Out of curiousity, I decided to do a quick comparison between the Astoria and the Mia.
This was mostly motivated by my steaming frustrations when it comes to the Mia.
The Astoria is dramatically (I mean dramatically) better when it comes to texturing milk. In fact, it is pretty much on par with most commercial machines. First milk - velvet chrome. First pour - perfect latte art.
On the other hand... I actually think that the Mia is easier (for me) to use when it comes to pulling shots. The Astoria is an automatic (which I find far harder to use), I don't like the control pad buttons at all and the portafilter is non-standard. In addition, I find I have to significantly under-dose due to the portafilter and group design if I want to leave a sufficient gap.
That being said... the shots from the Astoria were, in fact, better than the shots from the Mia. They're closer to what I'd get from a commercial machine when it comes to mouthfeel and have better clarity.
The cappuccino I just had... glorious!! A good to very good shot of Hairbender and wonderfully thick, sweet milk. That perfect mix of flavours and textures.... fabulous.
I'm figuring that there is almost certainly a machine out there that combines the portafilter/group design of the Mia with the steam/shot quality of the Astoria and that is a semi-auto.
Does this mean I'm starting to grasp the so-called 'upgrade fever'?