Great value in a solid consumer quality old school machine.
Positive Product Points
Large water reservoir. Available with a non-pressurized portafilter (Seattle Coffee Gear). Stainless steel boiler. Large drip tray. Hefty machine. Warms up fast.
Negative Product Points
Pannarello wand produces a large fluffy foam. It is easy to use, but not a great drink. The steam wand is a bit short out of the box but you can fix this. The water reservoir is easy to overfill and then there is a leak on the counter. Be aware of the notch in the reservoir where the tubing goes in and don't fill above this point.
This machine is a great value. You can produce a quality shot of espresso that rivals the more expensive machines, but for a budget price. My machine is paired with a Kitchen-aid Pro-line burr grinder that works great. After getting the grind dialed in I can produce a double shot with great crema in about 20 seconds using my optional non-pressurized portafilter (Included in the price I quoted above).
The steam function was a little disappointing until I found a nice little replacement steam accessory made for Gaggia. It is the Gaggia Latte Art Pannarello Wand. It fits in place of the original steam wand but has a much longer center part. With this accessory I can take off the Pannarello attachment and steam directly into the picture. The extra length of the steam tip lets me get into the lower part of the picture and work the surface to create some micro foam. I got the wand at Aabree coffee for about $12.50. If you want to use the included wand from Saeco you can produce steamed milk and large fluffy foam with ease. That may not be your preference, I know it is not what I like. I prefer the micro foam.
The weight of the machine is just right. I donít have to hold onto the machine to keep it stable when I take the portafilter in and out. The weight of the machine keeps it stable on the counter. The porta filter fits really well and goes into the machine with ease.
If you only want to produce one or two drinks at a time and want the option to do it old school this machine is the best value.
Fast delivery, but the unit I got was re-packaged. Everything was there except the tamper, which I didn't want anyway. Everything worked out of the box and there was no damage. I have since had two issues with this vendor's delivery on a different order. They quickly responded to my e-mail and sent a replacement shipment right away, but then they screwed it up again. I said I wouldn't go back to them, but I did give them one more chance because they were the only ones on the internet with what I wanted. Do your homework.
Three Month Followup
The steam capacity is only adequate. The Pannarello wand attachment does not help that much in the creation of microfoam. I can create a latte or cappicino, but the foam is not good enough for artwork. Replacing the wand with the one from Aabree coffee doesn't help, all it does is give me less of the light fluffy foam that just floats on top. The machine appears to be bullet proof other than that. I get a great old school shot. I have to put the right amount of coffee in to get the 25 second pull, otherwise it is a bit fast. The crema is good with the non-pressureizd porta filter I bought from Seattle Coffee Gear. I want to upgrade, but this machine fills my need for expresso.