I'm learning that I do need to be patient. I wrongfully assumed that just by buying a better setup that I'd be able to use the same technique that I used on my old machine and instantly get better results.
It is working. This morning I pulled in a nice double at 30 sec. Should have cut it short a bit, as it started to blonde at around 25. Made a very nice Latte.
I do love the art of espresso. I specifically chose a machine without a pressurized PF, for that very reason.
After a few weeks of learning the quirks of this new setup, I should at least be back where I was with the old rig. Hopefully from there, I can tinker some more and take things to a whole new level.
Things are looking-up. No longer a frustrated new user. Rather, an eager young Padawan
Pulled a nice shot of decaf today (I know, I know). 25 sec., \"mouse tails\", nice crema, the whole bit. Hit the sweet spot bang on. No bitterness or sourness. Unfortunately, the beans must be stale, because there was nothing left in the middle. It was smooth, and I was able to drink it straight, but it tasted pretty bland. Almost watery.
I've been using the WDT, and have found it does make a difference, although not a staggering difference.
Starting to feel much more at home on this machine.
However, I am experiencing similar woes to every other Gaggia owner with regard to steaming. I think my old Hamilton Beach did a better job in that department. Oh well, one more thing to get the hang of.