Again, I did not adjust the the brew pressure at the OPV, which you probably could do, but you would have to remove panels to do so. Playing with the pump pressure is purely experimental and can easily be changed back to original setting. As long as everything else (beans, grind, etc) is in order, the machine produces consistently great espresso. I think the weakest link in my extractions is always the beans. I can't control the beans because I don't roast my own, but I can control the rest. Always buy the best beans you can afford, otherwise you'll really never know how good your machine can perform. Although I don't do too many milk based coffees, the steaming power is very good and the steam tip does it's job fairly well. I think the cooling flush is important but a bit subjective and varies slightly from time to time, but probably lasts a good 5 sec. If you've read any of the threads on insulation, depending on the type of machine being used, it's at best a toss up. I guess if the boiler comes insulated it's one less thing to consider, on the other hand it isn't hard to insulate an uninsulated boiler. As you mentioned, the side panels are insulated and does considerably reduce the temp of the exterior panels. You might ask, How does he know this? Because my machine was sent without the interior side insulation... and the sides get very very hot. After an email to Jim, we both figured that my batch had just been overlooked (oops) in the insulation dept. Nontheless, Jim contacted the manufaturer and within 3-4 wks I was sent my insulation. No fuss no muss, no reminders, no phone calls. 1st-line followed through as they said they would.