I've had this steam espresso maker for a few years now and while I realize there are much better options out there I'm content making espressos and cappuccinos with this machine. Its biggest downfall is that due to its price its bound to be used by novices who might not understand some of the fundamentals of making espresso including the quality of ground and length of extraction. By failing these two items espresso of poor quality will be made and the machine will be blamed.
First, do use a good burr grinder set to its fine espresso setting. Second, don't allow too much water to pass through your grounds while brewing. If you've filled the basket meaning you're looking to make 4 ounces then stop there! Don't let more than that sputter into the carafe because by that point the grounds are used up and anything coming through will be thin and sour. In my experience with grounds tamped down to about 3/8" from the top of the basket I get about 3.5 ounces out before I pull the carafe. Keep another cup on hand to put under the still-dripping spout.
Third, as alluded to above tamp your grinds down. Pros use about 30 pounds of pressure with a specialized tool but I use the bottom of a spoon; perhaps my espresso could be improved with a move even press?
To get sweet and creamy milk you need to heat it up to around 150F; this takes quite a bit of steam. If you only initially add 6 ounces extracting your shot will use most of that water, and the remaining steam will run out before your milk is heated all the way. To compensate just add a full cup of water to the boiler; when the machine is turned to steam mode the boiler still runs so your steam will last a long time allowing you to get properly heated milk. Furthermore because we're dictating how much water we use in extraction, not the amount remaining in the boiler the initial volume is irrelevant. You can also conserve steam by putting the machine to its "off" position in between extracting and frothing. At this point the boiler shuts off and the both valves are closed; when you turn it to froth then the rest of your water will be boiled.
So, with a bit of practice this little machine can make you some tasty espresso.
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