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Is there an espresso machine under $100 worth owning...

I want it to make cappucino.

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  1. I've had my eye on this Bialetti stovetop version
    But Crate and Barrel also started carrying a tiny stovetop espresso version that's similar to mine, which is great. See attached photo. You could get a separate wand frother or whisk on the stove like Aida does - http://www.chow.com/stories/10836

    My experience has been that the cheaper electric machines never produce enough pressure to get decent espresso out of them.

    2 Replies
    1. re: 5 and Dime Eater

      I have that Bialetti stovetop machine. I almost threw it in the trash after being frustrated by it for the first couple of weeks. The gasket in the middle would ALWAYS leak, dribbling a puddle of espresso all over my stove. I took some time to read the hundreds of reviews on Amazon.com and several people had the same problem. The solution is to clean each and every part after each use and then oil the gasket (top and bottom) prior to brewing. Now, I love it and think it's one of my essential kitchen items. And, yes, you'll get a lot of espresso snobs who tell you it's not "real" espresso or cappucino, but it's damn good for what it is. One more thing--make sure you follow the instructions on throwing out the first batch and also, at first, there might be a slight tinny flavor, but that goes away after you use it a few times. Hey, it's Italian--it's got its quirks, but in the end, it makes you happy!

      1. re: 5 and Dime Eater

        I think you need to ask yourself what you mean by "espresso." If you're looking for a noteworthy experience full of definition and clarity in flavor then the answer is: No.

        However, if you're not well versed in espresso and think that espresso is just strong, bitter coffee then the sub-$100 machine will probably suffice.

        You can certainly spend thousands of dollars on proper espresso equipment (I do) but if you don't know the difference and don't care to know the difference then grab whatever machine is handy. In fact, bypass the machine and just for a strong brew.

      2. If you want to deal with only one unit and size is a big deal, probably your best option would be to get a Bialetti Cappuccino Maker listed by 5 and Dime Eater. We have one that we use in our travel trailer when we go camping as the Rancilio Silvia and burr grinder are too big and heavy to move.

        Bed Bath and Beyond probably has the best price if you use one of their coupons...

        Try checking craigslist.com I see LOTS of gently used espresso machines on it... I think people buy them and don't like the work involved. Sort of like people who by aquariums. Again, you will be getting a non-pump steam boiler powered model but it won't cost you much...

        1. No. And not only that but you will have to buy a good grinder also. At the bare minimum you will have to spend at least $300. Search the reviews and info on Coffeegeek. Also you might want to Go to Wholelattelove and see what they have in their refurbished section. Do more research on coffee sites and good luck.

          1. Nespresso has a pod machine now between 200-300. You would neet to get something to froth the milk. The one they have runs around $80, works great though.

            I have two of the cubes, paid $400 each and have three frothers, love them all, nice simple system that does a good job.

            Cleaning is almost a one minute job, just run some clear water through it on the expresso setting, dump the pods once in awhile and wash out the container.

            Drinking a nice latte right now from the cube, cheaper and lots easier than Starbucks, especially when it is pouring down rain in Oregon, like right now.

            1. The short answer is NO....better to get a Moka pot or save yer pennies for a Gaggia or Silvia Rancillio.

              1. Especially is you are making capps....the crema that a moka does not produce won't be missed...

                1. If your goal is cappuccinos then you can get away with less than excellent espresso. Milk hides a multitude of sins. Think Starbucks. Still the better the espresso the better the drink.

                  Some people have been happy with the Krups machines and low end Gaggias are your best bet on a real espresso machine. I subscribe to the believe that the grinder is more important than the espresso machine up to a point but again for cappuccinos and lattes you can even use a moka pot or the AeroPress makes excellent strong coffee that can stand up to steamed milk. I bought my son an AeroPress for use at college. He makes lattes and blender coffee drinks and says it's better than what he gets at Starbucks.

                  If you are serious about espresso, save you money and buy good equipment. Minimal investment would be around $600-1000 for machine and espresso grinder. If you get hooked you will most likely upgrade from there.

                    1. Absolutely!!!
                      I buy and sell espresso machines on eBay, both home and commercial.
                      I highly recommend the Starbucks Barista/Saeco model SIN 006. They can be purchased used on eBay for around $100.00 in basic black or white with the stainless-steel ones going for a little more. These are pump-driven machines that can use ground coffee as well as pods.
                      I have four at this time and will be keeping one for use in my RV. I use the Pasquini Livia at home and one of the Sin 006's at the office. The other two I am selling.
                      In my opinion, a great value!!! Starbucks still sells this very sucessfull model under a different name now but is the same machine with the front-panel controls location reversed from the original.

                      Oh, as far as these machine go, they use a pressurized portafilter which has a lot of "forgiveness" and offers great crema with virtually any fine ground coffee. A $50.00 burr grinder will do just fine if you don't want to use pods.
                      Plenty of steam pressure to froth about 8-10 ounces of milk for your cap.

                      1. The short answer is NO.

                        Anything for a $100 is using steam not hot water and by definition...that's not espresso.

                        If you want a prosumer espresso machine, you are gonna need to spend about $500 in most cases and then at least another $75-100 for a competent enough burr grinder that you can grind your beans satisfactorily enough to make espresso.

                        I have a Rancilio Silvia espresso machine and a Rancilio Rocky grinder. This puts me firmly in the low end of home espresso equipment but it is a competent setup that makes espresso that kicks the crap out of Starbucks and every other corporate coffee house in town. Only a few indies have staff that can pull a better shot than I can on my equipment.

                        1. NO, I go to my local coffee shop. The amount of times other than a dinner party I just stop somewhere. A good friend owns a high end one and borrowed theirs for the 2 dinner parties where I used them. Tacky I know but she is my best friend and didn't mind. Just not worth the expense for me.

                          1. My Euro friend just got the $80 Mr. Coffee espresso machine from Target. It has a water tank at the back and gives out 15 bars pressure. Haven't asked him yet how it works but he claims it's exactly like the one he uses in Europe.

                            1. Every electric machine I've ever seen under about $400 was total junk. I owned a $500 Gaggia, and it could eventually pull a shot with decent crema (or an approximation - more on that in a second) after you'd warmed it up with three or four garbage shots first. Absolutely not worth the bother.

                              I doubt the Gaggia makes real crema actually, because those machines utilize a rubber diaphragm with a pinhole inside the basket. I theorize that it pseudo-foams the last bit of coffee. That's not to say the coffee's bad. But it doesn't hold a candle to what a well-trained barista can do with a great commercial machine that's been on and up to heat all day. And usually for $1.50 or so, depending on where you go.

                              I also don't think most people (myself included) really think about what a mess it makes in your kitchen to make espresso properly. It's just the most unbelievable amount of wet grounds everywhere after you shake out the basket, especially if you're making several.

                              Now, I have an acquaintance who owns a $2400 super-automatic Jura-Capresso. It's pretty awesome. But it's also way outside the range of practicality for my budget.

                              I use a stovetop moka pot too. That is NOT espresso by any stretch of the imagination, but it, along with a manual milk frother, can make a delicious drink. Don't tamp the grounds down, despite most instructions you see. It's what I use when someone wants a milk drink at my house -- unless I can successfully convince them just to go out to a coffee shop!

                              God, I'm a coffee snob. It's sad. At least I'm not like that with wine -- which is also outside my budget.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: dmd_kc

                                "Now, I have an acquaintance who owns a $2400 super-automatic Jura-Capresso."

                                Who wants a super auto? That's what starbucks uses and their shots are horrible. The only thing that can be said about a super auto is the shots are consistent...consistently crappy usually.

                                I can grind and tamp my own beans, TYVM. Give me a great groupo, a consistent boiler and some fresh beans and I'll pull one of the better espresso's you've ever had in the states. We've been dumbed down by corporate coffee in the last decade. It's really a shame.

                                1. re: meadandale

                                  Oh, I agree in general -- but WOW that machine makes good espresso if you have it on and warmed. I'm pretty impressed.

                                2. re: dmd_kc

                                  you can take the rubber thing out in Gaggias

                                  1. re: jaykayen

                                    I know you can -- but you don't get any crema/foam on top out of this one if you do. You get decent, but not special, strong coffee.

                                    1. re: dmd_kc

                                      Hogwash! Of course you can make decent espresso on a Gaggia with a non- pressurized portofilter. The main thing is to use fresh beans ground just before brewing. There is a little skill and technique involved. But if your not getting decent espresso, it ain't the machine that is to blame.

                                      1. re: chipman

                                        Might be possible. I never succeeded, and I tried -- literally -- hundreds of times. Maybe I don't possess the technique. In the end, I decided it wasn't worth it to bother any longer. I never once got anything approaching crema without the filter thing. S'all I'm saying.

                                3. You really can't get espresso out of a toy machine. You'll get a dark liquid, but that's not the same as espresso. Espresso will require a burr grinder, a good machine, fresh beams and a lot of patience. It's not really worth the effort unless you're willing to put in the time learning how to make it properly. I'd rather have good coffee from a french press than crappy pseudo espresso. If you really want to do some research, go to whole latte love, home barista or another site that specializes in coffee

                                  1. No.

                                    If you don't have $600 to spend, buy a Bialetti Brikka. Closest thing to espresso you can get (still not espresso, but not bad).