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Coffee Espresso/Capuccino Machine

Q: I've seen in the Sears holidays catalogue a Mr. Coffee (huh?) Espresso/capucino machine which sells for a ridiculously low price (less than $75.) Anyone have experience with this model? Reliability, milk steamer performance or any problems information would be appreciated. BTW; anybody else read the coffee article in the last Utne Reader?

A: I own one which I no longer use. It makes strong coffee but I would stop short of calling it Espresso. After having Espresso made by baristas using professional units I find the Mr. Coffee unit unacceptable. The argument has been made here that steam driven units such as the Mr. Coffee machine cannot provide the pressure required to make quality Espresso. I would now agree with that position. OTH, I never had any real problems with the unit and I did learn how to properly froth milk using it. The coffee it produces was not bad (so long as you always use FRESH coffee), it simply was not of the quality that a properly trained barista using professional equipment and fresh coffee can obtain. I would also add that it was nearly impossible to consistently obtain a suitable grind for the unit using a cheap blade grinder. If you are serious about Espresso, I would save up for a higher quality (yes, more expensive) pump-driven unit AND a high quality grinder. Over the long run, I think you will be much happier, but what is clear is that cheap grinders (under $150) are OK for drip coffee and plunger pots but are inadequet for producing consistant Espresso grind. Ask Barry Jarrett (t...@delphi.com) what he would recommend. Someone here also recommended the Olympia grinder for around $200. My sincere best wishes for you trip to Bosnia. With the latest move by the US to ease arms restrictions, things could get even more uncomfortable. Please keep your head low. If you're grinding for a boiler machine, a Bosch, Braun or Bunn would probably be fine. If you're grinding for a GOOD pump machine, then the Saeco or Rancilio would be best, but the Bosch or Bunn might do as well (I don't think the Braun really gets a fine enough grind). Krups is due out with a new grinder/doser, but as I haven't received any yet I can't comment. Briel also has a good unit out (for the price) but it's still lacking in a couple of departments.... Part of grinder selection is personal finickyness... If you must have everything JUST so, then it'll cost you. If you can live with some things not quite up to perfect, then the selection is much broader. If you're real finicky: Saeco, Rancilio, or a commercial unit. If you're not so finicky: Braun, Bosch, Krups, Briel, DeLonghi, Bunn, and others.