Sep 11, 2017
What's your price limit for affordable? And what kind of machines are you thinking of? The problem with espresso and cappuccino makers is that they span such a wide range in prices and technologies.
Back in the 80s I had an old Bialetti stovetop pot I paid something like $20 for. It wouldn't steam milk, but it made a good cup of espresso. I've got a nicer one now, an Imusa (hey, stainless!) Still makes good coffee.
Plug-in machines come in a couple of varieties. In the 90s I picked up a Krupps steam-operated machine for about $100. It would also steam milk if you opened a valve at the end of the cycle. Bit of a pain to use, but it did a decent job. The tank finally corroded through and blew up, though. (Don't ask... Corrosion is not your friend on any kind of steam boiler.)
More recently I went through a series of DeLonghi pump operated machines, but they all died after about a year of service. The thermistors tended to go. I still have one I Frankensteined together out of parts from the others, but it's not my first choice. I don't think I'll ever get one from them again.
The best machine I've used so far is (no surprise) the most expensive. It's a Breville Barista Express I paid about $650 for. It's down to about $530 on Amazon now. Funny thing is, the espresso is only slightly better than what I can make with my Imusa stovetop pot, but it's a heckuvalot easier to use, clean, etc. And the Imusa doesn't steam milk.
I've never used a lever machine, but I've been told they can make an even better cup than my Breville. They start around $1000 and keep going.
At the other end of the convenience spectrum, fully automated machines with milk fridges and collection systems for the used coffee grounds also start around $1000 and go up from there.
This goes back to why I asked what you consider affordable. When I got it, I didn't consider the Breville to be affordable. I just didn't want another DeLonghi. But I've watched people here drop more than the cost of my Breville on a pair of headphones. In any case, now that I've used it I know that when it dies I'll save every penny so I can buy another one. I guess that means my views have changed.
Sep 11, 2017
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