Excellent machine, only real negatives are that Gaggia could do with revising the design slightly and sorting out their customer service... to be more about the customer!
Positive Product Points
Simple key presses deliver excellent quality espresso with great crema every time. The steam wand is brilliantly designed and produces pefect microfroth. Looks elegant and sophisticated, the centrepiece of our kitchen. Perfect for those who don't have the time to grind, tamp, brew and froth but still want near-God Shots every time.
Negative Product Points
"Empty Dregdrawer" message is not intelligent, it is a simple counter. The message appears even if you emptied it one shot earlier. Annoying bean hopper feed issue, already mentioned many times. Annoying plastic hinged door above steam wand - exactly what is its purpose?! Cover on bean hopper could seal better and keep the beans even fresher. Poor service experiences - machine came back damaged and issue had to be escalated to head of service. After much to-ing and fro-ing, however, the machine was replaced. You can be without a machine for several weeks if it needs to go in for repair as no temporary is sent in its place. Not really what you expect for a £700+ machine.
Having worked our way up through steam powered then mid-range single boiler manual machines, we decided to look at double boiler machines. We looked at various machines including Gaggia and Rancilio models, got hooked on the idea of grinding fresh beans (and so looked at a range of burr grinders). Then we decided it might just be easier to go for a fully automatic machine. If they're good enough for Starbucks and Pret a Manger, we thought they'd probably be good enough for us! And a whole lot less hassle as well. Despite enjoying the art of creating a good espresso shot, sometimes pressing a button seems much more civilised. :-) We certainly drink a lot more coffee now it is so quick and easy to make good espresso.
The design and aesthetics of the machine are very good overall, with just a few niggles as discussed in the negative product points. However the proof is in the pudding, or the coffee in this case. The machine makes fantastic espresso and we now couldn't live without it!
Wheesh were great. Price was excellent. Their staff were highly knowledgeable and they offered us a visit to their offices to see a working machine even though they don't have a showroom (they're an internet retailer). They kept their delivery promise and got it to us just in time for Christmas.
Three Month Followup
Still extremely happy with the machine. Would highly recommend it.