Easy to use
Makes great espresso / lattes, etc.
Really easy to clean
Cons:Expensive (but worth it)
The Bottom Line: Great product, worth the money considering it does everything.
So to avoid the confusion - as far as I can tell, all the machines on this site that have the same picture are all the EAM3500 = Magnifica 3500. Now to the review:
Recommend this product?
We have had this machine for about two months and use it daily. We are latte drinkers, so that is all I can really comment on, although a straight espresso drinker did try it and said it made excellent espresso. We were reluctant to spend this much on a machine, but we didn't want to fool around frothing our own milk, and we had done the math, so we knew the payback was only about 1.5 years vs. buying cafe lattes. These do go on sale, so buy it when it's cheaper (we got $300 off ours by waiting).
The machine is easy to use: click in the milk container and press one button and you've got your latte. The milk container stores in the fridge, so there's no pouring milk in/out of the machine. Also, the milk container is self-contained, so there's no milk gumming up the machine. The milk container is also fully dishwasher safe. Very well thought out.
The machine makes the coffee and froth in one go. You don't have to learn to froth the milk yourself and the espresso doesn't get cold while you try (at least that's what always happened with the more inexpensive machine I tried). There are a couple of things to note:
- lattes are hot, but not extremely hot, from the machine. They are, however, at a much more reasonable temperature than cheaper machines. I find the temperature to be perfectly fine, although some may wish it were hotter.
- the lattes are strong, but there are several strength settings, so this can be adjusted (we found the 'Regular' setting to be quite a bit stronger than the Seattle-based chain's latte, so we now use 'Mild', which is nice).
- the lattes are NOT Venti nor even Grande. They are the size that a latte used to be before the bucket-of-coffee concept was invented. My wife makes 2 lattes back to back in the morning to fill her travel mug. The machine does have volume settings, so you could probably change this, but I like the normal sized lattes, so the default size works well for us.
- it makes coffee, lattes, etc. one cup at a time, so if you're using it for a large party, it may not keep up
- it takes about 3 minutes to warm up initially, but doesn't need to re-warm (unlike the cheaper machine I tried)
- it takes about 2 minutes to make a latte / espresso
Clean up is really straight forward - it rinses itself out whenever it's shut off, so clean up is really just emptying the used grounds tray and water catcher about once a week. We do a more thorough cleaning about once per month that consists of taking out a small box (containing the mechanisms) in the center and wiping it down (takes about a minute). We have had to descale it once so far (it tells you when and comes with the first batch of descaler, so this is nothing to worry about). Other than that, the only maintenance is filling the bean tray (we've only used whole beans and let the machine grind them, which is does well) and filling the water container. Usually the machine tells you when to do these, although it occasionally doesn't notice that the bean tray is empty until it's already made you a cup of frothed milk. Finally, whenever the milk container is put away, it needs an 8 second rinse with hot water (all you do is hold down a button).
Finally, it is noisy (esp. vs. a coffee maker), but it's mainly during bean grinding, so I can forgive it. It's also big; it's footprint is ~12" x 14" or so, so it takes up a lot of counter space. That being said, it's stylish, so you won't be tempted to try hiding it.
In the end, I definitely recommend it, I would buy it again, and I love that I can make lattes in my house!