Espresso machine: which one

Shonswer

New member
Feb 20, 2020
5
0
Adelaide
Hi everyone! I'm quite new in coffee making.


I think many of you like drinking espresso. I'm not an exception and I want to buy my own espresso machine (I have never had this before).


The main question is which one to buy. If I'm not mistaken, there are at least two types of these machines: automatic and semi-automatic. Which one is better? I've read some articles already and now I'm thinking about semi-automatic espresso machine with cappuccino function (because I love cappuccino too) https://www.amazon.com/Mr-Coffee-Barista-Espresso-Cappuccino/dp/B0173EMN8C. Did someone use this machine? Or could recommend another one? My budget is $170 now but if there will be a really good machine for higher price I'll think about to rise my budget.


All thoughts and suggestions are appreciated!
 

MntnMan62

New member
Nov 15, 2019
445
3
New Jersey
Given your budget you may just want to continue buying your capuccinos from your local coffee shop. First, the most important piece of equipment for making espresso is the grinder. You can have the best espresso machine in the world but if you grinder is not good, you won't be able to make a drinkable cup of espresso. And a quality grinder for espresso will easily cost you your entire budget that you provided us. Second, there are "espresso" machines out there that cost as little as $100 but many would say they won't provide you with the ability to make real or quality espresso. In my own research to buy an espresso machine for myself I have realized that the cheapest option for me to get a good quality espresso in the cup is a manual lever machine such as the Cafelat Robot which runs about $460 paired with a quality grinder such as the Niche Zero which runs about $700 with shipping. If I could afford to spend more money I really like the Lelit Mara which is a semi-automatic single boiler machine and runs around $1,400. And if I were to go really crazy I'd spring for a Lelit Bianca which is a double boiler machine that costs almost $3,000.

There may be some much better advice from others who have experience making decent espresso with less expensive equipment. For that reason I'm following this thread.
 
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shadow745

Active member
Aug 15, 2005
1,605
9
Central North Carolina
Thing is there are quite a few types of machines if you want to get technical. A typical 'semi-auto' is pump driven and requires you to control the pump. The 'auto' version typically usually some type of flowmeter to measure how much water goes through and stops automatically and most can be programmed. Likely some work on a time based method as well, but I personally have never relied on a machine telling me when an extraction is done as that machine doesn't know what's going on with the puck, etc. Even when we ran a commercial mobile setup with a 2 group machine I still controlled every extraction manually as espresso was the primary focus and deserved the most attention. Then you have the most basic machines like levers, some having boilers and some requiring parts to be heated and water added manually. Then there are spring and manual levers. Not to leave out the classic debated topic of boiler type as in single, heat exchange and double boiler. Of course there are some with no boilers as they rely on thermocoil/block heating systems... it does get technical and does go on and on and on...

For your stated needs I would say look for something like a Gaggia Classic as you can get great espresso and nicely textured milk with one with some practice dialing it all in. If you're OK with buying used Classics can be had at great prices if in decent shape. For the grinding aspect you need something decent. I'd recommend a quality hand grinder if you're OK with that as you can spend say $150 or so on a hand grinder and it will likely be on par with an electric grinder costing in the $500 range. Also lots of used hand grinders floating around to snag. Same can be said for electrics as well. A bit over 3 yrs ago I scored my barely used Silvia/Rocky for $250. It needed quite a bit of cleaning due to the laziness of the original owner as the grinder was full of molded coffee tar, but didn't bother me as that was a steal of a deal with a bit of driving, time cleaning/dialing in and still cranking out fantastic espresso every single day. I no longer have the Rocky grinder, but it's still working great for the guy I sold it to. Quality items will last indefinitely with a bit of cleaning, preventive maintenance and proper use.

After you get the equipment sorted you will need a decent tamper and a scale that weighs in .1 gram increments. Now I'm not anal retentive on weighing every single variable, but weighing your dry coffee doses is rather important for espresso. Don't forget quality/FRESH coffee and balanced water as those are the two most overlooked variables with espresso. It can seem costly, overwhelming, etc., but doesn't have to be. My entire home setup with the Silvia (modified), a Cimbali Jr. grinder, a few high quality hand grinders, the accessories I have for it, the kitchen cart I bought and refurbished as well as my home devised/built roaster I have spent around $1,500 for everything. What I get from this setup is easily on par with the best coffees I've had anytime in the past and I've used LOTS of different coffees for home/commercial use previously coming from equipment costing over $10K. It's not so much about what is spent, but how it's utilized as nothing will trump skill/determination.

Edit... thought I'd add that if you're open to buying used as mentioned you can find something quite usable in your stated price range as people often get frustrated with the time/effort involved with espresso and sell stuff rather cheap. In my area recently there was a deal on OfferUp selling a used Capresso Infinity for $10... yes, TEN dollars and new it'd be close to $100. Not the most ideal for espresso use, but I had one for some time and it worked just fine for my intended purpose.
 
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709espresso

New member
Jan 23, 2020
26
0
St. John's, NL, Canada
First, the most important piece of equipment for making espresso is the grinder. You can have the best espresso machine in the world but if you grinder is not good, you won't be able to make a drinkable cup of espresso.

I was able to make a really good espresso with a Capresso Infinity and a cheap weigh scale. It wasn't as easy as it is with a more precise grinder, but it worked for me until I was able to upgrade. The espresso machine was what made all the difference. Going from a cheap Delonghi espresso maker to an entry level consumer espresso machine (Gaggia Classic Pro) is what made the biggest difference for me.
 

TangyWasabi

New member
Mar 25, 2020
20
0
East Coast USA
Way more than what you want to spend but the Breville Barista Express can pull some very good shots, has pre-infusion and comes with a built in grinder. Its a great place to start if you want an all in one.
 

Kbklarry

New member
Nov 1, 2020
1
0
People who think they are very knowledgeable, and maybe they are, certainly have a wide range of opinions. Here's mine. I have owned a Rancilio Miss Silvia I modified with a PID for 11 years. I used a modified cheap, under a $100, Capressa Infinity grinder from which I removed the ball bearing, which limits it to 16 presets, making it a grinder with infinite settings. Together I get great shots and make delicious cappuccinos. I also own a $2,000 JURA E9 Fully Automatic which I used for "coffee flavored" drinks. Just like my seller from I bought both machines, the Jura does not come close to making real espresso. It does produce somewhat decent foam.
 

CafeLast

New member
Nov 25, 2020
17
0
Definitely go with a semi so you understand how things work. There's no real room to grow/learn with a fully automatic. It's a bit more than you are willing to spend at the moment, but I recommend saving up and getting a Lelit Anna for $499. Trust me, an espresso machine that's $200 or so is going to be more trouble than its worth and you're going to have to replace it in a few years anyways. If you get a real machine, it could last you 10-15 years so you'll actually be saving money in the long-run. Remember the old adage - buy cheap, buy twice. :coffee1:
 

shadow745

Active member
Aug 15, 2005
1,605
9
Central North Carolina
People who think they are very knowledgeable, and maybe they are, certainly have a wide range of opinions. Here's mine. I have owned a Rancilio Miss Silvia I modified with a PID for 11 years. I used a modified cheap, under a $100, Capressa Infinity grinder from which I removed the ball bearing, which limits it to 16 presets, making it a grinder with infinite settings. Together I get great shots and make delicious cappuccinos. I also own a $2,000 JURA E9 Fully Automatic which I used for "coffee flavored" drinks. Just like my seller from I bought both machines, the Jura does not come close to making real espresso. It does produce somewhat decent foam.

Thing is espresso is like anything else in that it's highly subjective and all that matters is that the enthusiast gets the expected end result. I've been at this for quite a few years and have used all sorts of machines for home/commercial as well as quite a few grinders. My 'end game' machine is a modified Silvia as to put it simply the build quality/simplicity is as good as anything made and it's highly capable of superb espresso once you dial things in. IF I needed to do lots of steaming I'd look more toward a HX/DB as the only real advantage to those is quicker recovery for that, but I'm not into using steam and have only done so for a family member in the past. For straight espresso, which for me is very intense ristrettos (low volume, very long extraction time), I have the Silvia really dialed in for that as well as a top notch hand grinder (electric beast as backup) and home roasts that I have really dialed in as well. People tend to go on and on about equipment, but once you reach a decent level things are pretty much maximized and the most important variable is the coffee you're using, followed by balanced water.

We all have varying experiences, expectations, budgets, etc. Just buy/use what you can and simply make the very best of it. Contrary to lame popular belief great espresso can be had at home for a decent cost. It doesn't take a small fortune to match or beat cafes, which I've personally found to be a joke over the years as well.
 

Ronaldooo

New member
Jul 29, 2020
13
0
When my espresso machine died I bought an Aeropress, it makes an amazing cup of coffee everytime. It was pretty affordable. I can't say I am a real coffee/espresso connoisseur, but it works well. I also no longer have much interest in spending 2 or 3$ for a cup of crappy coffee from Starbucks, so I figure it paid for itself in about a year. I started reding coffee blogs like https://www.perfectbrew.com/blog/how-to-make-espresso-with-regular-coffee/ to make my coffee taste perfectly
 
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