Pros: The capsules work flawlessly in the Nespresso Citiz maker I use. I haven't had any issues except that the flow of coffee seems much slower than using a Nespresso capsule. Cons: The price on this item is good. The only problem is that the coffee is only so so. I would rate it as average for flavor, perhaps a bit better than normal home brew with a commercially ground bean but a fair amount of bitterness. Not particularly smooth. A little pinch of salt in the cup before brewing cuts most of the bitterness and give a fair cup of coffee. Overall an average rating. If cost is your main concern this wouldn't be a bad purchase. If an extremely smooth cup of strong coffee is what you are after you probably should spring for the Nespresso brand. I'm still looking for a lower cost alternative to the Nespresso brand but I haven't found one yet.
After searching high and low, for a 'Mid range espresso machine', I finally pulled out the stops, on what I wanted to pay, and ordered this machine. I also purchased the Breville Perfect Grind Grinder, (For the same price, as the 'all in one', machine). I purchased both because, I didn't want to take the chance, of having one item on the machine break, rendering either part, unusable for any period of time, or having me pay extra for yet another item, that would need to be replaced. I quickly found out that, FRESH espresso beans, must be ground at the very moment of use....there must also be a certain fineness, to the grind. That being said, getting the precise grind, is the trick, but, it's well worth the patience when, you do find that sweet spot,,, it does pay off. And, it pays off BIG TIME! Just unpacking these machines, tell you that you bought from a company that has substance and quality in their eyesight. The portafilter alone, screams QUALITY! From the water filter that comes with the machine, (yes you must purchase more at some point, as well as cleaning tablets), but it also comes with a set of cleaning tools, a Tamper, a milk pitcher, a quick start guide (as well as a full on book of, how to's, to get the machine, up and running, the way you need it to). It has a huge holding tank, for water. And, Even though it uses a filter, I also use filtered water from my fridge, to fill the tank. *My ONLY 'complaint' was that the machine was purging water, at the start up and at the finish of pulling a shot. This was slightly annoying because, the holding tank at the bottom of the machine, would fill up faster, than I had hoped for (on a side note, when it gets filled too much, up pops a warning for you to "Empty Me" a GREAT idea, because I certainly know that I would forget to check it!). However, step in Brevill's top notch customer service, and they assured me that, the purging was normal ,(the book stated that only certain machines did this purge after a pull of a shot, and that mine was only supposed to purge after using the hot water dispenser - yes that is right - if you want espresso and the spouse wants tea, you can have both in a moments time! Anyway, they told me that after much looking into the problem in question, the Infuser indeeds purges because they want to make sure that you get clean fresh water, for each and every shot. No water stays in any of the tubing, and the machine will purge to make sure of this. If this means that I must empty the holder a bit more often, for better cleaner water for my morning Latte,,,then so be it. Onto the coffee! - This is the very first machine that I have used that actually tastes EXACTLY like a Starbucks made confection! Both Hot and Cold Lattes are just like the $6.00 cups that you find at the better stores. I now use the single wall, double shot basket, and steam about 12-14 oz of milk for my morning Latte. What I REALLY love is that, if I want to make another espresso exactly right after I just pulled a shot for my morning latte, to make one for the hubby, all I have to do is tap out the grinds,,,,place the portafilter into the grinder, tamp it down, and lock it into the machine,,,with a singe push of the button, I have now pulled two double shots in just a short moment,,,other machines, that I have tried this with, have purged hot steam onto my hands! This was VERY dangerous and scary,,,,the Breville machine, doesn't blink an eye, at the fact that you are asking it to do what you want it to! I have no fear if I ever have guests over for after dinner coffees now! It is expensive,,,,it is. Especially if you purchase the grinder,,,,but is is worth it? I say YES,,,each and EVERY morning or afternoon that I use this machine,,,the product that comes out really is that yummy!. I also found a very tasty whole espresso bean, at XX XXXXXX, (it's in a 2.2lb. Blue Bag, I am out right now so I cannot think of the name. But, I do think that, it is better than XXXXXXXX,,,,if I can no longer find these beans, I will go back to the XXXXXXXXXX beans,,,I would not suggest using a pre-ground (although they say that his is fine as well as the PODS of espresso), or a low quality bean in this machine. As I have found out with the machines themselves, (from XXXXXXXXX to, XX XXXXXXX , to another higher end brand from XXXXXX years ago, as well as four different types of Moka pots), they just don't build up the pressure needed, for a great Latte,,,and the Breville fits this bill,,,so why shouldn't your espresso beans, also fit that bill? If you are looking for not only a BEAUTIFUL Machine, but one that actually tastes the way a coffee house coffee does, then this is what you want!
This is a high-quality machine that allows you to brew 1 or 2 servings using your own ground espresso or pre-made coffee pods using the high pressure that is needed to extract true espresso flavor and produce the "crema" (gold slight foam) that is characteristic of excellent espresso coffee, all with the ease of a home machine that doesn't require barista training! It comes with a very useful DVD to give you a quick overview to achieve the best results. All of the needed accesories, including the milk frothing pitcher, are included. This machine offers features that normally cost hundreds more in other models (I love the warming tray on the top to warm my espresso cups!) Its sleek stainless steel design will look great if you have all stainless appliances as I do. It also complements the Cuisinart drip coffee maker that I purchased elsewhere very well. I love it, love using it, and love the hundreds of dollars I will save every month NOT purchasing drinks at Starbucks or Caribou Coffee!
Overall the product is fine. It is made of more plastic then I expected, but it is easy to use. However, it not made in the USA as the website Overstock.com said, so don't buy if trying to support US made products.
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