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I want to know the cheapest machines to make decent espresso for my situation.

Needs:

  • I need steam for milk drinks
  • I need the proper brewing pressure
  • I need to use fresh ground coffee, no pods nonsense.
  • No super-automatics that deal with the milk, I like that myself.

Wants:

  • I want a good temperature control, but I also don't really drink straight espresso, so 212F made espresso will not be that different to me than 200F made espresso.
  • Guages would be great, especially in lever machines.
  • Semi-automatic (by which I mean make a puck in the portafilter, turn water on/off, turn steam on/off) would be great.

Non-Issues

  • I don't care how fussy or slow it is. I can and will spend time to learn the machine and will wait for it to be ready.
  • I am not super into tasting espresso like one does wine or whiskey, I really just want to be able to make a decent latte without hoofing it to a cafe.
  • I live alone, I don't need to make more than a double shot at a time.
  • You're only going to get biased opinions... mine is La Pavoni Europiccola. Combine it with a Zassenhaus hand grinder to keep the price down. – Kanga Roo Oct 14 at 3:52
  • Biased opinions are fine, I can look through them. And this is coffee, not rocket science, so opinions are about all there is anyway. – Brandon Myers Oct 15 at 8:10
  • Can you please try to define what "decent" means to you? As someone who's into specialty coffee, I doubt your and my definition of "decent" are the same. – technical_difficulty Oct 18 at 21:17
  • Decent meaning about what you would expect from an average cafe. I hate starbucks and costa, but basically every local one I have ever gone to has been about what I wanted. – Brandon Myers Oct 19 at 17:00
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If only after Latte, Bialetti Brikka will get you 9/10. Also the grinder will be a bit less demanding. Add an induction milk frother (stainless cup) and you're set at a fraction of the cost and maintenance needs of a portafilter machine.

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    A Bialetti moka pot does NOT make espresso. – technical_difficulty Oct 18 at 21:09
  • Brikka is not the same as Moka!Based on a very narrow definition of espresso it doesn't, on the spectrum of decent espresso, it very much does so. Coffee extracted under pressure, extracting oils and without a paper/cloth element to absorb oils. Produces crema as well with the right beans. – Horst Oct 19 at 22:05
  • Even though the Brikka builds up pressures of up to 6 bar, it cannot be considered espresso. Just "extracted under pressure", "extracting oils", and "produces crema" do not mean it produces espresso, let alone decent one. – technical_difficulty Oct 21 at 9:45
  • And pressure profiling can't be considered real™ espresso as well, as the pressure varies... In practice the Brikka tastes closer to a portafilter machine than anything else. Since the question is for the cheapest decent latte, the Brikka fits very well. Any brewing method adjusted for personal taste will beat out most cafés so that fits too. Temperature control can be somewhat achieved and a gauge is indeed missing, but nothings perfect. – Horst Oct 22 at 10:47
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    the Brikka doesn't make crema, it makes coffee foam, just like those pressurized portafilters. – ths Oct 22 at 14:08

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