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Thread: Which espresso machine for under $150?

  1. #1
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    Which espresso machine for under $150?

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    Hi guys, im new here (nice to be here) and plan on doing my own coffee. I have used a commercial machine a few years back in a cafe I worked at so I am fairly familiar with the process of making coffee.

    I know the budget is ultra low but here is my defence ....

    I plan on getting a half decent but cheap grinder, the Sunbeam EM0450.

    I am not fussy about my coffee, I was up until just recently drinking instant but am now finding myself at gloria jeans for my large flat white :) *Sure I love a nice cup but am happy with pre-ground, which is what was used in the cafe I worked at. So having a grinder will be a mega plus for me.

    I only have one cup a day before work in the morning, my other half does not drink coffee.

    Thanks for helping me choose guys I really appreciate the input. I would like a machine that has a milk attachment as I am a milk coffee drinker and drink latte, flat white and cappuccino.

    I have read a couple of threads here of people recommending the Aeropress, I have watched the video and am not interested in this product. I want an esspresso style coffee with lots of creme *:D

  2. #2
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    Re: Which espresso machine for under $150?

    IMHO increase your budget for the mc by $100 and look on ebay for a secondhand Gaggia Classic...I got ours for around $250 and am really happy with it...put a Silvia steam arm on it and fiddle with the OPV to slightly reduce the pressure to the group head..makes nice shots and good microfoam milk....

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    Re: Which espresso machine for under $150?

    Quote Originally Posted by 6F4449594B4C58432D0 link=1233852577/1#1 date=1233865813
    IMHO increase your budget for the mc by $100 and look on ebay for a secondhand Gaggia Classic...I got ours for around $250 and am really happy with it...put a Silvia steam arm on it and fiddle with the OPV to slightly reduce the pressure to the group head..makes nice shots and good microfoam milk....
    Excuse my ignorance but are the baskets on the Gaggia Classic of good quality for crema? What is the OPV and is it easy to adjust? What is the cost to replace the steam arm and is that really necessary? I am happy to go higher in cost for a machine if the difference in quality is dramatic but at the same time dont want to be stuffing around trying to get everything perfect, ideally having an average machine that makes a half decent coffee and is cheap is what I am after.

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    Re: Which espresso machine for under $150?

    Or look for a second hand Gaggia Carezza for just under $150. I got mine for $120. The Gaggias come with unpressurised filter baskets, 58mm PFs (just like commercial) and will make you a decent cup with decent crema (depending on the bean). They are also a boiler unit as opposed to thermoblock which is stock standard in many cheaper domestic machines.

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    Re: Which espresso machine for under $150?

    Quote Originally Posted by 78534162597345464453454559360 link=1233852577/3#3 date=1233879254
    Or look for a second hand Gaggia Carezza for just under $150. I got mine for $120. The Gaggias come with unpressurised filter baskets, 58mm PFs (just like commercial) and will make you a decent cup with decent crema (depending on the bean). They are also a boiler unit as opposed to thermoblock which is stock standard in many cheaper domestic machines.
    I think this is a better option for me, the price is much better. I have started the process of looking but it seems there is no second hand available from what I can see. How much do these cost new and where can I get them?

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    Re: Which espresso machine for under $150?

    Quote Originally Posted by 67757860767175667166140 link=1233852577/2#2 date=1233877563
    Quote Originally Posted by 6F4449594B4C58432D0 link=1233852577/1#1 date=1233865813
    IMHO increase your budget for the mc by $100 and look on ebay for a secondhand Gaggia Classic...I got ours for around $250 and am really happy with it...put a Silvia steam arm on it and fiddle with the OPV to slightly reduce the pressure to the group head..makes nice shots and good microfoam milk....
    Excuse my ignorance but are the baskets on the Gaggia Classic of good quality for crema? What is the OPV and is it easy to adjust? What is the cost to replace the steam arm and is that really necessary? I am happy to go higher in cost for a machine if the difference in quality is dramatic but at the same time dont want to be stuffing around trying to get everything perfect, ideally having an average machine that makes a half decent coffee and is cheap is what I am after.
    For some reason, people always seem to have the impression that more expensive machines are more difficult to use. In fact, the opposite is true. You pay more for ease of use. Unfortunately for you, this means that if you want to keep your budget down, you will have to settle for a machine that is more difficult to use.

    You may also find that the small boiler/thermoblock capacity of machines at this price level make it difficult to steam milk for a large flat white ... depending, of course, on how large it is. A stovetop steamer such as the Bellman might actually satisfy your needs better in this respect; Im not sure, I havent used one.

    Hope that helps,

    Luca

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    Re: Which espresso machine for under $150?

    The Carezza is no longer made (sob). Mine will be for sale once I get around to replacing the brew valve - currently, it leaks through the group in steam mode.

    By far the best machine within your budget (and well within) is the Sunbeam EM2300 Ristretto. It will need to have unpressurised baskets (someone said the ones from the Breville BarVista will fit else Krups or mod the original) but then the "double" basket can make a surprisingly good single shot with good temp surfing - better than any of the single thermoblock Sunbeam/Brevilles IMO all of which cost more. They steam about as well as a Gaggia but take longer to transition as the heating element is not as highly powered.

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    Re: Which espresso machine for under $150?

    Excuse my ignorance but are the baskets on the Gaggia Classic of good quality for crema? What is the OPV and is it easy to adjust? What is the cost to replace the steam arm and is that really necessary? I am happy to go higher in cost for a machine if the difference in quality is dramatic but at the same time dont want to be stuffing around trying to get everything perfect, ideally having an average machine that makes a half decent coffee and is cheap is what I am after.
    I get a great crema, and the OPV = Over Pressure Valve...can be adjusted to reduce the pressure to the group head..very easy to do too..what this results in is a better shot..the slower flow means it takes a little longer for the same amount of water to extract the goodness from the ground beans (i think this is correct anyone think Im wrong?)..Gaggias come set at around 15-17 bar..I have been told this is too high and 9-10 bar is where it should be at...

    as for the milk..the original milk frother fitting on the Classic draws too much air into the milk resulting in too much big foam...not a microfoam at all...the Silvia arm has a single hole outlet with no air inlet meaning you can control the amount of air you allow into the milk to get the foam..the unit I got on ebay already had the arm fitted, but it is a common mod people here do...do a search on it..

    also get yourself a decent tamper to go with the grinder/coffee machine setup...a proper tamp will make the world of difference

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    Re: Which espresso machine for under $150?

    Quote Originally Posted by 60727F67717672617661130 link=1233852577/4#4 date=1233880398
    I think this is a better option for me, the price is much better. I have started the process of looking but it seems there is no second hand available from what I can see. How much do these cost new and where can I get them?
    You have to be patient when looking out for Carezzas. They will occassionally pop up either at the classifieds or at the bay-of-bays.... In hindsight Im glad I got the Carezza as my first machine because it was a boiler unit with non-pressurised baskets (which meant no extra cost in trying to get different filter baskets) and the 58mm portafilter meant I didnt have to change tampers too when I upgraded because most machines in the upgrade division are 58mm PFs. I was looking at alternatives like the Saeco Via Venezia etc.. but they were lacking in something one way or the other. I modified the steam wand with a silvia one at minimal cost as well and can get very good steam for one capp in a 300ml jug. For 2 standard lattes in a 600ml jug, a bit more tinkering is involved and it takes a fair bit longer.
    This may look like a good low cost option to get into coffee, but be aware that getting the Carezza isnt going to be a long term investment because of the aluminium boiler that will corrode over time and you have even less time if you get a second hand one. If you can accept that then the Carezza is a good one for you.

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    Re: Which espresso machine for under $150?

    The Gaggia aluminium boilers can easily be replaced and arent too expensive. *And the corrosion problem is dependant on local water supply - there are many old Gaggias in use in areas where the water is not too corrosive.

    But for a readily available (ie new), dirt cheap machine that can make real espresso, there is no competition to the Sunbeam EM2300 Ristretto.

  11. #11
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    Re: Which espresso machine for under $150?

    I would go for the EM3600 as it has a separate Steam switch and thus when doing more than one milk based coffee... It is much easer to manage the issue of Over temp for the next coffee...

    You still need to manage it, but with a de pressurized basket makes a great coffee.. And the steam is not bad either...

    However it does not look as striking as the EM2300 Ristretto

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    Re: Which espresso machine for under $150?

    I completely agree that the sunbeam ristretto is a great machine. I had one for about 5 years, we abused it badly (at work) and the only reason I got rid of it was because the pump finally died.

    They can actually pull very decent shots, and it is very easy to replace the baskets with non-pressurised versions when you are ready to do that (unlike the via venezia I now have, which requires a whole new group head thingy).

    Its a boiler too, not thermablock! I think they are an unsung hero - I am almost considering taking my VV back and buying an EM0450 and a ristretto instead......... but I do like the metal VV body...

  13. #13
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    Re: Which espresso machine for under $150?

    Yes, Id rather the EM2300 over the EM3600 any day, due to the boiler vs thermoblock heating allowing for a decent temp surf.

    Both machines need to be flushed to cool down after steaming if pulling another shot but the much smaller volume of the thermoblock requires a much smaller cooling flush. Apart from that, I dont see any advantage of the EM3600.

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    Re: Which espresso machine for under $150?

    Hi Saltbearer

    You may be able to get a Breville Ikon at a Breville Seconds Outlet for about that price. I got mine for $180 from the one in Brisbane about 3 months ago. It has a stainless steel boiler and it makes a pretty good coffee.

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    Re: Which espresso machine for under $150?

    I have just set myself up with new coffee equipment while i save (and convince the wife) for a silvia/nemox.

    For $100 on the for sale threads i picked up a Breville 0480 grinder. I must admit i also visited another auction site but for $30 i picked up a second hand hardly used sunbeam ristretto. Add another $16 for an unpressurised filter basket - to my maths that adds up to about $146.

    I have only just got it all set up but to my tastes it makes a pretty decent coffee. Far, far better than what i have been getting from a Kr*ps thermoblock and burr grinder (mill). With a bit of playing around I think i can probably make a better cup than most cafes with equipment that is really pretty affordable.

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    Re: Which espresso machine for under $150?

    With good temp surfing, you will get very good results with your setup, Ash25. Just use the double basket to make single shots and the results can be not that far off what a Nemox/Gaggia can achieve (with their single baskets).

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    Re: Which espresso machine for under $150?

    Salt
    many snobs here would laugh at my purchase, but I bought a Breville Cafe Roma for $120 about 6 months ago.
    Thru much reading on this forum and some sound advice from CSersI have mastered (in my opinion) the art of getting a good coffee out of this basic machine thru trial and error.
    If it lasts me the 12 months (warrantee) I will be happy, I will have got my moneys worth of coffee.......... :)

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    Re: Which espresso machine for under $150?

    Salt, where are you located??



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