Believe it or not, there is a huge chunk of the home espresso marketplace (consumers) that demand great espresso-cappuccino at rock bottom prices.
7 years ago, A Rancilio Silvia probably sold for about 500$(US). The price has not changed, but the quality has actually gone up.
They replaced the sheet steel with rust resistant steel.
Gaggia (under the wing of Saeco, who owns them) did the same thing.
That said, there has been a steady demand for a machine "Silvia" grade for under 450$, even 399$. This is a hard price point to break.
Let's try to break it down a bit, using real costs of production:
Ulka pump - price about 35$
3-Way solenoid - price about 25-35$
Brass boiler and heating elements - 100$
Forged Brass brew-group - 40$
Stock steel to sheath said machine - 25$
3 20A Rocker switches @ 9$ ea. - 27$
Wire - 2$, Assorted heat resistant tubing - 5$
Assorted thermostats - 40$
You see where I am going with this?
And yet, 5% of the population want an espresso machine for under 100$! I know, I know, this is not you. Do yourself a favor and find a new or used Rancilio Silvia, Gaggia Classic, Faema or even an old restaurant machine.
The LeLit, that the coffeecrew is currently testing, might be a contender as a good machine... if I can get eveything working..
Colin is the editor of the coffeecrew pages and hopes everyone can have a good espresso maker.