Espresso: Best "Bang for the Buck"?



Ok, having read dozens of reviews of equipment and beans, I realize that I do not have $5,000 to spend on an espresso setup. I cannot afford to buy the absolute best of everything.

Given a fixed budget of, oh let's say $1,000 maximum, what is going to give me the most "bang for the buck"? I need to know how much of my budget should focus on buying the best and where can I get something more budget focused?

Espresso maker? Grinder? Beans? Tamper? What's the most important and what can save me a few bucks?

I'm not being silly here --
but I think one of the more overlooked ingrediants, though important, is WATER! Try brewing with your tap water, try it with spring water, etc. see if there is a difference; I swear there is a big difference between where I live and where I work because of the water.

Just my two cents.
look look look.....

You have to look around, classified, nickle ads, bullitten boards, ebay, everywhere.. people seem to think that these machines are gold, if you look hard enough you can find people whio have tried the busines and decided to get out cause it wasnt their bag of beans, and want to just recoup some of their investment. I found a cart for 300 bucks, and a machine and grinder for 1200 bucks..on trade!!! Keep looking and it will come to you... Good Luck
I have a line on a Brasilia for is completly re-furbished...not sure you will find anything worth using for a grand though...This machine is a 2 group auto for I think 1,900 and I think that includes a grinder...drop me a line if interested.
Good luck
Do you already own a espresso maker? Before blowing 1000 bucks or so, go get a decent grinder, and a cheap krups pump unit (they're like 30 bucks on eBay) to practice and experiment with. That would be my advice.
Bang for the buck

Before you buy anything used make sure you can get it serviced. If you buy a machine and you can't get parts for it its just junk. Are you a connoisseur or you just wanting your espresso in the morning? There are Semi automatics and there are Automatics. The first one you do all the work and clean up. The latter it does. You just have to add water and beans, and empty the used grounds once in a while. The semis you will need a grinder suited for that machine or you will have to get coffee ground for your machine weekly or it will taste bad after a while. Depends what type of drinking you want to do.
Do you need the whole set up?

Ok, there are two kinds of espresso machines, the ones that you have to tamp and the ones that do it for you. Depending on how much time you are willing to put into your coffee, and think about doing it a year from now, is how you might want to make you decision. There are pro's and cons to both methods. Tamp: Honestly, if done right, this just tasts better, however, if not done right, it can taste really bad and it take a bit of getting use to. The machine that does all this for you makes a "good" shot every time, but it's never magical. Once again I'm going to go back to Starbucks cause that's what I know ... you can get a good machine for 300 or 400 dollars that you have to tamp and often either program it to tun off the water so you don't get 50 ounces of esspresso or turn off the water manually. If you want a machine that does it all, the Italia, made by Seco will grind, tamp, and poor a shot for you. As for a seperate grinder, both coffee shops and grocery stores will grind espresso for free and as long as you get it in half pound bags and keep it frozen it stays pretty fresh. Let me know if you want more info.
YEEEEHAW!!! Look what we gots here!! A starbucks barista! Sorry...I have a question now that one is posting here.....what do you think of starbucks going super you said the magic isn't there if the machine does it for you. How long have you been with the green monster....and are you going to be in the barista contest at the next scaa should it is a great time!
I liked the old machines so much better because it took more talent to make a good shot. however, I know we could not handle the business we have now with the old machines and people aren't willing ti wait for that great shot. trust me, if you'd ever been bitched out by caffine deprived person cause it took 10 seconds too long to make their drink you'd be a proponent of the new machines too. As for the comp, no, it always happens when I have something important going on in school.
And I would just like to note that I think it is really funny that everyone wants to blame Starbucks for the rapid expansion when it is really the consumers who are forcing Starbucks to expand the way they are.
First of all I never punked out Starbucks...if it wasn't for them I wouldn't be making the money I do now! Second of all...Where I am located we have about 5 super autos...compared to the 20 we started with...only 5 work now(they cost about 18 grand each)...In the coffee shop though we have two 2 group machines...If you want we can set up a challange(taste and speed) our Baristas against starbux pbtc(person behind the counter) Im sorry I do not mean to come off like a richard...but I personally do not think that fully autos can produce as high quality as a manual!
Manual is only better if you know how to use it.

I never said that a fully auto tasted as good as a manual when used correclty, I said they keep us in business. As for the competition ... I don't think my manager would go for that.