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Home Espresso Machines

High quality espresso at home can be achieved if you have the right hardware.

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Rancilio Silvia Espresso saves me money and makes me happy every morning...

  • Sep 3, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+5
First off, you have to do the math.  If you're a lover of espresso drinks - how much do you spend in a year at Starbucks, Peets, or Coffee Bean?

MY MATH:
Specialty Espresso Drink in Starbucks: $3.50 plus tip (goodbye to the 2 quarters)
Drinks per day - one for sure, sometimes 2 or 3.  Let's say 2 - because if the coffee shop was handy, 2 would be my minimum.

MY FORMULA:  (2 per day * 350 days) * $4.00

MY OUTPUT:   $2,800 per year.  Did you catch that?  $2800 PER YEAR ON COFFEE DRINKS!

MY SOLUTION:   A high quality home espresso machine with grinder.

I did my homework.  What machine could I get for under $1000 that would make excellent espresso?  After extensive research, I came to the conclusion that the closest I could get to a PROFESSIONAL RESTAURANT GRADE espresso machine in my price range was the highly rated - Rancilio Silvia.  It's hand built in Italy - weighing in around 40lbs.  Some key points are it's rugged construction and a huge marine grade brass boiler inside. (not sure what a marine grade brass boiler is used for outside of an espresso machine - but it sounds damn good to me!)

I ordered my Rancilio and waited patiently by the front door for UPS to deliver it.  When it arrived, I had it setup and kicking out the first glorious shots right away.  Ahh! Liquid gold!

Now I've had it for several months and I can answer questions about it that most people have:

Why do you think the Rancilio makes a better shot of espresso?  Pressure and consistency.  The Rancilio Silvia has the pressure of a professional espresso machine - this is very important to drawing shots and making a great milk foam.  In comparison, a typical home espresso machine (from a specialty or department store) has just enough pressure - if the temperature is perfect.  That brings me to the next point - CONSISTENCY of temperature.  Through my investigations, I found out that most home style units have a temperature swing of nearly 70 degrees.  So one time you might be 35 degrees high, the next, 35 degrees low.  Whichever it is - it will take away from the flavor of your shots and give you inconstancy of the flavor and richness.  The Rancilio Silvia is awesome and extremely predictable  (I'll tell you another time how I'm so sure of my temperature Constancy - but I don't want to go off track right now).

What about the cost of your beans?
  This is almost an insignificant part of the cost.  Is that shocking or what?  To be honest, I like the beans I get at Costco.  They have roasters now in nearly 50% of their stores and (at the time I wrote this) they sell a 2.5lb bag of fresh roasted beans for under $9.   Making 3 coffees per day, I go through a bag about once per month.  So my beans run me under $120 for the year.

What about the time it takes you to make your drink?    I found that I can flip on the Rancilio in the morning when I role out of bed and let it warm up while I'm starting my morning routines.  When I actually stand in front of it and make my first drink of the day - I have it in the cup with chocolate sprinkled on top in less than 6 minutes.  (and that includes clean up)

Is it worth it?    Look back at my headline on top of this review - "Rancilio Silvia Espresso saves me money and makes me happy every morning..."  Every time that I use it - I get a damn good espresso drink and I pocket the $4.  That makes great sense to me.

GREAT PRICE ON RANCILIO SILVIA
Rancilio Silvia Rancilio Silvia

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February 18, 2010
Thanks for the review. I am a fellow espresso lover. My favorite way to drink espresso is just straight, although occasionally I enjoy a cappuccino. Right now I just have an inexpensive Krups home espresso machine, but I hope to have a nice one like yours someday.
 
September 03, 2009
Wow....great review! When I worked at Coffee Bean, I'd get coffee for free but, now I have to pay just like everyone else. Each time I do, I think of the money I spend on coffee and your math sounds about right- $2800 is ludicrous! Thanks so much for the incredibly helpful review. What's your favorite coffee drink?
 
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More Home Espresso Machines reviews
Quick Tip by . September 03, 2009
Rancilio Silvia Espresso - I make better espresso at home for less than I paid at coffee shops - http://tinyurl.com/rancilio-silvia-link
About the reviewer
JR Fent ()
Ranked #709
1/2 of an 'empty nest' duo. I live in Hermosa Beach, CA most of the time now. Still have roots in Northern Nevada - but this desert cowboy is addicted to the ocean. I spend my spare time in the surf or … more
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About this product

Wiki

 There are 4 basic machines:

Pump Espresso Machines

  • These use a powered pump to produce the right amount of water pressure
  • Usually the most expensive
  • Can be quite large, bulky and noisy
  • Produces excellent espresso
  • Pump can get clogged with mineral deposits from the water
  • Commercial machines are often this type
Lever/Piston Espresso Machines
  • There is a manual lever and piston on these models to create the pressure
  • Can be hard on the arm
  • Very quiet machine
  • Espresso quality can vary
  • Few parts, low maintenance
Steam Powered Espresso Machines
  • The steam from heated water creates the pressure
  • Pressure isn't always strong enough to make a good Espresso
  • Smaller machine, sleek design
  • Quick and easy to use
Moka Pots
  • These are simple stove-top pots
  • Water in the bottom half of the pot, forces steam through the coffee into the top half of the pot
  • Super simple
  • Less pressure than the mechanized versions
  • No milk frothing/foaming attachments
  • Least expensive of all these models
view wiki

Tags

Coffee, Espresso, Coffee Maker, Making Espresso Drinks At Home, Rancilio, Espresso Machine

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