I really like this espresso maker. I received it as a gift about four years ago. The steam function is fantastic. It will easily steam enough milk for a latte. I've even used the steam to clean my teapot spout! The water tank is plenty large enough to make steam and two double shot of espresso twice! Its easy to remove and replace for filling and hasn't leaked, except for the one time I didn't seat it properly. It would be nice if I could fill the tank without removing it, but the angle of the lid and height of the machine means I'd have to pull the whole thing out to the front of the counter and turn it around. It's just easier to pull the tank out. Making the actual espresso can be tricky, but I would assume the problems I've had are common to all machines, and due to human error. If you don't get the coffee to the perfect bring and tamped just right, you could end up with a scalding mess. If the water can't run through the filter, the machine doesn't automatically stop the process and let you know there's a problem, which would be a really nice feature. Getting the filter in place on the machine can be a little tricky for us left handers because it slides in place from the right, and its just a weird angle. I do wish the espresso machine would hold a larger volume of "ready" water. Sometimes the indicator light turns off before the espresso is done, but it still manages to squeeze out one double shot. There isn't enough space under the filter for a coffee mug so you have to pre-warm a smaller container (I use a ramekin) and transfer the shot to you cup. Cleanup isn't terrible, but the machine drips quite a bit after the filter is removed, and sometimes grounds stick to the water output, so you have to empty the drip tray and wipe down the spot where the filter connects before you can make another round. The filter connection is HOT right after brewing, so be careful. All in all, it's a pretty good starter machine for someone on a budget or just learning how to make espresso drinks. Once you figure out the grind and how the coffee needs to be tamped, the machine is very easy to use. Brew Performance Makes smooth, creamy espresso provided the user loads the filter properly. Ease of Cleaning Getting the grounds clinging to the machine off can be a bit messy But the drip tray is very easy to clean. Ease of Use The settings are very self-explanatory and the controls are easy to manipulate. Design The water tank is difficult to fill without removing it, and placing the filter is a little tricky for lefties because of the reach around the machine. This steamer is very easy to use, just don't touch the metal part. HOT! Durability I've made thousands of espressos in the four years I've owned the espresso machine, and it shows no sign of slowing down.
Des Moines, IA