It’s affordable (£70 at Argos at the time of writing; Dolce Gusto pods are priced at around £4 for a box of 16) and incredibly simple to set up and use. Simply fill the removable water tank with cold H2O, pop your chosen coffee pod into a slide-out drawer at the front, stick a cup under the spout and hit the power button. When it turns from red to green (a mere few seconds) the machine is ready. You then push the water lever either left (for cold drinks) or right (for hot drinks) until the desired amount of your drink is in the cup. Then slide out the drawer, expel the pod and throw it away.
The improvements are quite a few, including the four selectable strength options that helps determine the dosage of the shots you want to brew between five and sixteen grams of coffee. If you want, you can easily tailor your experience with programmable pre-brewing, brew temperature and water volume. You can make the adjustments by using the rotary switch and the good news is that the machine will remember your preferences so you can brew the same delicious cup of coffee next time.
The very first espresso machines worked on a steam-pressure basis, and they’re still in use today. With this type of machine, steam or steam pressure is used to force water through the coffee grounds and produce espresso. Some steam-driven machines can produce a measure of foam “crema.” But they can’t generate enough pressure or provide the precise temperature control necessary to produce true espresso: They simply make a very strong cup of coffee. However, they cost considerably less than pump-driven machines. Our verdict is that if you’re a true espresso lover and seeking to make a good shot at home, we recommend you steer clear of steam-driven machines. They’ll likely disappoint you.
“My first impression was a great machine well built; the manual was more challenging than it should have been but not hard to follow. Once I got the machine set up it's been delivering consistently great coffee, the dry grounds it produces make cleaning easy, the display makes maintenance pretty self-explanatory, the operation is quiet, and it's an obvious improvement over my previous machine.
Six years and 7540 shots of espresso. The only downside of this machine is that it is too easy to use so that you end up drinking more cups than you might otherwise. It's very fast to heat up, both for the main heating block, as well as for steam. The steamer wand takes some practice to get good, tight foam, but once you figure out the technique it's not difficult. The openings in the wand can clog up if you don't wipe it down right after use. I also give a short blast of steam right after that as well. After about five years we bundled it up and sent it in to the factory for cleaning and reconditioning. It came back as good as new and it's still going strong. About the only real negative aspect to the machine is that it tends to be a bit noisy, but probably no more so than someone using a fully manual pull machine and grinder.
When looking into the different coffee and espresso centers, most people look at the Jura Capresso family of machines because of their high quality and the warranty that they offer. The Jura Capresso Impressa E9 is one of those machines. It has all the high tech necessities to make a variety of coffee house beverages from home. Enjoying a delicious café drink will be as easy as walking into your kitchen whenever you want a coffee or espresso drink.
Edit - 01/15/2015: Eight and a half years later, this gem is still cranking out great coffee. I had it serviced by the wonderful folks at CoffeeBoss in Cornelius, NC last year, and it's still going strong with a cup count of 9,922. The brew group is not user serviceable, so occasional maintenance should be expected. I use distilled water (at the cost of flavor, I know) now that I'm back in the city on municipal water, so I don't need or use the Clearyl filter (I recommend it for tap/well water, though), and I do use a cleaning tablet within 5-10 cups of when it starts asking for it on the LED display.
Jura is a company that well known advancing coffee technology in a way that blends convenience, sophistication, quality and most importantly easy of use into brewing coffee and espresso based beverages in the modern home. Their impressive line of Jura Coffee Makers is the true embodiment of all these values and has been impressing coffee connoisseurs over the last few years with it’s high pressure-brewed- coffee, espressos, cappuccinos and lattes.
Milk Frother. Fitted with two exchangeable spouts, this unit provides a choice between two options. One option is like a professional grade spout that allows the user to froth the milk manually. The other is for those who are less interested in the intricacies of froth, providing a pre-set option for either cappuccino (more foam) or latte (less foam).

Given the fact that this model also features a patented cappuccino system, you can easily create a creamy and rich froth for your lattes and cappuccinos. If not used for 1h, the machine is going to automatically enter sleep mode and if you don’t use it for 3h, it’s going to turn off automatically. Some other great features you’re going to love about this model include the 60 oz water tank (removable), but also the electronic coffee and steam thermostat.
For those really into their coffee drinks, and I mean obsessively so, a separate grinder is an absolute must. That loud noise you hear in the coffee shop every time you go in? That’s the grinder. Now, after saying that, let me tell you the grinder in the F7 is quiet and fast. So don’t worry about your kitchen ending up sounding like a coffee shop’s barista station.

Using the machine the first time was fun - it has lights that shine down on the cup for a very cool look. It is much quieter than our DeLonghi, and very fast to heat up and grind, brew, and dispense the coffee. The crema is very nice, and the coffee tastes great. The drip tray is easy to pull out to the front, and easy to rinse and throw away the grinds. The machine is plastic, which is ok, but the tray where the cup rests is polished silver metal, and has a nice heaviness to it. The J9.3 comes with a Jura milk container and tubes. We don't do a lot of milk drinks, so I didn't mind that you have to do just a bit extra to fill up the container and attach the hose. You could just put a hose into a cup of milk; you don't have to use the Jura container. It made a very nice latte, great foam. It was actually easy to clean and rinse, but you do have to take the time to be there with two cups - one with rinse water and another to catch the dirty water, then repeat. If you don't mind taking a couple extra steps and minutes, then it's easy. The J9.3 came with the Jura milk container.
I had avoided automatics for a while simply because pulling a shot seemed like such a romantic notion. Hah! Switching to a schedule that kicks off at 5:45 AM makes anything 'automatic' look a whole lot sexier. I am setting aside $$$ so that when this one finally fails (and that should be a while - this machine demonstrates superior engineering), I can dart right to the store and buy another.
When looking for a fully automatic espresso machine, you have the choice to go for either a dual heating system or a single heating system machine. For instance, if you go for a dual boiler machine, then when you’re going to start the steam model, you’ll need to wait for about ten seconds until steam is available. With a single element system, the wait time increases by a factor of 5 and it takes about fifty seconds to get steam.
The ECAM26455M features dual stainless steel-lined thermoblock heating in order to provide steaming and brewing power for your espresso and other drinks you wish to prepare with it with a very low cycling time. Compared to regular boiler systems, the thermoblock system is capable of much lower warm-up times paired with on-demand and efficient water usage.
The new Gaggia Brera is a very impressive super automatic espresso machine that has a small form factor, making it perfect for use on small kitchen countertops. Not only that, but it seems that the company has focused, among other things, to ensure that the Brera fully maximizes user convenience. For instance, the water tank, drop tray and the dregs drawer are all within reach and can be easily accessed from the machine for simple, swift maintenance and regular cleaning. With this model, beverage selection and machine programming has been greatly simplified, allowing users to easily navigate through the options which are certainly more than you’d expect from such a small machine.