Not trouble free, as they all seem to jam periodically, but easily fixed. Per J-C, the problem is using very oily beans, which we do as we love very dark, heavily roasted Starbucks beans. The part that jams is the press mechanism. When it expresses the puck, it clogs and won't go back up. This seems to be a criticism for many of its machines, but it's hardly a deal breaker.
I like that it does much the same as the higher end models do. The simple fact that it doesnt have a digital read out is to me the only difference between it and say and E8 model which is generaly more money. It makes great coffee as well as hot tea and the temperature is plenty hot while not being too hot. The steam frother makes some of the best froth I have ever experienced. Good sized reservoir compared to most. Simple to learn how to operate and clean. I bought it because my daughter was taking her E8 away and I didnt want to spend as much as she did.
The digital control panel makes it easy to play with the programmable menu settings, including coffee strength, temperature, auto off and start time. You can also prepare cappuccino and espressos without having to wait between them thanks to the double boiler system that the ESAM5500B features. Lastly, no matter what coffee you plan on using with it, it’s going to be properly ground thanks to the professional quality conical low pitch burr grinder.
3) This machine is crazy smart. It knows exactly when to clean itself, or tells you when to start the cleaning cycle. To clean it, all you do is insert a tablet in the coffee powder drawer and it does its thing. It knows when it needs water, when the filter needs to be changed, etc. In fact, since we have a water filter built into our refrigerator, we just use that filtered water in the coffee machine and therefore we don't need to use the expensive water filters. Bottom line, if you just pay attention and clean the machine on a regular basis when it tells you to, this is a no-brainer machine.