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Decent Espresso Machine Under $1000?  Do they exist?
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Decent Espresso...  
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CaffeineFiend
Senior Member
CaffeineFiend
Joined: 30 Nov 2011
Posts: 55
Location: Wyckoff, NJ
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Quick Mill Silvano
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Drip: Bonavita
Roaster: Redbird Coffee Co.
Posted Wed Nov 30, 2011, 4:02pm
Subject: Decent Espresso Machine Under $1000?  Do they exist?
 

I've been drinking coffee (el pico) out of a tiny coffee machine we bought at target for less than 30 dollars.  I love a good cup of coffee, and I drink several cups a day, as does my girlfriend.  One day it dawned on me: Why did I buy a Macbook Pro for $2000 for my girlfriend to browse pictures on tumblr yet I'm still drinking the cheapest coffee out of the cheapest machine?  This is when the obsession began.  I've been searching amazon reviews for weeks, and came upon this website and began using it in combination with amazon and google as a cross reference.  

I'm no barista, i've never brewed espresso that wasn't from a pod and out of a fully automated "press this button for coffee" machine.  I read a review on how those machines make the espresso taste bitter and sour: and I recall that exact feeling sipping on the crappy espresso I'd been given.  I want to drink a delicious cappuccino every day for the rest of my life: I want to have an espresso that makes me say "that's what coffee should always be".  But I don't have $2000 to dump into a machine.  It doesn't have to be the best machine ever: I just want it to be good: and perhaps one day a few years down the line I'll upgrade.  

Forgive me if I missed a thread, but I can't seem to find any post on this site where espresso machines were recommended that are under $1000 that still make a decent brew.  Buyers on Amazon usually wouldn't know a good espresso from bad and their reviews are questionable: especially when they're saying how great they brew their "expresso".  

Please help me fellow coffee lovers:  I really want to find the right machine: tax season is coming up and I want to do enough research to make the right choice.  I'd really like to find a decent espresso machine and a good grinder and keep it under $1000.  Can anyone, without telling me that I should spend more (I wish I could), give me some ideas for espresso machines and grinders which would be in my price range?  Thanks for all your help coffee geeks!
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diggi
Senior Member
diggi
Joined: 28 Nov 2011
Posts: 383
Location: Halifax, NS
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Spaz vivaldi S1 V2
Grinder: B Vario, OE LIDO
Drip: Chemex, Espro Press,...
Roaster: Poppery I
Posted Wed Nov 30, 2011, 4:49pm
Subject: Re: Decent Espresso Machine Under $1000?  Do they exist?
 

Here is a post I made yesterday to a similar thread.  My 2 cents on starting out.
Summary is get a good grinder so you can upgrade your machine later without having to get a new grinder and machine.  Most folks say the grinder is more important than the machine, so get prosumer or high end grinder and consumer grade machine.  (Although most people would disagree here and start with more low end grinder and need to upgrade as soon as they upgrade their machine).  Most start with Rancilio Silvia....but there are many other options here.  This will keep you under 1K.  Everyone else will try to convince you to spend more of your money.  It is easy for others to say how expendable your money is....but we all know when it comes to our own finances, things aren't that easy.  Also remember, if you are getting stuff with good reviews in the review section here, you likely won't be disappointed with anything you choose.  All have their bonuses and pitfalls.  But anything silvia and up will give you everything you need starting out.

Good luck.

Posted Tue Nov 29, 2011, 7:36pm
Subject: Re: Buying advise for a newbie
 
As a fellow 'novice', I too got way out of control with 'penis envy'.  There is always bigger and better and I'll always want better; that reflects probably 99% of people on here as the others just go and buy what is carried at the big box stores.  So trust that you will 'never' be satisfied and that if you do get into this and like it, you'll need to keep budgeting money away for the next best thing.

So what I chose (good or bad) was to get a nice basic machine that can make consistent shots and good steaming power.  That way I can learn the ropes and see if this coffee thing really is for me or not.  The silvia is probably the most popular choice here.  I too was put off that for larger gatherings, etc I would be a little put out....but I know that I'll be upgrading at some point and this is just the first step in.  You don't need to have it all right away.  You're probably in for the long haul and you'll get there soon enough if you do find you like the first step...and if you don't, you havn't sunk too much money into this hobby that didn't pan out.  

I didn't want to skimp on the grinder.  I don't want my first upgrade to be a grinder.  A step up from silvia means you 'need' a better grinder than rocky.  So why not invest the money in a 'grinder' now.  You get the advantage right away at a fraction of the cost of purchasing that same grinder when you choose to upgrade and junking the rocky (or keeping it for decaf blend, etc).  Leave the machine for later.  That will be a much more sexy upgrade when the time comes when you get a great HX or DB machine and don't have to budget for a grinder at the same time.  

Part of me wishes I got a HX right away like Oscar, but I went over my budget by %~20 as it was; once you factor in Reg Barber tamper, frother, new filter basket, etc.

So that is my advice.  I'm new at this, but reading and grinding ALOT!!! and absolutely love it.  My wife hates that all I can think about is coffee these days and what gets me through the day is knowing I'm coming home to a couple espressos (which I never drank before this hobby started this summer), but she loves the cappas or mochas that I make her each morning.

PS and you don't need PID (would be nice though).  Just a dollar store timer (or spend $5 for a little nicer looking one) and check out the threads on temp surfing.  Its a PITA, but kinda good ritual just the same.  Again 99% of people on here probably have an element of OCD and really temp surfing kinda feeds into this part of us (or for me anyway)....also it keeps the wife from screwing with it because she thinks it's too complicated and I don't mind that one bit (I get the glory with being the houshold barista and nobody else is screwing with my stuff :) )
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Beezer
Senior Member
Beezer
Joined: 17 Oct 2006
Posts: 456
Location: Fresno, CA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Quickmill Anita
Grinder: La Cimbali Max Hybrid
Posted Wed Nov 30, 2011, 5:05pm
Subject: Re: Decent Espresso Machine Under $1000?  Do they exist?
 

There are some reasonably good machines for under $1,000.  Of course, you'll have to compromise in some areas, but you should be able to make reasonably nice shots.

The MyPressi Twist is a really cool espresso maker that costs about $150.  Apparently, it can brew shots that will compete favorably with high end commercial machines.  The catch is that it can't steam milk, so you'll only be able to brew straight shots unless you get a separate milk steamer.  And it runs off nitrous oxide or CO2 cartridges, so you'll need to buy a lot of cartridges if you make many shots a day.

Gaggia also makes decent machines for well under $1,000.  The Classic and Baby are both capable of good espresso, and cost around $400-$500.  You can even get a cheaper Gaggia like the Coffee and still get good results.  

If you want a machine with more temperature control, you could get a Crossland CC1, which has a built in PID (digital temperature controller) for precise brew temps.  But that will cost you more at around $700.  

Then you just need a good burr grinder.  Those are sometimes more expensive than the machine, but are essential for good espresso.  Probably the cheapest good burr grinders are around $300, and they go up from there. Right now, the Baratza Preciso is about $300, and it looks very capable for the money.  The Baratza Vario is even nicer, and retails around $400.

Of course, you'll still need beans (fresh roasted from a high end roaster please, otherwise why bother?), a tamper, steam pitcher, cups, etc.  But for less than $1,000, you can definitely get a competent set up.
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Jsolanzo
Senior Member


Joined: 29 Oct 2011
Posts: 39
Location: SLO
Expertise: I like coffee

Espresso: Mypressi Twist?
Grinder: Hario Mini Mill, Mazzer...
Drip: Chemex 3 Cup, Aeropress,...
Posted Wed Nov 30, 2011, 7:18pm
Subject: Re: Decent Espresso Machine Under $1000?  Do they exist?
 

Crossland CC1 and Silvia are two good ones under 1000. There's also manual machines such as the La Pavoni's that you can look at.
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CaffeineFiend
Senior Member
CaffeineFiend
Joined: 30 Nov 2011
Posts: 55
Location: Wyckoff, NJ
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Quick Mill Silvano
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Drip: Bonavita
Roaster: Redbird Coffee Co.
Posted Wed Nov 30, 2011, 8:10pm
Subject: Re: Decent Espresso Machine Under $1000?  Do they exist?
 

Thank you!  After reading some posts from other newbies to the brew-game it seemed like people just weren't taking financial situation into consideration and still reccomending the high end machines.  I want to be able to brew really good cappuccino and espresso--but I don't need to make the best there is--especially because I'm still learning.  I'm going to look into the brands you recommended.  If anyone else can do some name dropping here for machines and grinders that would keep me under a G that'd be great--the more products I have to read up on the more of an idea I can get of cost and what to look for when browsing.
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CaffeineFiend
Senior Member
CaffeineFiend
Joined: 30 Nov 2011
Posts: 55
Location: Wyckoff, NJ
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Quick Mill Silvano
Grinder: Baratza Preciso
Drip: Bonavita
Roaster: Redbird Coffee Co.
Posted Wed Nov 30, 2011, 8:45pm
Subject: Re: Decent Espresso Machine Under $1000?  Do they exist?
 

Beezer: you mentioned Gaggia--I'm looking on amazon through different models--it seems they have many different models going from a couple hundred bucks into the thousands--are there any specific models under $1000 you or anyone else could recommend?

A friend of mine is getting into roasting coffee beans as a hobby--he brought me a monsoon blend which I really liked so I'm hoping if I buy espresso beans and give them to him once a week he can roast and grind them for me.  I'll probably still buy a grinder also in case I want to pursue other options until he gets really good at his craft.

 
"Coffee should be black as Hell, strong as Death, and as sweet as Love."
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chasemonster
Senior Member
chasemonster
Joined: 3 Jun 2010
Posts: 364
Location: Chicago
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Rancilio Audrey
Grinder: Hario Mini Mill
Drip: V60
Posted Wed Nov 30, 2011, 9:17pm
Subject: Re: Decent Espresso Machine Under $1000?  Do they exist?
 

CaffeineFiend Said:

Beezer: you mentioned Gaggia--I'm looking on amazon through different models--it seems they have many different models going from a couple hundred bucks into the thousands--are there any specific models under $1000 you or anyone else could recommend.

Posted November 30, 2011 link


If you're lucky,
this Gaggia machine from a reputable member of the community may still be available: click here
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IMAWriter
Senior Member
IMAWriter
Joined: 4 Jul 2002
Posts: 5,877
Location: Brentwood, TN
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: Bezzera Strega
Grinder: Forte, OE Pharos,...
Vac Pot: Adcraft SS, Yama 8 cup
Drip: Brazen, Kalita, Chemex,...
Roaster: Behmor 1600, CO/UFO combo
Posted Wed Nov 30, 2011, 9:22pm
Subject: Re: Decent Espresso Machine Under $1000?  Do they exist?
 

Don't look at Gaggia "Super Automatics"...they are for folks who do not want to be involved in the process and are way too expensive, and make below average espresso/cappas.

You know, you can make great coffee without it being derived from an actual espresso shot.
Chemex drip, Hario drip,vac pots, French press, etc...all under $40.

The GRINDER is the key. No matter what preparation method.
For the above methods, a grinder such as a Baratza Virtuoso (not Preciso model) or  the less expensive Capresso infinity would be adequate for these tasks.

Regarding espresso, I disagree with an earlier poster that said a Rocky wouldn't be adequate.
While not as easy to adjust or home friendly as a Preciso or Vario, it will do just fine for espresso. I'm a big fan of both Baratza grinders, but if you have a Rocky, or get a used one for maybe $175, that would do you fine for espresso grinding...not for the other methods I described above.

Gaggia pump machines reside in the $350-$600 range, have 58mm full size Portafilters, steam adequately...with a little wait time after pulling the shot (as would a Silvia) and hold their value decently. Quite often, you can find refurbs for 20% less.

A Baratza Preciso grinder (better for all grinds than the Rocky), and Gaggia machine would be WELL under $1k, leaving room for a proper tamper, knockbox, and cleaning supplies.

That is MY recommendation, FWIW.




Edit...the Crossland machine, mentioned above would be a bit better from a steaming quickly standpoint, but is around $700 by itself, as is the single boiler non HX Bezzara machine.

 
Rob J (LMWDP #187)
My Music Production web site:
www.robertjason.com
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diggi
Senior Member
diggi
Joined: 28 Nov 2011
Posts: 383
Location: Halifax, NS
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Spaz vivaldi S1 V2
Grinder: B Vario, OE LIDO
Drip: Chemex, Espro Press,...
Roaster: Poppery I
Posted Wed Nov 30, 2011, 9:28pm
Subject: Re: Decent Espresso Machine Under $1000?  Do they exist?
 

CaffeineFiend Said:

A friend of mine is getting into roasting coffee beans as a hobby--he brought me a monsoon blend which I really liked so I'm hoping if I buy espresso beans and give them to him once a week he can roast and grind them for me.  I'll probably still buy a grinder also in case I want to pursue other options until he gets really good at his craft.

Posted November 30, 2011 link

*record scratching* ..... more important than anything is grinding just prior to use (ie: seconds before brewing).  You really are wasting 1k if you are using pre-ground beans.  The grinder, with fine adjustment is absolutely crucial for achieving proper extraction time.  That is why some people shell out so much for a grinder.  ie: you need to make the grind finer to slow extraction time and coarser for quicker extraction....to get a double shot 2-2.5 oz in 22-30 sec (varies for different roasts).  That is why you should really spend half your budget on a machine, and the other half on a grinder when you are in this price bracket (or some would say a little less for grinder ....).  Read up a bit on that topic but this is a necessity.
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diggi
Senior Member
diggi
Joined: 28 Nov 2011
Posts: 383
Location: Halifax, NS
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Spaz vivaldi S1 V2
Grinder: B Vario, OE LIDO
Drip: Chemex, Espro Press,...
Roaster: Poppery I
Posted Wed Nov 30, 2011, 10:07pm
Subject: Re: Decent Espresso Machine Under $1000?  Do they exist?
 

IMAWriter Said:

Regarding espresso, I disagree with an earlier poster that said a Rocky wouldn't be adequate.
While not as easy to adjust or home friendly as a Preciso or Vario, it will do just fine for espresso. I'm a big fan of both Baratza grinders, but if you have a Rocky, or get a used one for maybe $175, that would do you fine for espresso grinding...not for the other methods I described above.

Posted November 30, 2011 link

First off, I bow to your superior knowledge.  WRT the Rocky, my point was this:
Package deal starting out here in Canada,
silvia + rocky ~ $1000
silvia + Compak K3 ~ $1100
 So, spend the extra $100 now (or 10% above budget) on grinder vs machine
When it comes time to upgrade that $100 on grinder 'probably' lets you get away with keeping that Compak for awhile, where the rocky won't let you move to the next level, so you end up sinking another ~550 in the Compak or ~650 Mazzer mini before you can upgrade your machine..... and you get alot more bang for your buck by spending that $100 on the compak over rocky right away....where if spent on a machine costing 100 more, probably no difference......
That's all I meant.  I'm sure rocky is a good place to start, but not if you'll likely be upgrading, like most of us will.
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