Recommend me a new Espresso maker (or warn me!)

For the past seven years, I’ve had one of these little Maxim espresso machines - also sold under the Salton and Black & Decker names, I think. It looks like the one in this picture (only black in color).

I’m thinking about a new espresso maker as my Christmas present this year. Not too expensive but still durable, easy to use, and capable of turning out a decent cup of espresso.

I want to dump the water in, add coffee, and push the button.

What do you recommend?

I am not sure of the price range that you are interested in, but the Capresso C1000 is a very nice machine. Pretty pricey but it is easy, clean, and makes extremely good espresso and crema coffee. You can read many reviews on

I have had several cheaper models but none of them even come close to matching the quality of the Capresso machine. Hope this is helpful.

The Australian Consumers’ Association reviewed Espresso machines last year. Their recommendations were in order

KRUPS Novo 2100 Plus 962
KENWOOD Cremissimo ES 421
SUNBEAM Club Cappuccino PC120A
GAGGIA Espresso
DELONGHI L’espresso Bar M290

They scored them on

Time to make first two cups (min/sec)
Milk-frothing score (%)
Ease of use score (%)
Coffee-making score (%)

The article has some other information.

I have this Delonghi Bar 140. Excellent budget choice: it makes a decent espresso (though it’s capuccino capabilities are mediocre), and only cost me about $100.

do not get a Krups. I’ve had serious problems with my $500 maker, and a cheaper model I had about 10 years ago also had to be fixed a couple of times.

Go Italian

Maybe I’m a coffee snob, but I went through a couple ~$100 machines before I decided to believe the people who said that you can’t get a good Espresso machine for less than about $400. I ended up buying a Gaggia Classic and I can tell you, the price is worth it.

Burn me for a heretic, but what do you guys think of those octagonal screw-together types that look like little aluminum cooling towers? They’re pictured about halfway down this page. I realize you’re not going to get as even a brew because you don’t have the pressure forcing an even stream of steam through the coffee, and there’s always the possibility of burning the bejesus out of yourself grabbing a pot of boiling-hot coffee, but hey: $15.

BTW, these things are great for camping…

Budget - good word - less that $200 US would be nice. Closer to $100 would be better.

I can froth milk just fine with just a steam pipe - I don’t need any of those fancy “EZ Froth” kind of steam pipe add-ons. I often kick start the milk’s base temperature with the microwave, then finish it with the steam pipe. Sometimes I use the hot milk as-is out of the microwave (I can hear the purists cringing now…)

My current espresso maker is just producing wimpy espresso lately. No creama and I think I’m leaving a lot of coffee/caffiene behind.

I wanna wrench those little beans dry. I have a new baby and I’m substituting espresso drinks in place of sleep.

I’ve used several home makers… From Krups, De Longhi’s to other fancy-schmancy euro names I’ve never heard before.

My fave?

A Salton that I paid $40CDN at Zellers (kinda like a Canadian version of Target) 8 years ago. Still works like a hot damn and brews just as good as any several-hundred dollar machine I’ve used, if not better. The steam pipe actually works, and its variable. Not like some of these other ones that are either just on/off.

My .02

We have one of those types of stovetop things, and it certainly works in a pinch. Yeah, we used it for camping, too.

Our little Salton has just died (well, it seems mortally ill) after faithfully giving us more than 15 years of daily usage. In the past, we had minor trouble with it, sent it back to Salton, and they repaired and replaced parts for us. Right now, it seems clogged. Spouse took it apart and cleaned out a bunch of junk, but this has not helped. Could be the motor or whatever is dying a slow death.

While our little Salton made drinkable cappucino, it certainly did not make coffee which tasted anything like you find in Italy, and we have been thinking of going for a higher end model–but all of the research I have done thus far presents this picture of espresso machines which are sort of like high-maintentance racecars that must constantly be serviced. This is okay if you are some kind of espresso nerd but we just want a trouble-free morning cappucino. The model we’ve been looking at was made by Elektra.

OK…The absolute best budget espresso machine is the Krups Gusto. It’s a true pump machine with a SS boiler, not a steam toy or a thermoblock based machine. Best of all, it is available for $60 from

Don’t let the price fool you…This is the second best machine that Krups has ever made and the the best machine you are going to get for under $200. Trust me on this, espresso is a passion, I know what I’m talking about. If you need more incentive to buy this machine, go to and look through the reviews.


I would emphatically say do NOT get this model. Mr. Athena and I bought this model after having some people recommend it to us. Yes, it’ll make good espresso… about 5% of the time. We kept thinking it was something WE were doing wrong, so one night Mr. Athena put on his geek engineer hat and went to it. He spent 3 hours trying variations of tamping, grinds of espresso, types of espresso, time to brew, etc. etc. Not once could he get reliable results. We’d get a good cup, he’d re-do the process exactly (he was taking notes) and the next cup would be thin and tasteless.

We felt the same way. We didn’t want to dedicate our mornings to the Art of Making Espresso. We just wanted a machine that would easily and reliably make a really good cup of espresso. We’d also had maintenance problems with other coffee makers, so we didn’t want to deal with that.

We finally went to a local coffee shop that sold machines, and talked to a guy there who’d been selling home espresso machines for 17 years. He steered us toward the Gaggia Classic, saying that he rarely to never had maintenance problems with it, and it makes GREAT espresso very easily. He was right. I’ll never go back. But yeah, it wasn’t cheap.

He also confirmed our experience with the Krups Gusto. Yes, it’s a pump machine, which is good. But it’s a very lightweight pump, and doesn’t really have the power to push the water through the Espresso.

I’m fully aware that the Gusto is a fairly lightweight machine…However, it’s about the best budget machine available right now.

Honestly, I’m not trying to be insulting, but your problems were due to operator error. As long as you are using fresh coffee (not canned or out of the bins at the grocery store), tamping to ~30 lbs with a properly sized tamper, and have this machine paired to a decent grinder, the Gusto can make a decent espresso.
As far as being told that it wasn’t powerful enough…That is BS…Almost every pump driven home espresso machine uses the same 40W Ulka pump…He told you what you wanted to hear to buy the machine.

The goal is to find a machine that can produce a 2.0 - 2.5 oz double shot using 14g of coffee with a 30 lb tamp at ~195 Deg F over ~25 seconds. A Gusto certainly can do that.

What many people don’t understand about espresso preparation is just how essential a proper grind is. Going down to your local Starbucks and having them “grind this for espresso” is not acceptable. You might have to vary your grind in a day, depending upon atmispheric conditions. Being in DFW, I’m not affected by the weather too much, but if I put in a different blend than I normally use, it’s going to take a few shots until I get it right. The ability to produce an even uniform grind is essential…It’s far, far better to buy a cheap espresso machine and a quality grinder than vice-versa. A Solis Maestro at $129 is pretty much entry level for a grinder that is suitable for espresso. For around $30 more, you can find an Innovia conical model w/o a doser which is a much better grinder. However, this grinder is a pain in the ass to use for anything but espresso.
The Gaggia machines are great machines, so are machines made by Rancillio, Solis, and other “prosumer” brands. I’d love to the the poster of the OP buy a good Italian espresso machine. There’s too much crap sold out there by Krups, Braun, Mr. Coffee, et al. that is ruining people’s impressions of what espresso should be. I wish everybody who has an interest in making espresso could buy something like a Rancilio Silvia and a Rocky grinder. However, the problem is that they are looking for a budget machine. Once you factor in the cost of getting a decent grinder, things start to add up.

Don’t just take my word for it though…Here’s a review from one of the most knowledgeable cafe owners and roasters that I know…


There’s no way the problems were due to operator error. We went into the 3 hour marathon espresso making session assuming that we weren’t making it correctly. We came out of with undeniably proof that it was the machine. I believe that a quality machine should, given the same espresso, tamper, and tamping pressure, consistently and reliably make a good cup of espresso. This one would occasionally make a good one, but repeating the same process that made the good one would not usually result in another good cup. It was too weak, too strong, no crema, etc.

We took notes. We tried several different kinds and grinds of espresso, along with grinding our own from fresh beans. We had a good tamper, we tried tamping anywhere from 15 to 45 lbs, we tried everything.

Maybe we got a bad machine, since others have reported good results from it. Maybe we’re just especially picky about our espresso. But I can’t in good faith recommend this machine.

For what it’s worth, we didn’t buy a Rancilio Silvia and the Rocky Grinder because of reports of maintenance problems. It is the top rated machine but I wasn’t willing to fork out that kind of money unless I had assurance that it would last for many, many years, and the Rancilio got bad reviews on reliability.

That Krups you link to at Amazon is $99.99 and says that’s the “lowest price of the season.”

New questions: Is there such a thing as a good coffee/cappucchino/expresso maker? Preferably one that can be mounted under a cabinet. Am I asking the impossible?

I’m trying to save counter space in my already cluttered kitchen.