I bought a Saeco Aroma last Summer (2008) which made excellent coffee for about 5 months, then - no matter what I tried, and with the same grindings from same places, started to give me an excessive bitterness.
I took the machine twice to SAECO (in December then, more recently in March). When it came back after a week in December, nothing had changed (I was not able to go back until March). Then they (said) changed the boiler and elements, put it back as 'brand new', but when I came back home, it was almost the same problem.
I am desperate with this machine (over $400 spent for 5 months... would have expected at least 5 years!)
Recently, I started to buy Lavazza coffee from grocery stores and, as long as I put some milk in the coffee, it becomes 'drinkable' (never as good as before). I used to drink my espressos without milk.
I read many forums, bought books on/from baristas, guess I tried many basics, but can't find a way to get excellent coffee as I was getting at the beginning. Enough to think to go back to $40 filter-basket machines !... (At some point, I even prefered the taste of chemical powder of Nescafe Instant Espresso, can you believe it ?...)
If anyone has ever experienced such a frustration and has found a solution, please advise...
My next (and last) step will be to try to take it back to the store and scream outloud for an exchange or upgrade (before the 1-year warranty end next July).
Well, I did not pursue on this - time constraints...
I found ways to get 'drinkable' coffee... (Or I got used to extreme bitterness maybe ... And I have to drink Machiattos rather than pure Espresso - it definitely helps reduce the bitterness. This machine was just perfect for about the first 5 months (July 08 to November 08).
My point is straight: this was the first and last Saeco machine in my life. When (and if...) I get the budget for another machine it definitely won't be a Saeco. I had done extensive search prior to this choice (also based on my budget), but it looks like I might have felt on a 'lemon' and Saeco choosed not to replace the machine even after I took it back twice.
That's too bad. I was just going to suggest pulling a few shots with no grounds, just plain water and see if the water coming out (after cooling) tastes different from the water going in. It seems that would narrow down the suspects fairly quickly.