Top positive review
128 people found this helpful
Great for the price
on June 10, 2012
If you want to make espresso that is as good as you'll get for $2.00/shot at a coffee house, this machine isn't for you. If you want a coffee pot/espresso combo in the $100 range, you will get the best value with this combo. I can make a very good latte with it, and a fairly decent shot of espresso -- and very good coffee. The negative reviews I've read seem to be from two types: 1) Those who really need to spend more to get a beautiful golden crema-topped shot of espresso. I understand, but it can't be had for this price. 2) Those who don't know how to use it properly.
For a latte, you'll need to have finely ground espresso, a stainless steel frothing pitcher, and cold milk (2% or non-fat work best). Remove the rubber end to the frothing nozzle -- I never use it, and that may be one of the problems other reviewers have. In fact, you can throw that bugger away -- it's worthless. Follow the instructions in the manual to fill your water reservoir and your espresso filter. Fill your frothing pitcher no more than halfway with milk. Turn the dial on the left of the machine to the "cup" setting, and as soon as your first drop of espresso falls, switch the dial to the froth setting. Keep the nozzle low in the pitcher, just heating -- not frothing. This is very important. JUST HEAT, keeping the nozzle low in the pitcher. It will take at least a minute, maybe two for the milk to be the proper temperature. You can guess the temperature is right if you hold the pitcher in your hand, not by its handle, and keep heating the milk until the pitcher is just about too hot to hold -- (or you could buy a thermometer, but this works just as well, and for the price-conscious does the trick). When the pitcher is too hot to hold, it's ready to froth. Move the pitcher lower so that the nozzle just skims along the top of the milk. This will start your foam growing, and that lovely noise you hear all day long at your favorite coffee house. It will not take long before your pitcher is about to overflow. At that point, quickly switch the dial back to the "cup" setting, and your espresso shot will fall. You always want the espresso shot to fall at the very end of the process, because a shot will "die" after about a minute, and it will just taste bad. So, as soon as your shot is done, pour it in your cup and add your milk. Once the milk is in there with the shot, the shot is protected.
After filling your cup with the milk, top it with the foam, and add a little cocoa powder or cinnamon or even nutmeg -- your choice. I've also added a drop or two of vanilla extract. You're good to go. You'll have a delicious latte, at an extremely low price.
(I explained the above because the instructions in the manual are not that good, and I don't have the time to build a how-to video. I was also a barista at Starbucks for a year, so I did learn a thing or two about lattes. I hope it was helpful.)