Beautiful & robust machine makes a great cup, good enough to run a small coffee shop.
Positive Product Points
Simple single switch operation, huge boiler / endless steam, easy to clean, large cup tray holds all sizes, easy to disassemble and repair, nice color sceme & design, red metal flakes imbedded in color panels add a nice touch, replacement parts readily available
Negative Product Points
No thermometer, large (almost 2 feet wide) and heavy (135#), uses lots of electricity (I left it on for a month and got a $100 electricity bill)
After messing around for a couple years with a couple Francis Francis X1's, a Gaggia Coffee, La Pavoni ECP-8, I decided to get serious. What precipitated me getting the Wega was a visit to Ritual Roasters in San Francisco where I realized that the coffee I was making at home could be a lot better, ok it was pretty bad. I decided to get a single group commercial machine and started shopping eBay and doing research.
I found this Wega Atlas 1 manufactured in 2001, purchased it for $500, paid almost as much to have it trucked to Los Angeles due to the fact that it weights 135#, not 75# as is described online. Possibly this is an older style with different guts. It arrived broken (despite the sellers claim to the contrary) with a massive leak from a cracked Parker valve, bad head hasket, clogged screem. I ordered replacement parts, and installed them myself (without any prior knowledge of the internal workings of espresso machines). Once that was fixed, I found the group head was hopelessly clogged with old coffee and had to disassmble it for a thorough cleaning, which was also not very difficult and required 2 or 3 tools.
After the repairs, it worked fine, made nice coffee. After tweaking my Isomac Gran grinder and trying several different roasts from different places, I was able to find a good balance and my espresso started getting better and better. I did have a few issues setting it up, figuring out how the plumbing worked because its not marked on the machine, but that probably would not have been an issue if it came with instructions.
Overall it was a bit of a saga to endure, but in the end I have a great machine that I have learned to repair myself, and between the purchase price, shipping and repairs I am into it for $1200, which is not bad for a model that runs almost $5000 retail.
Three Month Followup
Still love this machine, sitting here with a very nice almond latte. Overall, its been a very positive 3 months, although one morning the pump went out, I had it fixed by the following morning, I think I needed to remove a total of three screws to get it out. One average, I make two shots a day (one morning, one after work), and much more on weekends when company is over. The shots are very consistent, I've learned how to do a decent micro-foam.
One thing that's really nice about this machine is its simplicity. I think even a total novice like me with a screwdriver and a adjustable spanner (monkey wrench) could remove the boiler in a couple hours. I also appreciate that there's room to work inside the machine, with the cup warmer and just one side panel off, you can get to most of the plumbing on the whole machine and unbolt anything. There's room for your arm and a wrench without having to do yoga.
I'm not a clean freak, so I run Puly-Caff through it roughly once a week, and do the steam wand with Puly-Milk at the same time. 15 minutes of maintenance keeps the flavor clean and consistent. I plan to clean the boiler thoroughly at some point, but its a weekend project and I seem to be using it more heavily on weekends.
In short, I think this machine is easy to use, easy to fix and makes exceptional coffee. What I saved in buying it used, I seem to have spent in 'sweat equity' but in the process I've learned about what makes an espresso machine tick. If I had to do it all over again, I would buy the same machine, if I had $5000, I would buy a new one in a second.