Although I had been drinking the swill from Starbucks since high school, the coffee experience that changed my perspective was my trip to Italy in 2016. Before that I had never tasted (or at least recognized and admired) a proper cappuccino. The microfoam blending perfectly into the espresso and creating a single, thick, creamy consistency throughout my 5 oz cup.
When I came back to the states, Starbucks would no longer cut it. I started with the moka pot and an electric frother. Better than Starbucks, but still not where I wanted to be. Picked up a Gaggia classic and rancilio rocky: better, but still not there. Then Ms Silvia and a PID with a baratza Vario: now we were talking. But when friends or family came over, I was spending 45 minutes making a handful of capps. So I bought a broken Pasquini heat exchanger that I was able to diagnose and repair (with the help of HB, CG, and one member in particular ([jpboyt]) and was in business.
The Pasquini was great, but I was intrigued by the history and technology behind the e61 group. So the craigslist searches never ceased, and they led me to a broken Quickmill Andreja Premium that needed a complete tear down and rebuild. I was up to the task ... It took me 6 months, but I got it done! I have been nothing but happy with the quickmill, but something kept pulling me to a lever machine (pun intended).
Finally, when I had no other machines to work on, I started searching for a first gen la Pavoni Europiccola. It didn't take long to find one that I was ready to jump on. Disassembled it, replaced all the gaskets, powder coated the base, and it is back to its former glory.