The time is getting close and wanted to get this out to help all of those people I have been corresponding with over gift ideas. What you should buy boils down to a couple of things, what you really want out of the espresso machine and your budget. There are people who want excellent espresso with little bother, all the way to the traditionalist who wants to perfect their technique and everything in between. I'll try to hit some key needs and several price points.
The Do-Everything Superautomatics
- DeLonghi ESAM3500 Magnifica - Amazing quality at the push of a button, pour beans in the top, hook up a milk pitcher and push a button. Grind, tamp, extract and steam the milk right into your cup. Instant high quality latte. This will give you high quality drinks with the freedom to pick and choose your own whole bean. I reviewed its predecessor, the EAM 3500 and thought it was excellent. Cost ~$1499.
- Nespresso EN660 Lattissima - The ease of the Nespresso capsules, and the quality frothing straight into your cup. The Nespresso capsules are ordered from the Nespresso site or bought at their stores across the country. Two-day deliver standard makes the refilling process easy; I use it myself all the time. The Latissima is made by DeLonghi and offers high quality with easy use. Cost ~$499 - Buy before January 17 and get a $50 Nespresso Club Credit - see this Voucher PDF for details.
- Rancilio SILVIA - Commercial format machine allows the inner barista come out. Not for the amateur this machine will push you to get a high quality grinder for a precision tamped espresso puck, and an accurate pull to get you a beautiful shot of espresso. Cost ~$700 - $800
Solid Espresso Machine for Ground and ESE Pods
Near Perfect Espresso Easy Everytime
- Nespresso C100 Essenza with Nespresso Aeroccino Milk Frother - I use a Nespresso regularly, and love it for its consistent quality and ease of use. You buy the capsules from Nespresso, sit back and enjoy the awesome drinks. The Aeroccino is another push button easy milk frother; add milk to the line, push the button and about a minute later, warm frothed milk is ready to top your drinks. - package costs about $230
Don't forget the Espresso Cups
- Bodum Pavina 2-Ounce Espresso Glasses - These are hands down my favorites for drinking espresso as a shot. The glass is just cool to see the espresso swirl while it is being made, and the double wall keeps it hot longer. Cost ~$13 a pair.
Each winter Nespresso launches a set of Nespresso variations that have are built around unique flavor profiles. Three new varieties, "Gingerbread," "Apricot" and "Chestnut Cream," launch this year and are available at Nespresso's site. I still have some of last year's Ginger flavored Espresso capsules in the 'frige for safe keeping - they were definitely my stunning favorite.
- CHESTNUT CREAM Reminiscent of very sweet and concentrated jarred chestnut cream, recalls the traditional "marron glace," or "candied chestnut."
- APRICOT Reminiscent of a very fresh, ripe and juicy apricot; unlike the more intense dried apricot flavor.
- GINGERBREAD Reminiscent of crystalized orange zest or peel, honey, cinnamon and ginger in a brown sugar base.
I already ordered mine this week, and I would suggest that you order yours quickly. These have a tendency to sell out and they are well worth the wintertime treat.