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Sep 28, 2008 05:05 PM

Best Espresso maker for $500 ???

Hey Guys,

Looking for suggestions on the best semi-automatic espresso maker for around $500 or less.

Any thoughts on the Solis Crema or the Saeco Aroma Espresso Machine


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  1. First of all, "bless you" for asking about a semi- and not a super-automatic! ;^)

    Secondly, I would look to machines like the Gaggia Classic ( see for an example ) or the Rancilio Silvia ( see for an example ). Both are at the very top of the "single boiler/dual use" home espresso machines. Given the fall in the value of the dollar, however, both are now over your $500 limit. The Gaggia is still available for $599, and the Rancilio has skyrocketed to $699!

    Before you dismiss these two machines, however, I would a) tell you these are significantly better than the Solis or Saeco; b) urge you to shop around (you might be able to find the Gaggia for less); and c) look to places like craigslist or eBay to get a great deal on a "pre-owned" model.

    And have you thought about/budgeted for a grinder?

    * * * * *

    More info:
    Solis "Crema" SL-70 --
    Saeco Aroma --

    Gaggia Classic --
    Rancilio Silvia --

    4 Replies
    1. re: zin1953

      WLL has a refurbished Silvia for 599$. That is more then the OP wanted to spend , but perhaps it is in the ballpark.

      1. re: chipman

        with practice, you can make excellent espresso from a Rancilio Silvia IF you have a good quality burr grinder, very fresh beans (less that 2 weeks from roasting) and expend a little energy learning to temperature surf. A good quality grinding like a Rancilio Rocky will set you back around $300, give or take, or you can take the plunge for a really good grinder like a masser mini or a macap. the previous posters have given you good suggestions for informational sites. I'd advise doing your homework at coffee geek, whole latte love and home barista. That will help narrow your range on the machines within your comfort zone. Good luck, and let us know how it works out for you.

      2. re: zin1953

        My GF actually knows a guy who owns a coffee store in Brooklyn and he suggested waiting until the dollar made gains against the euro...

        1. re: lalengua23

          Sure, you can wait another 2-3 years . . . and hope that happens. OR, start looking for used equipment off eBay and craigslist, or on sites like

      3. What is your total budget? As chuckl mentioned the grinder is as important as the espresso machine if not more.
        To help provide you with the best information could you tell us more about what your budget is and what type of drinks you are shooting for. Caps, Lattes, straight espresso?? How many a day or at one session? Pulling shots for one or more?

        4 Replies
        1. re: scubadoo97

          My ideal cup of coffee is a an espresso with a drop of warm milk, the Cuban community calls it a cortadito.

          As for the grinder, I was assuming it would run me another 100 or so. I have heard good things about the capresso infinity burr grinder.

          1. re: lalengua23

            Cunill Tranquilo and Gaggia MDF are some of the cheapest grinders for espresso. The Capresso just won't cut it for straight espresso.

            You will have to work hard to produce 4 drinks for friends with any single boiler machine. You will have to pull two doubles and split them. You will not be able to pull them back to back without letting the machine warm back up. So it will take some time and the results would be OK if covered with a fair amount of steamed milk.

            My advice with a $500 budget if that was firm would be to look at spending nearly $300 on the grinder and see if you can pick up a lower end Gaggia epresso machine for around $200

            If you are use to drinking, and like Cuban coffee made with Pilon or similar coffee you can do just fine with a stove top moka pot or lower end Gaggia machine and skip the grinder. If you plan on buying Starbucks or grocery store beans then again skip the major investment as you will never produce a quality straight espresso. I'm talking about a well pulled shot with a heavy layer of true crema. An emulsified coffee which taste great on its own, which has a natural sweetness and is not sour or overly bitter. This takes work and doesn't come cheap. Sad but true.

            I'm glad I bought my Mazzer mini a few years ago at $300 new from Illy. I just looked and saw them going for just under $700.

            Take some time and look at a lot of post at and before taking the leap if you haven't already. You may think that these people are just fanatics but in reality they have been right where you are now.

            1. re: lalengua23

              scubadoo97 is absolutely right: the capresso is useless for making espresso . . .

              IF -- and it's a big "if" -- IF you're serious about making great espresso at home (and it is not difficult), don't skimp on the grinder! You can pick up a really good grinder off eBay (e.g.: Mazzer Super Jolly) or off forums like or

            2. re: scubadoo97

              My gf drinks a latte every morning, I usually have an espresso so 1-2 servings each time.

              Every now and then we'll have friends or family over so no more than 4 servings are needed at any time.