Espresso machine for budget around $300

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.

#1: Post by storky »

Hello All,

I've been searching for some time for the best option of an espresso machine and I was hoping to get your advice on the matter.

As a background: I have no experience in professional machines, therefore I would go for something as simple as possible. I would mostly use it either for latte (70%) or simple espresso (30%). My current reference in a "good latte" is the one from Gloria Jeans'.

What would you recommend under the circumstances? As far as I've searched so far, Gaggia was a preferred option or the Delonghi EC155. I also liked the FrancisFrancis X6 - due to the fact that i like Illy, mostly, but I've seen mixed reviews about it. And it only works with pods...

Looking forward to your advice and thank you !

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#2: Post by Bluecold »

You want espresso, which is inherently a tedious and expensive way to brew coffee, as simple and cheap as possible.
Good drip coffee is not inferior to espresso*, cheaper and easier. I don't know how easy it is to buy a Chemex in Romania, but something similar should suit you better.
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#3: Post by sweaner »

If your total budget for both machine and grinder is really only $300, then I would suggest the following:

Espresso: Mypressi TWIST
Grinder: Good hand grinder
Milk steamer: Stovetop steamer, maybe a cheap steam espresso machine for steaming only.
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#4: Post by TrlstanC »

I think you're going to have a problem finding an acceptable espresso machine and grinder for $300 (at least a traditional semi-auto + grinder, there are definitely other options if you want to buy some gear without motors in it). Although if you were to look in the $5-600 range you could probably find a couple options that would work, then you could hunt on ebay or craigslist to find some deals on used equipment, which might take a while.

By searching online, and waiting for deals I was able to get what I would consider about the bare minimum espresso gear for $400, not including a tamper, steam pitcher, etc. When I upgrade I'm looking in the $2,000 to $4,000 range for a new machine and grinder, which should give you an idea of the range of prices that you can pay for home espresso gear (with an entire layer of more expensive pro gear above that).

When you're thinking about your budget be sure to keep the price of beans in mind. I'm sure that over that last two years or so I've spent more on beans then all my equipment put together, and buying good fresh roasted beans is definitely worth it. If I go from a $200 machine to a $2,000 machine my espresso isn't going to be 10 times better (maybe 1.5 to 2 times as good, and more consistent). But if I go from $6/lb beans from the supermarket to $12/lb artisan roasted beans the espresso will be at least twice as good if not more; it would probably go from "unacceptable swill" to "good" or at least "above average" with the occasional great shot if I'm lucky.

And if you want an excuse to spend more, take a look at how much you're spending on espresso now, if you're buying a couple lattes a week, that can easily add up to over $500/year, all that money could go to making espresso at home instead :)

storky (original poster)

#5: Post by storky (original poster) »

Thank you for the replies. The budget definitely does not include beans or consumables. Also, the budget is merely an indication, at least two of the options I mentioned (Delonghi and Francis) fit this. I would also take out the grinder as I have one already and I will probably upgrade later.

What would you think about the two machines mentioned above? Are they worth it?

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#6: Post by TrlstanC »

Avoid pods, they're easy, but that's about the only good thing you can say about them (ie. not cheap or good). I don't think I know of anyone who would recommend the Delonghi. Gaggia's are a good value in this price range, you get a real portafilter, and for a few bucks more you can get a model with a 3-way valve.

Although, if I were going to buy a new starter machine today I'd look at the Le'Lit PL 041 from, it's a bit above your budget, but they've made a few improvements for the 2010 model that look good.

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#7: Post by mikekarr »

I've owned two of the Delonghi 155 models and cannot recommend them. No temperature consistency whatsoever.
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