We have a Rancilio Silvia that we bought more than 10 years ago. It's not as automated as the one you posted (Gaggia is supposed to make a very good machine). I make far better coffee than most barristas now!
I had a standard espresso machine with the steam wand and all, but I never felt like making myself lattes early in the morning when I was half asleep. I got the Nescafe Dolce Gusto for Christmas last year and it's the best thing ever. I was really skeptical, because I'm snobbish about espresso quality, but their capsules are pretty awesome. I make lattes (their Latte Macchiato) and my husband does espresso, and we both like the dark roast as well. It takes a little while to experiment and find the exact right timing, and for a while it's easy to make it too watery, but once you've gotten the balance right for you it's ridiculously fast and simple. I can have a really good latte at home in one minute flat for around $1.
oh good timing---we need a new one for camp in a couple of weeks.
ours is a lavazza which we like pretty well, but i suspect it's on it's way out, as the steam is, well, sort of losing steam,lol.
then we end up with hot water diluting the heavy whipping cream we use, yuk.
dh is sad to be moving away from our favorite coffee shop, so i've got to get him something which will make him feel better abou it.
We have an older version of this one: http://www.overstock.com/Home-Garden...4/product.html - have had it for 5 years now and did have to get a part replaced once, but the coffee is awesome. It looks like the Gaggia one might be a bit more sturdy than the Spidem Villa (ours). With ours, espresso is at the press of a button - grinds coffee and all. My dad makes Americanos when he visits - you use the steam wand to add water to the espresso (coffee setting vs. steam setting). I use the steam wand to make tea sometimes, too.
I started with one of the Gaggias, but upgraded to a used Rancilio Silvia with a PID (temp control) a few years ago and I love love love it. Then the other hurdle is getting a good grinder. You can check out the coffee geek website if you really want to get into it all. I'm now even roasting my own beans now and my problem is that when I go out most of the cappucinos are not as good as what I can make at home.
We still spend about $65/month just on coffee but it its oh so much better than Starbucks! We buy from one of the micro-roasters and get coffee that's roasted on demand. I've though about roasting my own beans but they do a very good job.
Many of the automatic machines also include a grinder but if they don't, a good burr grinder is required. I have the Rancilio Rocky and it's been great.
It hurts to pay $650+ for an espresso machine but they do pay for themselves and you get better coffee to boot!
My sister had a cheap Mr. Coffee brand espresso machine that she used every morning for years -- many years, like ten. She still has it but doesn't make lattes every morning now that she is retired. She and her friends were surprised at the quality of the coffee and the durability of the machine because one friend had a $400+ Italian machine, and another had a series of high-end models which were very expensive and all of them either broke or had some major issue with functionality. Plus, the big expensive machines take up a lot of counter space.
The other aspect to consider is how much you will use it. If you are like me, and go back and forth with different products, you might want to try a sturdy cheap brand to start, and if you are still making your own lattes every morning after six months, consider upgrading if necessary. For instance, I was on a juicer kick for a while but after a few months the machine sat idle. I sold it in a garage sale after a few years of taking up cupboard space. I go back and forth between grinding fresh beans daily and brewing coffee in my French press, to fresh beans ground weekly, to grinding the whole two-pound Costco package and using it in my drip coffee maker... Now we're on a foamed milk kick that I don't steam, but froth with my new mini-blender. I also used to make lattes with my espresso machine but that lasted only a few months and I don't even know where that machine is or if I still have it!
SarahandSam - I'm liking the $1 per cup; but I"m wondering if I'll want to froth/brew at 7:30 am too. Some days the drive-thru is just so much easier.
That's why I got the Dolce Gusto. It's a capsule system, so you turn it on and make sure the reservoir is on, stick in the milk capsule, flip the lever on and off when you've got enough, toss the capsule, stick in the espresso capsule, flip the lever on and then off when you've got enough, toss that capsule, and you're done. I can do it in my sleep, which is generally my state when it's 6 a.m. and still dark. I couldn't get myself to use my regular latte machine, with measuring and tamping down espresso and standing there steaming milk, but the Dolce Gusto is stupid easy and finally gives me a reason not to go out for lattes.
Their boxes run about $10 for 8 lattes/16 espressos or other one-capsule drinks, and they're more limited in variety than, say, a Keurig, but you can get three-packs on autoship from Amazon for about $25 so that's just over $1 a cup for lattes or 50 cents for an espresso (the dark roast "caffe lungo" is almost the same as an americano, better quality, and only one capsule as opposed to two).