Saeco Gran Crema

Q: I've finally come to my senses and an looking for a good expresso maker. I've been using a old Braun machine that just steams the water through the coffee. I always wondred why my home coffee tasted so inferior to a nice expresso bar's! Now after doing alittle research, I'm beginning to get a clue. Does anyone have some first hand experience with the Saeco Gran Crema? It seem they make 4-5 models that are fairly similar. And the Art Deco look of this model caught my eye.

A: Gran Crema is a very nice looking espresso maker. It has a stainless steel boiler; produces 13 bar pump of pressure, and makes good espresso. The price is $ 249 (shipping & handling included). I would recommend also the Espresso Gaggia. It costs less, but it is a more powerful espresso/cappuccino maker. It produces 16 bar pump; has a cup warming surface; boiler made of brass. You can purchase also an adapter for the pods (ESE system). Espresso makers for the pods use start from $500. With an adapter ($35) you can use with your Espresso Gaggia ($ 199) both pods and regular ground coffee. I know this is a little late for reply, but those Saeco machines that use the "Gran Crema" portafilter are now available in a Pod version. Starbucks recently started marketing their Proteo Barista with a Pod system and their literature says to contact the manufacturer (Saeco) if you have a standard Gran Crema portafilter and want the conversion piece(s) to make it take Pods. That means that every Saeco/Proteo model currently using a Gran Crema filter CAN be converted to a Pod unit. I looked at a new one and it's just a very simple insert that replaces the standard filter basket. I don't know how much they're going to charge you for it though. It shouldn't cost too much, since the whole portafilter only costs $65.00 new.