Professional grade portafilter, 3 way solenoid valve, good all around home machine
Negative Product Points
Stock steam nozzle is not up to the quality of the rest of the machine, controls can be a bit stubborn
I have come up the ranks from a steam machine through several entry level pump machines and graduated from a Saeco to this, my first "real" machine.
You will need a decent grinder for this baby. With my old Braun grinder the entry level machines performed reasonably well. With the Baby you can't get it to sing unless you can get a fine grind. Once I bought a decent grinder the difference was remarkable.
The steam output could be better. I find you can maximize the steam output about 20 to 25 seconds after the heat light comes on, but just before the heat light goes off again. To the neophyte user it may seem a bit anemic if you miss the sweet spot. I prefer a single hole, stainless steel nozzle for milk steaming. The stock nozzle on the Baby can be dismantled leaving a single hole plastic nozzle. A bit cheap looking but it does the trick. It would be nice if the steam wand moved in more directions.
My two favourite features are the professional quality portafilter and the 3 way solenoid valve. You get two baskets but I only use the double. I also bought a blank basket for backwashing.
I do find that if the coffee grind is too fine you get a pressure backup and the boiler releases pressure by trickling water back in to the fresh water reservoir. This may make some squeamish but by now I am used to it.
I find the reservoir big enough. It can be a bit tricky to put it back in place if removed which I do daily. The drip tray is a bit small but adequate if you are careful. I draw a lot of blank shots but always draw them in to a bowl. Two or three blank shots and you would overflow the tray. Clearances below the steam wand and between the drip tray and portafilter are fine. I don't mind the looks and the plastic exterior. The control buttons don't always respond first push and thus can be a bit annoying.
Do I like the Baby? I really love it, ... for now. I have loved each of my past machines too at the time I used them except for the Saeco. I recently acquired a Nuova Simonelli Elli but haven't used it enough to want to ditch the Gaggia.
Got this machine brand new, in the box for CDN $170 from Craigslist. The seller picked up a few of them at an auction (no it wan't hot). For the price it was an unbeatable deal.