Extracts good espresso, solid portafilter with spring catch for the filter basket. 58mm diameter filter matches popular ‘pro‘ grade tampers.
Relatively quick heatup (~6min), Milk steaming and frothing.
Negative Product Points
Cpu warmer plate that doesn‘t really deserve its name. Looks, Somewhat flexible body.
I paid $180 for it here in israel (220v model) at a ‘netaction‘ auction.
This machine for me was an upgrade from a DeLonghi bar14 (I think) machine, and I am quite happy with it, I think the money was well spent ...
While the DeLonghi made an acceptable espresso, it had two major disadvantages the Gaggia now fixed - one is the portafilter: the DeLonghi has a smaller portafilter with just a flimsy plastic lever to hold the filter basket when dumping the used coffee which made the second cup preparation inconvenient. Secondly - DeLonghi‘s steam output was really when, and it could not handle frothing milk for two cappuccinos at one take - you‘d have to froth twice separately. As I said the Gaggia shines in both these fronts - the portafilter is solid, and dumping used grounds is a snap, and steaming / frothing gives really nice results after some practice - for up to three cups without a problem.
I‘ve seen better looking espresso makers, even the less expensive DeLonghi looks better IMO. Also, the body of this machine is not really up to the large portafilter, and you can feel it slightly twisting when tightening the handle, I wouldn‘t say this is a real problem, my guess in that this is almost inevitable unless metal body is used - and that can only be found in a wholly different price range.
What Gaggia is calling a ‘cup warmer‘ top, is not really functional, it just isn‘t hot enough - so yoy‘ll have to use boiling water from a kettle to warm the cups.
Looking for further upgrade a year or two from now, I believe I will only shell out extra $ to go to the $1K price rage - e.g. a Livia 90 or a MiniNOVA semi-autos which produce simultaneous coffee and steam, have much more solid construction, and, where you do not have to wait the 25sec near the machine and watch.