Posted Thu Nov 24, 2011, 10:56pm Subject: Re: Decent Espresso Machines for $300
How about a setup that delivers decent espresso for under $150?
At my house on the shore, I'm using a Hamilton Beach espresso machine (about $70 from Wal-Mart) which you can find reviewed here at CoffeeGeek, coupled with a Turkish hand grinder. You can find a good new hand grinder at Orphan Espresso for about $75 (the Japanese units sound good).
The espresso I make at the shore is not quite as good as what I get from the Electra Mcal/Rossi combination at home, but it's significantly better than what I can get in most coffee shops.
If your friend is looking to make a couple of espressos a day, she might want to consider this option.
I was thinking along the same lines, get a hand grinder for around $75 and use the rest of the budget for a basic Gaggia machine. Like johnboddie, I've paired a hand grinder (an antique in my case) with a basic machine (PID'd Silvia) for weekend use on my boat. It's not quite equal to my home setup but it can produce a drinkable shot.
I just clicked on the WLL banner at the top of the page and found that they have the refurbed Gaggia Espresso Pure (or Espresso Color if you prefer) for $175, add a hand grinder for $75 and you're well within your budget. I also noticed that they have the Gaggia MDF (refurbed) for $170, maybe they can do a package deal for an Espresso Pure and an MDF that would be close to your target price. The MDF would be the least expensive grinder that I would recommend for espresso, The Baratza Maestro and Capresso Infinity may produce acceptable results with a pressurized PF but are inadequate for any other use.
ristrettome Senior Member Joined: 23 Sep 2005 Posts: 17 Location: Washington Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: ECM Grinder: M-3 Vac Pot: Bodum Santos Drip: Technivorm Roaster: Hot Top
Posted Mon Nov 28, 2011, 8:43pm Subject: Re: Decent Espresso Machines for $300
Depends on how your friend drinks her coffee and whether she likes to fuss. My wife and I both consider ourselves nuts about coffee. I've 5 grand in gear, enjoy chasing the details and the ritual of preparation is essential to me. My wife on the other hand can't be bothered. A lasting peace finding came our house when I purchased for her her own Nespresso machine. It produces a cup acceptable to her and the convenience of the system can not be beat. New Nespresso machines with milk frothers I think are about $300. So buy for the personality of your friend.
"Ristrettome", certainly someone with your setup knows no decent espresso can be made without a good espresso grinder. The cheapest I can think of would be a good vintage wooden grinder..$75, or a refurbed regular Baratza Virtuoso (not the Preciso...about $149, I believe) A pre-owned Saeco/Starbucks Athena, or the least expensive Gaggia. Still $400 at least, and then there's the tamper, knockbox, and cleaning supplies...another $75.
I'd go with a grinder like yours or the preciso (her last grinder!) and a Chemex, Soft Brew, or Hario Pourover....wonderful coffee.
gourmetguy Senior Member Joined: 10 Dec 2002 Posts: 111 Location: Atlanta Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: All kinds of stuff Grinder: Various in my day Drip: You name it I've had it Roaster: just an iRoast
Posted Tue Nov 29, 2011, 5:37am Subject: Re: Decent Espresso Machines for $300
I'm looking for an espresso machine for a friend. Her budget is around $300. Any recommendations?
Ditto on any of the lower-priced Gaggias, they all - from the top of the line Twin to the lowly Pure or whatever it's called - brew the same shot. You just get more plastic, no 3-way valve for a dry puck after brew, etc.
If you can visit the importer's website, they have a refurbished section. I would pair a refurb Gaggia with the least expensive Solis Maestro grinder you can find and you'll have the tools to make better coffee than 98% of the mass crap out there. Good luck espressorick, and please don't pay heed to experts who say you must drop $600+ on this habit to make a good cup. That's silly talk.
ampguy Senior Member Joined: 23 Apr 2010 Posts: 119 Location: Pac NW Expertise: I like coffee
Posted Tue Nov 29, 2011, 6:49am Subject: Re: Decent Espresso Machines for $300
This is a decent setup for the price. With the Capresso though, you aren't likely to get enough grind control to effectively use a non PPF filter, so probably should wait for a better grinder like a Preciso first.
These warm up quickly, and steam relatively quickly. They have a stainless boiler which is small, but adequate for low volume use, and a large rear pour over tank.
Downsides are the panarello can over foam, without a SS Gaggia upgrade. Also, there is no 3 way solenoid, so you get the occasional PF "sneeze" mess, if you forget to depressurize first, and the wand tends to leak. You can take the valve apart and check the o-rings and polish the brass stopper, but it doesn't seem to permanently stop the leaky wand. You can set the wand over the drip tray, and just empty the drip tray regularly.
I have a Saeco Aroma and Capresso Infinity and can make pretty good espresso for the money. Definitely better than any cafe I have been to.
This will make decent espresso without any tamping, and it won't be nearly as picky about the grind. If she decides that it isn't good enough, she can try depressurizing the portafilter. After depressurizing it will require tamping so she should invest in a good 53mm metal tamper which will fit snugly in the filter basket.
Depending on your friend's experience with espresso, the pressurized portafilter might be good enough.
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