Espresso Buying Guides

December 5, 2010 Holiday Gift Guide 2010

I wanted to offer some espresso and coffee suggestions in a gift guide this year. There are lots of different needs and types of coffee lovers out there, and lots of options too. Hopefully we can highlight a few potential ideas out there to fit your favorite coffee lover.....

Start Small; Every espresso lover will love some espresso cups...

  • Illy Espresso Cups - are just about the standard by which every other espresso cup is judged. Iconic, and durable - From $30
  • Bodum Pavina Espresso Glasses - My absolute favorite glass over the years to show off the espresso and enjoy a hot shot. The borosilicate double walled "lab" glass keeps the heat of your precious shot in while showing off the crema layer. - Less than $10 a pair
  • Artsy Espresso Cups from Etsy - Find your own inspiration in this artist community's long list of espresso cup interpretations. Some are terrible, some inspiring. Various prices

Convenient Coffee House Drinks

  • Nescafe Dolce Gusto Machine - Great convenient drink center offers a wide array of options for different coffeehouse drinks. A good transition maker for those who want coffeehouse drinks without the fuss. Impressive design and backed by Nestle, the set of 16+ drinks are available either online or in local stores (WalMart). Range from $89 - $169 - see my review of the Nescafe Dolce Gusto Creativa - their high end model

Capsule Brewers for the Espresso Lover
Nespresso machines are my favorite way to get convenient espresso. The wide variety of their blends make it easy to find one for just about any espresso taste. Near perfect shots every time in a matter of minutes make this system attractive.
  • Citiz- super thin and stylish, simple, my favorite - My Review of Citiz
  • Citiz with Milk- Adds the Aeroccino sidecar if you want milk based drinks
  • Essenza- nice features, still small, less expensive than the Citiz
Buying capsules is easy through Nespresso - they arrive in 1-2 days via UPS.

If you like the illy coffee flavor and want a capsule brewer option, the FrancisFrancis Y1 is a fun design;

Entry Level Espresso Brewers
You need to have a pump-driven espresso machine to get the true espresso experience. I don't recommend any steam driven ones that produce a lesser espresso.
  • DeLonghi BAR32 - simple entry level pump-driven maker. Decent machine that can do ground and ESE Pods. See my review - about $60 after $20 Mail in Rebate
  • Cuisinart EM-100 - more stylish stainless model that is very capable. Both ground and ESE pod capable. About $125

One Step Up - Ground + ESE Capable Brewers

  • Saeco Aroma Espresso Machine - Nice machine and very solid brewer. Stainless exterior and stainless boiler; brews ground and ESE pod espresso. - $299 for stainlness exterior, $250 for black

Super Automatic Espresso Drink Centers
These are the barista-in-a-box units that grind, tamp and pull the shots for you. Using your favorite espresso blend gives you awesome espresso anytime you want. The higher end ones also offer automatic steaming of the milk for a push button latte. The ultimate in convenience comes with a price, but wow are they luxurious to have on the counter!

  • DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica - A nice entry level Super Auto - that includes a by-pass doser to allow you to brew ground coffee also (like a decaf after dinner) - program your water, and grind settings - for $535 after $100 Mail in Rebate
  • DeLonghi ESAM3500 Magnifica -a Super Auto with a milk tank that puts out a Latte with one push of the "Barista" button. about $1350 after $100 Mail in Rebate

For the Espresso Purist
The bar continues to be set by Rancillo; grinder and brewer. The Silvia has a professional portafilter that rewards precise effort with high quality results; takes a bit of getting used to in order to get the quality that it is capable of delivering. Pair it with the Rocky to get the most out of your favorite whole bean espresso.

Awesome Micro Lot and Blended Coffees
I can't keep up with all of the fantastic coffees being roasted and sold out there, but the market for high end extremely well done coffees finally exists so that growers through roasters are starting to make a decent business out of small lot wonderful quality coffees. Consider skipping the biggie guy this year and focus on an appealing story that might offer sustainably grown, Fair Trade and maybe organic coffees from around the world. While not exclusively espresso, a few of my favorites are:

  • George Howell Coffee - obsessively focused on quality from coffee tree to coffee cup, this coffee roaster has a long list of appealing coffees. Buy a couple of different ones to experiment. I recently bought their award winning Konga Co-op Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and was amazed at the flavor complexity from this light roasted coffee.
  • Gimmie Coffee - based in Ithaca NY, with cafes in NYC, and lauded by many for its focus on espresso, they are comfortable on the national stage among the best roasters and baristas in the country. I like the Leftist Espresso, a recent SCAA Winner Colombia Finca San Luis, and an amazing Decaf that you wouldn't think was decaf: Colombia La Serriana
  • Conscious Coffees - Roast Magazine's Micro Roaster of the year offers a wide variety of high quality coffees with an impeccable approach to environmental sensitivity. They even deliver local coffees around their Boulder CO roastery on a work bicycle.
  • Local Coffee - I recently found a roaster who does 4# batches in his basement and the coffees are excellent. He roasts them a mile from my house and I can get them within a day of roasting. Maybe you can find a good roaster near you for the same freshness.

Other Fun Gifts

  • Tasting Note Pad from 33 Coffees has a note pad that allows you to keep track of the coffees you enjoy, complete with a tasting wheel in a RADAR plot format. I like it... less than $10
  • Chemex Drip Coffee Carafe - 6 Cup - One of the best designed items in modern history according to Illinois Institute of Technology; just awesome to look at and great to use. A beautiful way to brew up coffee from your favorite roaster when you aren't having espresso. Makes about 30 ounces of coffee - around $40 for a machine made glass set. The handblown sets are about twice as expensive.
  • Frothing Pitcher - 20-Ounce - Need one of these to make a nice latte or capp - they are less than $20 in various sizes
  • Steaming/Frothing Thermometer - steam to the right temp to get a nice latte without scorching I like this one because it has Green and Red zones helping you steam to the right temperature - less than $12

Have an awesome holiday and thanks for stopping by SingleServeEspresso, I hope you enjoy the site as much as your coffee. Cheers! - Scott

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December 13, 2009

Single Serve Espresso Holiday Gift Guide 2009

christmas_bow.jpgThe 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.

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June 11, 2007

Espresso Machines for Father's Day

I wanted to put up a quick Father's Day guide for those of you who are considering an Espresso Machine. We have run through a lot of machines and have seen a few good ones and a few not so good ones, but here's a brief set that should get you headed in the right direction. If you want good crema, make sure the unit is a pump-driven (not "steam driven"). All of the units below are pump driven. See my post on why pump driven machines are better.

Classic Design - Semi Automatic Operation

Gaggia Baby D -

The Gaggia Baby D semi-automatic machine has manual set-up and push button convenience for quick operation. The specifications are all there for a good shot of espresso and it has plenty of power to deliver that shot; 1400+ watts of heating and pumping with a 15-bar pump. The two programmable buttons allow for easy and consistent espresso every time.

Gaggia Baby D at Amazon

Non-Classic Design - Semi Automatic Operation

Nespresso Essenza C-100

I love the Nespresso Essenza and its delicious espresso. The unit turns out fantastic crema topped espresso time and time again. The unit does not have a steam wand, and does not warm the cups; two things to consider. (If you want those in a Nespresso machine, consider the Nespresso D150)The unit only takes capsules that can be bought from Nespresso's website. They have a wide variety and I am sure one to fit your needs. See my Reivew of the Nespresso Essenza C100.

Nespresso Essenza C100 at Amazon

Entry Model Pump Espresso Machine

DeLonghi EC-155

This is not a bad little espresso machine for under $100. Pump driven and it cranks our some nice crema. I really enjoyed it when I used it and it makes espresso better than it should at this price. See My Review of the DeLonghi EC-155

DeLonghi EC-155 at Amazon

Don’t Forget the Pods!
If you are getting the DeLonghi EC155 or Baby D, 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 60 (2 each of 30 kinds) ESE pods, you'll be able to sample your way through all kinds of different Espresso. Lots of fun, lots of espresso.

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

December 15, 2006

Espresso Machine Deals and Gift Buys

Sales of espresso machines are up about 25% over last year by some news reports, so there are a lot of out of stocks on the really popular models. There are some good deals sill left in stock on pump-driven espresso machines that will get you some nice shots of espresso with that delicious crema on top. We've been bombarded with emails about which inexpensive espresso machines to buy, and there are quite a few. We've got a total wrap up in out Holiday Buying Guide, or see below for a few that are in-stock and ready to ship.

Today is the last day to order something from Amazon and get Free Shipping in time for Christmas; you can still shop through next week and select faster shipping to get it in time.

Krups XP4030 - (Shown above) Very capable, very good looking machine from Krups. Runs ground coffee and ESE Espresso pods. Has sold out and is back in stock. $100 off and priced at $149. Don't forget to use the $25 savings code on the page for a final price around $125.

LelloAriete45900Espresso.jpgLello Ariete 45900 Espresso Machine - This good looking stainless steel machine cranks out good espresso, looks great and is priced to move - $99. It works with ground espresso, but not all ESE Pods. See my Review of the Lello Ariete 45900.

Gaggia 35008 - This silver beauty upgrades with brass components and of course comes with the Gaggia heritage. Don't forget to use the $25 off when buying it to drop the price to about $175.

brevillecaferomab.jpgBreville Cafe Roma ESP8XL - very nice and very capable, runs ground and ESE Espresso pods. Beautiful stainless steel (see right). See our review of this unit. $249 less $25 savings code promo = $225.

Finally the DeLonghi EC140B - Bargain priced at $79 for this pump driven espresso machine.

If you are getting an ESE Espresso Pod capable machine, don't forget to throw in some pods to enjoy easy espressos right away. Starbucks ESE pods are popular, and the espresso tastes just like the shop (if you like that kind of thing).

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December 3, 2006

Blackboard Mugs - The Perfect Teacher Gift


I put these up a while ago, but a couple of readers wrote in saying how much they liked them. I thought I would pass them along again and mention that it's time to think about gifts for the kids teachers! The mugs are made so you can write on them with chalk, so you can craft whatever design or message you want. The chalk washes off in the dishwasher. We're going to fill ours with some fun candy treats and wrap it in cellophane after the kids draw a special design on it.

More at GreenMountain

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November 27, 2006

Pump Driven Espresso Machines Around (and Under) $100

A lot of readers have been writing in about what pump driven espresso machines are the best for under $100. Well there aren’t a lot of espresso machines less than $100, but there are a few. There are also a few good ones for a little over $100 that I’ll include. Read why a pump-driven espresso machine is so important.

LelloAriete45900Espresso.jpgLello Ariete 45900 Ariete Espresso Machine – this 15-bar pump driven stainless steel beauty is a little over $100, but with the $25 Amazon discount (See the Promotional details on the Amazon Page), it’s only about $105. It’s a decent little espresso maker made by DeLonghi that is just starting to be imported into this country. Works with ground espresso but not reliably with ESE Espresso Pods. The easy operation and good looks make it a winner in the gift department. I have this in for review and so far, I like it alot.

KrupsXP4030sm.jpgKrups XP4030 Pump Espresso Machine – A solid performer from Krups, this machine is about $149 - $25 = $124…. Close enough. This machine offers 3 portafilter inserts that allow you to do ESE Espresso Pods, single and double shots. The metal accents give you good looks and the 15-bar pump gives you good crèma.

KrupsFNC2Novo3000sm.jpgKrups FNC2 Novo 3000 – the little brother of the XP4030, is still a pump driven machine that offers a 16-bar pump and a few less metal accents for about $99. Still includes a filter basket for ground and one for ESE Espresso pods. Classic look at an attractive price.

delonghiec155b.jpgDeLonghi EC155 – this unit makes incredible crèma with your espresso with its patented crèma system design. The 15-bar pump and it’s easy operation make it a dream to operate turning out good shots time and time again. If you want more on this, see my review of the DeLonghi EC155 Espresso Machine.

Hamilton Beach 40729 Espresso Machine – This little machine comes in well under $100, in fact right around $68. We used it for a review and enjoyed using with ESE Espresso pods. We didn’t quite get the crèma we were looking for from ground coffee, but if you are looking for an inexpensive ESE pod brewer, here you are. Read our review of the Hamilton Beach 40729 Espresso Machine.

Don’t Forget the 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 60 (2 each of 30 kinds) ESE pods, you'll be able to sample your way through all kinds of different Espresso. Lots of fun, lots of espresso.

Want to read more about Great Espresso Gifts? See our Single Serve Espresso Holiday Buying Guide.

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

August 14, 2006

Back to School Espresso Machines

It’s back to school time, and we thought we would put up some recommendations for espresso that can make going back to school a bit easier to handle. Late nights and low-grade cafeteria coffee can take their toll on you:

Best Espresso Machine Under $500
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 at $429; normally runs $500 and higher.

Best Espresso Machine Under $250
The Breville Café Roma is a great all around espresso machine with a 15 bar pump, and a good looking stainless steel exterior. It can work with ground espresso and EE Pods for easy espresso shots. The 5.2 cup removable water tank will keep you going for a lot of espressos. The milk foamer has a special easy to use attachment that will allow you to make lattes and cappuccinos simply and without headaches. The Breville Café Roma is priced under $250.

Best Espresso Machine Under $70

hamiltonbeach40729.jpgHamilton Beach 40729 Espresso/Cappuccino Maker with ESE Pod Holder comes ready to brew espresso from ground coffee and ESE pods also. It’s 2 cup reservoir is a little on the small side, but should do well pulling several espressos before re-filling. Even at this price, the unit comes with a pump that puts out 15 bar of pressure to pull good espressos topped with a good crèma. Solid machine for good espresso at this price, under $70.

For all of the Machines above, don't forget the ESE Pods!
Crank a few of these out and you'll have not trouble staying up to study. You can go with the old standby of Starbucks Espresso Pods – 24 ct; tastes just like the coffee in the shops, or our current favorite Lavazza Grand Espresso Pods – 50ct, great Italian Espresso.

Best Espresso Set Up Under $35
bialetti6cup.jpg aerolattetogo.jpgOK, so you can’t go with the machine, but have access to a stove. Here’s the Bialetti 6 Cup Stove Top Espresso Maker, and an Aero Latte Milk Frother. You can still whip up espressos and a nicely topped latte pretty easily with this wet-up. Not a bad deal for under $35.

Can’t Decide?
sbcard.jpg Send that college bound espresso lover off with a Starbucks Card – reload the thing on the web and let them have their own fun hanging out at the local Starbucks.

If you spend $125 or more at Amazon in the Kitchen area, you can save $25 on your order by using the AUGSAVER promotional code. On top of that, you'll qualify for free shipping.

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