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file Affordable 1st Espresso Machine Recommendation

  • Cardo
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13 years 9 months ago #3372 by Cardo
I've been doing considerable searching for the past few months, trying to come up with a good affordable Espresso Machine. I purchased the Breville Conical Burr Grinder, which works very well so far, and then set my sights on an Espresso Machine.

Nespresso - from all accounts, they produce great espresso and they do taste great, but I dislike not having variety in my coffee choices, paying 58 cents per single shot (plus shipping) and I also think there is something to be said for having some input in my espresso making. Call it pride. So I've ruled these out for now. $299 for Nespresso Essenza Espresso Maker and Aeroccino Frother.

Breville 800ESXL - love, and I do mean love the look and heft of this machine. The packaging, size and features are great, but at $429 CDN with Thermoblock heating element and - my largest concern - dual wall crema portafilter with countless stories of 'blocked' dual wall chambers, I removed this off my must have list.

Next up, I spotted a new DeLonghi - the EC460. It has a stainless steel boiler, mostly manual operation (little to go wrong in the future, I assumed), good frother/steamer and very simple design. It's large, but at $199 it might just be a good spot to start?

I want some personal pride in my Espresso making, but I also want something relatively simple to use. I like the sounds of the Rocky, but I think I will 'earn' my way to that level. So for now:

Do I stay on the 'cheap' with the DeLonghi EC460 (Home Outfitters using some Gift Cards!!), which has no electronic controls, no 'auto' anything and yet is still easy to use?

Delonghi EC460 Link

Or do I move up to the next level?

Starbucks Saeco Sirena - auto tamping, boiler, around $399

Gaggia Baby - $399 - chrome plated brass filter holder, good name, boiler. I like the look of the 'Baby Class' but it's $699 for not much more in features except an 'auto' function.

Welcome other suggestions as well. Thanks for this great site!
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13 years 9 months ago #3373 by Cardo
I suppose I should also add the following sub-$200 Espresso machine into the equation:

Via Venezia Espresso Machine by Starbucks Coffee

Starbucks Link
13 years 9 months ago #3375 by colin
Of all the things that you have suggested (and thanks for a nice verbose post - all too rare!) - the Saeco's and the Gaggia's make me most happy...
and here is why:

Gaggia's have REAL boilers with actual commercial sized components and make REAL espresso - there is no pressurized portafilters. They are the closest to the real thing here folks.

Saeco's are well made - smaller group and portafilter but good espresso nonetheless.

Delonghi scares me: Too much plastic, lower than average customer satisfaction.
Their grinders on the other hand are an OK place to start.

The beauty of great coffee is found by starting at the beginning - my first coffee machine (espresso) was a Multi-chef 99$ steam toy. I learned a lot from that plastic and aluminum monstrosity.
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13 years 9 months ago #3381 by Cardo
Thank you Colin for your insight and help. It's definitely much appreciated. At first, I was quite pleased with the performance of the DeLonghi thinking \"wow, look at all that crema, this isn't so hard at all\". Then I tasted it ... \"yuck\". I tried again and again, packing it differently, grinding it differently, etc. Sadly, because of the pressurized portafilter, it \"looks\" like good Espresso, but it doesn't taste that way. I'd certainly like knowing as soon as the shot is coming out whether it is good or not.

So, I am likely to return the DeLonghi and go for the Gaggia. It may be an entry-level Gaggia for now, but at least it will be something to experiment with and take pride in.
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