In the market for an espresso machine...

I've developed a latte habit, and I'd like the ability to make them at home to save money over the long run. I'm looking for a model that makes good espresso plus steams/froths milk well. It should also have a relatively small footprint because my counter space is limited. I received a Bialetti Mukka stovetop cappaccino maker a few years ago, but it's inconsistent -- sometimes it makes a great cup, sometimes not. I'm hoping to spend no more than $200. Frankly, I've always been skeptical about whether I'll be able to make a good latte at home. Any good models worth the money out there? Your advice is appreciated.

  • Posted by: EmilyC
  • May 18, 2011


Rivka August 19, 2011
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.
Amanda H. August 19, 2011
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!
Rivka August 17, 2011
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?
Amanda H. August 16, 2011
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.
kimmey August 16, 2011
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?
SKK August 16, 2011
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.
drbabs August 16, 2011
I just bought the Nespresso Pixie and Aeroccino milk frother|nespresso|7|best|0|1|24||4&cm_src=PRODUCTSEARCH||NoFacet-_-NoFacet-_-NoMerchRules-_-

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.
Rivka August 16, 2011
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?
Jean |. May 19, 2011
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.
nogaga May 19, 2011
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:
EmilyC May 19, 2011
Thanks, everyone, I appreciate your help. I haven't made a decision but the Silvia is definitely going on my wish list!
Kari J. May 18, 2011
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!
SKK May 18, 2011
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.
latoscana May 18, 2011
I bought a re-furbished Gaggia for about $200 at Whole Latte Love: 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.
Amanda H. May 18, 2011
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.
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