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Cappuccino Maker For Home, Please?

Q: Sorry if this has been asked before: What is the best cappuccino maker for about 150 -$200 (I'm in Toronto)?

A: Check the Starbucks in the area during the holidays for sales as that will be your best bet during the holidays. Of course, there should be no need to mention, that if you do not already have a quality grinder, you will need to nearly double your budget. A search through the archives here will help, but basically, the grinder is more important than the machine. Figure about $150 USD for a good one (depending on what is available up there), but of course, you can spend more than that. Pre-ground coffee will not do for home espresso. Most folks here have spent more on their grinder than you are thinking about spending on your espresso machine. My advice- 1) Use your money to buy a good grinder that will serve you for all your coffee needs for years to come. In a few years, when you can afford/want/need an espresso machine you will already have the grinder. 2) Throw the Braun into the trash or donate it to the local charity. If you have a fast-reacting thermometer you can check it, but it most likely brews at too cool of a temperature (although it may be OK). You want around 190-195f (88-91C) or so for best results. 3) Get a manual, pour-over cone or two (they come in different sizes), and/or a press pot (check my website for basic instructions on how to make coffee with these methods). 4) Find a local coffee roaster that can supply you with decent, fresh-roasted coffee. You need to do some reading, either online or a good espresso book. It's hard to believe how much of a difference grinding makes. Most grocery store grinders have an espresso setting, but it is usually not fine enough for a good pump espresso maker. The Braun probably won't do it for you. The general consensus is that the Maestro [I believe $129] is the least expensive, acceptable grinder, although some get by with the Bodum Antigua [around $70]. The better the espresso machine [temperature and pressure], the finer the grind needed. Many alties feel the Gaggia MDF [currently $149] is the entry level grinder, but they aspire to the Rocky [$250] or the Mazzer Mini [$400] for a really good machine. I know how you probably feel - "All that money for a grinder?" I started out with the least expensive one I could buy. Couldn't get a decent espresso shot, though. Then I bought a better one [entry level] and the espresso improved. Now I am shopping for a better one and have decided on the Gaggia MDF. Good luck. Harrym, you don't have to spend a small fortune to make good espresso. The multi sided pot you refer to is called a moka pot. While it doesn't technically make espresso, it does make damn fine strong coffee. I have two of them. I got myself a Krups Gusto on Ebay ($75 at the time) about a year or so ago. It was my first espresso machine. This unit actually has a pump, not a "steam toy". It has served me well, but I am looking to upgrade it. But, you can produce some really good espresso with it, and the drinks you make will beat what Starbucks is serving you. Read, read, and just when you think you've read enough...read some more. Read up on reviews at the coffegeek site...it will be time well spent. You'd be better off by not buying pre-ground coffee from anyone. It's much better to grind it at home, right before brewing. For espresso, it's kind of a game, finding out what grind works best with your particular machine and tamp pressure. Starbucks would have no clue what grind setting would actually give you good, consistantly repeatable results, and it would probably take you many trips to the store to find out what grind did work. Take everyone's advice...get a decent grinder. Not to mention that the coffee from there isnt really all that good( and I'm being kind here)...now onto homeroasting..... To check the brewing temp of your drip machine, you can use a thermometer that is poked through the side of a styrofoam cup. Start a brew cycle (without any coffee) and place the cup directly under the brewhead. I usually wait a minute or so after the drip has started. Good luck on your quest.....nice photo's by the way. I'm not into human subjects, but the landscape and architectural stuff is interesting.