Can you recommend a great espresso machine that does it all?
May 14, 2016 11:02 AM   Subscribe

Looking for recommendations for an espresso / cappuccino maker that does all the things, including also making regular coffee.

I know this has been asked before but I figure there might be new consumers or machines or opinions now. Please share what you like or don't like about machines you've tried. I'm looking to gift someone with a really nice machine. They will be using it daily but it is just personal use, something to put into their kitchen. If possible I would like to spend less than $1500. If possible I would like it to be beautiful.

Hoped-for bells and whistles:
-makes espresso
-makes cappuccino
-froths or steams milk
-filters water
-makes regular coffee
-has a timer
-does....other cool things?

I do not want to gift anything that requires them to buy special pods or k-cups or any of that garbage. So please, no Nespresso or anything even remotely like that. Thanks for any suggestions!
posted by the webmistress to Food & Drink (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I have loved my Breville espresso makers. Amazing warrantee, buy them from Bed Bath & Beyond for extra coverage in case of issues in the future, they're solid and work well and look nice on the counter. You can get a good one for $300, a better one for $450.

-makes espresso
-makes cappuccino
-froths or steams milk
-filters water (but you'll want to use purified water anyway)

Can't think of an espresso maker (a good one, at least) that does both drip coffee and espresso).
posted by arnicae at 12:51 PM on May 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

Rancillio Silvia V3 and Racillia Rocky grinder is just a touch under $1,000. No drip coffee though.
posted by fixedgear at 1:05 PM on May 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

To make "regular" coffee from an espresso machine (I do it every day), you pull an espresso shot, or a long espresso shot, and then top it up with hot water. Called an "Americano."
posted by mbarryf at 1:25 PM on May 14, 2016 [8 favorites]

I love SeattleCoffee Gear. Their website is really good, with lots of short demo videos. Be sure to look in the Steals and Deals section, it's where they sell their refurbished machines. We bought a Saeco Syntia refurbed a few years ago and love it!
Don't worry if you aren't in Seattle, either, they ship, and have excellent customer service.
posted by dbmcd at 5:03 PM on May 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

I own an espresso machine repair shop and get asked a form of this question almost daily; the answer really depends on the person who's going to be using the machine.

If they're the type of person that likes to fiddle and tweak and spend time to get things just right, then you should probably be looking at a semi-auto machine + separate grinder. The Rancilio Silvia with a PID (digital temperature control) and either a Rancilio Rocky or a Baratza grinder will run you around $1000 and is a near-commercial-quality setup. Semi-auto machines only produce two things: espresso and steam, and it's up to the user to combine them into their beverage of choice. They are usually very simple and have no timers or other bells and whistles.

If they're more likely to want to just push a button and walk away with a beverage, then you should look at super-auto machines, specifically from Delonghi or Saeco. They take whole beans and handle all the grinding and brewing, and some come with attached milk containers so they can produce a latte or cappuccino at the push of a button. You can also get them with a conventional steam wand so you can have more control over the milk frothing, and many of them have digital displays with menus full of features; the more you spend, the fancier they get. The grinding/brewing system remains the same throughout the brands however, so spending more doesn't get you a better shot.

All machines eventually break down or need service, and all of the brands I've mentioned are backed by a sizable network of repair centers (Rancilio not so much, but commercial repair shops will usually take them in). This is not the case with Breville, Jura, and many other brands on the market; you either have to ship them back to the manufacturer for refurbishment or just throw them out because no spare parts are available to the public.

Above posters are correct that you can not make "regular" (I'm guessing you mean drip) coffee with an espresso machine, as they are designed to make an entirely different beverage. You can add espresso and hot water to get pretty close though. No machines have built-in water filtration but some can accommodate a removable filter in the water tank; these really aren't necessary unless their tap water tastes bad, and the filters don't negate the need for regular descaling.

Hope that helps, feel free to PM me with any other questions.
posted by bizwank at 7:06 PM on May 14, 2016 [5 favorites]

I had an amazing Capresso Superautomatic espresso machine for years. It made decent espresso, but not anything like a real professional machine. A few months ago, on a whim, I bought a $40 Brikka Moka pot, and the results are indistinguishable from the Superauto. Sure, you still need to grind your beans, or buy pre-ground beans, and it won't steam milk. But I'm 98% sure the Moka pot will outlast me, unlike a fragile and plastic superauto.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:20 PM on May 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

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