Really beautiful looking machine in glossy black. Quality components (pump, boiler, 3-way, adjustable OPV, 58mm chrome plated brass PF etc.), comes up to consistent temp very fast.
Negative Product Points
Steam knob on top, cannot set anything on top, awkward drip tray, push buttons feel cheesy compared to Classic rocker switches.
There are so many very different models out there all named "Baby" but not at all alike. The current models all have the water tank on the back where it lifts straight up for removal - the model I'm reviewing has the tank underneath and it slides out the front.
This model has a 3-way solenoid valve and an adjustable OPV on the pump. The OPV actually works very well and can be adjusted without taking anything apart other than sliding out the water tank. With a PF gauge, my machine measured 14 bars stock, so I adjusted it down to 9 bars and now the shots are excellent.
The machine comes up to temp very quickly and the boiler heat doesn't cycle very often at all. The case is mostly plastic - only one piece of metal cabinet that the boiler/group head bolts to. And I noticed that there are insulating strips (silicone?) between the boiler and that one metal section of the cabinet. So the boiler is not transferring much heat to the cabinet at all. I was getting very consistent temps with only a 5-10 minute warm up. And when the machine is idling, the heater doesn't cycle on very often at all.
The two things I don't like, well three things -- The drip tray and the switches (the third thing is the steam knob on top and not being able to set anything on top of the machine). The drip tray is almost a deal breaker after being used to the Classic and Coffee style cabinets. On that Classic style, you simply grab the tray and slide it out and dump it without any need to remove the metal grid except for once a week when you open the tray to scrub it down - otherwise you can grab it and dump it with one hand in a simple motion. The Baby requires two hands and a lot of fiddling to dump the tray - you have to remove the metal grid, then remove the rubber spout, then lift out the tray, dump the tray, put the tray back in, put the rubber spout back on, then fit the grid back in place. It's a real hassle and the tray doesn't hold much so you are going through this routine frequently.
The push buttons work fine - but they feel cheap and push buttons just don't lend themselves to the workflow nearly as well as rocker switches.
This machine is quieter than other Gaggias I'm familiar with. The pump is an Invensys while all the other Gaggias I've used had Ulka pumps.
Same old style gaggia boiler - aluminum upper half and chrome plated brass lower. Same old Gaggia steam wand - not the newer ball joint type. Not as much room on the drip tray for the steam wand - it's almost impossible to get the wand over the drip tray when the portafilter is locked. One more poorly thought out workflow design.
The espresso shots have been fabulous. But I think the layout of the Classic and Coffee model is much more sensible.
bought it used.
Three Month Followup
The things I disliked (drip tray, switches) have not bothered me as much as I thought they would. I do really notice not having the top of the machine to store baskets/cups etc.
The positive things about this machine have really held a lot of weight for me. The rapid heat up and slow cool down - I believe this is due to the plastic cabinet not conducting the heat away from the boiler. I find that the shot temp stays up better during a shot than the same shot pulled on the Classic -- and the unit heats up in no time at all compared to the classic with all that stainless steel.
Another plus that has really won me over - it is so easy to access the OPV adjustment without opening the case - simply pull out the water reservoir and adjust the OPV.
The pump is so much more quiet on this machine than the Classic - something about how the pump is mounted and the way the case is built - I am not sure why but I can pull shots at 5am without any worries about disturbing others. The Classic and other model Gaggia's generally sound much louder and a much more irritating "buzzer" sound when pulling shots in the early AM.
I also find that the shot quality is just superb on this machine - no idea why it is so much better since it is the same boiler, same pump, same portafilter. But the OPV (being on the pump rather than on the boiler) may be part of the reason as the flow just seems to start smoother and the whole shot seems to be richer and creamier than on the other Gaggia machines I have. Perhaps it is due to the way the temp stays up better during the shot.