I've had this machine for a few years now and have never felt that I have command of it.
Previous was an older Italian machine called Novitalia – it was a cracker and would pump out espresso with good crema from a Lavazza pre-ground bricks every time. And when I bought freshly ground it was right up there! Alas, that one has gone to the barista gods.
I buy my coffee purpose ground (fine –> very fine) from Seven Seeds or St Ali. When it's fresh (hours) it's ok – but never gives out a luscious, golden, thick, syrupy crema. That's what I want.
The machine has had the pressure mod done to it.
I overdose, as is common for these machines and even when the pour is slow and fine, it is quite dark and watery. And when I get the grid done just a whisker finer it just chokes.
Hmmm. Have been wondering if I should take the thing to St Ali and ask one of the dudes there to road test it. Would they do that? Are you listening in, even? :)