HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >


Espresso/Cappucino Machine

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.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. 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.

    2 Replies
    1. re: momof3

      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.

      1. re: momof3

        Yeah, by definition, this is not espresso. As for *$'s . . . . well, I'm glad you're no longer there -- hopefully having moved on to bigger and better things.

      2. 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.

        1. 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.

          1. 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.



            1. 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!

              1. We got a Capresso over christmas and love it (paid $199) I did a lot of research before I purchased. I think it takes some practice to get the espresso and lattes just right but everyone we make is getting better.

                1. I'd suggest checking out Sweet Marias (http://www.sweetmarias.com) to get an understanding of the coffee and the machines. Their main focus is green beans but they've also got info on machines. A site more focused on hardware is Coffee Geeks (http://www.coffeegeek.com/). FWIW, I have a Solis Super Automatic and most of the time, I make brewed coffee (strong coffee setting). Prefering the Super Automatics likely risks richly deserved opprobrium from the cognicenti but unless you're into the grind-tamp-pull shot, clean portafilter-start over barrista stuff, doing this for a diiner party is likely to be a royal PITA. Super Automatics aren't said to produce as exquisite a shot but pushing one button with the results one can get with the super-autos has been more to my taste.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Ericruo

                    As much as I detest super-autos for all the given reasons, this is one situation where it might be the best choice. If the OP doesn't know or care about the best possible espresso and doesn't really want to spend the time to learn a super-auto just might be what the Dr. ordered.

                    As for Ms. Silvia, I would never recommend this machine for a neophyte. While it is a great little machine and a pretty good bargain, it is also one of the most high-strung finicky machines anyone could possibly have. In order to have this machine really work well, you must have everything completely dialed in. It is a really difficult task to get the most out of this machine.

                    1. re: chipman

                      I agree with Chipman. I have a Silvia and I love it, but she's quite finicky and there's a significant learning curve. Having said that, if you put in the effort, you can get amazing results. It's about as far from an automatic machine as you can get in a home espresso maker though. Also, keep in mind that any true espresso machine is going to require you to get a good quality grinder that can cost nearly as much, a mazzer mini, a macap, a rancilio rocky, etc. Your best option might be to go with a pod type machine. In my opinion, you lose some flavor and personality there, but they are a lot easier to use, the results are relatively consistent, and they are not as messy. Sur de table has some interesting machines, including the francis francis, which is owned by the company that makes the pods. check out coffeegeek and home barista

                  2. I suspected this would happen. Please don't misunderstand me - I do appreciate a great espresso when I get one. And I realize that unless you put serious money and a certain degree of seriousness into the project, a home espresso is not likely to come close to the ideal. Of course, some people do it, but honestly the effort is not for everyone.

                    I understand the half-assed espresso concept. And I think the OP is looking for something simple. A low-end superautomatico might be the way to go, but you can also get away with something less expensive. If it were absolutely essential to use freshly burr-milled beans and a fancy machine to make a cup of espresso, why are all the Italian grocery stores I shop at filled with packaged pre-ground espresso coffee? I suspect that even the most hard-core transplanted Italian is often satisfied with a homemade espresso using low-tech equipment. I am not questioning the sincerity of those who search for the Perfect Shot, but this quest is not for everyone. Some of us are happy with a small cup of something dark.

                    I have added this comment because I notice that whenever the subject of espresso makers comes up, it becomes really intimidating really fast. Much more so than most other cooking issues.

                    1. You might want to research this a bit more. The two machines you are looking at have good track records but manual machines require a bit of work, and you will also need to budget for a quality grinder.

                      More automatic machines take away some of the work and preparation but at the expense of, well, being more expensive.

                      You will find no shortage of opinions but it helps to know what you're getting into. I started out with a refurbished Krups thermal block pump machine that made great espresso. I now have a Silvia which cost about four times more than the Krups which also makes great espresso. Same amount of labor involved, but does the quality of the cup that I get from Silvia justify the extra cost of that machine? Sometimes I wonder.

                      A suggestion - if you only want to make milk-based drinks, check out the Bialetti Mukka Express. The website below has several videos showing the machine in action.


                      The purists may sneer but the Mukka is small, extremely portable, easy to use, doesn't require elaborate rituals for preparing a drink, easy to clean, not too expensive, and does what it was designed to do quite well. I bought one to take on camping trips and love it.

                      1. http://www.wholelattelove.com/ has a great selection as well as demos and reviews of practically every machine worth considering.

                        I ended up with a la Pavoni Espresso Si from there 4 years ago, I use it every day for the morning latte. If you just plan on entertaining with it, the gee-whiz factor of a super automatic might be just the ticket. The results might not be Rome coffee bar worthy, but they'll probably be better than what you'd pull without regular practice.

                        1. This is too late for the first person to ask the question but it might help someone else. With the money she plan to spend and her lack of knowledge on espresso I sugest something a little more blink for the average dinner party. At the moment too many people are seerving so so espresso to end a really greaat meal. What would have more taste and also more star prower would be a really perfect vac pot. Most people won;t have seen it. Its easier to make a great coffe and the price point is more what she asked for from us. http://www.sweetmarias.com/prod.brewe... has Cona Vacuum Brewers. I do sugest a new one rather then trying the old ones from the 50's as she needs wow and good coffee

                          I by the way am the person with the pro espresso gear, Astra GA etc etc. I love espresso but if it is a choice between a ave espresso and a great cup of coffee I want the great coffee.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: treshell

                            I was thinking exactly the same thing as I read through the thread. For the money it'd take to get a good espresso set up put together one could get a fabulous grinder and a good coffee brewing device for daily use.

                          2. I love my La pavoni, it is lovely to look at on the counter,and makes a great cappucino and expresso

                            1. I would opt for a Coffee Gaggia -- http://www.wholelattelove.com/Gaggia/... -- but there are lots of other vendors. I've used this very Gaggia machine either at my home or in my office for nearly 20 years, including this specific model, and it works really well. AND it's under $300!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: zin1953

                                After 7 great years my Faema expresso maker finally died peacefully, looked for months for a replacement finally bought a Jura Impressa F9 from William Sonoma. It is good machine however after just 2 months of service it is displaying signs of electronic problems. Thinking of replacing it with La Spaziale Vivaldi S1. Does anyone have some suggestion or ideas that will help in the selection process.

                              2. After 7 great years my Faema expresso maker finally died peacefully, looked for months for a replacement finally bought a Jura Impressa F9 from William Sonoma. It is good machine however after just 2 months of service it is displaying signs of electronic problems. Thinking of replacing it with La Spaziale Vivaldi S1. Does anyone have some suggestion or ideas that will help in the selection process.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: milano_ice

                                  Presuming you live within the continental US, contact Chris' Coffee Service -- 800.724.3459 -- http://www.chriscoffee.com/products/home

                                  1. re: zin1953

                                    Thanks, I will do that, and yes do live in the USA

                                    1. re: milano_ice

                                      You will absolutely love the Vivaldi S1. I am so envious! You do know there is a pour-over version of the Vivaldi available if you don't want to plumb in?

                                  2. re: milano_ice

                                    Contact the Williams-Sonoma store where you purchased the machine. They have a liberal return policy and can replace the item for you. From my understanding, this is one of the perks of purchasing from them.

                                  3. I have had two tassimo machines so far in the last two years, why? they keep breaking. I must admit the company replaces them free, but this is crazy. I use them once a week!! The chip keeps malfunctioning. I do not recommend them for this reason.