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Seeking guidance with purchase of new espresso machine

m
Mariana in Baja Feb 3, 2011 10:46 AM

I am re-posting my message because I think my wording failed to express my need for help. Please offer any and all advice.

I cannot believe it has happened to me but my faithful old Saeco has truly died this time -I have had it at least five years and in the past have always managed to resuscitate it. The big problem is that not only do I have limited funds - VERY limited - but I live in southern Baja and have to ask someone to bring one down for me.

Right now I am thinking either another Saeco - the low-end one for just under $300 or the Gaggia New Baby for the same price. Read something on here about a Stretta that is a little more money but I don/'t know much about it. $350 would be the absolute max but I would rather keep it under $300. And need I say I am not interested in anything that takes only pods.

Suggestions/opinions/guidance???

  1. j
    jaykayen Feb 6, 2011 06:42 PM

    Gaggia Classic on Whole Latte Love, refurbished, 10% off. http://www.wholelattelove.com/Gaggia/...

    3 Replies
    1. re: jaykayen
      c
      chickenbruiser Feb 7, 2011 05:16 AM

      that Gaggia has an aluminum boiler... my #1 rule is to never get a machine with an aluminum boiler... cools down too quickly and alters taste of the coffee... get stainless or brass but brass is usually too expensive

      1. re: chickenbruiser
        m
        Mariana in Baja Feb 7, 2011 12:38 PM

        Well, after all that I ordered another Saeco. The Gaggia was just too heavy to ask my friend to bring in her suitcase. Shipping the old one off is not an option - and I'm thinking it's more like 8 or 9 years old than five - time flies. I have managed to keep the old one going several times after "break downs" but this time the handle for the steam wand is out of its socket - I took the whole thing apart and cannot get the handle to connect with its inner workings. It has been problematic for quite some time with lots of dripping going on. But I won't throw it out - maybe a mr. fix-it will come along one day Thanks for all your input.

        1. re: Mariana in Baja
          l
          lulou23 Feb 24, 2011 09:37 AM

          Which model of Saeco did you purchase? My Saeco/Starbucks Barista is on its last legs after 10 years and I am looking for a new model.

    2. r
      redbeanbun Feb 6, 2011 10:27 AM

      ok, i have a cheap-o $50 Krups from Target I bought back in college and have been using it almost every day since 1995. I'm sure many coffee gourmands would poo-poo this device and I personally would love something fancier but it gets the job done. since shopping for espresso machines is a little geographically inconvenient for you, maybe pick up one of these super-cheapies as a backup in case your next fancy one starts fritzing out.

      5 Replies
      1. re: redbeanbun
        Eiron Feb 6, 2011 01:13 PM

        The $50 Krups is essentially a moka pot with a built-in heating element. Here in the US you can pick up an aluminum moka pot for less than $10, so Mariana may be able to find something similar there in Baja. Of course, that leads to other options like Cuban coffee....

        1. re: Eiron
          m
          Mariana in Baja Feb 6, 2011 06:26 PM

          Thank you but I really want something with a little more oomph than the Krups - even if I could get it here and I can't. I guess I will go with the Gaggia.

          1. re: Mariana in Baja
            p
            poser Feb 6, 2011 06:41 PM

            What exactly is wrong with your present machine? A description of the problem may lead to an easy fix. These machines aren't that complicated, and what seems like a job fitted for an engineer could be something very simple.

            1. re: poser
              c
              chickenbruiser Feb 7, 2011 05:14 AM

              You may be right. A 5 year old Saeco is still a young puppy, but if it's the pump or boiler you have to send it in to get repaired. These machines are all about maintenance... make sure to use a cleaning (non-toxic, non-corrosive... usually citrus based) solution through the machine once every 1-2 months. It may actually cost less to ship off your old machine to get repaired than buy a new one.

            2. re: Mariana in Baja
              Eiron Feb 7, 2011 10:34 AM

              Mariana - "I guess I will go with the Gaggia."

              I think that's an excellent decision & one that's well supported.
              If you'd like some more information for these machines, check out the Gaggia Owner's Group forum here:
              http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Gaggia/

        2. c
          chickenbruiser Feb 6, 2011 06:53 AM

          I have a Pavoni EPL which was $400 up here in Montreal but should be cheaper down in the US. It has a stainless boiler. The main chassis, boiler etc are/were made by Saeco in Italy. It's a workhorse.
          Phillips bought out Saeco so I'm not sure if this has affected quality at all. In general, I find there are alot gadgety machines on the market. I prefer them simple and robust... a steel body.

          I will add that the Pavoni is quite grind sensitive.

          1 Reply
          1. re: chickenbruiser
            m
            Mariana in Baja Feb 6, 2011 11:23 AM

            The cheapest Pavoni I can find on line is over $600 which is almost twice my budget - but thank you!!

            I found the Stretta 0820 for $349 and am now more confused than ever - Sretta, Gaggia or Saeco??? My old Saeco served me well but I bought one for my son and his was not a happy experience. What to do what to do??? And I must decide soon.

          2. Eiron Feb 4, 2011 12:09 PM

            Hi Mariana,

            Do you mean the Quick Mill Stretta machine? Something like this?:
            http://www.espresso-machines-shop.com/%E2%9D%B6-stretta-stainless-steel-espressocappuccino-machine-free-shipping/

            If it is, I have the all-plastic version that I bought 3 yrs ago. I think it's a great machine for the money & I've had no problems with it, but you have to be aware that it's a thermoblock machine & will operate differently from the small single boiler type you're considering in the Gaggia New Baby. Also, the Quick Mill thermoblock design is quite different from most other thermoblock machines. They encase a single copper tube & a heating element into a solid block of metal.

            Here's an extensive review of my machine:
            http://coffeegeek.com/forums/coffee/m...

            2 Replies
            1. re: Eiron
              m
              Mariana in Baja Feb 5, 2011 04:26 PM

              I can't access either of the pages you mentioned. I got onto the coffee geek forum but couldn't find your review. I also can't find anything called Stretta on the sites I am looking at ????

              1. re: Mariana in Baja
                Eiron Feb 5, 2011 08:40 PM

                Hmmm - try this link to a different site for the Stretta:
                http://www.vanelis.com/store/p-186-stretta-0820.aspx
                I don't know if it's the same Stretta machine you're referring to or not.

                Sorry, I posted the wrong link above to the machine review (too many windows open!).
                Try this link for the review instead:
                http://www.coffeegeek.com/forums/espr...

                I should also ask how you usually drink your espresso: with milk or without?
                The Quick Mill thermoblock machines are excellent home consumer machines, but they tend to brew a little on the cool side unless you run the steam function for at least 30-60 seconds before pulling your espresso shot. That means an extra step if you usually drink your espresso w/o milk. (I run the steam function in a cup of water if all I want is espresso.) If you're steaming milk, then you'll steam it first & then pull your shot, so there's no extra step in that process.

                Sorry if this adds any confusion.

                Basically, I think this machine is great, but if you never/rarely add steamed milk to your espressos then a small single boiler machine (like the Saeco & Gaggia) would probably be better.

            2. Bada Bing Feb 3, 2011 11:47 AM

              Sorry to hear you're in a pinch geographically and money-wise. I cannot go into brands, but I wonder if you might find something on the used market there? A want-ad? Or maybe someone up north could do the same?

              I myself have a 15-year-old Gaggia Espresso (called "Classic" sometimes, I think), and it makes very good espresso with the proper coffee and grind. I don't know if the "Baby" is comparable. Wiser heads will chime in soon, I hope, with fuller particulars.

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