half circle if using the stock tamper. I highly recommend getting a cotton rag to prevent any messes or damaging your kitchen counter. The listed items prior and tips provided ensured I always hit the mark and extracted the crema while in espresso range.
The side of the machine has the grind dialer for grind adjustments. The other side has a knob that allows you to use the frother/steamer or to release hot water. The frother is loud, very loud and will sometimes continue to drip even after the function as been turned off, however, works great. The release is great when you want to rinse off your portafilter while making multiple lattes.
The packaging on this product was not the greatest. Almost every component/item/accessory was individually bagged. The entire machine came in Styrofoam which then had additional plastic. Hopefully they can go with more eco-friendly packaging in the future.
*Note, there are two ratings applied to the reviewed item. "Product rating" and "Packaging rating". The actual product will not be impacted by the packaging as these are two separate ratings.
In regards to packaging, the following are contributing factors against the "Packaging rating":
For additional details, see below: