The original supplier of this product, Damark, has gone out of business.
Retail pricing is around $200. We paid $60 for this machine, and the review reflects that pricing lower pricing.
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When someone new to quality espresso is confronted with the current marketplace full of $300, $400, and more expensive machines, sometimes the economics of it all can be very discouraging. Not everyone can afford (or justify) a $400 machine and a $200 grinder. So what can be done about it?
Recently, Saeco's Via Veneto, their least expensive espresso machine (in N. America), has turned up at an online and catalog sales vendor for a super low price. (ed.note: this deal has since come and gone) The unit is a rebranded model, called the Melitta Café Express, but it is definitely the 1998 version of the Via Veneto. At $50 retail ($67 which shipping, handling, and "special fees"), it could be the deal of the year. How does it stack up, and most importantly, how is the final product in the cup? Let's find out. (ed.note: Via Venetos can be found for about $140 if you look hard enough today).
All products are rated against our benchmarks, and in the case of this machine, the benchmark is the Rancilio Silvia, which represents 10.0 in all categories
Design Rating: 4.5
Espresso Quality: 5.0 (based on crema enhancer model)
Cappuccino Quality: 8.0
Value: 14.0 (as Melitta brand at Damark; 5.0 as the full retail $175 Via Veneto)
Purchased from Damark Sales, online catalog (website), $49.95, plus $17 for shipping, handling, and their own obscure "fees". Note, Damark is a bit of a quasi cultish kind of shopping experience - be warned.
The Melitta Cafe Express / Via Veneto has the following features of note:
*Includes pressurized portafilter with a crema enhancer
*Includes pannarello froth aider, double basket, single basket, pod adapter.
*Removable water tank (56.5oz measured volume)
*Removable drip tray
*Brass lines inside (!!)
*Stainless steel boiler, less than 3 oz capacity
*Undocumented hot water feature
*ABS plastic housing
*Identical pump to the Rancilio Silvia (Ulka 41W !!!)