Buying Guides

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.


JuraENA5Espresso.jpg
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 Nespresso.com 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
cuisinartem100.jpg

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.


handpressosmall.jpg

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.
BambooCoffeeCanister.jpg

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.
Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

May 6, 2008

Mother's Day Espresso Machine Choice

DeLonghiBAR32Logo.jpg

The DeLonghi Bar32 is a pretty simple, pump driven espresso machine that might just be a great choice for those first timers who are getting into espresso at home. Unlike the steam driven espresso machines, the pump-driven units create enough pressure to extract the flavor and create the crema that you are used to on your coffeehouse shots. I have been using one of these for a while in my usual rotation and have enjoyed it quite a bit. It works well with both ground espresso and ESE Espresso pods that allow for a quick shot of espresso without all the messy work.

The unit has a fairly large 35-ounce reservoir that fits on the back of the machine, and a decent size drip tray. On the right side, the unit also has a small tamp that will help set the coffee grounds in the portafilter. A tight tamp is not needed in the way that an open bottom portafilter needs it, as there is a small outlet in the bottom of the portafilter that serves to create the backpressure and thus the higher extraction of solids and oils that makes it an espresso. If Mom is really serious about Espresso and wants things a little more upscale and automated, consider the Super-automatic category.

The DeLonghi BAR32 Espresso Machine comes with:

  • DeLonghi BAR 32 machine
  • Portafilter handle
  • Single/ESE Pod insert
  • Double Shot Insert
  • Coffee Scoop
  • Direction booklet

    DeLonghi BAR32 at Amazon

    They still have this in stock and have shopping options to get it to you by Mother's Day.

    Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking
  • November 15, 2007

    SingleServeEspresso Holiday Gift Guide

    It’s that time of year again when we dreams of sugar plums and shots of espresso dance in our heads….. well, as more and more people find their way to the good life, they find that they want to get an espresso maker of their own. We’ve checked out a lot of machines and espresso this year, and have compiled a list that we feel is a good summary of ideas to hit many budgets.

    Super Automatics >$700

    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.

    NespressoLattissima.jpgDeLonghi EN660.R Nespresso Lattissima Single-Serve Espresso Maker - A similar machine to the DeLonghi above, made instead by Nespresso and DeLonghi is the Latissima. A super-automatic that relied on Nespresso capsules for its coffee source, while still maintaining the automatic milk steaming capability straight to the cup.

    JuraCapressoImpressaE9.jpgJura-Capresso 13204 Impressa E9 Automatic Coffee and Espresso Center
    A step down but still a super-automatic, this machine skips the automatic frothing, but still offers you the ability to create wonderful espressos with super fresh beans and then you will just have to manually steam the milk to get your milk-based espresso drink. Super easy, Super delicious from another Super Automatic.

    Espresso for the Aficionado
    ranciliosilvia.jpgThe 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.jpgThe Nespresso C-100T espresso machine is a tiny espresso wonder; and I count it as one of my favorites. 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 Nespresso.com or at Nespresso Boutiques. You might pair it with a Nespresso Aeroccino or a simple AeroLatte for milk based drinks.

    Classic Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine
    gaggiacarezza.jpgThe Gaggia 35008 Carezza Espresso Machine gives you a lot of ease at a pretty affordable price. You add the coffee as ground or pods, attach the portafilter and hit the button. The unit puts through a pre-determined amount of hot water to pull the shot. This is a pump-driven machine driving at 17+ bars of pressure to extract the great flavors, topping with a nice crema.

    Entry Level Pump-Driven Machine
    DelonghiEC155.jpgThe 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.

    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.

    Accessories

    BodumPavinasm.jpgI 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.

    bodumpaula.jpgLike a traditional espresso cup? These Bodum Paula Espresso Cups and Saucers are excellent too, beautiful on the outside and classic in design. No better way to serve a great espresso with maybe some espresso spoons on the side.

    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.
  • Head to Starbucks and order up some espresso beans there. If you like their coffee, this might just get you that same flavor right in your own kitchen.
  • Want Starbucks but not the hassle of ground? Try their ESE Pods – they taste just like the stuff in the store.
  • 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.


    Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking
  • December 12, 2006

    Holiday Gift Picks: ESE Espresso Pod Sampler

    christmas_bow.jpg

    esePodSuperSampler.jpg

    So you're thinking about that ESE Pod brewer for the holidays, but aren't sure how to start out? I thought I would highlight this little sampler that might open up the possibilities to a few espresso pods that you haven't heard of but might thouroughly enjoy. This ESE Espresso Pod Super Sampler has 60 total pods - 2 each of 30 different pods. It's an easy way to enjoy a lot of variety for not a lot of money. Figure out what you like and then go back and get more of those. At a about $35, it's not a lot of money for a whole lot of espresso experimentation.

    Also available in a Decaf ESE Espresso Pod Sampler with 26 total pods - 2 each of 13 different pods.

    Still uncertain what brewer to buy - check out our Holiday Buying Guide.

    Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

    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.

    Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

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