Re. the pedigree of espresso in Breville, CoffeeGeek had a preview of the dual-boiler before it came out that talked about the development of the machine. It sounds pretty serious to me.
But my recent experience with a new coffee shop in town has led me to believe that the machine and all the attendant crazy rituals are pretty much secondary to the bean. If you have a good bean, that's like 80 percent of the fight right there. If you have a bad bean, nothing else you do down the line will make it better.
I logged all the espressos I had from a shop over a period of months, because I noticed that they were pretty inconsistent. In the end, it turned out that only 40 percent were acceptable. They had a LM GS5, Mazza grinders, plumbed-in double-osmosis filtered water, and the VST machined baskets. Some baristas were better than others (some were downright awful), but they all ground-to-order, dialed in the bean at least once every day, weighed stuff, preinfused, and were religious about their daily cleaning routine, so they were doing everything else right.
I'd found this ratio to be true for other good shops too (eg. Intelligentsia, other small boutique shops in other cities), and resigned myself to the fact that espresso is just hard to do consistently. But then a new shop opened up in town recently, and so far their hit rate (of the 10 or so shots I've had) have been 100 percent. Only 1 was anything less than excellent. They have a Strada, but aren't using any of its fancy features, and it's been consistent across the 4 baristas that have pulled shots for me. The shots have been both short and long in volume. I've got to conclude that this is probably due to using beans (Populace espresso blend) that are really well-suited for espresso that lets them get consistent, interesting shots every time.
I've found this to be true for the drip brew stuff at home, too.