Category Archives: Espresso Makers

Espresso Maker Reviews

Espresso and Capuccino Machine Buyers Guide

Espresso, Cappuccino and Latte Machines

So you’ve decided you want to get an espresso machine, either for yourself or as a gift. As a lifetime coffee fiend, I recently had to replace both my grinder and my espresso machine, so I decided to summarize the results of my research for your benefit. While there are options available which I did not investigate, and am therefore not going discuss, my primary goal was very simple: To find exceptional products to purchase, at reasonable prices. Are they they best for the least? I’m not sure, but I don’t think that necessarily matters and what makes something the best is often quite subjective, but what makes something exceptional tends to be far more universal. It works right. It’s Aesthetic to use. It’s built well. It looks good. It lasts a long time.

So this buyers guide is really more focused than most. I tell you what I found out, show you a few products that are exceptional, and don’t bother with reviewing the crappy stuff. Want a machine but don’t know what to get? I’ll make it simple: Buy one of the ones listed here, and I’ll distill out the key differentiators that can help you make a decision.

For an espresso machine, realistically, the cheapest you’re going to get a decent, workable machine is around $100. And at that price, there will be compromises and durability issues. But if you just want to make proper espresso (or cappuccino) at home, and you expect to use it infrequently, then there are definitely viable alternatives for $100.

One option that is not available is the option of simply buying the machine that nobody complains about. Turns out, such a thing simply does not exist. The $100 machines break, leak, blow gaskets, and don’t make espresso of a high enough standard for some. The $200 machines break eventually, and don’t make espresso of a high enough standard for some. The $400 Breville machines require religious descaling or else they will fail. And the $650 Rancilio, the Gold Standard, has boiler failures. And not a single one of the companies selling the machines has a consistent record of exemplary customer service. So as fas as I can tell, every choice is fraught with peril. And personal experience concurs. I’ve bought 3 or 4 espresso makers, and currently both my espresso machine and my grinder are both out of order!

4-Cup Machines

There is one class of product that nobody should buy. Ever. For any reason.

It’s any of the 4-Cup machines where you pour the water in and then screw the cap on the boiler so it can make steam pressure. They all come with 4-cup glass mini pots. And they all suck. Universally.

They do not make anything that any coffee lover would recognize as anything remotely resembling espresso. Just don’t bother with them. Not the Mr Coffee one. Not the Krups one. Not the DeLonghi one. None of them. Get it? Got it. GOOD.

Pod Machines

If you expect to use your espresso machine less than weekly, and you just want espresso and not so much the steamed milk, you might consider a pod machine like a Nespresso or a Gaggia for Illy. They don’t personally meet my needs, but we do have one at my office, and with the Nespresso you can get lighter to darker pods, and also a variery with flavors like hazlenut and coconut. I’ve also used the milk heater and frother, and while it’s not a classic steamed milk, it is passable. I’d call it “not terrible”, and for occassional use, pretty good. You can get a single serve Nespresso and milk frother together for around $150. While I’d be embarassed to let someone see me using it… I can make decent espressos and cappuccinos and lattes with it and nobody complains that they suck when I give them one. The pods are expensive, but if you don’t use it but so often the shelf stability of the pods is worth the added cost. If you use it a lot, take the time to get a grinder and regular machine and learn to use them. But if this solution floats your boat, by all means go for it.

The Starter / Minimum Espresso Machine

As an introductory or less frequently used machine, about the best I found was the DeLonghi EC155. It’s not perfect. Some claim it doesn’t make good enough espresso. Some claim it isn’t made sturdy enough, or it doesn’t last. And they are probably right. But it’s probably good enough for a starter, with the understanding that in a year or two you might be either wanting to move up to a better machine, or you might be replacing it because it just quit working. Either way, it gets you in the game, and I can recommend it, so long as you accept the caveats.

This biggest caveat is that you can’t expect them to last forever. Maybe they will, but probably they won’t. However, at the $100 price point, if it drops dead in a year or two, it’s not the end of the world. I’m not saying it will. I had a $60 machine that lasted a long time. 4 years. But I’ve also tossed a far more expensive machine that died less than a month after the 1 year expired. And it’s not one machine vs another. They’re all just prone to failure.

But with all that said… choose between these three (the second Poemia is just more stainless steel) and the odds are you’ll come out ok.

The Better Than Minimum Espresso Machine

Each of these will do better job of heating up quickly, holding temperature, brewing quality espresso, and holding up to daily use, than the entry level machines will.

The big question however is this: Pressurized Portafilter?

The units at this level all have pressurized portafilters. This is a galvanizing feature that the purists hate, but that most people don’t even really notice or think about. On the one hand, a classic solid brass portafilter (basically the ground coffee holder and filter basket assembly) can produce the best results. When used by the most experienced barista. When properly tempered to operating temperature. But a pressurized portafilter attempts to overcome variations in coffee grinding, tamping, and temperature preparation by building pressure to a minimum level before allowing the brewed espresso to escape.

This has two effects. First, the filter baskets tend to clog and require cleaning, which can be a royal pain in the rear as they are tiny pinholes and are hard to clear. Second, the used espresso puck that should be dry and just tap out can be a wet soupy mess.

Here’s what I have found over the years. If the portafilter is a wet soupy mess, then your coffee is probably not ground correctly; it’s probably too coarse. And if the filter basket is clogging, then you probably either have your grind too fine, or you’re leaving the machine sit uncleaned for extended periods between uses. Figure out your grind and empty and rinse after each use, and your problem will probably be solved.

So for me, not working at the espresso machine 8 hours a day to perfect my technique, I find the pressurized portafilter to be perfectly “acceptable”. Just make sure you are ok with a pressurized portafilter before you buy one of these mid level machines.

Gaggia has three that are more or less interchangeable to me. They all do ok. They all have mostly raving reviews. They all have some bad reviews for failures. Make sure you but one that is “sold and fulfilled by Amazon” so you get good customer service at least long enough to get a working machine. Any of these are good machines.

Of these however, I’d get the Saeco Aroma. It’s a boxier, less modern design. But it’s built durable. This Saeco design has been around for years and is proven reliable. And the Saeco let’s you adjust the brew strength (even mid pull).

Go Big or Go Home

No room for dilettantes or half in half out wishy washiness here. So you really want the best results? You’re willing to invest the time and effort into learning how to achieve them? You don’t mind the chance of an expensive machine breaking and requiring expensive repairs or replacement? Great! One of these machines will be just right for you:

Generally, the Breville is considered the Cadillac of home espresso machines. You want the best, you don’t want to think too much about it, just get the Coupe de Ville with all the options. Easy Peasy.

The two breville machines are more or less equivalent, with the Bariata Express having a built in dosing grinder. If you have no particular use for a grinder apart from your espresso machine, then the built in one makes sense. But if you need a grinder for regular coffee, or press pot coffee, then go with the Infuser and pick up a good conical burr grinder separately.

The Racilia Silvia, however, compares to the Breville like a quirky british or italian car does to the staunch Cadillac. It takes a little more finesse and experience to drive, but if you spend the time learning it’s quirks and honing your skills, it will reward you with the ride of your life. The Rancilia has a solid brass portafilter and is the closest to the commercial expresso machines in operation. But this also means it demands the most from you as the operator too ;-)

Different strokes suit different folks, so consider which most suits your personality and you’ll know which is the right machine for you.

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Nespresso Inissia Espresso Maker with Aeroccino Plus Milk Frother



Nespresso Inissia Espresso Maker with Aeroccino Milk Frother

pods stay fresher for less frequent enjoyment

Product Description

If you don’t use it but so often the shelf stability of the pods is worth the added cost.

Product Features

  • Includes Aeroccino Plus milk frother
  • Easy insertion and ejection of capsules
  • Compact brewing unit technology
  • Fast preheating time: 25 seconds
  • 19 Bar high pressure pump
  • Removable 24 ounce water tank
  • Folding cup tray accommodates tall glasses
  • 2 Programmable buttons for Espresso and lungo preparation

Simple operation

If you expect to use your espresso machine less than weekly, and you just want espresso and not so much the steamed milk, you might consider a pod machine like a Nespresso or a Gaggia for Illy. They don’t personally meet my needs, but we do have one at my office, and with the Nespresso you can get lighter to darker pods, and also a variery with flavors like hazlenut and coconut.

I’ve also used the milk heater and frother, and while it’s not a classic steamed milk, it is passable. I’d call it “not terrible”, and for occassional use, pretty good.

You can get this single serve Nespresso Inissia and Aeroccino milk frother together for around $150. While I’d be embarrassed to let someone hear me call it a cappuccino… I can still make decent espressos and cappuccinos and lattes with it and nobody complains that they suck when I give them one.

The pods are expensive, but if you don’t use it but so often the shelf stability of the pods is worth the added cost. If you use it a lot, take the time to get a grinder and regular machine and learn to use them. But if this solution floats your boat, by all means go for it.


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DeLonghi EC155 Pump Espresso Machine



DeLonghi EC155 Pump Espresso Machine

the minimum

Product Description

The DeLonghi EC155 is basically the minimum machine you should really consider. That said, it gets the job done. The only real drawback is the frother design with the big plastic cowbell. Hard(er) to clean. Doesn’t work any better. Not sure I like it. BUT IT WORKS. Never forget that quality when discussing the minimum entry point.

Product Features

  • 15 bars of pressure
  • Self priming operation
  • Brews from ground espresso or from pods
  • Water and steam controlled separately
  • Swivel jet frother

Simple operation

The entry level machines get the job done, and as an introductory or less frequently used machine, I actually prefer the DeLonghi EC155 as it is a perfectly good espresso maker, and it’s the cheapest.

In general these entry level machines are not flawless. Some claim they don’t make good enough espresso. Some claim they aren’t made sturdy enough, or they don’t last. And they are probably right. But they’re probably good enough for a starter, with the understanding that in a year or two you might be either wanting to move up to a better machine, or you might be replacing it because it just quit working. Either way, the entry machines get you in the game, and I can recommend any of them, so long as you accept the caveats.

My preference is the DeLonghi EC155, but the Cuisinart or the Saeco Poemia might be more available in your area, or might be more stylish, or might match your other appliances or grinder… and to be fair the only reason I find the DeLonghi to be better is because it’s cheaper. There. I said it.

This biggest caveat is that you can’t expect these to last forever. Maybe they will, but probably they won’t. However, at the $100 to $150 price point, if it drops dead in a year or two, it’s not the end of the world. I’m not saying it will. I had a $60 machine that lasted a long time. 4 years. But I’ve also tossed a far more expensive machine that died less than a month after the 1 year warranty expired. And it’s not one machine vs another. They’re all just prone to failure.

But with all that said… the DeLonghi EC155 is easy to recommend.

List Price: $90.99 USD
New From: $81.00 In Stock
Used from: $59.99 In Stock

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Philips Saeco HD8327/47 Poemia Top Espresso Machine



Saeco Poemia Top Espresso Machine

…more stainless steel class than the Saeco Poemia Class

Product Description

The Saeco Poemia Top is the same machine as the Saeco Poemia Class, except it has a stainless shell. Considering that the stainless won’t make it last longer, won’t make better espresso, and really won’t even look that much better than the Class’s stainless front panel, I would suggest that in a budget class machine, to keep focused on the budget. In other words, save the bucks, and get the Class rather than the Top.

That said, the Poemia Class gets the job done all the same, and if you just really want the full stainless shell, who am I to judge. Go for it.

Product Features

  • Stainless steel body
  • Pressurized portafilter
  • 15 bars of pressure
  • Brews 1 or 2 cups
  • Brews from ground espresso or from pods
  • 53-ounce removable reservoir
  • Pannarello steam nozzle
  • Cup warming tray

Simple operation and traditional methods

The entry level machines get the job done, and as an introductory or less frequently used machine, the Saeco Poemia Top is a perfectly good espresso maker.

In general these entry level machines are not flawless. Some claim they don’t make good enough espresso. Some claim they aren’t made sturdy enough, or they don’t last. And they are probably right. But they’re probably good enough for a starter, with the understanding that in a year or two you might be either wanting to move up to a better machine, or you might be replacing it because it just quit working. Either way, the entry machines get you in the game, and I can recommend any of them, so long as you accept the caveats.

My preference is the DeLonghi EC155, but the Cuisinart might be more available in your ares, or might be more stylish, or might match your other Cuisinart appliances… and to be fair the only reason I find the DeLonghi to be better is because it’s cheaper. There. I said it.

This biggest caveat is that you can’t expect these to last forever. Maybe they will, but probably they won’t. However, at the $100 to $150 price point, if it drops dead in a year or two, it’s not the end of the world. I’m not saying it will. I had a $60 machine that lasted a long time. 4 years. But I’ve also tossed a far more expensive machine that died less than a month after the 1 year warranty expired. And it’s not one machine vs another. They’re all just prone to failure.

But with all that said… the Saeco Poemia Top is easy to recommend, and don’t forget, you can get same machine 9Saeco Poemia Class) with less stainless for about $50 less.

Used from: $299.00 In Stock

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Saeco HD8325/47 Poemia Class Manual Espresso Machine



Saeco Poemia Class Espresso Machine

basically basic which is basically perfect

Product Description

The Saeco Poemia Class gets the job done. It makes espresso. It steams milk. It froths. It can do single or double shots. It can use pods. It includes a scoop and a tamper. At an entry level price.

Although there is more that one could want, it’s not clear what more one really needs.

Product Features

  • Pressurized portafilter
  • 15 bars of pressure
  • Brews 1 or 2 cups
  • Brews from ground espresso or from pods
  • 53-ounce removable reservoir
  • Pannarello steam nozzle
  • Cup warming tray

Simple operation and traditional methods

The entry level machines get the job done, and as an introductory or less frequently used machine, the Saeco Poemia Class is a perfectly good espresso maker.

In general these entry level machines are not flawless. Some claim they don’t make good enough espresso. Some claim they aren’t made sturdy enough, or they don’t last. And they are probably right. But they’re probably good enough for a starter, with the understanding that in a year or two you might be either wanting to move up to a better machine, or you might be replacing it because it just quit working. Either way, the entry machines get you in the game, and I can recommend any of them, so long as you accept the caveats.

My preference is the DeLonghi EC155, but the Cuisinart might be more available in your ares, or might be more stylish, or might match your other Cuisinart appliances… and to be fair the only reason I find the DeLonghi to be better is because it’s cheaper. There. I said it.

This biggest caveat is that you can’t expect these to last forever. Maybe they will, but probably they won’t. However, at the $100 to $150 price point, if it drops dead in a year or two, it’s not the end of the world. I’m not saying it will. I had a $60 machine that lasted a long time. 4 years. But I’ve also tossed a far more expensive machine that died less than a month after the 1 year warranty expired. And it’s not one machine vs another. They’re all just prone to failure.

But with all that said… the Saeco Poemia Class is easy to recommend.

List Price: $149.00 USD

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Cuisinart EM-100 Espresso Maker



Cuisinart EM-100 Espresso Maker

it does what you need with little fanfare

Product Description

The Cuisinart EM-100 Espresso Maker meets the requirements. It makes espresso. It steams milk. It froths. It can do single or double shots. It can use pods. It includes a scoop and a tamper. At an entry level price.

Although there is more that one could want, it’s not clear what more one really needs.

Product Features

  • Pressurized portafilter
  • 15 bars of pressure
  • Brews 1 or 2 cups
  • Brews from ground espresso or from pods
  • 53-ounce removable reservoir
  • Steam nozzle
  • Frothing cup
  • Tamping tool
  • Cup warming tray

Simple operation and traditional methods

The entry level machines get the job done, and as an introductory or less frequently used machine, the Cuisinart EM-100 is a perfectly good espresso maker.

In general these entry level machines are not flawless. Some claim they don’t make good enough espresso. Some claim they aren’t made sturdy enough, or they don’t last. And they are probably right. But they’re probably good enough for a starter, with the understanding that in a year or two you might be either wanting to move up to a better machine, or you might be replacing it because it just quit working. Either way, the entry machines get you in the game, and I can recommend any of them, so long as you accept the caveats.

My preference is the DeLonghi EC155, but the Cuisinart might be more available in your ares, or might be more stylish, or might match your other Cuisinart appliances… and to be fair the only reason I find the DeLonghi to be better is because it’s cheaper. There. I said it.

This biggest caveat is that you can’t expect these to last forever. Maybe they will, but probably they won’t. However, at the $100 to $150 price point, if it drops dead in a year or two, it’s not the end of the world. I’m not saying it will. I had a $60 machine that lasted a long time. 4 years. But I’ve also tossed a far more expensive machine that died less than a month after the 1 year warranty expired. And it’s not one machine vs another. They’re all just prone to failure.

But with all that said… the Cuisinart EM-100 is easy to recommend.

List Price: Too Low to Display
New From: Check Amazon For Pricing In Stock

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Saeco RI9376/04 Aroma Espresso Machine



Saeco Aroma Espresso Machine

…developed for real espresso lovers who value simple operation and the traditional method

Product Description

The Saeco Aroma Stainless Espresso Machine was developed for real espresso lovers who value simple operation and the traditional method of preparing true Italian espresso.

The pressurized portafilter, steam and water wand, and cup-warming surface allow you to craft a variety of espresso drinks and other hot beverages. The chassis is all metal with a durable stylish stainless steel surface.

Create Mild or Intense Espresso Flavor – The Saeco Aroma allows you to enjoy the widest spectrum of taste, whether you like intense or mild espresso. The minimal position produces a lighter crema and body structure, while the maximum position creates a thicker crema and body structure. You can even adjust the espresso’s strength while brewing.

Product Features

  • Traditional style machine and controls
  • Make espresso, cappuccino and latte at home
  • Stainless steel boiler
  • 15 bar pump
  • Pressurized portafilter
  • Steam and hot water wand
  • Simple control panel
  • Removable water tank can be filled while in use
  • cup warming surface
  • 8 x 10 x 11.75 inches

Simple operation and traditional methods

Any of the high end machines will do a decent job of heating up quickly, holding temperature, brewing quality espresso, and holding up to daily use.

The big question however is this: Pressurized Portafilter?

The Saeco Aroma has a pressurized portafilter. This is a galvanizing feature that the purists hate, but that most people don’t even really notice or think about. On the one hand, a classic solid brass portafilter (basically the ground coffee holder and filter basket assembly) can produce the best results. When used by the most experienced barista. When properly tempered to operating temperature. But a pressurized portafilter attempts to overcome variations in coffee grinding, tamping, and temperature preparation by building pressure to a minimum level before allowing the brewed espresso to escape.

This has two effects. First, the filter baskets tend to clog and require cleaning, which can be a royal pain in the rear as they are tiny pinholes and are hard to clear. Second, the used espresso puck that should be dry and just tap out can be a wet soupy mess.

Here’s what I have found over the years. If the portafilter is a wet soupy mess, then your coffee is probably not ground correctly; it’s probably too coarse. And if the filter basket is clogging, then you probably either have your grind too fine, or you’re leaving the machine sit uncleaned for extended periods between uses. Figure out your grind and empty and rinse after each use, and your problem will probably be solved.

So for me, not working at the espresso machine 8 hours a day to perfect my technique, I find the pressurized portafilter to be perfectly “acceptable”. Just make sure you are ok with a pressurized portafilter before you buy one this machine (or any of theese mid level ones). They all do ok. They all have mostly raving reviews. They all have some bad reviews for failures. Make sure you but one that is “sold and fulfilled by Amazon” so you get good customer service at least long enough to get a working machine. Any of these are good machines.

For me, however, I’d probably pick up the Saeco Aroma espresso machine. It may be a boxier, less modern design, than the Gaggia machines, but it’s built durable, and the Saeco design has been around for years and is proven reliable. Plus Saeco let’s you adjust the brew strength (even mid pull).

If you prefer one of Gaggia machines, I can easily recommend them as well, as there really are no losers in this group. But for me it’s the Saeco all the way.

List Price: $350.00 USD
Release date January 28, 2008.
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Gaggia 14101 Classic Espresso Machine



Gaggia Classic Espresso Machine

Consumers Best Buy!

Product Description

The Gaggia Classic is a best sellers for several reasons. Commercial quality: Rugged construction Solid materials. High performance: Forged brass components to stabilize temperature with a three-way solenoid valve and independent expansion valve.

With a little practice, The Gaggia Classic turns anyone into a “Barista” in their own home.

Designed in Italy by Gaggia, one of the most respected names in the espresso industry, the Classic uses standard 58 mm filters to provide ample room for brewing rich, full espresso.

A higher power 17-1/2-bar pump, an independent expansion valve, and a three-way solenoid valve is also included, providing immediate pressure release from the group head once an espresso pull is completed. This allows the portafilter to be removed and the next shot to be prepared instantly.

Other convenient features include a hot-water dispenser for tea, a frothing wand for crema, and a cup warmer. It’s 72-ounce water reservoir is removable for easy filling or cleaning.

Product Features

  • chrome-plated 58mm brass brew group and portafilter
  • huge 72 oz removable water tank
  • 17 1/2 bar pump
  • High-wattage boiler
  • single or double shot, or two simultaneous
  • frothing steamer
  • Includes single, double, and pod filters
  • tamper and scoop
  • 8 x 9.5 by 14.25 inches

Is the Gaggia Classic Tres Classique?

Any of the high end machines will do a decent job of heating up quickly, holding temperature, brewing quality espresso, and holding up to daily use.

The big question however is this: Pressurized Portafilter?

The Gaggia Baby Class has a pressurized portafilter. This is a galvanizing feature that the purists hate, but that most people don’t even really notice or think about. On the one hand, a classic solid brass portafilter (basically the ground coffee holder and filter basket assembly) can produce the best results. When used by the most experienced barista. When properly tempered to operating temperature. But a pressurized portafilter attempts to overcome variations in coffee grinding, tamping, and temperature preparation by building pressure to a minimum level before allowing the brewed espresso to escape.

This has two effects. First, the filter baskets tend to clog and require cleaning, which can be a royal pain in the rear as they are tiny pinholes and are hard to clear. Second, the used espresso puck that should be dry and just tap out can be a wet soupy mess.

Here’s what I have found over the years. If the portafilter is a wet soupy mess, then your coffee is probably not ground correctly; it’s probably too coarse. And if the filter basket is clogging, then you probably either have your grind too fine, or you’re leaving the machine sit uncleaned for extended periods between uses. Figure out your grind and empty and rinse after each use, and your problem will probably be solved.

So for me, not working at the espresso machine 8 hours a day to perfect my technique, I find the pressurized portafilter to be perfectly “acceptable”. Just make sure you are ok with a pressurized portafilter before you buy one this machine (or any of theese mid level ones).

Gaggia has three machines are more or less interchangeable to me. They all do ok. They all have mostly raving reviews. They all have some bad reviews for failures. Make sure you but one that is “sold and fulfilled by Amazon” so you get good customer service at least long enough to get a working machine. Any of these are good machines.

For me, however, I’d probably pick up the Saeco Aroma espresso machine. It may be a boxier, less modern design, but it’s built durable, and the Saeco design has been around for years and is proven reliable. And the Saeco let’s you adjust the brew strength (even mid pull). But that said, if you prefer the Gaggia Classic, I can easily recommend it as well. There really are no losers in this group.

List Price: $379.00 USD
New From: $333.50 In Stock
Used from: $280.00 In Stock

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Gaggia 12300 Baby Class Manual Espresso Machine



Gaggia Baby Class Manual Espresso Machine

…adding a new degree of elegance

Product Description

With it’s brushed stainless chassis and sleek brewing controls, the Baby Class adds a new degree of elegance to Gaggia’s original design.

The Baby Class includes all the quality components that have made Gaggia a classic name in espresso machines. The chrome-plated brass brew group, heavy 58mm commercial style portafilter, and three-way solenoid valve are practically Gaggia trademarks.

The Baby Class also has a built-in Turbo Frother to frothing and steaming easy.

Whe it call comes together it’s clear that the Gaggia Baby Class has a perfect balance of style and performance.

Product Features

  • chrome-plated 58mm brass brew group and portafilter
  • 15-bar pump
  • High-wattage boiler
  • Push-button controls

  • 60-ounce removable water tank
  • single or double shot, or two simultaneous
  • frothing steamer
  • Includes single, double, and pod filters
  • tamper and scoop
  • 10.4 by 9.6 by 15.6 inches

Is the Gaggia Baby Class all Class?

Any of the high end machines will do a decent job of heating up quickly, holding temperature, brewing quality espresso, and holding up to daily use.

The big question however is this: Pressurized Portafilter?

The Gaggia Baby Class has a pressurized portafilter. This is a galvanizing feature that the purists hate, but that most people don’t even really notice or think about. On the one hand, a classic solid brass portafilter (basically the ground coffee holder and filter basket assembly) can produce the best results. When used by the most experienced barista. When properly tempered to operating temperature. But a pressurized portafilter attempts to overcome variations in coffee grinding, tamping, and temperature preparation by building pressure to a minimum level before allowing the brewed espresso to escape.

This has two effects. First, the filter baskets tend to clog and require cleaning, which can be a royal pain in the rear as they are tiny pinholes and are hard to clear. Second, the used espresso puck that should be dry and just tap out can be a wet soupy mess.

Here’s what I have found over the years. If the portafilter is a wet soupy mess, then your coffee is probably not ground correctly; it’s probably too coarse. And if the filter basket is clogging, then you probably either have your grind too fine, or you’re leaving the machine sit uncleaned for extended periods between uses. Figure out your grind and empty and rinse after each use, and your problem will probably be solved.

So for me, not working at the espresso machine 8 hours a day to perfect my technique, I find the pressurized portafilter to be perfectly “acceptable”. Just make sure you are ok with a pressurized portafilter before you buy one this machine (or any of theese mid level ones).

Gaggia has three machines are more or less interchangeable to me. They all do ok. They all have mostly raving reviews. They all have some bad reviews for failures. Make sure you but one that is “sold and fulfilled by Amazon” so you get good customer service at least long enough to get a working machine. Any of these are good machines.

For me, however, I’d probably pick up the Saeco Aroma espresso machine. It may be a boxier, less modern design, but it’s built durable. The Saeco design has been around for years and is proven reliable. And the Saeco let’s you adjust the brew strength (even mid pull). But that said, if you prefer the Gaggia Baby Class, I can easily recommend it as well.


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Gaggia 12101 New Baby Manual Espresso Machine



Gaggia New Baby Manual Espresso Machine

The original high end home espresso machine…

Product Description

This is the original high-end home espresso machine. The Gaggia New Baby has been redesigned with new style elements to complement a long list of features, but the basic design is a tried and true classic.

With the New Baby you can consistently create, high quality espresso. The commercial-grade components, chrome-plated brass brew group, pressurized portafilter, high-wattage boiler and built-in Turbo Frother.

The newest addition to the Gaggia Baby is its polished stainless steel front panel, adding an extra touch of class to one of Gaggia’s most famous espresso machines.

Product Features

  • chrome-plated 58mm brass brew group and portafilter
  • 15-bar pump
  • High-wattage boiler
  • Push-button controls

  • 64-ounce removable water tank
  • single or double shot
  • frothing steamer
  • Includes single, double, and pod filters
  • tamper and scoop
  • 10.4 by 9.6 by 15.6 inches

Is the Gaggia New Baby fit to be your new baby?

Any of the high end machines will do a decent job of heating up quickly, holding temperature, brewing quality espresso, and holding up to daily use.

The big question however is this: Pressurized Portafilter?

The Gaggia New Baby has a pressurized portafilter. This is a galvanizing feature that the purists hate, but that most people don’t even really notice or think about. On the one hand, a classic solid brass portafilter (basically the ground coffee holder and filter basket assembly) can produce the best results. When used by the most experienced barista. When properly tempered to operating temperature. But a pressurized portafilter attempts to overcome variations in coffee grinding, tamping, and temperature preparation by building pressure to a minimum level before allowing the brewed espresso to escape.

This has two effects. First, the filter baskets tend to clog and require cleaning, which can be a royal pain in the rear as they are tiny pinholes and are hard to clear. Second, the used espresso puck that should be dry and just tap out can be a wet soupy mess.

Here’s what I have found over the years. If the portafilter is a wet soupy mess, then your coffee is probably not ground correctly; it’s probably too coarse. And if the filter basket is clogging, then you probably either have your grind too fine, or you’re leaving the machine sit uncleaned for extended periods between uses. Figure out your grind and empty and rinse after each use, and your problem will probably be solved.

So for me, not working at the espresso machine 8 hours a day to perfect my technique, I find the pressurized portafilter to be perfectly “acceptable”. Just make sure you are ok with a pressurized portafilter before you buy one this machine (or any of theese mid level ones).

Gaggia has three machines are more or less interchangeable to me. They all do ok. They all have mostly raving reviews. They all have some bad reviews for failures. Make sure you but one that is “sold and fulfilled by Amazon” so you get good customer service at least long enough to get a working machine. Any of these are good machines.

For me, however, I’d probably pick up the Saeco Aroma espresso machine. It may be a boxier, less modern design, but it’s built durable. The Saeco design has been around for years and is proven reliable. And the Saeco let’s you adjust the brew strength (even mid pull). But that said, if you prefer the Gaggia New Baby, I can easily recommend it as well.


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Breville BES840XL Infuser Espresso Machine



Breville Infuser Espresso Machine

Just like a Cadillac, bring your own grinder…

Product Description

The Breville is designed for the consumer. The ultimate consumer. The informed consumer.

Espresso making is notorious for being both an art and a science, requiring you to carefully adjust each of the inputs (grind size, grind amount, etc.). But even complete beginners and aspiring baristas can pull a perfect shot from the Breville Barista Express.

For beginners, it comes with pressurized portafilters that regulate pressure and help optimize the extraction.

For more experienced baristas, it single-wall, non-pressurized portafilters that give you more room to experiment with different grind sizes, grind amounts, and tamping pressure.

As either a crash-course or a continuation study, the Barista Express gives you free rein to explore the art of espresso, without suffering some horrible pre-mastery period of mediocre espresso, and without suffering some horrible realization that you’ve outgrown the machine as your talent and experience have developed.

Product Features

  • Espresso pressure gauge – allows you to monitors espresso extraction pressure
  • Auto purge function – if you know what this is, then you know you’ll love this
  • Clean me light when cleaning cycle required. Cleaning kit included!
  • The dry puck feature – removes excess water from spent grounds for easy disposal
  • Dedicated instant hot water spout – warm the cup and make americanos – or tea or hot choclolate
  • Pressurized portafilter baskets for beginners and learning
  • Commercial grade portafilter baskets for advanced espresso mastery
  • 54mm tamper
  • Hands-free grinding cradle
  • 54mm stainless steel portafilter
  • 61 oz. removable water tank
  • Volume control – 1 and 2 cup presets, manual override, and reprogrammable settings
  • Removable drip tray

Is the Breville Infuser Right For You?

No room for dilettantes or half in half out wishy washiness here. So you really want the best results? You’re willing to invest the time and effort into learning how to achieve them? You don’t mind the chance of an expensive machine breaking and requiring expensive repairs or replacement? Great!

Generally, the Breville is considered the Cadillac of home espresso machines. You want the best, you don’t want to think too much about it, just get the Coupe de Ville with all the options. Easy Peasy.

The two breville machines are more or less equivalent, with the Bariata infuser not having a built in dosing grinder.

If you already have a grinder, or you want a great grinder for both espresso and regular coffee, then this is the machine for you.

If you don’t have a grinder, or don’t need a grinder except for espresso, then consider the Breville Barista Express, as the built in grinder enhances freshness with single serving grinding.

List Price: $492.00 USD
New From: $492.00 In Stock
Used from: $335.99 In Stock

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Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine



Breville Barista Express Overview

Just like a Cadillac, but with a grinder…

Product Description

The Breville is designed for the consumer. The ultimate consumer. The informed consumer. For the ultimate espresso drinker, freshness is key. Ground coffee starts to lose its flavor almost immediately. Even a few minutes can make a difference. By integrating the burr grinder and doser, the Breville puts freshness first. Push the button. Grind the beans. Pack the bowl. And pull the shot. All in under a minute. All in your own home.

Espresso making is notorious for being both an art and a science, requiring you to carefully adjust each of the inputs (grind size, grind amount, etc.). But even complete beginners and aspiring baristas can pull a perfect shot from the Breville Barista Express.

For beginners, it comes with pressurized portafilters that regulate pressure and help optimize the extraction.

For more experienced baristas, it single-wall, non-pressurized portafilters that give you more room to experiment with different grind sizes, grind amounts, and tamping pressure.

As either a crash-course or a continuation study, the Barista Express gives you free rein to explore the art of espresso, without suffering some horrible pre-mastery period of mediocre espresso, and without suffering some horrible realization that you’ve outgrown the machine as your talent and experience have developed.

Product Features

  • Espresso pressure gauge – allows you to monitors espresso extraction pressure
  • Auto purge function – if you know what this is, then you know you’ll love this
  • Clean me light when cleaning cycle required. Cleaning kit included!
  • Pressurized portafilter baskets for beginners and learning
  • Commercial grade portafilter baskets for advanced espresso mastery
  • Integrated conical burr grinder and half-pound bean hopper
  • Grind size and grind amount selector dials
  • Filter size button
  • 54mm tamper
  • Hands-free grinding cradle
  • 54mm stainless steel portafilter
  • 67 oz. removable water tank
  • Volume control – 1 and 2 cup presets, manual override, and reprogrammable settings
  • Removable drip tray

Is the Breville Barista Express Right For You?

No room for dilettantes or half in half out wishy washiness here. So you really want the best results? You’re willing to invest the time and effort into learning how to achieve them? You don’t mind the chance of an expensive machine breaking and requiring expensive repairs or replacement? Great!

Generally, the Breville is considered the Cadillac of home espresso machines. You want the best, you don’t want to think too much about it, just get the Coupe de Ville with all the options. Easy Peasy.

The two breville machines are more or less equivalent, with the Bariata Express having a built in dosing grinder. If you have no particular use for a grinder apart from your espresso machine, then the built in one makes sense. But if you need a grinder for regular coffee, or press pot coffee, then go with the Breville Infuser and pick up a good conical burr grinder separately.

List Price: $595.92 USD
New From: $549.00 In Stock
Used from: $460.77 In Stock

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Rancilio HSD-SILVIA Silvia Espresso Machine



Rancilio Silva Summary

The Hot Italian Model…

Product Description

The Rancilio Silva is a traditional style semi-automatic espresso machine that is built to last. A strong sexy housing is constructed with a steel chassis and stainless steel body panels. The Silva’s commercial grade group head offers heat stability and superb extraction quality. A commercial grade 58mm porta filter produces superb extraction. These are the same porta filters used on Rancilio commercial machines, and it shows in the results the machine produces.

Although a single boiler, the Silvia has the largest volume capacity of any home machine in its class at 12oz. The chrome plated brass boiler produces outstanding steaming power and a fast recovery between shots.

The water reservoir holds 2 quarts and can be removed or it it can be filled from the top at anytime during operation.

The Rancilio Silvia steam wand articulates allowing for a complete range of motion for steaming perfect latte quality milk. It’s made from stainless steel for long life and easy cleaning.

Precise steam power control is provided by a commercially designed steam knob.

This Silvia includes a coffee scoop (7 grams), a plastic tamper and two filter baskets (single shot and double shot).

Product Features

  • commercial grade portafilter
  • Commercial grade group head for heat stability and quality extraction
  • Steam wand articulates and commercial control offers precise steam pressure.
  • Classic italian design
  • Pod and capsule adaptor kit available (optional)

Should you buy the Rancilio Silva?

The Racilia Silvia, however, compares to the Breville like a quirky british or italian car does to the staunch Cadillac. It takes a little more finesse and experience to drive, but if you spend the time learning it’s quirks and honing your skills, it will reward you with the ride of your life. The Rancilia has a solid brass portafilter and is the closest to the commercial expresso machines in operation. But this also means it demands the most from you as the operator too ;-)

Different strokes suit different folks, so consider which most suits your personality and you’ll know which is the right machine for you without .

List Price: $715.00 USD
New From: $715.00 In Stock
Used from: $661.49 In Stock

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