So far we are loving ours, it works great, and looks great. Great price.
Ours came with ceramic cups.
We don't find the unit unusually loud. The thump thump thump during steaming was unsettling at first, but that's just the sound it makes.
One nitpick I do have is with the design of this unit's main switch. The steamer is on the right hand side of the unit. I wish you turned the main switch to the right in order to activate the steamer. Instead you turn it to the left. It's a little bit counter-intuitive, and has resulted in some false espresso starts.
Tip for hotter milk: remove the stainless steel tube "foam enhancer" on the nozzle and just use the plain nozzle to heat up the milk. It will do that with less foam, but you'll get the milk nice and HOT without too much foam stopping you. And it's easy enough to get lots of foam with the enhancer anyway.
Before you steam the milk, run the steamer into an empty cup first, until there's steam coming out first, rather than hot water.
I steam milk, then run the water through the espresso coffee. If my mug is low enough, I can slip it under the unit and run the expresso directly into it. MMMMM!
Works with the Starbucks pods too. They come in handy now and then, and easy to cleanup. But I prefer the LAVA brand expresso you can find in grocery stores, double shot... whoohoo!