Even a newbie can create decent espresso with this machine!
Positive Product Points
Crema on the first try!
Negative Product Points
The steaming wand is awkward. Hate the drip tray.
I am an obvious newbie, who's experience with coffee doesn't go much beyond Folgers and my Mr. Coffee. Our small town HAD an espresso shop, and she did pretty good lattes. Unfortunately, small town wasn't enough business to make much money. I had to have espresso, and I wanted something good. (We had tried one of those cheap steam driven machines, and knew that was a waste of time). After discovering this wonderful site and reading everything I could find about espresso, I decided to buy the gaggia.
I preheated the portafilter by running an empty shot through it and then put in mediocre beans (roasted by starbucks, sold at costco) I had ground myself, tamped them down, and inserted the portafilter in the machine. Time for the moment of truth. Hit the brew button and wonders beyond belief, I got rich colored espresso turning to crema. The espresso Gods had blessed me! I screwed up the milk frothing thing, but that was mostly due to operator error. (About a 25 second shot and a nice puck when done)
I have repeated the results, and come to the conclusion that most coffee idiots should get good results with the Gaggia. I love it. I have improved my milk frothing skills and can achieve pretty good microfoam. I am sure my epsresso would improve with better beans.
I have to sat the ergonomics wise, it isn't the best. The steam wand is short and close to the machine. Even my cheapy steam driven espresso machine was easier to use frothing milk, even thought it wasn't better. ;) The drip tray seems to be a nuisance. I played around with the Gaggia 16002 and I felt that it was slightly better with useful design. The curves might be prettier than the blocky the older gaggias, but I think they would have been easier to use. The other thing I noticed is that the portafilter of the carezza has plastic pour spouts, while the older ones were pure metal.
I would have bought new from a vendor, but the Gaggias are on backorder. Couldn't wait until April. Found a sweet deal on ebay. Seller was great. BUT this was the second machine I bought on ebay. The first gaggia was sent in winter without the boiler drained. It froze and cracked the boiler during shipment!