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?
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.