The only thing so far is the oft mentioned leaking steam wand...but it's no big deal
Started my espresso days 20 years ago with a Salton steam machine...made good 'strong coffee' and not bad milk based drinks, one at a time. In the early 90's was a go owner of a Cappuccino Cart that we rented for festival events, which had a Rancillio double lever machine. That's where I learned to make 'real espresso'. In the mid 90's I bought a Krups Nova for home use and found it barely adequate, but it lasted 5 years. A few months back the Krups crapped and I embarked on a mission to replace it. With two toddlers in the family and house renos coming up cost was a factor. After reading all the reviews on CoffeeGeek on under $400 machines I settled on the Saeco, both because of the reviews, but as well there is a dealer, with service dept within walking distance of where I live. I find it makes very good espresso with thick creama. Heatup time is reasonably fast and I for one appreciate the pressure filter system...it seems to work very well. Some have complained about the small boiler, but I've easily made 6 cappuccinos within a few minutes start to finish....something that took 20 minutes with the Krups and about an hour with the Salton. Yes, the steam wand drips...small price to pay considering the build quality of the machine. The frothing attachment works better than most so I've left it on. Addressing another complaint, I use a smaller 6 oz S.S. milk jug and find it works very well with no spillage. Overall a great machine.
I'm a firm believer in supporting local business. I purchased my machine from Commerical Cappuccino in Edmonton, Alberta. I could have got it cheaper on the 'net but that is often, in my opinion, false economy. I go through a 2 kilo bag of coffee in 3 weeks. Because I bought my machine there, the people at Commerical sell me my coffee at the same wholesale price they sell the bags to restaurants or cafes. I've figured it out and it works out to less than 1/2 the price of a specialty coffee seller. As well, when I go on to buy my coffee, usually on a Saturday morning I walk out with 2 or 3 espressos on the house, sometimes a shot of brandy, and a couple of weeks ago a fine 2 litre jug of very good homeade wine. And to think I could have 'saved' $50 bucks by buying on the net!!
Three Month Followup
Very happy with this machine. Though 3 months is not a long period of time, I have gone throught 5 2kg bags of coffee since I've had the machine. On the weekends the machine goes on at 7:30 AM and doesn't end its day till about 6:00 PM. It makes good espresso with excellent creama, and can easily make 4-6 milk based drinks without loosing steam. A friend recently purchased a Nuovo Siminelli Oscar for 4 times the price of the Saeco. Neither he nor I can discern any difference in the quality of drink coming out of the machine. Yes, the steam wand still drips, but it is getting no worse and is not that big a deal. About the only downside I can imagine is that the boiler is not huge. My wife, who drinks tea can get a full cup of steaming water out of the machine...but two cups at once is kind of dicey. I don't drink tea so this is no big issue to me. In all I still think it is one of the best values on the market.
One Year Followup
So a year has passed and I'm still extremely happy with the Saeco, in part due to the excellent service from Commercial Cappuccino, where I purchased the machine. On average the machine has pumped out 8 to 10 shots of espresso every day for the last year, about 1/2 of which are milk based drinks. Over the year the dripping steamer became quite bothersome, as the drip tray would be filled at days end, as oppossed to the 2 or 3 usual days. I took it in to Commercial Cappuccino about 2 months ago and was told it was common because once it started to leak a bit, most people (myself definitely included) 'fixed' the problem by tightening the knob harder and harder, which eventually breaks the little gasket, then it leaks full scale. I was asked to leave the machine for a couple of hours (this was 10:00AM on a Saturday)...I picked it up at noon, with new gasket installed and at no charge as it was within the year. I was then given an espresso and a shot of brandy and sent on my way...one damn satisfied customer. Since then the machine has run perfectly...completely drip free. SO A WORD OF WARNING...IF YOUR SAECO STARTS TO DRIP A LITTLE BIT...DON'T BE TEMPTED TO REEF ON THE KNOB TO MAKE IT STOP...YOU'LL ONLY MAKE THE PROBLEM FAR WORSE. Again I think this the best machine in its price range, bar none.