Home espresso machines are subject to derision from some coffee snobs, That's because most models "do a half-assed job," in the words of 30-shots-a-day drinker Danny O'Neill, founder of Kansas City-based coffee company The Roasterie (That's why he put professional grade machines in his kitchen and tree house.) When buying a home espresso maker, look for heavy brass or cast-iron components, which hold heat better than aluminum, and a pump that pushes water through grounds with eight to 11 bars of pressure, which yields a flavorful but not overly bitter brew. Here are five can't-miss machines for any budget.
La Pavoni Professional ($879)
This hand-pump machine--based on a 46-year-old design--is the prettiest, most complicated, most fun way to brew a shot. pavonishop.com
Jura-Capresso S9 Avantgarde ($2,299)
Insert whole beans, press the button, and wait 50 seconds. It even dispenses steamed, frothy milk. capresso.com
La Marzocco GS/3 ($4,500)
La Marzocco units grace most good coffeehouses. The Italian manufacturer's newest machine is its first designed specifically for American homes. lamarzocco.com
Rancilio Silvia ($595)
This gorgeous machine gets consistent results and has a valve that prevents you from accidentally getting sprayed by pressurized grounds. rancilio.com
Gaggia Espresso ($199)
Don't be fooled by the plastic exterior or the low price. This bare-bones espresso maker boasts components found on pricier models. importika.com
Correction: The original version of the story, which appeared in the November 2007 issue, misidentified the price of the Rancilio Silvia.