Not owned but used a pump model krups. Also used mocha pots and some prof mach.
Great value for money, consistent and robust but needs good grinder to match it
Positive Product Points
Solid machine in general. 10+ year old machines are still in use and are a testament to its robustness and to the easy access to spare parts.
Consistently produces great shots with nice crema, even with coffee that should be too old.
Fast heat up, though one should let it sit for 20-30 min including priming (running a cup full of water) before using it. Remember to insert the filterholder with portafilter in place to heat it thoroughly. Just running hot water over it won't be enough. It should be really hot.
Great value for money! it's a lot cheaper than the classic and it's no actual problem that it lacks the three way solenoid valve. I almost never experience coffee sneezes when removing the filter.
Negative Product Points
Bit cumbersome to pull the water reservoir out. To do this you have to remove the drip tray and then drag it out pushing some tubes away momentarily. Btw, you have to do this each day of use to get rid of the stale water. No biggie for me personally, but can be irritating for some.
To get the best results you really need a good grinder like the rancilio rocky or the gaggia MDF. I used the solis 166 in the beginning but it proved to grind too coarse and too inconsistent. Now I use the rocky with great results.
The plastic tamper is crap. It's too small and very cheap looking indeed. Throw it away and buy something like the reg barber or the ergo tamper. They're worth it!
Btw, throw the dosing scoop away too. Instead fill the double filter up to the rim and level it with a finger. Then tamp with 20-30lb force or whatever you prefer. Consistency is the most important thing. You don't have to do handstand tamps!
I think the steam capacity is ok, but maybe a bit low capacity. I will experiment a bit more and come back with more comments in the followup review.
This model lacks the three way solenoid valve. This hasn't been a problem so far. I've only had 2-3 instants of coffee sneezes and cleaning by just running water through has been enough. It could be a problem in the long run however, because without the valve I cannot use a blind filter to really get a thorough clean with some kind of detergent. I will comment on this in three months.
I've already covered a lot in the positive and negative product points, so i won't be writing much in this section. I will only say that it has been real nice using it so far, and i don't think i've pushed it to it's limits yet. My shots are improving all the time. It's a great machine to start out with and it can produce very nice shots indeed. Note that this machine will do poorly with preground box coffee. Buy fresh coffee and grind it yourself with something like the rocky or mdf.
Buy a grinder and a press pot (french press) if your budget is limited. This machine is no good without a matching grinder!
Bought it in a department store in Oslo. Demo model, got a cut in the price of about 40 dollars.
Three Month Followup
After six months i decided to swap it for a rancilio silvia. Why? because i could get a second hand one for the same price and because i wanted the ability to backflush and the greater steam power. Now that i have used silvia for some weeks i can say the gaggia coffee really is a great machine. It hasn't got the looks like silvia, but the steaming is really satisfactory (i've even made rosettas) and it makes great espresso. Silvia is a tad better in the espresso department but not much. It really was sad to let the gaggia coffee. It served me well :)