Not very good looking; Poor design of the steam attachment and knob; Poor design of water tank;
I like the espresso that comes out of Gaggia machines. I use a Rancilio Rocky grinder and usually Lavazza Top Class coffee. I can match the taste of a good Italian espresso (say at a local bar in Roma) with this set up. And I would rate the machine Great for that.
The water tank is designed rather silly. I fill it up from the top so that's fine, but for weekly washing of the tank, it is a pain to remove it. Carezza was much easier with the slide from the side design.
For the morning cup of cappuccino this machine falls short, literally. With the awful plastic "Panarello" attachment you might as well use soap water for the foam, since you get the same kind of bubbles! and without the attachment the metal part of the steam wand is too short. With the little milk needed for a cappuccio there is no way to even get close to the milk to froth it. The machine has a relatively strong steam power which is great but makes it hard to make micro-foam with little control. Before you know it the milk is super hot. The Carezza also had the same problem, but the plastic attachment was not necessary since it was made with a longer metal wand. I used to be able to to make a cappuccio, fit to write on! This aspect of my "upgrade" is quite disappointing, so I am thinking about replacing the Classic's wand with La Carezza's ;-)
Steam Wand Update: I swapped the longer wand from my old Carezza with this and it works much better. So far no leakage and according to WLL since these are both Gaggia products, this swap does not void the warranty. Now if you don't have another wand handy, you can buy one. Check out:
It's great to be able to learn from people from anywhere in the world! Thank you all Coffee-Geeks and Coffee-Snobs all around the world!
WLL was not without problems but they're nice and kind people. We worked everything out after all.
Three Month Followup
gotten used to it and like it a lot. I had to bend the replacement wand a bit to be able to take the water tank out. I can make excellent espressos and cappucinos consistantly and reliably. That's what I needed, that's what I wanted, that's what i got!