Thanks for the responses! I have been doing most of my research at coffeegeek.com, but with such a non-canadian member base there, its hard to find opinions on reliable shipping options to Canada. I was able to take away some useful info from there though: namely that I want a boiler (not thermoblock) and a good quality portafilter. The Gaggia Espresso line seemed a good fit because it includes both those things, and is low-priced enough that if I realize I dont use it as much as I thought I would, it wont be a huge hole in my pocket.
I will give Cappucino King a call, thanks for that tip. Will also check idrinkcoffee.com as well.
If anyone else has suggestions for local purchase (within Calgary), please share... I'd like to avoid shipping if possible, too much potential for breakage and warranty hassles later.
I'm searching for an entry-level home espresso machine, around the $300 range. Figured I should get used to one of those and work my way up to a truly great one such as the Rancilio that I'm sure will be suggested to me!
Any suggestions for a retailer in Calgary I might be able to find someone knowledgeable enough to help? I've done a fair bit of research, and the Gaggio Espresso line (Pure/Color/Dose) seem to be a good fit, but many of the retailers who sell online either dont ship to Canada, or charge very high shipping fees.
If someone in the know has any other suggestions, it would be much appreciated. As a good grinder is key to the perfect espresso, I'm also in the market for one of those as well.