OK guys, I did a LOT of research on this machine and then did some experimentation on my own to get it performing the BEST it possibly can. Here is what I did.
There are two keys to success with this machine: (1) you have to get the machine HOT, and (2) you have to invest in a quality grinder, and (3) you have to get the grind right-- yes it needs to be a very fine grind, almost turkish-coffee fine.
Of these three things, number (1) is the most important. You GOTTA get this machine hot. Here's what I do:
1) turn it on at least 15 minutes before you want to use it, with the empty portafilter installed (make sure the filter--either 1 or 2 cup, depending--is installed in the portafilter, it is important that that get hot also). 15 mins is the minimum, preferably let it warm up for an hour or so.
2) turn on the steam function and run it until steam comes out of the frother head.
3) turn on the espresso function and let a bunch of hot water run through the empty portafilter unit.
4) if you feel inclined, repeat steps (2) and (3), especially if you just turned the unit on 15 minutes ago.
5) Grind your coffee. Measure it into the supplied plastic measure
6) Remove the portafilter, shake out any remaining water (important), and put the coffee in the filter.
7) TAMP it with a strong twisting motion to ensure it is a nice, flat, even tamp. Use a "Terry's Tamper", forget the plastic piece of carp tamper that is on the other end of the plastic measure. "Terry's Tamper" is cheap and you can find it online.
8) Run the machine. IF YOU GOT THE MACHINE HOT ENOUGH, it will NOT be a runny shot. Make sure to turn it off after about 25 seconds and TAKE AWAY the cup or shot glass immediately (this is important as it sort of keeps going a few seconds after you turn it off, you don't want that stuff.)
9) You are done. Remove the portafilter. IF you got the machine hot enough, and IF you got the grind fine enough, you will get a reasonably solid puck (it is glistening and moist, but fairly solid) with only a little water on top of it... that's how you know you are doing everything right.
If you do this, you will get a good shot of espresso. I have traveled throughout Italy and the cappucino I can make with this machine rivals that I can get at your run-of-the-mill corner bar in Italy-- i.e. pretty darn GOOD. Maybe not up to espresso-snob levels, but better than your average Starbucks.
If you want to enjoy a Cappucino, the foaming attachment seems to work OK if you tape over the top hole. I am not an expert on milk foaming but someone on the internet suggested this and it seems to work pretty well, I get a nice dense foam this way with minimal effort on my part... a milk thermometer is essential to doing this, don't even bother to try without having one, there is no way to tell if you are about to scald the milk otherwise.
I bought a Rancilio Rocky Doserless grinder, it is an affordable high-end burr grinder. Go doserless as the doser is supposed to be a pain in the butt, and anyway we're using the plastic measuring spoon that comes with the Breville so who needs the doser.
Next I adjusted the grinder per the instructions (turn the dial until the burrs touch, then back it off 6 or 7 notches. That did not produce a grind fine enough, so I dialed it in a few notches. I had to make a bunch of espresso shots to figure out how fine it had to be ground. THERE IS A TRADEOFF between how hot the machine is, and how fine the grind has to be. If you have to grind the coffee so fine that you are clogging the filter to get a decent shot, then THE MACHINE IS NOT HOT ENOUGH.
Hope this helps.