December 6, 2008

Single Serve Espresso Holiday Gift Guide

The days are cranking away and a lot of people are asking about gift ideas for the holidays. I think that your own espresso machine is a great holiday gift these days as a way to indulge and save money on buying coffee shop coffee at the same time.

I recommend a pump driven machine for anyone interested in espresso at home, it makes a better shot because of the high pressure extracting more flavor and more solids from the beans. Here's a pretty good list of ideas to hit most budgets.

Super Automatics >$900
DelonghiESAM3500.jpgDeLonghi ESAM3500 Esclusivo Magnifica Digital Super-Automatic Espresso/Coffee Machine - This maker does is all for you at the touch of a button. The whole beans go in the top, water in the reservoir and milk in the frothing attachment. Push the button and you get an espresso and steamed milk straight to your cup for that great latte or cappuccino. We call it the "barista-button" in our house. Grind, water levels and milk amounts are all optionally changeable. If you want a different style of coffee (i.e. Decaf) you can add ground coffee in the top of the "by-pass doser" to get that coffee used instead.

Jura-Capresso ENA -5 Automatic Coffee and Espresso Center - This Super Auto has a super small footprint, while offering a pretty big list of capabilities. The narrow profile (less than 10 inches wide) fits more countertops and still holds shot after shot amounts of beans and water. The Froth Express attachment in the EN5 allows you to siphon milk right out of a glass/mug into the steam port to froth right into your mug. A Zero Energy state allows the unit to shut off and draw no power, unlike the long list of other appliances around the house that can draw small amounts of electricity while "off" and waste power all day. Smart size, Smart design, and great coffee.

Espresso for the Aficionado ranciliosilvia.jpg
The Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine is a true aficionado's machine, as it does not have a pressurized portafilter, but instead a professional style portafilter that requires you to grind and tamp the espresso properly to get a great espresso. More difficult than most consumer machines, but can reward with excellent espresso. Requires a good or very good grinder, and a hand tamp to get a good espresso.

Nespresso Semi-Automatic Machine NespressoC100T.jpg
The Nespresso C-100T espresso machine is a tiny espresso wonder (See My Review) ; and I still love this machine. Drop the Nespresso capsules in the top and punch a button. Out comes a fantastic shot of espresso or a lungo. Beautiful Crema! Only uses Nespresso capsules available at or at Nespresso Boutiques.

I also wrote up a review for the Nespresso LeCube just recently as they released some new colors. Another bold design statement and another great Nespresso brewer. I liked it a lot, especially the integrated espresso cup trays.
You might pair them with a Nespresso Aeroccino or a simple AeroLatte for milk based drinks.

Classic Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine

Cuisinart EM - 100 Espresso Machine - Well designed Espresso machine with plenty of pump power, a 53-ounce reservoir, adapters for ESE Pods, and a very nice looking stainless exterior.

Entry Level Pump-Driven Machine DelonghiEC155.jpg

The DeLonghi EC 155 is an entry level machine that offers the convenience and ease of ESE pods, and the flexibility of ground coffee. The unit is compact, and comes with a steam wand to make lattes and cappuccinos, and has the pump driven format to make a decent espresso. Comes with inserts to use both ESE Pods and Ground Espresso in the portafilter. At 35 ounces there's, plenty of capacity in the reservoir to last for a lot of shots. See My Review

Classic Moka Pot

The Moka Pot may be inexpensive but don't be shy about using one. Screw off the bottom and fuill to the line with water, add the metal filter basket and fill it with ground espresso. Screw the top on and heat until the coffee is forced up through the grounds to leave you with espresso in the top of the maker, and nothing in the bottom. Just as good as a "Steam Driven" espresso maker. Add a manual frother and you have a great inexpensive solution at home.


The Handpresso Wild came to the US this year, and we were there with early looks, reviews and more. I continue to use my Handpresso at work, and have taken it on several trips to make sure I had Espresso where I wanted it. A great little gift for the espresso lover.

Accessories BodumPavinasm.jpg
I can't write up any recommendation without suggesting Bodum Pavina espresso glasses. The laboratory glass in a double wall cup keeps your fingers cool while your espresso stays hot. They REALLY show off the crema as the shot is poured, and show off a beautiful creation to guests.

I love the look of the new Bamboo Airtight Canister at Green Mountain. Fits with the greener times, and a cool look at the same time. Holds a pound of beans, with a washable poly liner.

Need some espresso for that new machine?
  • Try an Espresso Pod sampler to figure out what you like. The experimentation is great.
  • Lavazza Gran Crema is the house pod here at SingleServeEspresso; I love it.
  • Buy some whole bean from your local roaster for the freshest espresso cup.
  • Try one of my favorites - Gimmie! Coffee of Ithaca and New York, New York. True purveyors of excellent coffee with free shipping this month on their 3-blend gift sets.
  • Head to the Nespresso site for Nespresso capsules to go in your Nespresso machine. Start with a variety pack. They usually ship in 2 business days.

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Posted by Scott Martin at December 6, 2008 4:10 PM
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