overall a great machine for its time. Still a warhorse, although there may be better out there
Positive Product Points
I bought mine in Italy when I was living in Europe, and it is 9 years old. It has worked flawlessly for all that time, and have made at least 5-6 cups a day when not travelling.
Negative Product Points
One day, I made a mistake and added de-caf to the secondary filler and accidentally hit the grind button. It must have stripped a tooth and could no longer make a double shot; but it still kept working. My last decalcification must have blocked the pump, and now it's dead. I was told a repair would be $400, and it is just not worth putting in that much money into an old machine.
Overall, my only real complaint was with the steamer. If we had a lot of guests, I had to steam the milk in batches. The machine heats up fast enough to make steam, but it takes forever to cool down for coffee. There is a trick: turn of the steam heater and run the pump.
The machine has done me well, and the only reason that I would not buy another one would be the lack of a double boiler that would enable me to switch instantly from espresso to steam mode.
A safety interlock would have saved me from my own stupidity when using pre-grounds.
Considering the price I paid ($400 in Italy when they were selling for well over a grand ten years ago in the US), it has done me well.
For limited home use with a bit of luxury, this machine is certainely worth the money. Back when I bought it, the choice was very limited in home style machines, even in Europe.
Would I buy another one today? No, since I am willing to go a class up to have the convenience of a double bloiler.
There are a lot more choices on the marketplace now; the problem is which. Always worried about having a built in grinder. Fry it, and your whole machine is down. On the other hand, a separate grinder is going to be messier, slower, more inconvient, and have a much larger footprint.
The machine was easy enough to use for my ex although I knew our marriage was in trouble when she ran flavored coffee through it. It took me weeks to get that taste out of the machine.
Bought it in an appliance shop in Italy, and never went back there again. I called two of the service centers in upstate NY from Saeco, and they were both very friendly and helpful. Their estimates for a repair were within a few dollars of each other and they both had the same diagnostics.