Admitedly I am addicted to this machine, the espresso. I have owned this machine for around 3 years now and made mabye 5,000 cups of espresso with this. Two to three per day is my standard, and my wife usually has one or two Lungos per day. Hopefully you can understand that I love this machine, and I love this espresso. This is far superior to any other "on demand" coffee makers, this machine makes real espresso.
The machine is sturdy beyond imagination. During these three years the sum total of the maintenance I have done on this machine, about once per 9 months I run the descaler kit. That's it, nothing else, no parts broken, no repairs required, nothing. Initially I got very scared when I switched between steam delivery and making espresso - the machine makes a lot of noise and steams all over the place for about 60 seconds (it's scary the first time). Quick call to customer service and I found out this is normal. The other oddity was occasionally the short cup espresso would only run for a few seconds. Well I found out that we were accidently reprogramming the time for the short cup (hold down the button for the amount of time you want water to flow).
Absolutely 100% completely problem free.
December 12,2011 Update: After 6 years and thousands of espressos, the machine finally started to act up. After sitting overnight, the first turn on in the morning, the machine would not start heating right away. If I ran a little bit of water through the machine, it would then heat, and make perfect espresso. I decided to replace the machine with a Fire Engine Red Citiz and an Aeroccino Plus. The new machine is beautiful. There is a tiny difference in the crema on the new machine, maybe not as perfect as the D290. But, the Aeroccino is simply incredible - be sure to buy the Plus model. I am keeping the D290, I'll use it in the basement. Nespresso does have a replacement and repair program for out of warranty machines. They even provide a loaner machine if you choose the repair route.
Nespresso C110-US-RE-NE CitiZ Automatic Single-Serve Espresso Maker, Fire-Engine Red
Nespresso Aeroccino Plus
Noise - yes this machine makes noise. ALL mechanical espresso machines make noise, there is no way around that problem (you have to pump the water to reach the 90 some odd PSI to make real espresso). To me, this machine makes the most beautiful noise ever. It's a solid heavy pump sound, not some whimpy whiny noise. It's also so beautiful because my mind knows what is coming next, a great cup of espresso.
From cold machine to a cup of espresso is roughly 1.5 minutes. Warm up time is around a minute, and brew time for the cup is about 30 seconds. Couldn't be faster, couldn't be easier.
On to the quality. You will never ever drink a better cup of espresso at Starbucks or Caribou, you can't. They make those drinks in paper cups and by definition the espresso can't be as good. There is nothing like drinking from a ceramic cup, it enhances the flavor more than you can imagine. You cannot mess up making the espresso. The capsule is hermetically sealed in aluminum, there is absolutey no air exchange, unlike plastic or paper containers. There is no need to refrigerate or freeze these capsules - they do not deteriorate due to air exchange. Nespresso has solved some of the most critical variables in making espresso, fineness of coffee grind, roast time and temperature, preventing air from interacting with the coffee, pressure and temperature of the water, and brew residence time. Each cup tastes exactly the same one after the other.
The espresso itself. Oh my goodness, I have spent a lot of time in Italy drinking espresso at corner cafes. Nespresso is as good as, if not better than, anything I ever had in Italy. It is the rare US or Canadian restaurant that can brew a better espresso. Nespresso has become the gold standard by which I judge espresso when I travel. The crema on these drinks is amazing - thick, rich, and perfect.
The real competitor to this machine, the Illy line, and $1000 true ground espresso machines. Here's the huge downside to those machines - the Illy machines are well over $750, and the cartridges are paper wrapped (so once you open the can, you need to use all those cartridges quickly - air is ground coffee's worst enemy). The ground coffee versions, you have a long warm up time to build heat and pressure in the vessel, you have to grind your own coffee, there's a huge variable introduced in grind size and coffee packing, and you have messy coffee grounds to clean up.
When you compare this machine to the alternatives for real espresso, this is a cheap machine. Add the convenience, and this is a no brainer choice to me. The one downside to this machine and all the Nespresso machines, you have to buy your coffee from Nestle directly over the internet or phone. Nobody else makes these capsules. Myself, I simply buy 500 at a time and watch my supply. From ordering to delivery is usually 3 days.
One of my biggest concerns in buying this was the longevity of Nestle producing these capsules. I think they will produce these for a long time in the future. The machine dates back to 1986. It is very popular in Europe. The capsule they use is a commodity aluminum capsule that is used by a number of other industries - in other words, Nestle buys these formed aluminum capsules, fills them, and seals them. There is no proprietary container, unlike the other two popular beverage on demand machines. Nestle's investment in capsule manufacture and distribution (all 100% internet or phone based with no marketing in the US) is really small for a great return to them.
Visiting Italians have told me this is the best espresso they have ever had in the US. And my wife, who rarely ever drank brewed coffee, looks forward to her luongo every morning.
This does have a steamer attachment to make foamed milk and deliver hot water. There's also a gizmo to foam milk for cappucino or lattes. The gizmo was just too much of a pain to clean for me, so I've used it maybe 10 times. The steam attachment, I can make a great cappucino with that pretty quickly with no mess, so I lean that direction.
Compared to some of the newer less expensive machines, this one is really rock solid and well proven to me. I love the automatic short or long buttons. I would buy exactly this machine again in a second. But, remember, I'm an addict.
If you are looking for that special $100 arena, and only want an on-demand beverage maker, this is by far the best machine you can buy:
Bosch TAS4511UC Tassimo Single-Serve Coffee Brewer, Silk Silver - just remember, it makes great coffee, cappucino, hot chocolate, tea - but it does not make espresso (no matter what anyone says or claims, it is incapable of doing that). They have fixed the awful sound of the original machine by working with Bosch.
The other alternative for just coffee making (no cappucino or hot chocolate) Keurig B60 Special Edition Gourmet Single-Cup Home-Brewing System.