Archive for June 11th, 2009

Beans to cup coffee machines

My coffee machine gave up the ghost and, after I have told you of my problems, I will treat you to a wonderful story of an efficient British company who know what the Internet is all about and what people expect of a company selling on the Internet.

Three years ago I purchased a Gaggia ‘beans to cup’ coffee machine (£725) from Fenwicks of Brent Cross. I managed to negotiate them down to £575.

However, after a few weeks it went wrong and I had to package up this huge, and heavy, machine and return it to Gaggia’s UK depot. They flatly refused to exchange it, repaired it and sent it back. During the first year of guarantee it went wrong a further three times and each time Gaggia refused to replace it. Finally it worked OK but now, after three years, it has gone wrong again and I am so fed up with the company that I dumped it and looked for a replacement.

First of all I Googled for reviews of ‘beans to cup’ coffee machines and found a website called simply Coffee Machines . They advise but don’t actually sell the machines, although I suspect they may have some sort of deal with Amazon.

I looked through the manufacturers and decided on a De’Longhi. After going through the model numbers, I decided that the lowest priced machine which did everything I wanted was the ESAM5400 (£560).

Open letter to the Gaggia CEO:

Dear Sir,

I have just purchased a De’Longhi beans to cup machine. The reason your product wasn’t chosen was a logical one. i.e., I had bought one earlier and I have had a taste of the service your UK people offer. It may be good enough for your Italian customers but was found deplorable from an English point of view. I shall never purchase, or advise anyone to purchase, a Gaggia again.

Yours, not very sincerely,

Andrew Taylor.

I checked with John Lewis as I thought it would be convenient to take it back if it went wrong, but they only had two, one a cheaper model (£360) and another much more expensive at £860. Alas, they wouldn’t buy in the one I wanted as a one off.

I then checked Amazon and had a really pleasant surprise. They were selling this for £460, a hundred pounds cheaper. Great I thought, but I don’t like making a quick decision, so I searched the Internet and found a company in Devon called Paysan Limited who were selling this machine for £360. Wow I thought, this looks good, but being a wise seventy year old owl, I thought I would check them out by asking a question via email. Which I did. They actually rang up and put my mind at rest.

OK, I thought, they passed that hurdle so I’ll take a chance. After all £200 off seemed rather a lot from a £560 price, and also it was a hundred lower than Amazon. Maybe they charge a lot for delivery? No, delivery was free. Better and better I thought. Then I learned that they offer a two year warranty which pleased me no end, I can telly you!

So at 1:23 yesterday I placed the order (the PayPal invoice stated the time was 13:23:23) and was informed delivery would take up to five days. Reasonable, I thought, after all the delivery wasn’t an extra.

This morning I was rudely awakened by the DHL delivery van with my coffee machine. I certainly didn’t mind and anyway, the delivery guy was a fellow African and we share the same African sense of humour – and he is used to me taking deliveries in my dressing gown! But I was still amazed at such a quick service from Paysan!

Beans to cup machines are a little more complex to operate than ordinary household machines so it is worth reading the manual before even starting. There are things to do before making your first cup so don’t try any short cuts. It took us the best part of an hour to get acquainted with the machine, but after that the coffee came pouring out and was delicious. The next step is to acquaint ourselves with the cleaning as a lot of the insides need to be taken out and cleaned. A chore once a week or once a month depending on the make, but well worth it to keep the fantastic taste alive.

This machine can use coffee beans or ground coffee. You fill the water container, put the beans in the hopper one end and you are set to go. Once you have set it for your favourite settings, they are set until you change them so, to make a cup of coffee any-time, we just walk into the kitchen, put a cup underneath, press one button and by the time we get the milk out of the fridge, it is ready.

With ground coffee, just put a spoonful in the hopper and then follow the above.

We use both beans and ground coffee. Beans are used if we have a dinner party, but normally we use a very good strong ground coffee which we buy from I.K.E.A. (the furniture people) as they have a small supermarket by their checkout.

A 250 gram packet is £1.15. The nearest to that strength and quality in Tesco used to be £2.80 but it is probably more now.

When we want beans we usually go to the Algerian. They are, and have been in Old Compton Street since 1875. When I buy my coffee I describe the taste I am aiming at, they make up a blend which usually matches my request accurately.

If any reader would like to know more, my email address is somewhere in the right hand column.




Don’t be vague, ask for Hague

Yes, alas, I am old enough to remember the old Haig whisky adverts!

But this speech, by Hague, in parliament had me in stitches. Stand aside Jack Dee, stand aside Jasper Carrot, if William Hague turned his talents to being a stand-up comedian, you’d lose your position over night.

Make sure you are not holding a coffee, or anything with hot liquid in, and enjoy…


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