Classy and classic - what an espresso machine should aspire to be
Positive Product Points
Simplicity and beauty - ultimate control over the pull and only the nimrod yanking the lever to blame - apparent durability and few parts to wear out
Negative Product Points
lousy, rinky-dink portafilter - very hot to the careless touch - occasionally messy - if you are fussy about appearances you may find yourself polishing out every fingerprint and water spot thatthe chrome seems to attract - ultimate control over the pull and only the nimrod yanking the lever to blame
Let's get this out of the way right now: no, this is not the full "Chrome Peacock" experience. The Gaggia factory does not have the cachet of its la Pavoni sibling and as such the cognoscenti may mark you down a point or two. Let them. The Gaggia does a great job and at a discounted price is every bit as satisfying as the Pavoni (OK, I don't have the peacock, so I can't state that for sure). But I can swear that this machine is perfectly capable of delivering a great shot, offers all of the tactile pleasure and whiz-bang fiddling with knobs and levers, and makes for a visible commitment to espresso lore and mystique. This machine makes espresso cool even to those who consider freeze dried granules to be the ultimate expression of coffee tech. I have mine in my office at small plains U, and it is a sure conversation starter as well as a way to pull a couple of quick shots before facing the baying masses.
I did defy common wisdom by buying this as my first espresso machine (although I had pulled shots on commercial la Cimbali and Astra semiautomatic machines), and if you plan to use you machine all day long, you might be better off with a decent semiauto, but my couple of doubles every other day are perfect on the factory and I enjoy waiting for it to burble up to temp. Pulling espresso shots should hold an air of pageantry for aficcionados, and the Gaggia Factory suits this perfectly. Real life baristi need studier tools, but with the exception of the small diameter, low-grade portafilter, this machine is everything I could ask for. Not every shot is a masterpiece, but with a proper tamp and a steady pull, it has been a long time since I produced something undrinkable. And every once in a while, magic happens, the heavens open, and a beautiful, tiger-flecked shot appears in the demitasse. Ah, the satisfaction of more than mere adequacy.
Looking at the numbers, I realize that my overall rating is a little higher than the aggregate might suggest, but I do feel there is a degree of intangible appeal to a lever machine.
I vaguely recall spending $499 to buy this as a discontinued item at Whole Latte Love. Service was great, shipping fast, and I highly recommend them. At the time I write this, they are out of the Factory 16 cup, but still have the 8 cup at a discount. Please give them your consideration.