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I know it's a frowned-upon model, but I have a Breville Barista Express that I love. It has a built in burr grinder (which I would have to say is not as high-quality as a more expensive stand-alone grinder), and I can crank out a latte in about five minutes, including preheating the coffee cup and portafilter (I just run hot water through it, rather than waiting the 30 mins for the ambient heat of the machine to warm it up). It takes some playing with, and I find that sometimes my pressure is low unless I grind really fine, tap and tamp fairly aggressively, and use a large dose of grounds.
Either way, not a bad machine for the price. Currently listed on Amazon for $599, but you can find it cheaper other places (my suggestion--- try Bed Bath and Beyond, coupled with a 20% off coupon).
How much are you looking to spend? If he doesn't currently have an espresso machine this is a great starter:
I picked one up and it gets daily use. Nothing too fancy but it gets the job done. My wife and I are very happy with it.
Honestly, like ANY hobby on the internet if you go to a hobby forum you'll find all the more advanced, passionate users who are deep into a rabbit hole. You can get a decent espresso setup for <$500 if you're willing to be patient and/or go refurbished.
I got a Breville Barista [link] for $380 on Slickdeals (I think like closer to $350 after some rebate or something) and I'm not exactly the highest end connoisseur but I worked as a barista for a few years on a ~$15K espresso setup and I've been to a lot of higher end coffee shops in the US and Italy and I think it holds up extremely well. For sweetened and mixed drinks it's going not going to make any noticeable difference at all. Honestly having different brand syrups is probably going to be more noticeable for you.
Also I have very limited counter space and the Barista is compact (grinder is built in) - it's not an automatic though as you still have to tamp, etc.
Also I don't do a ton of frothing so I know that's where you start to get real benefits from higher end (quicker, dual boiler setups, more reliable/steady steam, etc)
So I have been looking on Amazon. Nespresso makes you buy their capsules? Is this only for that brand? What do you think of this?
It looks like "super automatic," what are the pros and cons of that?
What he said. Breville has an all in one with a grinder. Save up for this guy.
i got my parents an espresso machine last year. a little bit of learning but holy cow does it make good things.
i don't have one, but i can't think how i would enjoy a capsule style system now. capsule is basically still a pour over. it probably won't be bad, but i think i've spent too much and gotten too used to crazy things.
fake edit: [link] for those wondering. we got it because i convinced them a really good grinder would be about $200, and you couldn't get a good espresso maker for 200-300 dollars. so we'd be better off buying a combo machine. i just ended up buying the whole thing and they have really good coffee now.
learning what you need to do to upkeep the espresso maker, i'm wondering how much upkeep a capsule system has.
Are you specifically looking for a pod machine? The total cost of ownership of them can be quite high and the end product does not justify the cost in most cases. Additionally, they are not meant to be maintained and are essentially "disposable".
I think the Lavazza one was targeted towards restaurants and so you might be able to take it apart and replace parts on it, but after reading some Amazon reviews, it appears the newer models are built as disposable machines. There may be a very good reason why the machine hadn't been used in five years.
Also, buying used means that you are buying someone else's problems unless you are intimately familiar with the machine's history.
It looks like you are looking for something simple to use and less than $1,000. You could could buy a Breville Barista Express brand new for $600.
My brother-in-law won't shut up about how great his is and those that own them appear to be quite taken with them. It's a super-auto so the grinder is built in.
It will get you by until you save up for a nice borderline professional machine and grinder.
I don't know of any drip coffee makers (since you want a "pot") that grind and serve. Pretty much limited to espresso machines. If you do go that route check out the Breville Barista Express. I want one but can't justify the purchase yet. Pretty good value at $600.
I bought my parents the Behmor Brazen ($200) for drip coffee and use the Baratza Encore ($120) to grind. Great kit for people who don't want to spend over $1000 for a drip and grind combo.
I hear a lot about Gaggia Classics. I know they don't have PIDs, would you say that makes a huge difference?
On Barazta grinders: what's the difference between the Virtuoso or the Preciso?
I've been looking at the Breville Barista Express on amazon, but I can't find any good, decent reviews on whether or not they actually pull good espressos. Regardless, I think that's where I would roughly keep my budget.
Also, what machines do you have?
I think the Breville Barista Express is really good. The steamer on it is also great for hot chocolate.
The quality of the coffee is so dependent on the beans (quality (~price), age and when ground (fresher is better) and roast (lighter roast is mild, darker is more bitter and stronger)).
Has a built in grinder, is in your budget, can make good americanos if espresso is not their thing, decent cappuchinos. Its not the greatest machine in the world, but it may do the trick.
I use this: [link]
Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine - BREBES870XL
Is it any good?
Oh my gosh the Ninja is terrible. Classic example of "tries to do everything, succeeds at nothing".
Breville machines are a pain in the butt to deal with repair-wise (it's like a cell phone, ship everything back to headquarters) but while they are working they have a lot of features for a pretty good price. Unfortunately still above your price range though. This is the Breville grinder-integrated unit (still requires the user to do manual tamp and portafilter extraction):
Super automatics aren't necessarily pricey-pricey, but obviously the nice ones are. However, even the cheaper ones (Saeco XSmall, Gaggia Brera) are unfortunately above your $300 limit. Whole Latte Love has a refurb XSmall super-automatic for $199:
So that grinds, makes espresso, but the frothing isn't automatic, so they'd have to get their own milk pitcher in there.
FYI, it's just gone back on sale on Amazon:
I'm agree with the coments. Breville it's good option. I found Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine interesting however the cost is about 590. But at Amazon now for 529 [link]
At this article few more reviews including Breville [link]