Got this for my wife as a surprise birthday gift. We've actually both always wanted an espresso machine and learn the ways of the barista.
Of course I had to get all the things to get started. From the knock box to the upgraded stainless steel temperature milk jug and tamping pad.
I've also watched a ton of youtube vids. Especially Gail from Seattle Coffee Gear who is awesome in reviewing and explaining everything.
I'll admit, my first attempt at making espresso and a latte turned out pretty lame. No crema on my espresso and my latte art was horrible.
However, I figured out my mistake after reading countless articles, blogs and watching various vids.
I felt as though my technique was good and I even measured my tamping pressure using a bathroom scale. Still I would get an underwhelming espresso taste and my puck remained a bit too wet. Of course I was using the dual wall filter baskets like a noob.
Then I read to always use fresh beans that are no more than 10 days old. So we did and switched to using the machine fully manual instead of the automatic pre-made suggestions. Also we used the single wall baskets which made our crema come out amazing and our pucks dry 🙂
Also stuck a little cheat sheet on the inside of our cabinet to understand how to make certain drinks.
In the end, it probably won't save us any $$ overall in what we'd typically buy on a daily basis. But it's fun as hell and the taste is pretty friggin amazing. We are both on our way to coffee snob town 😛