Let me just start by saying that I'm a relative newbie to coffee. Although I've drank cappucinos and lattes off an on for years (mostly after meals at nice restaurants), I've only just started to get into it in earnest. 99% of why I wanted a decent machine was for a great foamy cappucino, and to make tasty hot chocolate with foamy milk for my wife.
After many hours of researching on this great site, I wanted a machine that was a great value, that would make a good to great cappucino with little hassle, that would make good foam, and that would look nice on the counter. How hard could that be???
After going back and forth on machines, I decided to try the Gaggia Coffee, as it seemed to possess most of the qualities I was looking for...or so I thought.
Disclaimer - I also wanted the convenience of espresso pods because I don't really like straight espresso...I apologize to all of you true espresso fans out there! Maybe I'll come around in the near future! :)
I ordered it online from Espresso People/Aabree (sister companies I found out later). Great experience with them, as it arrived promptly and very well boxed in perfect condition. It also came with a case of Lavazza Gran Crema pods.
Out of the box, I was immediately pleased. Solid machine, good quality parts, easy to set up and use.
I filled it, fired it up, and was ready to give it a try. I put in a pod, and off to the races we go! Good flow, decent crema. Gave it a taste...pretty good. Now it's foam time! After waiting for the boiler to get going again (which was surprisingly fast due to the small boiler and high power of the machine), I bled off some watery steam, and was ready to give it a whirl. I was immediately disappointed, as the foam produced had lots of large bubbles and was not at all of the smooth microfoam variety. :(
The next day, same experience.
The third day, while I was steaming the milk, the panarello comes flying off and hot milk goes everywhere!!! Hmm....what the f---???!!
This repeated about every other day or so for a week, so I call up Aabree and say, is this a normal occurrence? I remember reading a few other reviewers that had mentioned this problem...
Their response was that they had heard of it occasionally, but that it usually wasn't a problem. Obviously, having a plastic part that slips on and off for cleaning and is not ATTACHED to the machine seems like a major design flaw to me.
So, it's upgrade time already! I called them back (within their 30 day return policy) and asked to do an upgrade to the new (pod adaptable) Rancilio Silvia that I really wanted in the first place, but didn't want to spring the extra $200 for. They say I have to ship the Gaggia back at my expense because the machine is technically not malfunctioning. Well, ok, but I better get to keep the free pods if I'm spending $50 to ship it back. They agree.
So now I have a Silvia which has been fantastic so far. I got the pod adapter (which works great) and have been happily foaming ever since for the past week! See my review of the Silvia for a detailed pod adapter write-up. For us cappucino/latte lovers, it sure makes it convenient.
I know, sacrilegious to some of you to even think about pods!