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83 of 83 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2004
First, I have nothing to do with Gaggia corp. I worry that some reviews are written by salespeople at the company and I want to promise that I am NOT affiliated with them.
We purchased this as a way to curb our ever-growing Starbucks expenses but maintain a high quality coffee experience. My wife and I both make morning coffee just about every day - she a cafe mocha and me a vanilla-flavoured espresso drink.
It hurts to spend $700 on a machine without being able to try it out locally - but with Amazon's easy return policy, I decided it was worth the risk.
I'm glad I did.
My wife and I did some math.... with a 4-time-per-week Starbucks stop, we were spending (embarassing!) $30/week over there. We now purchase Starbucks espresso ($6-7/bag) which provides about a weeks' worth of brews. So a net savings of $23/week, or about $1100/year. With our understaffed/crowded Starbucks, we spent about 8-10 minutes, minimum, getting coffee there. This machine lets you make both coffees, at home, in about 5-7 minutes. Ok, enough justifiying... how about the machine/results?
PROS
* Just as good as Starbucks - once you get the brew right. It took us 4-5 tries to get it right - then we leave it set and it's perfect every time.
* easy to use after a few tries. Once you learn the machine, it's easy to use. Takes 3-4 tries to learn the meaning of the LEDs - but it's as easy it can be after that.
* Hands-off brewing - neat little robot grinds,tamps, brews, and discards grounds all out-of-sight. You push the button, stand back and watch it work.
* Looks cool - guests always comment. We wish it were stainless steel, however. But the plastic is pretty tough and easier to keep clean.
CONS:
* Takes way too long to heat. I've made sure to learn that the first thing I do when entering the kitchen is turn it on - by the time I've put on my shoes, etc. etc. it's ready to brew. Ditto going from brew to steam. Needs more power in the burner to heat more quickly.
* Water dispenser is too small... must fill it almost daily. We solved this inconvenience by placing the machine within reach of our sink sprayer. Now we just stretch it out and fill 'er up.
* Noisy - click, whirrrr, slam. This machine makes a bunch of noise. All that tamping and such.
* Poor documentation - but a really nice CDROM video. You must go through both the printed documentation and the video to get all the info you need. Start with the CDROM first.
* Access door - this is minor, but it could have been made easier to open to get out dregs.
* Single burner - you cannot steam while you brew. One at a time, and the temperature difference forces you to wait between brewing and steaming for it to heat up, then you must put water through the steamer to cool it down for brewing. The trick is to brew all of your coffee first, then do your steaming afterward. This means a large steaming pitcher. This will save time and frustration.
We've owned it for two weeks - as long as it holds up, we are thrilled with the results.
ADDED INFORMATION
After 4 weeks with it, a new pc. of info. They simply MUST put an auto-off switch on this machine. We are constantly leaving the machine on after steaming. Why? In our kitche, the sun shines on the machine in the morning and you cannot see the LED/indicators that well. I have put a timer outlet on it so that we don't leave it heating steam all day. If we accidentally leave it on, it shuts off after 9 AM with the timer.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2004
I purchased the Gaggia 9306 Synchrony because of Gaggia's reputation for superb espressos (and only later learned that Saeco has bought Gaggia). For the price I paid, I was hoping for steel instead of plastic...but at least the machine was easy to lift up the stairs.

There is great allure to being able to press a button and have good espresso first thing in the morning! Sadly, I returned this machine after five days because of a sensor malfunction (the sensor always detected that the coffee ground bin was full). Gaggia customer service did not return my calls promptly and so I returned the machine (using Amazon's excellent policy). The replacement will not come until the middle of next month, and so I've cancelled my order. Thus this review is only half of an experience.

Were I to buy another Gaggia, I think I would choose the more dependable, less automated models. Fully automated machines will always run the risk of malfunctioning because they have so many sensors. After using the Synchrony, I see that careful maintenance requires almost as much work as with less-technical models. This isn't necessarily a bad thing for the convenience of one-touch coffee on most mornings, but only if the machine works.

COFFEE QUALITY: I did not have the machine long enough to fine-tune the dosage strength and fineness of the grind, but each cup was coming closer to what I desired, and there is enough flexibility in the controls so that one can achieve coffee for individual tastes. The machine definitely requires dark roast beans for the fullest taste. Had the machine not malfunctioned (and who knows, maybe I got the 'monday model'), I think that I would have been pretty satisfied.

So in summary: great potential to give reliable coffee, potential to be a very nifty device, if they can get the bugs out...
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2005
Where to buy:

I have owned the Syncrony Compact for a year now. It's the first Super Automatic Espresso machine I have owned. It was purchased as a refurb from Wholelattelove dot com. I don't remember what we paid for it, but somewhere in the 400 dollar range is about right. Wholelattelove shipped our refurb unit without the guts of the machine, so I had to speak with their extremely helpful customer service rep, and they shipped the part next day with no hassle.

Walkaround

The machine is fairly attractive, and looks nice sitting on the counter. I would probably find it more attractive if the case were made of steel with a nice, high gloss paint, but the plastic is fine. The display is several buttons and LEDs (more on that in a bit). The water tank is in the back, and it holds enough water for several days. It is removable, so you can take it off and hold it under the sink, or do what another reviewer said, and simply place your unit close enough to the sink to use the sprayer. It is translucent, so you always no how much water is there. Directly in front of the water tank is the bean holder. Inside of the bean holder you will fine two dials, one controls the grind, the other controls the amount of beans (I think). The front of the unit swings open to reveal the aforementioned guts. The guts come out very easily to be cleaned. There is a tray in the bottom that slides out with the door open. It is on this tray that you find a small bin where the pucks of ground beans are tamped.

Using it:

If you buy this machine, do so with the understanding that you may have to learn how to use the machine on your own as the directions supplied are pretty terrible. The display has blinking lights on it to tell you what's going on with the machine. Depending on what light is blinking, and in what manner, you will learn you need to add water, dump the puck bin, add beans, it's warming up, or it's too hot... got all that?

Once you get the hang of the lights though, the machine is easy to use. To make an espresso (or americano, or just a cup of joe) all you have to do is, add water, add beans, and press a button. To make a latte, it's a bit more involved. The same heating element is used for steaming milk and espresso, so there is some wait time as it heats up for milk, or cools back down for espresso. Once the element is heated though, steaming/frothing milk is as simple as turning a nob.

In terms of gripes, I have relatively few, but there are just enough to warrant not getting five stars. First is the location of the power switch. It's located in the rear of the unit, so you have to reach around to switch it off. Not a big deal, but it would have been nice if it were on the front of the unit with all the other controls. Second, the unit is pretty loud. I would expect the grinder to be loud, but the tamping of the grounds is loud, the water being forced through the grounds is loud, the pump is loud, and the automatic kick out of the puck is loud. Being this is my first super automatic machine, I don't have a good reference though, perhaps they are all like that.

The Coffee (the most important part!)

Few things here, first, you have to find a good, dry bean. By dry bean I mean not greasy. This can be a challenge depending on where you live and what kind of coffee is available in your neck of the woods. I had to try several different companies and roasts before I found two or three good beans. Why not greasy you ask? Greasy beans will stick together, requiring you to push them down into the grinder instead of them just sliding down into the grinder of their own volition. It is a real pain to have to constantly push greasy beans into the grinder. Second, you have to find the right grind for how you want your coffee. this takes some playing around with at first, but once you find it, you never have to adjust it again. Once you have your bean, and grind right, you get a perfect, and I mean perfect espresso with just the press of a button. The crema is outstanding. A latte can be made that is as good or better than what you wait in line for and spend 3.50 on. In short, the coffee is pretty incredible, and once it's set up, it's hassle free.

Value:

Well, this is where you have to do some math. How often do you go to the local espresso shop? Break out the calculator and determine what kind of habit you have. It was worth it to me, for you it may not be.

Conclusion:

Fine, relatively inexpensive unit that produces outstanding espresso. Once it's set up, it's easy to use.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
This is a beautiful machine, that makes perfect coffee.

As an Italian I should have known better. Beauty does not last. After 2 months the machine suddenly died. I returned it to the seller (Whole Latte Love) 3 times and it was returned to me 3 times, allegedly repaired, but still it did not work (was dead).

All this is not acceptable for an expensive machine.

All this is not acceptable from a serious vender.

There are other options on the market.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2005
Very happy with the machine so far . . . if it didn't cost so much I probably would have given it five stars. Great coffee, only complaint is the steam wand is too low to easily foam a tall coffee mug, Only problem so far is getting the grounds-bin full light to go off after emptying the bin. I finally figured out that if you turn off the machine before opening the door and dumping the bin, it doesn't know you did anything and will continue to flash when you turn it back on. It must count cycles rather than using a sensor.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Do not buy this machine for long-term use as it is mechanically unreliable. Owned it for 3.5 years and had to have it repaired at 2.75 years for $190. Broke down a second time at 3.5 years and estimated cost for repairs again $190. It is going in the garbage and I will never buy an fully automatic Gaggia machine again.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2006
Overall it makes very good coffee (Peets is my standard) but it has a few problems. (1) For the kinds of beans I use (Peet's Sulawesi) which are very oily, one has to stir the grinder regularly to get the beans ground. If you use dry beans you won't have this problem. (2) The water tank indicates it is out even when it is half way full, so water has to be replenished regularly. (3)Occasionally, if the grind is too fine, it will clog up immediately and then you get only a slow drip. BUT...for the price it does a good job. To avoid these problems plan on spending about double.
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on November 2, 2007
I bought one of these 14 months ago based on WLL reviews to serve an office group with about 6 regular coffee drinkers. Knowing it was a home market product being used in a semi-commercial setting, I was concerned about the durability, but didn't have the cash to buy a commercial grade machine.

When it arrived, after I took the time to get it dialed in I must say that it makes a nicer espresso than the Cupresso machines I've used because of the increased control over the extraction. A change of bean type sometimes requires a tweak to the settings. We have some espresso snobs in the office (I'm one) and we're impressed. The Saeco-style removable brew group is an excellent design.

We have run about 40-50 pounds of our home-roasted beans through it over the months with two problems:

Problem 1) After about 3 months, the steam valve o-ring started leaking. I sent it back to WLL. Their service company finally fixed it after sitting on it for THREE MONTHS.

Problem 2) After a good bit of use, the grinder began to suffer some wear, so the adjustment dial would not adjust to a sufficiently fine setting. I removed a few screws, pulled the hopper top off, and made a simple adjustment to the gear set. Problem solved.

It has been running fine ever since. We don't clean it as often as we should. It just keeps on cranking out excellent espresso.

For the reviewer who sent the machine back to WLL three times for repair, why give the machine a bad review when the main issue clearly was WLL's service, not the machine?

Recommended.

*** update ***

After seeing very heavy office use for years, this machine is STILL going strong. It needed some maintenance parts: a leaky hose and a new brew group gasket. Other than that, it has been trouble-free for thousands of shots.

Update 2013-05 still going strong.

Update 2013-02 and still going strong. I'm not even going to guess how many pounds of coffee have been run through this machine. It just keeps going.
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My Gaggia Syncrony broke within it's warranty period. I sent my machine to Importika, Gaggia's US importer and service company.

They kept my machine for 3 months while it was awaiting repair, then sent the machine back to me still broken.

This machine sounds good and can make a good cup of espresso. However, like Jaguar, make sure that you have a 2nd espresso machine as a back up . . . or better yet, find a different espresso machine to purchase
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2008
Don't buy this machine or anything else from Wholelattelove.com. I made approx 4 cups of latte with this machine and had to pack it for moving. I did so as per the instructions in the box and when I unpacked it a couple of months later it didn't work. Sent it back, $68.00 shipping, it was gone for a month and when I got it back I made 2 cups of latte and it didn't work. At this point I asked for my money back, they gave me a return authorization, which I used, another $68.00 shipping and 3 weeks later they told me it was out of warranty and they could not give a refund. After extensive conversation about this I finally agreed to accept a refurbished machine. Mine was obviously a lemon. I received the machine a couple of days ago and last night discovered that my bank account had been debited by them to the tune of $90.80. It was listed as an ATM debit by Wholelattelove. I have no idea how they got my account # as I paid for the original machine with AM EX. Believe me I intend to find out who debited my account and why this was authorized. AGAIN DO NOT BUY FROM THIS COMPANY
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