Alright! Finally got this all set up as it was a Christmas gift for my husband. I just wanted to address a few issues I've seen raised and give a former pro barista point of view. Both my husband and I earned our youthful dolla dolla bills slinging coffee in small coffee bars.
Overall, we are really happy with the machine. It's slower than a professional machine, but that's to be expected. It does what it's supposed to do and pours a damn fine shot when you get everything right.
When we first started up the machine, it took a good 30seconds - 1minute of the pump running for it to put any water through the head. This seems to be a common thing, so if you turn it on and it doesn't work for you right away, just wait and let the pump run a bit.
If you do not have a burr grinder, do yourself a favor and go to your good local coffee shop and buy half a pound of ground espresso to try it out. That way, at least you will know what your machine is capable of, and you won't waste a lot of time and coffee as you pull shot after shot thinking dear lord what is this swill, when really the only thing wrong is that your grind was too coarse and your beans too crappy and burnt from your blade grinder.
The tamping tool that comes with it is kind of a piece of koi, so get a new tamper. I got this one from Amazon, and the small end fits PERFECTLY into the head: http://www.amazon.com/RSVP-TAM-Terrys-Tamper/dp/B0001XRNEM/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1231012775&sr=8-1
This tamper is perfect.
Tamping is everything. When you measure the ground espresso into the basket, smooth it over, rest the head against the counter, and then give it a nice, firm press with the tamper, then half a twist. Brush any loose grounds into the center, then tamp and twist again. Wipe any remaining grounds from the rim, as they can interfere with the seal.
The steam wand takes a bit of time to get going, but it definitely works. It can squirt water while it gets going, so start it off into a rag until it starts to actually steam. You may want to get a frothing thermometer. Depending on taste, you should steam the milk to about 155-165 degrees. If you like lots of froth, hold the milk so that the nozzle is just barely submerged.
Other things you may want:
Espresso cups (these are doubles):
Larger frothing pitcher:
Sorry for the crazy long post. Hopefully it will help some of you that got the Cafe Roma for Christmas, or if it returns to Woot.