Basic home machine question


New member
Hi all.

Sorry if I''m asking a question that''s been asked 100 times. I did do some searching and reading before posting, but didn''t find quite what I''m looking for.

I''ve been toying with the idea of getting a machine for home, but truly do not know nearly enough to make an informed decision as of yet, thus my coming here. :) I see many of these home machines going for $400+ (CAD), but I really don''t want to spend that much on a machine. I also see a number of machines available in the sub-$200 range and that certainly fits my budget, but I''m concerned about what I''ll be getting as far as usefulness and quality.

So what I''m wondering is whether it''s worth buying a machine that cheap? I understand that you get what you pay for, but is a cheaper machine better than nothing or not worth having?

Secondly, if it is worth buying a cheaper machine, what specifically should I be looking for? If anyone can specifically recommend a machine (preferably available off the shelf in Canada) in the $200-ish price range, that would be even handier. :)




New member
Ok, well that's helpful. At the moment, I don't really know what I'm doing. But my biggest fear was that once I did, I'd be sorry that I'd made the purchase.

Knowing that it's possible is reassuring. I guess I have a lot more reading left to do.




Well-known member
Aug 15, 2005
Central North Carolina
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The most important things to look for in a good espresso machine that'll give you the results you're looking for are the size of the grouphead/portafilter and the type of metal used in those. The absolute best are 58mm in size with the material used being chrome plated brass. So many cheaper machines offer lots of nice features, but skimp on the materials by using aluminum, which will heat up quicker, but fade just as quick because of rapid heat loss. The 58mm size offers the widest bed of packed coffee in the basket to give the best extraction. I'd say that pretty much any decent priced Gaggia machine will give you what you're looking for. Don't know about Canadian prices, but here (USA) you can find a decent Gaggia in the $200-300 range. Also consider a nice grinder to go along with it. The cheaper burr and blade grinders just won't cut it. Don't give in to the "patented cream enhancing devices", which is just a way to give decent results without much work. This is obtained by building up pressure in the grouphead and then releasing it to give more crema, but I think it's really hard on the machine and doesn't give real espresso taste and body. If you have anymore questions feel free to reply or send me an e-mail. Later!


Jan 22, 2006
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Yes, Gaggia machines are a good bang for the buck investment. The non pressurized portafilter models are 58mm brass groups, I believe. To keep costs low the designs favour cheaper materials and configurations but the consensus is that they are atleast honestly capable espresso machines. The Solis S70 (I think that's it) is another well spoken of entry level machine.The Silvia is a slight step up. All these machines are single boiler, thermostat controlled.

From what I'm finding, there's a number of critical espresso variables. The machine is just one of them. Roast freshness and grind quality along with the skill of the preparer are just as, maybe more critical to good espresso. Stale beans won't get you decent espresso just as a bad grind or bad hand regardless of how good the machine you're using. Machine quality represents a potential that realized once the other variables are met.

Don't go with a Delonghi. They've got a bad reputation for quality, service and support. Beware of other cheap machines as well touting 15bar pumps, effortless pressurized portafilter espresso and turbo frothing if you plan on making an investment in espresso. With a good set up, you can expect espresso like this:


Not a perfect shot but still it was crema rich and tasty.

After starting out with a set up to save some money I found there really is no way of getting around a good grinder and decent machine if you're using fresh roasts and are developing good barista skills. With research into machines, grinders and assessories you'll find you get what you pay for.


New member
Mar 22, 2007
Seattle, WA
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The Starbucks barista is a good bang for your buck I guess, but the steamer sucks. Find a friend who works there and make them buy one for you (30% discount).