Espresso Machines

queueball

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
104
Has anyone had any luck with a particular type of home espresso machine? My wife and I enjoy espresso very much and would like to get a machine at home. I had one a few years ago made by Krups. It wasn't very good at all. Someone once told me that to make espresso properly the water had to get to a higher temperature than many of the at home machines could attain. Presumably this is why my Krups machine was inept.

I see many different types of machines on the market these days ranging in price from, well, something I'm willing to afford to something I'm unwilling to afford.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Thanks.
 

Spence

Super Member
1,448
The question is, 'what are you willing to afford?'
Not just money but in effort as well.

I've found that the quality of espresso I want to drink simply requires too much effort to make at home, and have since sold all my gear and just drink good coffee.

If you're going to be making frothed milk drinks a lot, there are many convienence oriented machines that can do a decent job. One of the best sites for reviews and information is www.coffeegeek.com.

-spence
 

queueball

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
104
The question is, 'what are you willing to afford?'
Great question. Several hundred dollars, maybe up to $500, would be palatable. As with most purchases like this "it all depends." I'd rather spend $700 dollars on something spectacular than $500 on something pretty good. I'm looking for the best value in the universe of machines.
 

Spence

Super Member
1,448
Don't forget that a good grinder is very important and needs to be included in the overall budget.

What kind of drinks do you want to make and how often?

-spence
 

queueball

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
104
What kind of drinks do you want to make and how often?

-spence
For me it would be mainly espresso. My wife would probably be more of a latte drinker. The current prices I've seen already tell me that I'm underbudgeting.

We like to entertain and do so often. I am a huge fan of ending the evening with an espresso (after port, of course). This may be too big of an expense for it's convenience. Or, as some of my staff like to say, "the juice isn't worth the squeeze."

My new budget is $1k all in. If I can find a good machine, grinder, tamper, the list goes on and on, for under that I think I'll take the plunge.
 
Last edited:

Spence

Super Member
1,448
You should be able to pair a decent semi-auto machine and grinder for under a grand...which is about as much as I'd spend as a next step. Most people tend to either gradually upgrade as they get more proficient (and look to gain more control over the process)...or are happy with what they have.

If you're not obsessive about the quality you could get a mid-end super-automatic for that price as well. Quality isn't as high, but the coffee is more consistent and without effort. Much better for after dinner parties when you'd rather be on the couch and avoiding a static charged explosion of ground coffee in the kitchen, then erupting in a sweaty panic when you can't seem to get any crema to form in your preheated Illy collector cups as your boss is fumbling their wristwatch in the other room ;)

I'd suggest calling either wholelattelove.com or www.1st-line.com and talk with a sales person about what you're looking for. Then check out the reviews on coffeegeek.com and compare notes.

-spence
 
Last edited:

Isaac Mickle

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
407
I drink several espressos and/or cappuccinos daily, and often make two or three times that number to keep my wife happy. You should be able to do this too for $500-$1000.

On the recommendation of the owner of our local (and excellent) coffee shop, we went into Williams-Sonoma and bought a Capresso burr grinder. They run about $140. A good quality grinder is the first thing.

After some research on the kinds of websites linked above, I bought a Francis! Francis! X5 machine on eBay (seller ID francisfrancisoutlet), where they sell refurbished items with half a warranty (six months) for half or less the original retail. These are gorgeous machines. There may be better machines for their under-$1000 price point, but there are no better-looking machines. And this thing will live on your kitchen counter, so looks matter. Guests always ask questions about the machine and they always compliment it or covet it after seeing what it makes for us.

We got the baby blue for $325. Three weeks later, we then found the same machine at T.J. Maxx's Home Goods, reduced about six times, for $189. I see the same machine available today for $350 with a $360 BIN. I would pay that for sure if we had to replace ours for some reason.

You could pay $700+ for a Francis! Francis! machine and I'd still say it's worth it. The difference between the X1, X3, X5 is mainly the looks; the guts are all the same, I believe; it costs more for them to do the rounded corners on the X1. It also has a fancier guage on the front.

Our refurbished model had to go in for a warranty repair after we had it for about a week or two (and made perhaps 100 espressos). Once they confirmed that we bought it from that seller, the Francis! Francis! people were wonderful and the repair was a simple matter. They sent the box with instructions and shipping labels etc.

It took awhile to learn how to use it, but we now enjoy frip-frothity cappuccinos and crema-rich drams of espresso. The trick to making one of these work for you is doing all the steps in the right order. I could elaborate if anyone cares to hear more, but that's probably enough for an informal review.
 

queueball

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
104
Spence, Isaac,

Thanks for your extremely well thought out and informative posts. I feel much more confident moving forward with a purchase now.

Happy New Year!

Alex
 

Gurdon

Moderator
2,925
United States
California
Forestville
Francis Francis

I am quite satisfied with the Francis Francis machine we have.

It has gauges, and switches, and is not automatic. It makes good espresso and does a good job of steaming milk.

Regards,
Gurdon