I have the Anita and I do have somewhat mixed feelings about it. I think I just got frustrated in the beginning and was overwhelmed by learning how to use it - and there is a learning curve. I also made it harder on myself by buying a machine, a mediocre grinder (Rocky) and a small roaster (IRoast II) at the same time. Needing to learn how all three machines worked and how to get them to work together to make a good coffee got frustrating at times. I am just in the process of starting over again and working with the Anita a bit more, hoping I will master it better with more practice. I always envy a friend who gets better and more consistent shots with a Mazzer mini grinder and an unmodded Silvia than I get with my setup. If I had to do it again, I would buy a double boiler machine. Most of the frustration comes with dealing with the heat exchanger and getting the temperatures right (even with a little thermometer in the heat group). And I definitely would also get a better grinder. That's not in the budget right now, so I will have to work with what I have.
That said, I just watched the little video on the Alex duetto II at Chriscoffee.com and this has to be the most beautiful thing I ever saw. Well, at least when it comes to coffee machines. Total overkill for someone who makes maybe 3-4 shots a day, though. Just like owning a $500 kitchen knife is overkill
http://twitter.com/FRSHGRND/status/245401004307251200. In reality, quality and reliability of all machines are unacceptable. Commercial machines fail just as much as domestic ones. It's just that you have a support network of technicians who can service the commercial machines quickly with their slew of generic parts.
Sadly, I just go to Dutch Brothers, but at least I can afford the payments.
Ok, I think I just expected too much from my Italian machine. All relative, it just didn't meet my expectations.
Actually, if you look at most of the speciality coffee cafes in Melbourne or Sydney, they are mainly using 30% La Marzocco, 50% Synesso (5 Senses do an amazing job of marketing and distribution here) and 20% KvdW and Slayer machines. Rarely do you see another "Italian" machine other than the LaMar in these speciality cafes. Fair enough if you go to your local strip you may see more Wega's, Victoria Arduino's, La San Marco's or San Marino's, but they are more associated with places where coffee isn't the focus and generally serve Italian-style choc bombs with stale grinded coffee from full dosers. Can the other Italian machines make good coffee - absolutely, but the other brands mentioned above in the speciality cafes offer more control and consistency to the barista.