La Piccola Sara Vapore
1. This machine uses NON-STANDARD 38mm coffee pods (apparently ONLY made by Lucaffee) instead of the STANDARD Easy Serving Espresso (ESE) 44mm pods (which are extensively available). However, it is possible to convert it to ESE.
2. The packaging of this machine is NOT SUFFICIENT for shipping. There is absolutely NO cushioning at all, and the metal of the machine is in direct contact with the cardboard box (no padding). Normally accepted shipping standards require at least two to three inches of resilient packing material (like Styrofoam blocks or "peanuts") around the entire item. The machine is very heavy (23 pounds) on one side, so the box is unbalanced. My machine arrived via UPS and was obviously dropped on one corner, causing (luckily small) damage.
3. The manual is poor. It is in multiple languages including English, but the grammar is awkward and there are misspellings. In the section on making cappuccino ("Cappuccino Delivery"), the last step of the English text says "Wait a few minutes before you remove the cup.", while the Italian language section has "Attendere pualche instante prima di rimuovere la tazza." (translation: "Wait a few MOMENTS before removing the cup.") So "moments" became "minutes". The manual includes some drawings of the machine with pictorial instructions. However, the manual does NOT include some important information, such as:
a. The package includes a blue "Descale Resin Filter" ("Filtro Anticalcare a Resina"), but the manual does NOT mention it. This is apparently meant to be connected to the Steam supply tube (the other supply tube is for the coffee, but only has a sediment filter). There is no information on how often to replace this filter, or how to recharge it.
b. There is NO mention on how to adjust the pod holder (if it is too loose, there will be leaks at the pod, and if too tight, the lever won't close).
4. This machine is EXTREMLY well made. It is essentially all metal (mostly stainless steel), with the exception of the plastic water tank and the plastic drain tray. EVERY single part is replaceable (this is very unusual for typical (non-European) machines). It is made to be serviceable and it appears that it will last a long time.
5. This machine is similar to European models, but it has all the required 110 Volt parts (heaters, pumps, solenoids and power cord) for the U.S. market.
6. This machine came with an sample assortment of 16 coffee pods (38mm). This was not mentioned on the Web site, but are happily welcome.
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