Sorry for dropping in on this thread, but I couldn't resist. Imagine my delight at finding such a passionate discussion of one the other great obsessions of my life -- espresso -- here on a ski forum. Gotta love it! Ski nuts are also espresso nuts! Who-da thunk it?
Finndog, I've just gone through exactly what you're into now, and picked up an ECM Giotto about 6 months ago, after drinking Moka pot coffee for about 20 years.
(Sorry, don't have any pics of my machine, nor any espresso porn like the naked portafilter shots above
. I also toyed with getting a Silvia or similar machine, but decided to go all the way and leap into the deep end, and I've never regretted it. The E61, HX machines are awesome. They pull shot after shot at perfectly stable temperatures, and have incredible steaming power. You will love your new machine -- the Anita is a beaut, and is very well made. Good choice.
If I may offer some suggestions...one of the things I had to do with the Giotto was tweak the boiler pressure to get optimal brewing temperatures.
In my case, the brew temps were too hot, so I had to turn the boiler pressurestat down a touch to lower the boiler temperature a few degrees. If the temperature is off, you will either get coffee that tastes sour (temp too low) or too bitter (temp too high). You want brew temps in the 198 to 205 deg. F range. You can run a simple sytrofoam cup test (check Home Barista site for the method) with an instant read thermometer to check the temps. Don't go too low, otherwise you will lose some steaming power, and the coffee will be sour.
With the E61 heads, they will have super-heated water in the brew head and HX if the machine has been sitting idle for a while. If you pull your first shot without flushing this out of the HX line and bringing some fresh water in, then your shot will taste burnt. So remember to give the brew head a quick 10 second flush to cool it down if it's been sitting a while...you will know when it's enough -- the sputtering will stop and the water will flow evenly.
If you get your temps right, and the grind and tamp right on, you will get some amazing syrupy, luscious coffee. And you will never regret not having bought a superauto machine (Saeco, Jura and their ilk). I've tasted coffee from superautos costing anywhere from $1200 to $4500, and they were all lukewarm, thin-bodied, dreck.
BTW, the Home Barista forum is an excellent resource for tips and troubleshooting. I've found the members nothing but helpful and polite -- no condescension, no snide comments, and no snobs. Nice group....if you're a forum guy, you will like that one.
Good luck, and let us know how the first shots taste.