Lemme see if I can answer some questions about this machine, since I'm the resident and self proclaimed "coffee pod expert" on these here forums.
Disclosure: I'm one of the owners of BetterCoffee.com which is a company that sells ~150 varieties of premium pods for these types of machines.
-- As pod machines go, this is a pretty good one, especially for the price. Definitely an entry level machine. Similar to Senseo.
-- Cup of hot coffee in 30 seconds or so.
-- The pods are self contained filterbags full of coffee. They ensure a consistent cup every time and the technology works well. Gevalia pods are not bad, but not great (again similar to Senseo). Most people who buy these machines quickly look for premium pods to use with them.
-- There are about 20 different companies out there that make premium pods for machines like these. And there are quite a few internet retailers (myself included) that provide a very wide variety of flavors and roasts.
-- Yes, fair trade coffees are available in pod form, as are organic, flavored, swisswater, etc.
-- Premium pods range in cost from about 20 cents per cup to well over $2 (blue mountain or kona). I'd say the average price is about 35 cents per cup, and the median is around 22 cents per cup. Excellent coffee even at these low prices.
-- While pods offer far more variety and more boutique roasts than Keurig K-Cups (my opinion, but a supportable one), K-Cups are A LOT more user friendly, neater, and a bit more professional looking. SO, if you're contemplating this as a gift for an old timer or for use in a public space, I'd recommend a Keurig machine instead.
-- This machine does work with Senseo brand pods.
-- There is no such thing as "pod" cocoa that you'd want to drink. That's similarly true of the Keurig cocoa products. Tassimo machines make excellent cocoa.
-- This machine doesn't make espresso. For that, I recommend a Nespresso machine.
Hope that helps!