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Having sampled many delightful cups of coffee from a friends Gaggia, I decided enough was enough and parted with my own. Firstly, this is a very expensive machine, but you get what you pay for. I would say that you have to be a real coffee enthusiast to spend this much on a coffee machine, but I love my coffee and for me this machine is brilliant. Although it is expensive, the coffee from this machine is better than any Starbucks or Costa, and miles better than any other machine I have used. For those of you who may not know, this is a bean to cup machine, so you fill it up with whole coffee beans which it grinds to give you your cup. The taste difference between beans and instant coffee is amazing. The Gaggia has a turnable know which controls the size of the cup, from small for espresso right up to a full size cup. You simply place your cup under the nozzle, press one button and before you know it you have a lovely fresh cup of coffee. There is also a steamer, but I had problems with this early doors, and found it a pain to have to clean every time it was used, so have not used it since. In terms of reliability, the Gaggia is not brilliant, but Gaggia offer a full repair service for a fixed price of £100, so even if the machine is completely broken they will refurbish it for £100. At the same time, if a screw needs to be replaced they will charge you £100. I haven't had to send mine back but it seems normal for them to need to go back about once evry 18 months. Overall, if you are keen on your coffee and can afford it, this is by far the best coffee machine in the world, but it does have some small flaws.
Gaggia Syncrony Compact - have had this machine for about 5 years and it cost around £350. When it is good, it is very very good, but when it doesn't work, oh dear! The customer service at the Halifax depot where you have to send your machine to be repaired is appalling, and you have to pay over £100 for them to fix it, unless you take out the extended warrantee. Ours has been back three times in five years. You need to use filtered water in the machine as limescale build up can be a problem - although we used filtered water from day one and the depot still used this as a reason for it failing. The steamer nozzle can be hit and miss with its power producing varying results with the frothed milk. On the positive side the coffee it produces is lovely with a nice crema and I Love the fact it grinds from fresh beans (althogh you can also use ground coffee), and it is so much nicer than instant, which as a result of getting this machine, I can't drink any more! The machine can make two cups of coffee at once. It can be a bit of a pain to clean out the coffee grounds but you get used to the routine. I would also recommend descaling as per the instruction booklet once a month to keep it in good order. I would not buy a Gaggia again based on my experience of this machine. UPDATE 14.09.09: It appears that Gaggia UK have gone bust and the Halifax Service Centre is no longer in operation - which calls into question the provision of service and parts. I would suggest looking into this before you make any purchase.