Product Type: Gaggia coffee machines
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Gagging for it
Member Name: count_zero
Advantages: Quick and straightforward, cheap to buy
Disadvantages: Can get a bit messy
I'd wanted one of those fancy espresso machines for years but could never really justify the expense. Having had various filter machines and cafetierres cluttering up cupboards I also wasn't convinced I'd get any use out of it.
Last year, however, I finally gave up sugar and this has really changed my views on coffee.
Without sugar I found I liked real coffee (smooth, strong taste) and couldn't bear instant coffee (way too bitter). Six months later I still couldn't get a taste for instant and was buying more and more real coffee which can get quite expensive so I thought I would finally get myself a real espresso machine.
There are two ways to go with espresso machines these days. You can get machines that use prepacked coffee packets, like the Nespresso machines, or traditional units that use loose coffee, freshly ground from beans. I quite like the idea of making these coffees from scratch so looked at the latter option.
The next decision comes down to price. Some espresso machines can be horribly expensive, often running to several hundred pounds. I had no intention of spending that much and as I would only be making one or two cups at a time was quite satisfied to look at smaller machines. I wanted it to look good in the kitchen and be made by a company with a good reputation. Luckily Gaggia produce this model which retails at £150 on the high street and have an unparalleled reputation in this market.
I bought my machine from House of Fraser in Bluewater, which has a dedicated Gaggia stand, staffed by Gaggia employees. They offer reconditioned models, which have previously been returned and repaired, at a significant discount. I paid £99 for my one, it still had the protective cellophane on the stainless steel sections and if you'd told me it was brand new I would have believed you. It also comes with a 12 month Gaggia warranty.
In the box:
Along with the unit itself, the box includes the filter holder, one or two cup filter inserts and removable drip tray. You also get a measuring spoon and tamper.
Brief summary of Specs:
Capacity: 2 Litres
Pump: 15 Bar
Filter holder: Aluminium
Body work: stainless steel
The picture above will show you all you need to know, so I won't go into too much detail describing it. In terms of size it measures 26cm x 30 x 22 (L, H & D) which makes it a nice size but not too dominating. It will take up the same space as a toaster and easily fit under kitchen wall units. The body is brushed steel, with stainless steel on the drip tray and cup warmer. The three buttons on the front are quite large and perhaps detract from the overall look and probably could have been better designed.
The machine is surprisingly quick and easy to use, I'd had visions of spitting water and hanging around to get my coffee but this isn't the case. Starting from scratch, you can have a cup of coffee in your hand in about five minutes, which isn't much different from making instant.
At first glance, the instructions for making an espresso are pretty intimidating. But in use they make perfect sense. The machine does one job: it makes espresso, and that's it. What you do with that espresso is up to you but you can make cappuccinos, lattes or whatever takes your fancy.
Making an espresso turns out to be very easy.
1. Fill the water tank
2. Turn on the power
3. Prime the pump by running a cupful of water through, without the filter holder.
4. Put the ground coffee in the filter holder, tamp down and insert in machine.
5. Wait for water to boil.
6. Place cup(s) under filter holder and press Go.
7. Job done
While the water is boiling, you have plenty of time to grind the coffee and get cups, milk or whatever you need ready. It really is a lot simpler than I thought it would be, although it can be a bit messy with ground coffee and drips flying around.
Quite quickly I have been able to produce very good espressos (with lovely crema) and acceptable cappuccinos (which are harder to make than you might realise).
There is a steam spout which will froth milk, or top off your coffee with hot water. There is also a cup warmer, this is basically the flat top of the machine that gets comfortably warm when in use.
There are a couple of negatives with this machine, but nothing major. The only practical issue I have is with the buttons. In the past these have been a weakness in this model and a lot were returned with them broken. Gaggia claim to have resolved this problem and I haven't had any trouble in the month or so I've had the machine. However, they don't feel particularly robust and don't look quite right and maybe a minor design tweak could be in order.
Being a small machine, it will only make one medium strength coffee or two weaker coffees at a time. So if you have a few people round you could find yourself flapping around like a Starbucks barista trying to keep up, but if you think this going to be a regular problem you should look at larger machines.
With grinding coffee and dripping filters, making an espresso can be a bit messy. Don't get me wrong, it's not like making a cake but you will need a cloth at hand for mopping up spills and so on.
The final issue is that making espresso (and cappuccinos etc) is something of an art. The machine doesn't have an automatic cut off so you need to experiment with how much water you use to make each espresso. Likewise frothing milk for cappuccinos requires a knack that will take a little practice.
This is a very good little machine. Big enough to regularly make one or two cups easily, with a little practice and experimentation you will soon be producing perfect espressos like a professional barista. If you don't mind a bit of mess and fuss you won't go wrong with this.
Summary: A well priced espresso machine from a top brand company
|Ease of use:|
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