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.


  1. #1 by Ampers on Friday, 19 June 2009 - 11:46 am

    I have to admit, there is definitely a learning curve. And the machine has to be thoroughly cleaned every week if you want to ensure the pure taste leasting. Every month is fine of your taste buds aren't too great. This machine does so much, and because of this, there is that learning curve I mentioned. However there is a warning light for everything that needs attention, such as more water in the hopper (we change the water daily for freshness anyway) no beans in the hopper, (we only put a handful in at a time to ensure fressness) and to empty the spent grounds from the hopper. But it is worth it for the superb coffee it produces. Who said there is no gain without pain 🙂

  2. #2 by Ampers on Friday, 12 June 2009 - 8:59 am

    Aaaah! You have no soul :-)I can't remember who said the part in quotes, but you can't beat a cup of coffee thay is "hot as hell and black as the devil".

  3. #3 by Shibby on Friday, 12 June 2009 - 7:35 am

    This is why I stick to disgusting soft drinks for my caffeine fix

  4. #4 by subrosa on Thursday, 11 June 2009 - 2:53 pm

    Sounds rather too techy for me Ampers. Don't forget I even use a Mac because everything is done in one step. Now I've contradicted myself because this machine does too. Sounds rather good though but I prefer decaffinated.

  5. #5 by Ampers on Thursday, 11 June 2009 - 2:33 pm

    Hehehehe… the powers that be hit the roof over the beans to cup machine, and when it finally died, SHE kept nagging ME to buy a replacement. In other words, the coffee made in a "beans to cup" machine far surpasses any other ways of making coffee.So that is classed as a necessity, Unfortunately, the Panasonic is classed as a "boys toy" :-)Ampers.

  6. #6 by Rightwinggit on Thursday, 11 June 2009 - 1:18 pm

    £725 Quid three years ago for a wop bean crusher with a kettle??And you reckon you can't get a Panasonic Viera G15 (released July 31st) past the powers that be??

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