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Best prices for an espresso machine?

Where can I buy a mid-range (less than $500), good quality espresso machine at a great price? Which store/retailer has the best QPR? I don't want machines where I have to buy the pods like Nespresso or Tassimo, etc.
I am realizing It's very hard to shop for this unless you know exactly what you want. You never find the same models in order to do comparative shopping. Please guide me through this maze as I unfortunately am not a coffee geek :)

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  1. I would recommend going to a few stores that specialize in espresso machines and talking to them to get their advice and recommendations, for starters. There is an excellent web site (coffeegeek) that has reviews of equipment, and forums where people discuss their various machines, which you should spend some time reading.
    My personal favourite store in Montreal is Faema - they carry a decent range of machines, and were very helpful when I was looking at buying an espresso machine as a gift close to your price range. I ended up with a La Pavoni (can't remember the model, it was around $400) and he recipients still use it daily and love it, 8 years later, and Faema still sells it.
    There are other places around town, including Saeco and Mali, but personally I prefer dealing with Faema - YMMV. But it wouldn't hurt to check them all just to see what the differences in machines are.
    There are also some excellent online Canadian-based sites that sell espresso machines, but you should probably see the machines first to determine what you want (semi-automatic, fully automatic, manual, with or without grinder, etc...) depending on what you normally drink (espresso, cappuccino, etc.) and how often you plan to use it (daily, weekends only, five times a day...)

    4 Replies
    1. re: cherylmtl

      Thanks cheryl! We usually drink lattes and cappuccinos and would like to use it daily. I have honed in on a semi-automatic but I will continue my research, so that I find the right machine for me.

      1. re: cherylmtl

        I would add Union Coffee as a place to visit. http://www.cafe-union.com/
        I didn't buy at Union, but there are plenty of machines to check out.

        I purchased this combination from www.zcafe.ca:
        Rancilio Silvia Pro V3 + Rocky doserless grinder
        I can't say enough good things about Rancilio equipment.

        1. re: JedZ

          I bought the Rancilio Rocky last year while in the US. This improved my espresso experience tenfold. I cannot go back to pre-ground espresso anymore.
          Will be buying the Silvia on my next trip. It's not a cheap machine (650 USD or 725 CAD). But well worth the investment. It is reasonably cheaper in the US and many stores offer no tax and no shipping so you could easily save 150$ (even more with the current exchange rate). If you have family or friends in the US you can have the machines delivered there.

          1. re: foodie_mtl

            I bought my Silvia for $629.95 CAD at www.zcafe.ca. (free shipping and paid only GST
            )It was on special because the box was slightly damaged. I was a bit apprehensive, but the unit was in perfect shape; unused and brand new.

            If you really want to splurge you can get the Silvia special edition in red!

             
      2. welcome to the magic of start up costs!
        Buy a good grinder, and go with a Gaggia espresso machine. Just keep an eye on it, so it doesn't explode (it runs a bit hot if you let it).
        but save a pinch and buy a coffee roaster.
        And then your coffee will be both fresh, and half the price!

        6 Replies
        1. re: Chowrin

          When I was shopping for the entry-level Gaggias a couple of years ago, the best deal I found was at Café Espresso Lino, just a little below Faema/Jean Talon on St. Laurent.

          1. re: Chowrin

            The problem with coffee roasters is that you have to find high-quality beans to roast. Considering the freshness of beans available at places like Myriade and St. Henri (Caffe in Gamba), you won't get that quality by roasting beans yourself...
            A good grinder is essential, but you can also have your beans ground for you when you buy them, and buy the grinder later when your budget allows it.

            1. re: cherylmtl

              ground for you... wtf? coffee loses its freshness after 15 minutes of being ground. Buy the blasted roaster, and go for a cheaper espresso machine.

              The "freshness" of beans is far less important than the quality of beans. And I can get $5 a pound green coffee (ordered online) that is out of this WORLD! Nobody roasts that commercially (not strictly true, but I can think of about three places stateside that do).

              1. re: Chowrin

                Yes, coffee loses its freshness once it's ground - BUT if you can't afford the grinder right away, you can buy smaller amounts, have them ground, and eventually buy the grinder. I wouldn't compromise on the quality of the espresso machine for that.

                I actually have a roaster, which I rarely use. A few months back, I picked up some high quality green beans from a place in Toronto that specializes in them, but they just didn't come close to anything I can buy commerically from 49th Parallel, Gimme!, Phil & Sebastian, etc... so it will be going back to the top of the cupboard again...

                1. re: cherylmtl

                  a gaggia ($200 us) does a decent job. and you can buy the grinder now... (~200).
                  I'd buy a silvia ($600 us), but that's way above the poster's price point.

                  Have you ever tried a kenyan espresso? it takes like grapefruit!

                2. re: Chowrin

                  fresh bad coffee still tastes bad.

            2. I'm not a coffee geek either however I recently bought my boyfriend's mom a nespresso machine for very cheep at Deco Decouvert (Last sunday). The machine we bought originally at 300$ (citiz) in the end came out to be 164$. We saved 45% off! I know you don't want a nespresso machine but you should go to Deco Decouvert since they have other espresso machines available as well. There will be a person that will help you and will give you free samples too.

              2 Replies
              1. re: VikPham

                I would strongly advise against going to Déco Découverte. They have a very limited selection of mostly big brand machines i.e. Krups, Cuisinart etc. and their prices are not very good. The only way you can get a good deal there is to buy during liquidation sales. I won't go into it any further here for fear of getting deleted, but Déco Découverte has become quite awful.

                hungryann, your best bet for lowest prices is to buy online. Espressotec in BC has a great selection, great prices and a good rep. Greenbeanery, is a very similar store. If you want to buy locally there are threads here about local places. For advice about which machine to buy, I would check the Cookware board and Coffeegeek.

                http://www.espressotec.com/

                http://www.greenbeanery.ca/

                http://chowhound.chow.com/boards/41

                http://coffeegeek.com/

                1. re: SnackHappy

                  Just letting you know that the machine I got was not on liquidation. I was able to save 20% off on any coffee product and an additional 25% off through getting an HBC credit card. It's worth signing up for the credit card and canceling after making the purchase. The citiz nespresso machine is fairly new and was not on liquidation. Hungryann, I suggest you check Deco Decouvert out before you spend your money online. I know that I wasn't able to get the same deal online.

              2. Thanks everybody for all your valuable advice. I have a lot of great leads and will look into them.

                1. I bought my setup online as well. I looked all over the Montreal area and they have a hard time competing with the more reputable online sources. Get a decent coffee machine (personnally, I would recommend something with the E61 grouphead) and a very good grinder. Excellent source of cheap, roasted beans in the Montreal area, so no need for a roaster IMO (for now anyways).