Is it even worth having a low espresso budget?

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

#1: Post by Belle Beefer »

I have been using an Aeropress for a while and for what it is, I love it.

However I have been wanting to branch out and get an espresso machine for at home, it would be lovely to be able to make espressos, cappuccinos, cafe lattes, etc. However I do not have a lot of budget ($500 max), and I would need an espresso machine and a grinder. While I could go out and get some cheap machine and grinder from a local big box store, this seems to defeat the purpose as I will just get a poor grind that is then made in a poor machine, resulting in a poor end product.

Is there any world where $500 for a machine and grinder is doable?

mivanitsky
Supporter ★

#2: Post by mivanitsky »

Used Cafelat Robot.
1Zpresso grinder

done.
★ Helpful

PortentPorpoise

#3: Post by PortentPorpoise »

The Breville Bambino (non-plus) can make good espresso, and it can be had for $300. Sometimes BBB in store will give the 20% discount (they did for me, others said they didn't get it.) The smart grinder pro could work, which would put you right at $500, but I would recommend going up to something like a Eureka Notte, which would put you over budget at $329 for the grinder.
Just watch out for upgraditis!

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Jeff
Team HB

#4: Post by Jeff »

Welcome to H-B!

If I only had $500 with which to put together an espresso kit, I'd probably go with something like:

An espresso-suitable hand grinder. I have a JX-Pro which retails at $160 and occasionally shows up on the used market for less.

For $340 for a machine, you can almost get there with a Cafelat Robot (without the "Barista" gauge). They occasionally pop up on the used market as well, which would pull things under the $500 budget.

I don't consider the Robot a compromise. It will likely be a machine that never grows old for me.

Cafune.ca (which I have not ordered from) looks to be having a 10% deal on grinders and brewing equipment and ships to the US. I haven't checked the "exclusions".

tennisman03110

#5: Post by tennisman03110 »

Have you considered getting a standalone milk frothing device to begin with? See what type of latte/cappuccino you can get with "faux espresso" from the Aeropress.

You can't get anything close to espresso, but you can get nice tasting milk drinks. There's many recipes that attempt to emulate espresso.

If you go the manual route, you'll need something for milk either way.

Not sure what types of beans you're into, but if lighter roasts and straight shots, I wouldn't bother with the suggested Breville route. Darker roasts and milk drinks, go for it.

jandrew

#6: Post by jandrew »

You can get a Flair Classic (or a Flair Neo plus the bottomless portafilter) and a Kingrinder K2 handgrinder and be set for espresso for about 250 USD, leaving lots of room in your budget for a milk frothing solution and plenty of beans.

(note: I have a Neo + bottomless portafilter and a K2 and get great results).

henri

#7: Post by henri »

jandrew wrote:You can get a Flair Classic (or a Flair Neo plus the bottomless portafilter) and a Kingrinder K2 handgrinder and be set for espresso for about 250 USD, leaving lots of room in your budget for a milk frothing solution and plenty of beans.
This! I've paired the Flair Classic with a Kinu M47. With the right beans, this combination makes better espresso than most cafes around where I live.

If the manual approach is not for you, then I'd be looking at the second hand market rather than buying something new that isn't quite up to the task. Here, a used Gaggia Classic can be had for anything between 100 and 300 euros, depending on condition and number of accessories that come with it. Personally, I would still pair it with a good-quality, espresso-capable hand grinder. But a used commercial grinder (Mazzer, Rossi, La San Marco) could also be an option, if they are as plentiful and cheap in the US as they are here in Europe. You could convert one of those for single-dose use, for a more sensible home workflow.

rbrave

#8: Post by rbrave »

I was able to find an inexpensive Europiccola ($300) and pair it with a JX-Pro. Even with accessories, I'm still under $500 all in and am very happy with the setup. I think I'd be looking at 4-5x the investment if I were to do it any other way.

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Belle Beefer (original poster)

#9: Post by Belle Beefer (original poster) »

mivanitsky wrote:Used Cafelat Robot.
1Zpresso grinder

done.
Jeff wrote:Cafelat Robot
jandrew wrote:Flair Classic
All of these look cool, but I would have to research the manual style machines a bit more. I am just not at all familiar with them beyond the absolute basics.

PortentPorpoise wrote:The Breville Bambino (non-plus) can make good espresso, and it can be had for $300. Sometimes BBB in store will give the 20% discount (they did for me, others said they didn't get it.) The smart grinder pro could work, which would put you right at $500, but I would recommend going up to something like a Eureka Notte, which would put you over budget at $329 for the grinder.
Just watch out for upgraditis!
I have heard good things about this machine, but for some reason I had it in my head that it was significantly more expensive. Definitely something I will keep in mind.


tennisman03110 wrote:Have you considered getting a standalone milk frothing device to begin with? See what type of latte/cappuccino you can get with "faux espresso" from the Aeropress.

You can't get anything close to espresso, but you can get nice tasting milk drinks. There's many recipes that attempt to emulate espresso.

If you go the manual route, you'll need something for milk either way.

Not sure what types of beans you're into, but if lighter roasts and straight shots, I wouldn't bother with the suggested Breville route. Darker roasts and milk drinks, go for it.

I have been trying to experiment with various ways of frothing milk with what I have at home, but nothing really seems to work out, but I hadn't thought about a standalone milk frother. I typically drink black coffee, but do enjoy cappuccinos and cafe lattes, but I had been wanting to branch out and explore espresso as a standalone drink.

tennisman03110

#10: Post by tennisman03110 »

When you say black coffee -- what beans are you using? That will impact you're choices for espresso machines.

If you're using a medium or medium-dark blend, you'll likely find some success with the Bambino. I had a Breville Duo Temp a few years ago, it served me well to start (though I upgraded to a BDB and never looked back).

Also, be aware, to make consistent true espresso, no matter the machine, you'll need somewhat fresh coffee.