I have watched enough YouTube videos related to so called semi-automatic machines and marvel at the hobby aspect espresso making has become. It is fun to watch all the fussing around with weighing the coffee beans (input output ratios) from expensive grinders and $300 Acaia scales, distribution tools, expensive tampers, then stirring the ground coffee from the $1000 grinder to avoid clumping, and the list goes on and on. All this to slop down a 40ML espresso every morning! Hours of YouTube videos' on brew ratio's as determined by some coffee nerd who thinks Italian espresso is the past...and has the so called third wave figured out. Yeah sure!
I drank and made a lot of espresso with a so called semi-automatic machines - not big on milk drinks - for the most part my Cardona Prestige is a very close in taste to several of my local coffee shops and some of my own experience. I use a Espresso Dolce freshly roasted bean and surprisingly the taste profile listed on the bag closely matches the taste profile taste in the cup. Use freshly roasted (not oily) beans is still a thing with Super Autos.
My Cadorna delivers a right temperature (not just warm) tasty full body espresso which looks great and tastes great. No fussing about or waiting 20 minutes for the machine to really warm up. As for maintenance, I came from a life of living with a grinder/portafilters/tampers and all the things that go with that. I didn't want making 40ML of espresso every morning to become another expensive hobby requiring a work bench full of tools, with 30 minutes to get a 40ML espresso drink and then another 30 minutes of clean-up time.
By the way keeping the Cardona clean is easy, a once week rinse off of the removable brew group, a wipe out of the machine.. Daily empty the puck drawer and add water....or not depending on use.
The best kept secret at Espresso Dolce is their amazing freshly roasted coffee beans..give them a try.