Things have gotten too serious around here lately.
And for good reason gosh darnit!
For the XVII'd time, I'm an espresso drinker and offer my opinion from time to time about my escapades as a consumer of the little I-talian shot of caffeine.
A couple of months ago I began to look into buying instant espresso machines with pods along the Nespresso variety.
Except I didn't want a Nespresso. My mother has the machine and wanted something different.
Now, to be perfectly honest, to me the best espresso comes from a cafetiere (for stove top. Brands vary from Bialetti to Slancio to Omnia) along with manual or automatic espresso machines for beans. If done right, you get real espresso.
But for times where you don't feel like operating a Gaggia or Pavoni or whatever brand there's always the pod option. Mind you, before I go on, espresso machines are compatible with pods except these are not the pods popularized by Nespresso; they look more like tea bags. If you own a pressurized espresso machine you will need a single shot filter and it will give you the convenient you may be looking for.
Anyway, while I think this is the better option where quality is concerned*, Nespresso machines offer still another alternative.
Without getting into details as I think most people are familiar with the concept, I'd rather just get into a brand I picked up at Wal-Mart. That being Martello.
Personally, I think this machine offers great bang for the buck. Priced under $100 for the machine and with a pack of 10 pods going for around $5, Martello is a Made in Italy espresso experience.
If you're in the market for one give it a shot. Definitely a good gift idea for the price and for someone who could use one.
1) The best combination is to buy the beans and grind them at home with an espresso machine that comes with its own grinder or a free standing grinder. You can't really top this. This also gives you the option of making single and double (corto and lungo) as well as the ability to use pods mentioned above. You can also find residential espresso machines that exclusively operate for pods - e.g. Avanti is an example.
2) The most popular - and traditional - way of making espresso is with a cafetiere. With this method you buy ground espresso (Illy, Lavazza, Kimbo etc.) and prepare it on the stove top. You can also buy the beans and grind them yourself (prices range from $90 De Longhi's to a $600 Rancilio).
3) The most recent trend is the 'capsules' we see in Nespresso machines. It's not the most authentic espresso and the way you measure the quality really depends on what you expect out of it but to hard core coffee drinkers, it's not our first choice. I use my Martello when I really don't feel like using the machine to save time.