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Nov 2, 2006 11:40 PM

Ascaso or F!F! vs. Gaggia Espresso Makers and General ?

I'm buying my spouse an espresso maker and have been doing a lot of reading (including the current active thread and other old ones, coffeegeek, amazon reviews, etc.). I'd set a $300 limit so I could afford to add a nice grinder for ~$500 total. In this vein, I've been leaning toward a Gaggia Evolution ($285). But I'm seduced by the beautiful Ascaso Innova Arc (aka Arc Fun) and Francis!Francis! X3 machines (both ~$500). I haven't seen a lot of info on the Ascaso's but what I have sounds good. If anyone has any experience with this machine (or the others), I'd love your input.

We're novices (only have a stove top maker and the $3 Ikea frother) but are interested in learning and will use it for both espresso and coffee drinks so good steaming/frothing capability is important. Our counter space is limited, so a small footprint is also important.

BIG QUESTIONS: Are the Ascaso and FF! machines really worth 2x as much? They have a brass boiler and portafilter - how important is that? Am I missing another great (and pretty) machine under $500 - or better yet under $300!? Thanks!

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  1. I just bought my spouse a Francis Francis X6 as a birthday gift. It makes and awesome cup of coffee! Quick to heat up, excellent steam. The one drawback is that you have to use pods. The boiler etc are the same as the X3, but the casing is plastic and not metal. Also, the X3 will let you pack your own ground espresso. Actually, considering how messy he is, the pods are a good thing!
    The X6 was on sale at Sur la Table and until the end of the year, you can get three months worth of Ily espresso pods for free with your purchase.
    I am very pleased with my purchase.