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Small & Inexpensive Cappuccino Maker

Q: What do you think about these inexpensive, small, and low volume units or others in the same small size & inexpensive price range? Mr Coffee: http://www.walmart.com/catalog/product.gsp?product_id=1841472 DeLonghi - http://store.yahoo.com/americanesuperstore/psbar4.html Melitta - http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00005OTY8 this is for the occasional drink - not everyday

A: Not very much. Google the usenet archives for the term "steam toy" and you'll see what I mean. These machines are "steam Espresso" machines that operate at much lower pressure (but higher temperature) than "pump" Espresso machines. The pump is what you want to make a drink like that served in cafes. You also need a good burr grinder to make Espresso (or any coffee for that matter). Isn't this going too far? If it was good enough to be called Espresso until the lever machines, is it now too low to even consider? I personally think one can make a decent cup of very strong coffee using a "steam toy" with some care. In fact, I think one is more likely to make decent coffee with one of those than with a low end pump machine putting the requisite 9 bars through a thermoblock and a pressurized portafilter. I personally don't see the difference between a "steam toy" and a moka pot, except that it is easier to get "burnt" coffee in a moka pot than with the classic Espresso design (AKA steam toy). The key here is "cappuccino." If you are just going to make milk drinks, you may be satisfied with a steam toy. However, there is not much difference between them. I suspect several brands come from the same assembly line. Just don't expect to get "Espresso" from them, but maybe you don't care for Espresso, anyway. Many of us had one in the beginning, but a look at e-Bay will tell you that a lot of people are getting rid of them. Harrym.