great machine for the price. But noise and hard water issues means I can only recommend for light use or starter machine.
Positive Product Points
Price is by far the most interesting aspect of this machine. Solid portafilter. Easy use. Forgiving to the grind when the 'perfect crema' device is used.
Negative Product Points
Extremely finnicky about hard water. Requires constant cleaning if hard water is used. Very noisy machine.
This machine went into heavy use amongst our espresso club at work. It replaced an old krups machine. With the 'perfect crema' device installed we were pulling consistent shots in no time with pretty variable coffee. We put it under fairly heavy use, about 10-12 shots a day. In this regime it worked well. Until scale started building up. Then it worked awfully. We cleaned it using cleancaf and it returned to service. But we noticed that we were having to clean it more then once a week. And the pump began wearing out. Causing us to have to make allowances. Then we lost the 'perfect crema' device. Now shots were totally inconsistent.
I really like the solidness of the portafilter and the ease of use. The flexible tubes that are in the reservoir are kind of a pain if the machine is in a tight place (like a crowded kitchen counter). We constantly spilled water trying to fill the reservoir. I can see why gaggia put the funnel system in the top. Once we were confident with it we spilled a lot less water.
I do not like the amount of plastic in the appliance. The appliance is very simple, which is a plus. But the plastic parts do not stand up well. Also, for some reason the machine is quite noisy. In a work environment, next to a conference room this was undesirable. We found a broken mount for the pump and fixed that. But even after the fix it was very noisy.
Bought from WholeLatteLove. The reviews were helpful in determining which machine. But none of the reviews mention the problems we have had with the appliance. The machine was misshandled in shipping and the pump mount broke. WLL gladly replaced the part for free (but made me pay for shipping because it took us 4 months to figure out what was making the machine so noisy).