I am going to purchase an espresso machine for my husband as a gift, my budget is $700. I have read the reviews here but wanted to get an up-to-date opinion since technology is constantly changing.
I am looking at the Rancilio Silva and the Gaggia Classic but am open to any suggestions.
We don't know much about making espresso but do know something about drinking good espresso and am hoping to be able to make a good shot given my budget.
i would recommend you go to seattle coffee gear's youtube site and research your options.
you need a great grinder - bad grind=bad cup o'espresso
you also will need patience to learn a semi-automatic or manual machine: this is why the espresso machines which come with the drop-in cups are so popular. there is no learning curve.
whatever you choose, make sure it fits your patience level!
The Silvia has both the better AND the worse reputation.
Makes a better shot.
Harder to "get it right."
The more important question is, "What are you going to do for a grinder?"
In my opinion, You'd be MUCH better off spending $400 on a refurbished Baratza Vario grinder & the balance on the nicest Gaggia you can afford (Baby Twin instead of the Classic?).
I like the features of the Twin because the steam is heated separately from the (small) brew boiler, so you don't have to wait for the boiler to get hot enough to make steam, & you'll never run out of steam.
But that's really just my opinion. I don't own a Gaggia (I own a Quick Mill), but I do plan on upgrading my grinder to the Vario as soon as I can justify buying another grinder ....