Help With Exspresso/Cappuccino Maker Purchase

Q: I would like to buy my mother a Cappuccino/Espresso maker for Christmas. If it can make coffee too, all the better. I know nothing about these machines. What brand should I stick with, and what model should I go with? I've been searching the net and they seem to do different things with different options. I've been told to only get it with a burr grinder?? I'm confused. My budget is about $150US. Bean connoisseurs please help!

A: A $150 gift for Mom sounds cool, but for a coffee maker/grinder/espresso machine? I would choose to steer you in another direction. There are some very nice coffee makers available for that amount of money. If she really likes coffee and appreciates the good stuff, look at one of the vacuum brewers at www.sweetmarias.com or other vendors. They make excellent coffee and you should be able to get one and maybe even a grinder with it and stay within budget. Another possibility, if she already has a coffee maker would be a bean roaster and a selection of green beans. It's easy to roast in the automatic roasters, and you'll be set for presents forever- just get her green beans from now on! Just another possibility. I mention the above options because, In my opinion, there is no way that you can get quality products to do all three things you ask for the amount of money you wish to spend. If I was your mom (and no one would be more surprised to find that out than I), I would rather receive a really great coffee maker that could produce coffee beyond anything she has probably experienced (unless she already has a vac brewer) than to get a combination machine that does none of its intended purposes well or at all. There's nothing worse than a gift that lives on a shelf and never gets used. Vac pots are also cool to watch while they brew and she can put on shows for all her friends! With all due respect to Randy G, I think both of those suggestions are way off base for a non-geek Mom. I would not recommend a vac brewer to anyone who isn't really into coffee and especially so for daily use. Pain to clean and more work than many might like. As to roasting, I'm tired of this being thrown out to any new comer who stumbles into alt.coffee looking for a gift idea. You have to be at least a little geeky to go down this road. But Randy is right on when he says you get what you need, in the quality you want for $150. What you'll get for 150 is one of those all in one Delongi, or whatever machines. They have a coffee maker, stream espresso and some have the grinder. They do none of those well, but are acceptable to many people, but those are not the people who you will find here on alt.coffee. This is why Randy suggested a vac pot- an excellent way to get a great cup of coffee, a beautiful thing to watch, but not for everyone. Probably why Starbucks decided to come out with there own easier to use model (at a whopping 185ish) To get a real espresso machine is probably going to set you back at least 300-400 USD. To get an auto with grinder, way more. Tell us how you think you mom will use the machine on a daily basis. Does she really drink espresso or once in a blue moon when Uncle Vinny stops by? Does she drink caps or mostly coffee? Does you Mom like to fuss with the machine or set it forget it? Give us some more info... What are the essentials? What does she have to have? What can she live without. At work we have a Krups mini novo (I believe thats the model). It costs around 100 and makes pretty darn good espresso/capucino, American style coffee if you dilute with water. Yes it is light, and relatively flimsy but has a pump. We use preground Lavazza or Illy in cans. I have ordered coffee from the below link directly from Italy and it has arrived in maybe 4 days. Even with shipping added it still is a better deal than many US sources. Williams Sonoma has Illy if you need a quick fix. I have a semi commercial machine at home and a commercial grinder. Believe me I am happy with the espresso/cap made on the cheap Krups BUT using excellent coffee. You can always add a grinder in the future.