Monday, December 14, 2009

Can one get a low-cost espresso machine that works?

I'm thinking of getting a new espresso machine, although I want to go cheap on this since I won't use it every day. In her indispensable holiday foodie gift guide, Megan McArdle says that's a mistake:
If you're not willing to pay upwards of $500 for something that can consistently deliver 15 bars of pressure, don't do it. You're essentially making very strong coffee, which is more cheaply and conveniently done by doubling the amount of coffee in your normal coffee machine.
And yet the reviews for this $40 machine are quite positive. Anyone have any experience in this area?


Steve Balboni said...

Much like my personal rule when reading Vincent Carroll I always want to be on the side opposing McArdle.

Thus the $40 machine should work phenomenally.

In reality, her boyfriend probably owns stock in some fancy Espresso machine.

Seth Masket said...

I hear you. But it's a good list!

sam-i-am said...

Yes! I learned to drink coffee in France, so I hate drip. And I agree, most cheap machines are, in fact, making very strong coffee, although to me, that's better than drip.

I highly recommend the Nespresso:

LOVE LOVE LOVE mine. Reviews are uniformly 5star, except one person who is the rarest of rare espresso snob who needs a $2000 machine and coffee pooped by a monkey.

You must get the aerocccino with it. Makes great foam (although it depends on the milk sometimes -- Trader Joe's organic skim doesn't foam). And can be used to make fabulous hot chocolate. Just be sure to rinse and dry promptly to keep the nonstick surface nice.

Pods are 55 cents a piece, proprietary to Nestle, which really made my spouse hesitant to commit, but he is also a convert. Totally worth it.

Really, if you get this machine, you will use it every day. My morning cappuccino is one of my greatest small joys in life.

Seth Masket said...

Sam, your low-cost machine is retailing for almost $300. I know that's a lot less than I could pay for an espresso machine, but is that really low-cost? Or am I just out of my league here?

sam-i-am said...

Yes. To both. It is an absolute bargain compared to espresso drinks at a coffee shop, and to any other machine that makes a real espresso. Any other machine under $500 (more like 800 or 900) just makes strong coffee. Our $120 machine worked (approximately espresso) for a little while, but very soon the drink it produced bore little resemblance to espresso.

You can get it for cheaper -- I think I saw it for $220, and $50 of that is the aeroccino. Which my dh was absolutely against, but now loves.

I sound like a product rep! But I love it that much. I even posted it on facebook, as a gift suggestion for the espresso lover, before I saw your blog post. Wonder if I can get free pods out of this?

Not that there's anything wrong with strong coffee. But if you want real espresso, this is the way to go.

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