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Cheap "steam toy" espresso machines...


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All of my friends, colleagues and others I know quickly become aware that I'm a coffee fanatic and espresso hound once they get to know me. I can barely count the number of times that someone has said "Oooh... I have an espreso machine I got as a ________ (insert occasion here) gift. I've never used it. Do you want it? After all.... you're into espresso, right?".

We've all seen these - they run anywhere from $30 - $70, utilize simple steam pressure to produce a facsimile of espresso and are way too labor intensive for the average non-coffee fanatic to get involved with using. I'm not referring to the low end espresso machines that have a pump along with a switch for espresso or steam. Machines of that type, usually in the $80 to $100 range, are not great but if used properly they can make a passable cappuccino. Instead, I refer to the devices where one must add water, screw down a pressure cap, wait for steam pressure to build and be very careful about not opening the cap before pressure has gone down.

Sooo... how about it.... is this quite possibly the world's most unused gift? I have been offered at least a dozen or so of these in the past few years (slight exaggeration but many) and not one of them had ever been used.

I will cross post this in General Food topics due to the chance that there is some non-coffee item which might qualify for this dubious distinction.

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We've all seen these - they run anywhere from $30 - $70, utilize simple steam pressure to produce a facsimile of espresso and are way too labor intensive for the average non-coffee fanatic to get involved with using. I'm not referring to the low end espresso machines that have a pump along with a switch for espresso or steam. Machines of that type, usually in the $80 to $100 range, are not great but if used properly they can make a passable cappuccino. Instead, I refer to the devices where one must add water, screw down a pressure cap, wait for steam pressure to build and be very careful about not opening the cap before pressure has gone down.

Sooo... how about it.... is this quite possibly the world's most unused gift? I have been offered at least a dozen or so of these in the past few years (slight exaggeration but many) and not one of them had ever been used.

I will cross post this in General Food topics due to the chance that there is some non-coffee item which might qualify for this dubious distinction.

I used to have one of the $30 ones, and always thought that I was "doing it wrong". When I got a Krups Espresso Bravo and learned how to use it properly, I found out it was the old machine that was at fault.

"Give me 8 hours, 3 people, wine, conversation and natural ingredients and I'll give you one of the best nights in your life. Outside of this forum - there would be no takers."- Wine_Dad, egullet.org

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I have one of those. I realize that makes me a coffee poseur :rolleyes:. However, we do use ours. Infrequently, yes, but we do use it. It sees action in the winter months when we want something stronger than hot chocolate. It ain't espresso or even a real latte, but we let the thing hiss and gurgle away, steam some heavy cream and haul out the big mugs.

Which we then fill almost halfway with Tia Maria :biggrin:.

The "espresso" and cream go on top of that.

Not bad at all.

Chad

Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

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Oh, those are horrible! But I understand the issue. As a tea person, I get unuseable tea things, including silly, tiny teapots that are smaller than the mug I use to drink it!

“"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"

"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"

"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

"It's the same thing," he said.”

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Yep,

I got mine from mom and dad. My brother ended up getting them a Krups one Christmas, and whaadya know, it's doing time in my kitchen as a room humidifier while I wake up in the morning. I broke my French Press, and have to make that thing work until I get the real deal-Monday I hope. People come over and I'm embarrassed to offer a cup, since it'll take 5 minutes to get anything in their cup.

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Oh, those are horrible! But I understand the issue. As a tea person, I get unuseable tea things, including silly, tiny teapots that are smaller than the mug I use to drink it!

LOL, this Xmas, I gave 2 of my tea-drinking buddies a tea set. The Bodum Tea Pot with the filter in the center, and a pack of Yamamotoyamo green tea and a tin of Twinings Earl Grey.

One has used it a few times, and enjoys it. The other is full-on converted and uses it daily now... so I'd say that was a relatively good tea gift.

You wouldn't believe how many crappy "gourmet" coffee related gifts I get year in year out, from flavored concoctions to instant capp. to flavored spoons.

"Give me 8 hours, 3 people, wine, conversation and natural ingredients and I'll give you one of the best nights in your life. Outside of this forum - there would be no takers."- Wine_Dad, egullet.org

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I have one of these machines that I feel bad about throwing it out but hate the storage space it is taking up. I tried using it but found the desired beverage wasn't very hot, even after warming up the cups previous to filling them with espresso.

I too got it as a Christmas gift several years ago.

What to do with it? Toss it and never look back like the quick swooping, continuous motion in the removal of a bandaid? :biggrin:

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Well, what do you want?

The problem is in the nomenclature. These contraptions are basically electronic mokas, not espresso machines. And as such, they work really well. If you don't expect a hibachi to do the work of a barbecue pit, you can get a lot of enjoyment from using it as a hibachi.

What these chingaderas allow you to do is to throw away your Mr. Coffee. Office coffee is crap in the office, so why allow it in your home? Let it be your no-hassle morning pick-me up, and get another gizmo for entertaining.

Nam Pla moogle; Please no MacDougall! Always with the frugal...

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Actually.... I want a lot for a little but never seem to get it. I've found some of the really cheap (i.e. $50 - $80 new and much cheaper used) thermoblock pump machines to be pretty decent. they have limitations but they're fairly easy toi use and with practice they produce acceptable results. It's the little steam operated gizmos I have an issue with. I've used them at friend's houses on occasion and found it near impossible to get consistent results.

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A few years ago, I found a Braun pump-action at MacFrugal's for $50. It made fabulous espresso (I never tried it for frothing) but it broke after a couple of months of daily use and even authorized Braun service shops couldn't fix it.

The moral of the story is, you just won't get good espresso from an affordable chingadera.

Have you tried being nice to the (aw, that stupid word again) barista at your local coffee shop? I don't mean the Green Bile, they are specifically prohibited from making a good shot of espresso by the corporate office in Seattle.

Aside from that, just get used to moka-grade coffee. It's the quaff of choice in pretty much any home in Italy, Spain, or any other geographic foodie shibboleth. It really is good for day to day drinking, and any stovetop or steam contraption can produce it with a minimum of technique.

Nam Pla moogle; Please no MacDougall! Always with the frugal...

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