Good things about having a home espresso machine:
- being able to make myself a shot whenever I want one
- having good espresso at home
- playing mad scientist
Bad things about having a home espresso machine:
- increased levels of frustration
If I were going to have a home espresso machine, it would absolutely have to be plumbed in (especially the damn drain tray). And it would really need a real steam wand and tip with real pressure. And it would have to have a rotary pump.
The whole not plumbed in thing is really annoying. And I don't think it will ever be less annoying than it is right now.
I don't drink milk drinks - but I have to make them for other people. And not being able to steam well is very frustrating.
The vibe pump is shockingly loud on these machines. And you can watch the flow and see it pulse. No good.
But the espresso is good. I can see why so many people are into home espresso. Honestly, there are less than a couple dozen places in the US where you're going to get consistently better espresso than I'm making on this machine. I'll see what I can do to improve this, I'm sure there are ways to tweak technique and get even better espresso. I don't think it reasonable to expect I'll be able to produce espresse as consistently good as what I can get out of Mistral (for example). But it's totally drinkable.
Of course... I don't know how much of this is simply that I have over the last few years started to really understand the fundamentals behind espresso and have learned how to manage and manipulate the variables to get the flavours I want. In other words... I don't know how much of the quality of the shots is due to skill rather than the machine.
One thing... I don't know if the whole "multiple flavour profiles from one coffee" thing is going to work on these kind of machine. I don't think I have the level of control that I get from a Mistral or Synesso or the like. The coffee is consistently a bit thin, with a less buttery mouthfeel and without the same complexity and depth of flavours. In addition, it seems like the clarity and definition of the flavours is not quite there.
The student has begun her Ninja training. She pulled a half dozen shots today -- the last of which was really good (i.e. if I were served it in a coffee bar I would have been quite happy). Very cool.