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Entry level espresso machine with budget around $300

Postby Ally on Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:42 pm

I am looking for an entry level machine. Can anyone suggest something appropriate for a budget around $300. So far, I am looking at the DeLonghi EC702 or an entry Gaggia. Thoughts?

Thanks!
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Postby HB on Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:19 pm

I reviewed the Gaggia New Baby for WIRED magazine here; on sale, it's within your budget:

Dan Kehn wrote:Limited counter space needn't be an issue. This machine packs an impressive feature set into a compact footprint. You can use your own beans or prepackaged pods. It has only a single boiler, but the powerful heating element makes for a snappy transition from brew to steam mode (less than a minute), so your crema doesn't dissolve before you've foamed the milk.

For other recommendations in the same price range, search on "budget espresso machine" or even "budget 300". If you haven't done so already, read How to choose an espresso machine and grinder at the "right" price and CoffeeGeek's How to buy an espresso machine. Between these resources, you should find all your questions answered and many you've yet to consider.
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Postby TrlstanC on Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:57 pm

I don't think there are any companies besides Gaggia making a 'real' espresso machine in that price range, at least new. The small Gaggias have their shortcomings, but you get a big chrome plated brass group, and a big 58mm portafilter. They have a small boiler, but at least it's not a thermoblock (like everything else in this price range) and it'll heat up fast. I still keep my old Gaggia around to take on vacation :)

There are a bunch of different models that all basically have the same internals, and if you check around you can find a deals too. If you can get a combo with a decent grinder that'll probably be worth it.
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Postby RayJohns on Sun May 06, 2012 11:56 am

Ally wrote:I am looking for an entry level machine. Can anyone suggest something appropriate for a budget around $300. So far, I am looking at the DeLonghi EC702 or an entry Gaggia. Thoughts?

Thanks!
Ally


Hi Ally,

First, welcome to the forum!

My first machine was a DeLonghi. I can't remember if it was the EC207, but it was very similar. I think mine was the version from the UK. I picked it up off ebay. It was horrible. I hated that machine. I did everything I could to get decent espresso from it (right down to taking apart the pressurized basket) and I could never get anything drinkable out of it.

I ended up buying a used La Pavoni europiccola pre-millenium for $200 off craigslist and its very first shot was better than all the shots I had ever pulled on the DeLonghi.

In addition to the espresso machine, you are going to need a decent grinder. I like the Kyocera CM-45 myself. But that's $75 of your budget right there. Most decent espresso machines are going to cost you closer to $500 or so.

For your budget, I would look into the Nespresso line of machines. They use pods (so you don't even need a grinder), but actually don't make half bad espresso. You can find them used very cheap also (like on ebay or CL). They even sell little pods you can fill up yourself. I've been thinking about buying the Pixie machine they have out now. I think it's only about $249 or so and sometimes goes on sale. I'm constantly surprised what smooth and enjoyable espresso those little machines turn out. I've been thinking about picking on up to sit next to my La Pavoni, just because I like the different character of the espresso it produces.

The Nespresso might not produce the thick, rich, super intense espresso of a $1500 machine or a lever machine, etc. but if you just want a solid nice tasting shot of espresso to start off your day and/or for after dinner, the Nespresso doesn't do a bad job at all.

Also, most stores that sell the Nespresso (Sur la Table, Williams-Sonoma, etc.) typically have a demo machine setup. You can test it out before you buy. They also have a little manual which describes all the different coffees in the pods, etc.

And if you want milk based drinks, toss in a hand milk frother from Bodum (the glass kind that you pump up and down) and you would be surprised how far that will get you. Give me a Nespresso and a hand milk frother and I can duplicate 90% of what my La Pavoni can do! :) Okay, maybe 85%, but you get the idea.

Ray
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Postby Maxwell Mooney on Fri Oct 12, 2012 4:39 pm

I know it isn't a popular opinion, but I actually get some excellent shots off my Cuisinart EM-200. It's not always consistent, but I've been happy with it. I wrote a thread on it that I need to go back and update, but its on here if you are interested in using it.

Check CL too. I've seen the EM 200 for $15 before. I also got my Europiccola for free off CL!

Don't shirk the grinder! At this price range it's more important than the machine.
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Postby peacecup on Sun Oct 14, 2012 3:12 pm

I used one of these for a few years, paired with a good conical burr hand grinder:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Starbucks-SAECO...2c68d77bf2

They're not as versatile as a $1000 machine, but they can make pretty darn good espresso and steam alright. They're built like a tank.

Good hand grinders can be had for $50 I guess.

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Postby peacecup on Sun Oct 14, 2012 3:14 pm

this one even includes a real portafilter:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Saeco-VIA-Venez...4abd0e8a36
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Postby Burner0000 on Sun Oct 14, 2012 7:02 pm

HB is correct. I have done months and months of research and the best bang for your buck is a Gaggia machine. They are solid and you get your money's worth. I personally own the Delonghi EC155. I love it but I wish I had done more research and bought a Gaggia. The EC155 requires mods of the steam wand and portafilter to get a decent shot. If you go with a Gaggia Color,Classic, Evolution, Pure or Dose you get the 58mm full size portafilter and a multi directional panarello wand. The Classic is best and around $300. You can buy an SS (Stainless Steel) panarello wand that allows better milk frothing and latte art. If your willing to Mod it eventually you can mod it with a Rancilio Silvia V1/2 Steam wand (Also fits the EC155).

Here are some Gaggias on sale. :)
http://www.wholelattelove.com/espresso-...=itemprice

Delonghi's
http://www.wholelattelove.com/espresso-...d=0&query=

Again I only have experience with the Delonghi EC155 not the Gaggia's.

Also none of these will give you a good shot unless you have a good burr grinder that can grind coffee as fine as almost powder.
Roast it, Grind it, Brew it!.. Enjoy it!..
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Postby fishll on Mon Oct 15, 2012 2:18 pm

Still being fairly new to espresso, my opinion may change in the future. Though I started with a delonghi ec155 and it was fun, more like a novelty toy than an actual machine, thought it made me happy enough for a few months. As my interest turned more towards obsession, I began doing lots of research. As youve seen there are few machines available in your price range. I highly suggest searching craigslist. I was able to pick up a brasilia machine with 58mm portafilter and nice brass boiler and a matching grinder with 50mm burrs, all for under your budget. I may have gotten lucky though it cant hurt while your searching and reading to check for used equipment. After a bit of cleaning and a few good backflushes the machine is nearly perfect and should curb my obsession for equipment hopefully for some time.
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Postby Maxwell Mooney on Mon Oct 15, 2012 3:31 pm

Also- if you dont mind eschewing the steaming capabilities and don't mind vintage, you could look for an old Arrarex Caravel on eBay Italy. They regularly go for under $300, and there might still be one available in the buy/Sell forum.

Never used one, but they have a great reputation around here!

La Pavoni Europiccolas also go for around $300 on eBay, and those are excellent machines.
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