After a couple of years of use, the Gran Gaggia espresso maker that my brother gave me finally died. Well, it probably can be repaired but my wife and I both agreed that it would be better to get a new one and the only choice for a “low” price espresso maker is the Rancilio Silvia, affectionately known as Miss Silvia. It is considered the best inexpensive espresso maker, having many of the same features and components as the high grade home espresso makers. Mostly what it lacks is a separate boiler for brewing and steaming. This is more important if you are making several cups of latte, one after the other.
I ordered the Silvia from Seattle Coffee Gear. They have a very nice web site with lots of instructional videos made by Gail and Kat, two employees of the store. They provided free shipping, Fedex 5 to 9 day. It has finally showed up in Connecticut and should arrive this coming Monday. I am very excited. The Gaggia worked quite well but it lacked enough pressure to create the kind of espresso that is ideal. I think that lack of pressure also prevented me from being able to make Latte art. But we shall soon see if that is really true or just an ignorant excuse.