Good for somone that wants decent coffee quickly and with little trouble
Positive Product Points
I don't have any experience with other machines. However I have drunk coffee all over the world and have tasted some exceptional shots. I would say this makes your home on par with a decent barista. What you may loose in quality is imo overcome with ease of use. Recommended
Negative Product Points
Small water canister Much is made from plastic how long will that brewgroup last?
I purchased one of these from http://www.wholelattelove.com/ a few months ago and was looking all over the net for a decent review. WLL has many reviews but who knows if they drop bad ones? The lack of info on this machine inspired me to make this page.
I travel to Europe on occasion and at my place of work they have a great superautomatic. It makes good coffee and I wanted to have that same ability here in the US. I looked around and found a few good sites
These specialist sites are mainly concerned with making a great shot of espresso. A noble cause however a little different from what I wanted. I wanted good café Americano (some espresso based coffee drink definitions) and I wanted it to be quickly available without too much work. I have little time in the morning so if I was to have coffee it has to be fast and easy. I zeroed in on the superautomatics as they were similar to the bigger commercial size machines machines I had enjoyed in Europe. They are all expensive. A decent superautomatic starts at $700 and goes up. The Jura Capresso S9 is almost 2k. Basic Requirements; I wanted one that would work - would continue to work - made great coffee wasn't a hassle to use and didn't make the kitchen look bad. After much research I purchased the Gaggia Syncrony Digital I have had it for a few months and thought I would go over my impressions of the machine.
The back is made of aluminum the front of hard plastic. I have heard the steam condenser is made from aluminum and that may be less strong than others. I have also heard this is just a rebadged Saeco Magic Deluxe (note the similarity) and they share most of the same internal components. So the plastic is strong and so far I have seen no scratches or other problems. I would still prefer metal. Overall I I would say this is a sturdy machine well built and will stand up to use over time. The area where something is likely to happen is either the circuit board (i have seen several posts of people complaining about that) or the brew group. I have already had a problem with one of the screens you need to remove for cleaning being having a threaded screw. However I still think this is a pretty strong machine that will work for years.
* Conical Burr Grinder
* Durable Thermoset Plastic Housing * Adjustable Coffee Dosing * Auto-shut off after x minutes * Removable brewing group
* Steam - hot water nozzle * LCD Digital control panel
* Cup warmer in painted aluminum with built in heating element * Water hardness adjustment - Standard or automatic decaling * Adjustable heat for water * Bypass doser * Swivel Base very useful for machines under cabinets.
More details here Look and Feel
It doesn't have the classic good looks of some of the semi auto espresso makers. In fact it's a little large and kind of looks like a fax machine. That being said it's not an eyesore and I would say it adds rather than distracts from kitchen. As for noise. When it grinds coffee - it grinds coffee. That makes a big noise. The steam also creates noise. This is not the machine to make a quiet cup of coffee while the house sleeps in.
Ease of cleaning
Cleaning is a once a week or every other week duty. I was very concerned that there was going to be daily cleanup on this machine. That is not the case and the cleaning you have to do is easy. However there is a hard to get to screen that will need cleaning 3-4 times a year. I think you have to completely take the brew unit apart for that. Also the easy to get at screen threads very easily.
Bi-monthly cleaning process
Step one remove the drip tray empty and clean
Step Two remove dregs container empty pucks and clean. Clean out any coffee traces from inside machine
Step three remove brew group and clean
here is one after two weeks high use
wash the unit in warm water only. Remove all coffee traces. Now they recommend that you clean the screen (the one that threads). I loosen mine a little so I can run water over it then very very carefully tighten it up again. Gaggia provides you the plastic handle with an arrow pointing how to tighten (loosen anti-clockwise)
Use a cotton dishcloth to dry and air dry the rest. Here is a the cleaned one ready to go in
Now re-insert the brew group. This is real easy line the bottom thread with the plastic tray at in the bottom of the gaggia. The elbow will fit in the hole at the top. Do not press the "press" tab while re-inserting (again dire consequences). It should click in easily with no effort at all.
If after you insert you see "brew group missing" on the LCD don't panic just reinsert
If the upper filter screen on the central unit does not tighten
Complete cleaning of the central unit
The important part the Coffee!
The machine consistently makes great coffee. The espresso's, americano's and lattes consistently taste better that Starbucks and even better than the little local coffee store that roasts daily. You may be able to make better shots but you certainly won't make easier ones and the ones it does make are real good. I would check the tips section for help with getting the most out of the machine. So purists will complain but the simple fact is this makes much much better tasting coffee than drip. If your using this after a drip you will for the first time taste the differences in coffees.
Creating a shot of espresso
Creating a cup of Americano
The final product More Tips
* Use freshly roasted coffee. Look for a local store that roasts daily and buy from them. When you have a decent machine you will notice you can taste the freshly roasted coffee much better. The freshly roasted coffee will produce much more crema. If your not lucky enough to find a store that is local try some of the online coffee stores from the coffee review site in the links section. If you can't get fresh coffee use Illy or Lavazza they seem to keep better. * You don't have to use espresso coffee. Use your favorite coffee just make its freshly roasted * For the first shot run a hot water shot through first. This will warm the interior and get the next real shot up to temperature. Do this by choosing pre-ground button for he bypass doser and not adding any coffee. Put a cup underneath to get the rinse. * Never interrupt the rinse cycle (don't know why but the manual promises dark things if you do) * For the grind settings I use a low setting to make a fine grind (3). You may have to play around with it but if the espresso is coming through too fast and watery decrease the setting. Also the manual threatens dire consequences if you adjust the burr grinder without it actually being in use grinding coffee. Its a pretty short grind so you have to time it well. * For the dosage I have a high setting (second to last tick from +). I mainly make large cup americano's and that tastes right for me.
* Don't use Starbucks or other "oily" coffee. Its not good and will gum up you machine. Never use flavored coffee that is an abomination * Adjust the size of the small medium or large by keeping the button key down until your desired amount fills the glass. It will remember that setting
* Don't use pre-ground coffee. Unless making a decaf (shudder) for a guest never use the bypass doser for anything other than warming the machine up. Freshly grinding the coffee with the Burr grinder makes a big taste difference. * Make steamed milk before the coffee if needed. When turning on the steam place a cup with nothing it it to catch the first watery steam when you turn the steam dial on. Turn dial off then use the milk. After the milk is steamed (see this article for how-to) turn the steam to off but continue to run the dial on with a cup to catch the hot water. This will quickly bring the LCD from "over temperature" (too hot for espresso) back to "hot water" when the LCD reads "hot water" turn steam dial off and you can continue with making espresso * Remove funny plastic steam wand thing - do the real thing see above article * If your not heating milk but still want milk in your Americano fill bottom of cup then microwave for 10-15 seconds. This will heat cup and milk
I don't have any experience with other machines. However I have drunk coffee all over the world and have tasted some exceptional shots. I would say this makes your home on par with a decent barista. What you may loose in quality is imo overcome with ease of use. Recommended **** Links