November 15, 2006

Holiday Buying Guide - Best Espresso Gifts

It’s that time of year, and we decided to put together a buying guide for people who are interested in giving a little bit of that espresso cheer this year. The list covers a pretty broad spectrum, and offers some insight into what I’ve enjoyed and what I think is a pretty good list of consumer friendly high quality machines that can turn out a great espresso. These are all pump driven machines, (read why this is important), so I won't be recommending any $30 specials, as the quality of the brew isn't there.

Best Super Automatic -Total Luxury
DelonghiEAM3500sm.jpgDeLonghi Magnifica 3500 - We’re using it now, and we love it. The one-button lattes are killer and you can’t beat the convenience of the super automatic. It cranks out great espresso after great espresso.

Best Super Automatic - for the Masses
DeLonghi Magnifica 3200 - Leaves out the digital automation, but still grinds, tamps and pulls the espresso shot for you. I've had a lot of people writing me about how much they like this unit.


Best Espresso Machine Under $400
francisx6.jpg
The FrancisFrancis! X6 features a 1100-watt espresso/cappuccino machine housed in ABS plastic with chrome accents and works with ESE pods. It also features an 18-bar pressure pump; all-brass boiler refills automatically and the new Trio Technology which allows for making 3 espresso preparations--short, normal, and long. It has a 5-cup removable water tank, steam jet with built-in milk foamer, and a handy cup warmer. The Francis Francis X6 is priced around $400; normally runs $500 and higher.

Highly Functional Step Up
CapressoUltima2.jpgCapresso Ultima - This unit has been called the super-automatic without all the electronics and the price. With its unique design, it allows you to drop in your espresso, rotate a knob on the top of the machine to tamp the coffee and then pull a shot. Crank another half turn and the spent grounds are in a waste bin inside the espresso maker. Easy and excellent. I liked using it a lot. Read my review of the Capresso Ultima Espresso machine.

Best Inexpensive Espresso Maker
delonghiec155b.jpgDeLonghi EC155 - This little machine turned out some wonderful espresso for us. It’s got the ability to brew from ESE pods and ground coffee and at a price of around $100 it’s a great deal for an espresso maker that was consistently good. (See our Review of the DeLonghi EC155).

Beautiful Stainless - 2 Now 3 Flavors

Contemporary Stainless Steel Espresso Maker
brevillecaferomab.jpgBreville ESP8XL Café Roma - Classic lines, well built and highly functional, this popular espresso machine is built like a tank and turns out espresso like the best of them. It looks great and turns out espressos from ground espresso and ESE pods. Read our Review of the Breville Café Roma.

LelloAriete45900Espresso.jpgLello Ariete 45900 Ariete Espresso Machine - I am adding the Lello Ariete to the list: at $129, less the $25 discount, its a bargain for a stainless steel beauty. (Remember anything over $125 gets a $25 discount at checkout). They just dropped the price again! It's a branch of the DeLonghi company, and is just starting to get imported into the country. We have it in for review now, and so far so good. Runs on ESE pods and ground coffee and looks great on the counter. See my Review of the Lello Ariete 45900 Prestige Espresso Machine.



Retro Stainless Steel Espresso Maker
villawareespresso2.jpgVillaWare V41006 Moderno Prima Espresso Maker - This good looking retro machine takes a great look and makes it affordable for the rest of us. With it’s classic lines and its solid feature set, it will look as good on the counter as brewing up a shot. I am a little disappointed in the pricing at Amazon. It was around $230 for this, and has been bouncing around up into the $300's. I wish it would stay low for you. Still looks great though.


Great Gift for the Coffee Nut
iroast2a.jpg Hearthware I-Roast 2 Home Coffee Roaster - What an excellent time roasting coffee at home. There is nothing fresher and nothing more rewarding than to be able to lay claim to roasting the coffee that you serve up to friends and enjoy every morning. Roasting your own coffee is easier than you think, and it doesn’t take long to get good at it. Very high quality green coffee can be ordered easily through several websites. See my review of the iRoast 2 Home Coffee Roaster.

Don’t Forget the Coffee and Pods!
If you are getting the DeLonghi EC155 or the Breville Café Roma, I would add in some ESE coffee pods. They make preparation easy and painless. They also make an excellent cup of espresso with these machines. If you like Starbucks, try the Starbucks ESE pods, or if you want something more adventurous and also delicious, try the Lavazza pods.

Another great option is to get a HUGE ESE Espresso Pod Super Sampler . With 64 (2 each of 32 kinds) ESE pods, you'll be able to sample your way through all kinds of different Espresso. Lots of fun, lots of espresso.

If you want a great whole bean espresso, you should order up some Gimme! Coffee Leftist espresso blend. This high quality artisan coffee roaster from Ithaca NY is well known for their attention to detail and dedication to the espresso.


Espresso Glasses
BodumPavinasm.jpg

Finally, for the espresso freak who has everything try out these glasses. They are fantastic to look at with the espresso just hanging there in mid-air:

  • Bodum Pavina Double-Wall Espresso/Shot Glass, or
  • Bodum Canteen Double-Wall Espresso/shot glasses

    Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans
    Who doesn't like Chcolate Covered Espresso Beans? These are from Cafe Britt; a premier roaster from Costa Rica. Espresso beans available in Regular Chocolate, and a lighter roast in White Chocolate.

    The Espresso Companion
    KeurigB70sm.jpgI have to give a plug to a machine that I love and that I use to complement my espresso makers, the Keurig B70. It’s got push button convenience, and a wide variety of offerings. Read how the B-70 has brought harmony to our kitchen. (The B70 is available at GreenMountain and Amazon. Check out which is the best deal for you.)

    See this post for a deal at Green Mountain on the Keurig B70 that offers free shipping, free coffee and a 30 day risk free trial (you need a check-out code for this deal).

    Pair that machine with some of the hundreds of K-cups that are available. A few that I like are: Organic Sumatran Extra Bold, Timothy’s Rain Forest Espresso, and Gloria Jean's Black Gold.

    Also consider getting a variety pack of K-Cups from Green Mountain, they are a popular way to try out a lot of different coffees in one easy box. At Amazon.

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    Posted by Scott Martin at November 15, 2006 9:36 AM
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