O.k., I definitely would NOT buy this machine and would strongly recommend you don't either. Having said that, I continue to use and enjoy my machine several times every day. It brews excellent espresso shots. But that's about it. The water dispenser and steam system quit working long ago. I can't wait till it finally breaks completely so I can buy something else. My negative comments are directed at the Gaggia Baby Twin, and NOT at the Gaggia Baby or other Gaggia machines such as the Classic. And lest you think I am being unfair to this machine, sitting next to it is a Rocky Doserless Grinder that I think the world of and have reviewed highly. I'll start with the Good about this machine, because if I don't, I would probably never get around to it.
THE GOOD: This machine brews great coffee, is forgiving in terms of different grinds it will tolerate, and is easy to use. Outside, it is all quality stainless steel and is easy to clean. The water reservoir is large for the size of the machine and is well designed (it’s easy to refill in place, is easily removable for occasional cleaning, and doesn’t leak). The drip tray is rather small, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing (encourages regular cleaning). The drip tray is easily removed and a whiz to clean. It’s got an orange float that’s supposed to tell you when it’s full, but the float is fairly useless–you can tell when the drip tray is full just by looking at the drip tray. I’d score the design and ease of use of this machine (at least the outsides) to be a 9.5. The main (and only) boiler is brass and is self-priming. After you prime it the first time, you’ll never need to do it again as long as you use the machine once every couple of days. The machine heats up in about 10 minutes. Again, this machine brews great espresso. But that’s about all it does well, though. But that is quite a lot. Since the steaming “thermoblock” system quit working after a few months of use, I’ve basically been waiting for this machine to quit working so I could justify purchasing another. But it won’t die–which leads me to believe that the Gaggia Baby and the Gaggia Classic may be awesome and durable machines for the money. It’s the additional “thermoblock” on this machine (The Twin) which is a piece of junk in my opinion. There’s nothing whatsoever wrong with the expresso that this machine brews. The brew group, portafilter, and boiler are brass. Once brew temperature is reached, this machine will brew shot after shot–by the time you’ve ground another portafilter’s worth of beans, the machine is ready to brew another double shot. In fact, the more shots you brew, the better the shots get. By the 3-4th double, there’s nothing but crema slowly pouring into the shot glasses–even when running some water through the brew group a time or two, the first shots are like the first waffles out of an iron–they leave a little something to be desired.
THE BAD: The second “boiler” dedicated to steam and hot water isn’t a second boiler at all, and it certainly is not a heat exchanger. It’s called a “thermoblock and is nothing more that a cheap snail-shaped pot metal/aluminum coil that sits in the base of the machine. Mine started leaking after a couple of months, and before I knew what was happening, I got a lot of rust inside and at the bottom of my machine. After a couple more months, the whole steam system quit working completely. Now I have to microwave my milk in the morning, and have had to do so for the past year and a half. No steamed milk and no micro–foam for me. However, even when the thermoblock was working, it produced extremely low steam pressure compared to comparable machines such as the Silvia or even the Gaggia Twin or Classic that run their steam through the main brass boiler. Other than the brass boiler (which seems honestly quite small), the rest of the interior of this machine is plastic and pot metal–very cheap and very prone to breakage. So Gaggia has spent some money on some nice stainless steel for the outside of this machine, but it’s truly only skin deep. When my machine started leaking, I couldn’t get it serviced, so I took it a part to figure out why it was leaking. I was not impressed at all with the quality of the “guts.” Many of the interior parts were already broken, and I had to glue a lot of them back together. Replacement parts are generally unavailable from Gaggia or from any authorized service center. My machine brews pretty cold (about 165 F.). I took it to an authorized service center in Vancouver, Washington once to fix the interior leaking and increase the brew temperature, and it came back still leaking and still brewing at about 165 F. I’ve learned to live with it, and I just tend to grind a little finer and utilize a little longer extraction time.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: For the money, you can undoubtedly find a much better machine. The Gaggia Classic and the Gaggia Baby (NOT the TWIN) are probably great options. This machine retails for $699.00 which is $200-300 more than the regular Baby and the Classic. IT’S NOT WORTH IT!! Personally, I wish I’d purchased a Rancilio Silvia. However, I was taken in by Gaggia’s claim that the Baby Twin had the equivalent of a double boiler with its Thermoblock system which sounded a lot like a “heat exchanger,” so there was theoretically no wait between brewing and steaming. It’s not a double boiler and it’s not a heat exchanger. The second heating element and system is a piece of junk. I have no wait between brewing and steaming, because my Baby Twin does not steam–At All!! I feel duped. But, my machine does pull great shots every morning–I just wish it would completely break so I could justify purchasing something else.