We are on the market for an espresso/latte/cappucino machine & know virtually nothing about them. We want to spend no more than $300.00. We have done a little research and come up with the brands - Saeca and Gaggia. We are not big espresso, etc. drinkers - it would basically be for entertaining? Any recommendations? Thanks.
I love my Tassimo drink machine. We got it 2 years ago for a Christmas present, we still use it almost everyday.
It isn't fancy, as you said, but it makes a great cappucino, and also makes hot chocolate, brewed coffee, and tea all for under $200.
I was personally surprised, as I worked for Starbucks for many years and consider myself a coffee snob. Go to a store where they will demo it for you so you can try for yourself.
Yes, there are a lot of posts on here about real and not real, etc., but if you really aren't big espresso drinkers yourself and want a versatile machine that doesn't take work, I think you could do worse than the Tassimo. At least maybe it can make something you *will* use more often. No, it's not a real espresso/latte/cappucino, but it can do a fair approximation, good enough for a bit of entertaining here and there I suspect. You can have an assortment of the discs and let everyone pick out there own kind of hot drink.
Sometimes I wish we had gotten one of these instead of the Keurig that we did get. The Keurig is great too, but it can't do the milk-based stuff.
At the risk of getting lynched by the purist crowd, I have a low-end Saeco espresso/cappucino machine and I love it. There's a little gizmo on it that allows you to automatically froth the milk directly from a container into the cup. I know it doesn't produce proper micro-foam and I also realize that the crema is, according to the experts, "fake" crema but it's easy and convenient and doesn't require a barista to operate. Makes it very simple to produce a single espresso or cappucino in seconds, without a lot of fiddling around. Saeco has good service and you can choose from quite a range of machines - from professional to, yes, idiot-proof.
OK, probably the one thing worse than no advice is advice you didn't ask for. But heck,
that never stopped me ...
Are you sure that, as a non-espresso-drinker, you'll be able to use the machine to
make decent, entertaining espresso? One big component of the fun of espressomaking
is getting the water, the beans, the roast, the grind, the packing, the timing, the everything
all perfectly right. Change any little thing and the end result is different. And most possible
outcomes are not very tasty at all. The only way to get it right is practice practice practice.
But if you don't drink much, you're only going to be practicing when company is visiting
and it could be disappointing. You could go the way of the little pod machines, but in
that case why not install a coffee vending machine. Same thing basically.
So here's the unsolicited advice: drip coffee is cool. For 1/5 the cost of a bottom end
espresso machine, you could get a nice tasteful ceramic cone, a stylish pyrex
decanter, and some crazy/interesting rare coffee and in no time flat you've got a
big hot cup full of delicious, instead of a demitasse of cliche.
Granted, I got it from a neighbour at her garage sale for 40 bucks, but I have been very very pleased with the results of the standard Starbucks Barista amde for them by Estro. It costs around 300 dollars new. But you may be able to find a good deal on Ebay. Always always use distilled water in your espresso machine, not filtered or bottled water, and you will never have to deal with calcium deposits build-up. If you buy a used one, you run the danger of it already having calcium build-up. Clean it with citric acid, not vinegar as vinegar can attach the gaskets.
Again.......use distilled water which will also result in better tasting coffee, extra benefit.
Get yourself a Rancilio Ms. Silvia. It's one of the best low-end espresso makers around. You could probably pick up a used one on eBay in your price range. Steer clear of the Saeco's and the other automatics. Also stay away from Krups!