The GOCE satellite mission was launched in 2009 and the first gravity models were released in July 2010. Here we present an initial assessment of the GOCE data in terms of the mean circulation of the North Atlantic. We show that with just two months of data, the estimated circulation from GOCE is already superior to a similar estimate based on 8 years of GRACE observations. This result primarily depends on the fact that the GOCE mean dynamic topography (MDT) is generally less noisy than that obtained from the GRACE data. It therefore requires less smoothing and so there is less attenuation of the oceanographic signal. Our results provide a strong validation of the GOCE mission concept, and we anticipate further substantial improvements as the mission progresses.