First of all, I was a Barista in a very busy espresso cafe in a huge college town for 3 years. My point is... I know espresso and I have to say that for the price this machine does what it is supposed to do and nothing beyond that. I know all about getting a good head on espresso and I was surprised when this cheap machine actually produced a nice drip. I used quality espresso beans and it actually tasted quite nice. Considering that some machines can cost over 1K and even low end can be a couple hundred dollars I have been pleased. I was spending 3-5 dollars a day on lattes outside the house. When I got my Mr. Coffee I got the style of cups you get at the local coffee shop for "to go" orders and I have probably saved over 200.00 so far. Ok, so it works good but I will tell you the things I don't like. The knob is tricky, it is stiff and hard to turn, you really have to put some muscle into it. I have read on other reviews that others have complained about the knob and I have to agree. Also, the frothing time from the steaming wand is not as long as I would like it to be but it is actually longer than the Krupps espresso machine I had before this one. That machine was over 100.00 and we all know the quality of Krupps. All in all, besides the knob that turns the power on and lets you steam this is a good machine. I got mine for 29.99 and I am pretty excited over the money I have saved from my local coffee boutiques. One other thing I will say is that if you want to maximize your frothing time wait until it has dripped 2 shots worth of espresso and turn the knob to froth, when you are done frothing turn it back to brew espresso and it will still give you the 4 shots of espresso. I found that when I let it produce the whole 4 shots that I did not have a lot of frothing time. I have been an espresso snob for years and this espresso snob says - for the price it works and is a great machine.
Recommend this product?
**Added comments 2/15/06 - I have now had this machine over 3 months and it is still working great and is easy to keep clean. I still stand by the fact that if you want more time for frothing start the frothing process after 2 shots of espresso have come out and then once you are done frothing it still gives you the other 2 shots of espresso.
Tip for professional cappuccino peaks - if you want those merengue peaks like you see in the coffee shop use skim to froth. frothing skim gives pointed peaks that don't fall down. Warm regular milk for the body and use the skim for frothing and your friends will be impressed.