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15 answers 1650 views
Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen
Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

added over 3 years ago

I know this is beyond your budget but if you read the coffee and coffee equipment blogs, this machine is widely praised as the best non-industrial machine. I bought one a few years ago, and liked it very much. You need to maintain it and keep it clean but it produces very high quality espresso and steamed milk.
http://bit.ly/kYJi1D

Debbykalk-photo
added over 3 years ago

I bought a re-furbished Gaggia for about $200 at Whole Latte Love: http://www.wholelattelove.... It worked just fine - but I found it is an expensive hobby. You next realize you need a stainless frothing pitcher and thermometer, a burr grinder, a very heavy tamper, then you have to de-calcify it every so often. It all took up half the countertop. And you become OCD about the quality of the beans... Before you know it, you have exceeded your previous coffee shop budget. I gave it all up and settled for a Nespresso, which has a tiny footprint in comparison. It's not quite the same but I'm fine with it.

Buddhacat
SKK
added over 3 years ago

When my daughter was in college I bought her a Nespresso machine. She and her engineer friends loved it because it was amazing coffee and did all the work for them. I then purchased one of my own and love it. Williams-Sonoma carries them so you can go down and take a look at the different models and ask questions.

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Kari Johnson

Kari is the manager of Whisk, a kitchenware store in Brooklyn.

added over 3 years ago

I agree with Amanda - the Silvia is amazing!

However, and it's unfortunate, there really isn't a great machine that will put out quality espresso and foamed milk in your price point.

I'd get a heat diffuser, keep using the stovetop espresso, and look into an electric milk warmer/frother (there's a great one by Capresso we found in our research) = probably the best bet for the money!

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added over 3 years ago

Thanks, everyone, I appreciate your help. I haven't made a decision but the Silvia is definitely going on my wish list!

Port2
added over 3 years ago

This is about $200 less expensive than the Silvia... Its not that well known a company in the US but I have had an absolutely excellent experience with the Ascaso: http://coffeegeek.com/proreviews...

Jeani_photo_160_size_from_blog_delightfulrepast
added over 3 years ago

I have a friend who is an espresso expert, and the machine she has in her home (and uses every day) is the Cuisinart, which is in your price range.

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added about 3 years ago

Amanda, I saw you mention a while back on this site that you also have a Nespresso machine. That machine is so small, so sleek, and so easy, that I find myself contemplating buying it, even though it only works with those little vacuum-sealed packets. Can you share some thoughts on the (relative) merits of the Nespresso machine?

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drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added about 3 years ago

I just bought the Nespresso Pixie http://www.nespresso.com... and Aeroccino milk frother http://www.williams-sonoma...

We love them. They were a birthday gift for my husband who had bought himself a real espresso machine and never figured out how to use it. This is super simple and the espresso and cappuccino are both delicious. I think they were about $350 together with shipping, and you do have to buy the pods from Nespresso directly--a bit of a pain, but their customer service is great.

Buddhacat
SKK
added about 3 years ago

I have a Nespresso machine, and I recommend you go to Williams-Sonoma and check out the different models and try them out. I love the coffee in the little packets, so easy to make, so flavorful and so good. You order the packets online and receive them in two business days.

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added about 3 years ago

I know that this is not an espresso machine, but I recently purchased an aeropress that makes amazing concentrated coffee (as strong as espresso), to which you can add hot water, frothed milk, or regular cold milk for an iced latte. While it isn't technically espresso (and doesn't make the frothed milk), it costs about $25 and is the easiest thing to use/clean in the world. Maybe you could buy a separate milk frother?

http://www.amazon.com/Aerobie...

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen
Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

added about 3 years ago

Rivka, we love that it's compact and easy. Not sure the team here at food52 could survive our photo shoot days without the Nespresso Cube! It's the first thing we fire up in the morning, and there are a bunch of us so it's the only way to efficiently make a large number of good espressos. Of course, there are limitations because you must buy their pods, but they add new varietals often and they have excellent customer service. I bought mine "reconditioned" on Ebay. Nespresso reconditions machines and sells them on Ebay, and they come with new packaging. The price is about half what a new one would be. Hope this is helpful.

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added about 3 years ago

Thanks, Amanda. This is very helpful. One last question: in terms of comparative quality, how do your espressos from the Nespresso compare to the ones from Silvia?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen
Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

added about 3 years ago

Rivka, with the Sylvia you can use coffee from anywhere. We used a fair amount of La Colombe Torrefaction. The Nespresso espressos tend to have round edges and are very smooth -- not a scrappy coffee!

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added about 3 years ago

Amanda, glorious. You've put my mind at ease about the quality of Nespresso coffee, and its small size is too good to resist. I think I'm sold.