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Sep 5, 2009 04:11 AM

Does anyone know of a relatively inexpensive expresso-cappucino maker?

Just back from Italy and craving the coffee. I hope I posted this in the right place. I checked the archives and the last discussion I found on this topic was in 2007. Can I get anything decent for under 200.00?

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  1. get a stovetop espresso maker...not only inexpensive but downright cheap, easy to use & makes superb espresso...I've used these for 30+ years & won't be without one.

    2 Replies
    1. re: fauchon

      Here we go again. A Moka pot can make very good, strong coffee. It does not make espresso. If the OP really wants the genuine article. he will have to spend at an absolute minimum 350-400. This includes an espresso capable grinder which new will cost 200.00. A refurbished Gaggia from WWL can be OK.
      I really would recommend to the OP to search some coffee specific websites as he will get much more and specific advise.

      1. re: fauchon

        A moka pot is not espresso but they can, with work, make tasty coffee.

      2. Try searching the *correct* spelling of eSpresso, and you will find MANY recent discussions. For example:

        I have a few different moka pots (a/k/a stovetop espresso makers), including the much vaunted Bialetti Brikka 2-cup (purchased in Italy). The Brikka is better than the other Bialetti models, IMO, and definitely makes better product than any of the other competitors. (N.B. Moka pots do NOT make espresso, they make moka. It is a somewhat similar drink in taste profile, but since it is not extracted under pressure, moka pot coffee can not be described as "espresso.")

        That said, I much prefer the straight espresso that I make in my cheap Starbucks Barista machine, which is a re-badged and discontinued unit from Saeco (the Estro Vapore). See:

        I found mine on Craigslist for 80 bucks, removed the pressurized portafilter assembly, bought a $20 milled-aluminum tamper from Amazon, and now make espresso that is clearly better than any big chain coffee shop (Starbucks, Pete's, et al.), and approaches the quality of some of the independents and smaller coffee chains. With my Saeco, I know I'll never approach the quality of Tazza d'Oro or Sant'Eustachio in Rome, but some days I do see a glimmer of those in my home brew!

        True espresso nirvana can be achieved at home with many additional dollars...

        1. the short answer is no, you cannot make espresso for $200. The reason is that the espresso machine is only part of the equation. The grinder is equally important, if not more so. Even a low-end burr grinder will set you back more than the $200 your budget allows. You can get a moka pot for a lot less, and millions of Italians, as well as a lot of other people, swear by them But the entry level for real espresso, extracted under pressure and heat, far exceeds your budget. Check out home barista, coffee geek, or one of the many sites devoted to the topic. And yes, it's spelled espresso

          2 Replies
          1. re: chuckl

            of course - this English major and good speller will blame that one on jet lag. Was *hoping* to get by with 200.00 but research has shown I can not. So be it. We'll give a very nice one to each other for Christmas. I knew this topic was up in 2007, wanted to check out any changes and opinions. Thanks all for the advice. -Paula

            1. re: bayoucook

              Most Italians use the moka pot at home anyway, so you might find it to suit you. It's cheap enough to experiment!

          2. Actually, the Handpresso gets some great reviews from coffee geeks:


            I've considered trying one out myself. But as others say, you can't get a machine in that price range that can produce what you are looking for. I'd rather just pay a trained barista to do her/his thing on a commercial machine that cost more than my kitchen.

            9 Replies
            1. re: dmd_kc

              yes, the correct spelling is espresso. Half my family has its roots in Italy-- and I can tell you that Italians have been drinking something called espresso prior to having electricity in the home. It's made stove top-- either in a pot that forces the coffee up through a funnel, ( I have one of these that I bought recently and it works great!) or in one that you invert ( these are even older models-- I inherited one of these that has to be close to 70 years old! It also works great, but takes more time and is messier to clean up than the funnel pot. See above for good funnel pot recommendations. This inversion pot actually does press the water down through the coffee. The funnel pot seems to use steam to force itself up. Any physicists out there who can better explain??) As far as I can tell the new very expensive electric machines ( I have an older model these up in the closet-- it's a bother to use) simply puts some foam on the top of the coffee. If you want to make a latte or a cappuccino, you won't miss the foam on the coffee and there are a number of inexpensive ways to make frothed milk-- including putting warm milk in a glass jar and vigorously shaking it. if it's espresso ( and yes, truly Italians called it that before the advent of electricity) you are after and you want it to have foam, then you can buy an Ibrik and practice making Turkish or Greek coffee. None of these ethnic groups would be happy to know that these three are pretty much the same. The Italians filter the coffee, while the Greeks and the Turks do not. Hence, with the latter two, you have to be careful of the sludge in the bottom of the cup. The grind for T or G coffee is slightly finer than the grind for Italian espresso. But the physics of the Ibrik ( and trust me-- having recently returned from all three countries with a Turkish Ibrik in hand, and a craving for the coffee---this takes some patience and practice)-- creates foam. Italians serve the coffee traditionally with a lemon rind twist-- and perhaps a small splash of anisette in or next to the coffee, the Greeks add sugar as do the Turks, who add even more coffee. By the way, if you look up recipes for Turkish or Greek coffee-- they talk about using teaspoons of coffee-- by this they mean HEAPING teaspoons. Turkish coffee is served with a glass of water. I think this in case you accidently dip into the sludge. Though some other contributors would disagree, I think " moka" is something Starbucks invented. With all due respect, I can remember many family dinners at which my uncle ( who were he still alive would be 102) would make espresso-- in the very inversion pot I inherited. I imagine he learned to call what he made espresso from his parents who actually hailed from Italy before the turn of the last century. My uncle spoke of remembering the ice man and the ice box. My mother, (who would be 87 if she were still living) also of Italian born parents recalled her fear when she came home from school one day to her family's New York City apartment, to find a light bulb hanging for the first time. She said it was espresso too. Another uncle (who would be 92 were he still alive) also hailed from Italian born parents-- from a different part of Italy, also referred to this drink from this humble little stove top pot, espresso. And if three italians agree-- well--- I think it's safe to say that in actuality what comes out of these little stove top pots is actually espresso. What is most important is the coffee you use-- and that is really a matter of personal taste. And of course that it is ground for espresso. Now, if its the fun of the machine your after, that's a different story, but if you just want the coffee, get the funnel pot!

              1. re: withabandon

                No sorry, it is not espresso, it is Moka. Hell, Columbus thought the world was flat too, doesn't mean it was.

                1. re: chipman

                  Every Italian home I've ever visited does have a moka pot. But they just make strong coffee. Doesn't even look like espresso -- though, yes, many Italians call it that.

                  1. re: dmd_kc

                    An Italian is more likely to just refer to caffe than either moka or espresso.

                    Moka is moka. Espresso is espresso.

                  2. re: chipman

                    No, columbus allegedly thought the world was round when everybody else didn't.

                    1. re: Soop

                      Of course you're correct. But this is the Internet where it is mandatory to play fast and loose with facts in order to make a point.

                  3. re: withabandon

                    all due respect to your Italian ancestors, but the Specialty Coffee Association of America defines espresso this way:


                    Espresso is a 45ml (1.5 ounces) beverage that is prepared from 7-9 grams of coffee through which clean water of 192¡ - 198¡ F (88¡ - 92¡ C) has been forced at 9-10 atmospheres of pressure, where the grind of the coffee has made the brewing "flow"* time approximately 22-28 seconds. While brewing, the flow of Espresso will appear to have the viscosity of warm honey and the resulting beverage will exhibit a thick dark gold cream foam ("crema") topping. Espresso is usually prepared specifically for, and immediately served to its intended consumer.

                    does this sound like the beverage that bubbles up from your stovetop coffee pot?

                  4. re: dmd_kc

                    But the Handpresso is still not espresso.

                    1. re: Bubbamike

                      The Handpresso pushes a small quantity of hot water through fine-ground coffee with high pressure. That's espresso.

                    1. re: jaykayen

                      It may well be that to make espresso as invented in Milan in 1901, one needs some kind of steam generating device. However, this term Moka that some of you would like to assign to homemade espresso is certainly not Italian-- there is no K in the Italian alphabet. So this term is quite curious. However I have discovered that Bialetti does call its stove top pots moka express (yes with an X). They also say these are used to make, guess what-- espresso! Additionally, they have something called a mini express-- it looks like this device might just yield the foam (crema) that seems to be what all the fuss is about, and spouts the espresso directly into cups.
                      The bottom line is how does it taste--not how does it sound-- and that depends on using good coffee, ground to the proper consistency. After all espresso is made with coffee and water. To say espresso made in a stove top pot is merely strong coffee of course is correct, but is something made with water and coffee anything other than coffee? Certainly not. There is no such thing as a coffee called moka. ( although I'm sure starbuck;s has something they call that) There is espresso made in such a way that it has foam and there is espresso made in such a way that it does not have foam. In Italy, what we call coffee is called caffe Americano, which is a less strong drink made with less finely ground coffee. Would Italians be having a debate about whether caffe Americano is made in a percolator, a drip pot or a press pot is something other than caffe Americano. I think not. Though certainly they, like anyone else might prefer one type of pot over another. So the bottom line for bayoucook is what type of pot do you want, because certainly, everyone is correct-- you can use the humble stove pot or the expensive pressurized machine. Either way you make yourself a very small cup of very good very strong coffee. One without foam, the other with. Either way, I hope you enjoy.

                      1. re: chuckl

                        illy had a sale on their $400ish espresso maker for $150ish if you signed upfor their monthly delivery service. not sure if the offer is still available.

                        1. re: FattyDumplin

                          beware of the pods; they're a lot more convenient and certainly less messy, but you miss about 85% of the flavor since they don't use freshly ground coffee

                        2. re: withabandon

                          Wow. So many assertions, so many of which are just wrong.

                          You don't need a steam-generating device to make espresso, you need a pressure-generating device. Most machines use either a lever-controlled piston or an electrical pump.

                          Bialetti and Aeropress do claim that their devices make espresso. But if you take every seller's claims about its products as gospel truth, I have a bridge you may be interested in. By definition, espresso must be squeezed out of (expressed from) the puck by pressure. A moka pot doesn't do that.

                          Speaking of which, there is a coffee called Moka. The term refers to Yemeni coffees, the most common of which are Moka Mattari (from Bani Matar) and Moka San'ani (from Sana'a).

                          Italians would universally agree that coffee made in a percolator, a drip pot, or a press pot is **not** caffe Americano. Caffe Americano is a shot of espresso diluted with hot water. Drip coffee is "caffe filtro."

                          I do agree with your conclusion. A cup of coffee made with just-ground fresh beans is a good thing. But it's silly to imply the words used to describe coffee don't have any useful meaning. They do.

                          You can get a good cup of coffee by a variety of methods. Drip cone, vacuum pot, french press, Aeropress, moka pot, espresso machine - it's all good. But each of those coffees has different characteristics. If you just want a small cup of strong coffee, you've got a few options. But the OP asked about espresso. There's only one way to get that - from an espresso machine.

                          1. re: alanbarnes

                            "Italians would universally agree that coffee made in a percolator, a drip pot, or a press pot is **not** caffe Americano. Caffe Americano is a shot of espresso diluted with hot water. Drip coffee is "caffe filtro.""

                            And how. I remember going to a Nescafé coffee bar in a mall, and noticed that the "Black Coffee" was not Americano, and so I asked for a shot of espresso in a big cup topped with water.
                            Sure they said, but we'll have to charge for a tall black coffee (about 70p more). I told them that, on principle I wasn't going to pay 70p for hot water.
                            Further to that (apart from the fact that the ratio could be wrong) I wasn't going to pay good money for coffee to someone who didn't know the slightest thing about what they were doing.

                            Call me picky, but I'm glad I didn't give nestlé money anyway.

                            1. re: Soop

                              Ah, yes, the Swiss and coffee...

                            2. re: alanbarnes

                              No disagreement on substance, but our understanding of the etymology of the word "espresso" is that it did not derive from "expressed from" but rather from express -- quick. The creation mythology that we recall had the espresso machine invented by a factory manager as a way of getting a large number of cups pumped out in a very short time, to reduce the length of coffee breaks and thus to get the workers back on the line.

                              1. re: Politeness

                                The etymology is uncertain.

                                For many years, "expressed" was the favoured etymology. The thinking these days (cf. the 11th edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, © 2003) appears to be coalescing around "made expressly for the customer," i.e. made one cup at a time, not drawn from an urn or poured from a large pot. The earliest usage of "caffè expres" dates back to the turn of last century and was used to describe the one-cup brew from precursors to the modern-day espresso machine. When true espresso machines appeared in 1948, the name stuck, probably reinforced by the alternate meanings of "quick" and "expressed." However, it is unlikely that the original "caffè expres" referred to speed, as the 1906 Bezzera and Pavoni machines took close to a minute to make a cup of coffee.