"Italian espresso is a distant 2nd... " Apheared, are you sure? Distant? Maybe you system needs some upgrading? You know, I am personally thinking about a rotary pump machine, a professional plumbed-in Bezzera with 5 liter boiler. There are limits using a Livia 90 with vibration pump (as I currently do). A nice double boiler machine would be even better, of course. But those La Marzoccos are even more expensive than a Holmes Powell. And you could always improve on your La Marzocco with Schomer modifications for almost perfect thermal stability. I would trust them to work - his tamper is great. Or maybe you have a grinder problem? A Mazzer Mini did miracles for me. Apheared, there is one irrefutable certainty about caffè espresso and hi-fi gear: You can always upgrade. And if you don't like your espresso, man, you just have to. Uh, yes, my vote is for coffee. I kinda like it Italian style.