Very noisy with the plastic case rattling while pumping. Frothing nozzle(with foaming attachment) is too low to get a cup under it without spilling the steamed milk. Difficult to get the right amount of froth and the right temperature when steaming milk (this may be a learning issue) Big and somewhat ugly looks.
I had a Krups from Costco that I've used for about 5 years and it was always a battle to get it to work right. It had too little pump power and too little steam heat. I'm mainly judging the Gaggia by the experience I had with the Krups.
I didn't want to spend more than $200.00 but now that I have the machine I realize I probably should have spent more and gotten something more substantial. Time will tell, though. The Carezza seems flimsy and rattles like mad when it's pumping. The accesories that came with it are cheaply made compared to the Krups I had before. I want it to keep making good coffee for a lot of years and if it does I'll be happy with it but based on the flimsy look and feel I'm a little sceptical about it lasting very long.
I'm starting to get good lattes out of it now. Of the coffees I've tried so far the espresso from Starbucks works the best. It definitely has much more pump power and steam heat than I'm used to and this is probably the most important thing.
I haven't been able to get milk to froth without using the frothing attachment. I never had trouble with my old Krups and the hole in the steaming tube on the Carezza is bigger so maybe it isn't possible--or maybe I just need to learn to do it differently. With the frothing attachment there isn't room to get the milk cup out without spilling the steamed milk. I put it on the edge of the counter but the design of the frothing attachment is such that it likes to drip milk down the front out the counter after use.
When I start pumping I think about the scene in "Blackhawk Down" where they were hiding out and making coffee--if he had used this noisy Carezza, all the bad guys would have know right where they were.
I got it from Aabree Coffee and I'm extremely happy with the ease of ordering, informative web site, the email updates on order/shipping, and the speed with which they got it to me.
Three Month Followup
1) I still think the machine is ugly looking. 2) I don't notice how loud it is anymore. 3) I got rid of the plastic milk frothing attachment because it makes very big bubbles. It is really completely useless for getting a decent froth. 4) The perfect-crema attachment that came with it doesn't work at all. The vendor told me to throw it away when I called them about it. 5) The steaming wand is way too short and the hole in the end is too big. It is hard (but possible) to get a cup under it in such a way that the wand goes into the milk. I think that the big hole and high steam volume at a low speed causes the milk to get too hot (I like it about 140) so I put my cup in the freezer for awhile before using it to steam the milk (actually half and half) in.
BUT in spite of all that...
I've figured out how to use the machine to make an excellent latte. Every day when I get home from work I look forward to making one and enjoying it.
I've been inspired to try some different beans and get my own hand grinder to get the grind just right. Some of the Trader Joe's espresso beans are delicious but the best I've tried so far is the Intelligentsia Black Cat--yummmmmmmmm!
If this one ever wears out, I'll get a better designed machine even though I'll probably have to pay more. I'd recommend the same for anyone else considering buying this machine.
One Year Followup
This is more like the 5 year review: My machine seems about to die. The pump has started failing after making one cup. That is the pump simply doesn't run after one use although it works again after it's cooled down for a day. I guess I'll open it up and see if it's fixable. Maybe I'm living in the past but for $200 I expect a product to last more than 5 years when I only use it 2-3 times a week on average.