Lawn Sale Find: Vesuviana Coffee Maker

summary: Cafe Latte made in a Vesuviana Coffee Maker; Kona coffee from Hawaii; (click on image to see larger views and more photos)

On Saturday, it was so beautiful out that we had to go for an early morning bike ride. We rode through the neighbourhood, remarking on all the irises in almost every garden (they’re amazing this year!) One of the streets was having a lawn sale festival. Several houses had all kinds of wonderful (and not so wonderful) items for sale. After visiting about 8 lawns and not seeing anything we wanted or needed, we were getting tired of the game and decided to go to just one more lawn.

Bingo!!! Isn’t it interesting that it really is the last place you look that you find things?

Vesuviana Electric Coffee Maker We were just getting back on our bikes when I noticed something shiny on a low table. Something shiny and very interesting looking. Much to T’s chagrin, I got off my bike and hurried (in a casual sort of way) over to the table, calling for him to follow me.

A closer look at the shiny gizmo and I said in a hushed voice, “Is that an espresso maker?”

The vendor strolled up, sipping from her giant steaming coffee cup. She was very enthusiastic and raved about how well it worked, how great the coffee was, how quickly it made coffee, that it was in perfect working order.

Looking at the cup in her hand, I laughed and said, “And you’re selling this because you never drink coffee anymore, yes?”

To my surprise, it turned out the “coffee” in her mug was herbal tea. She never drinks coffee any more.

Casually, oh so casually, I asked her how much she wanted for it. Here’s how the conversation went:

she: $7.00

me: $7.00??! Really? (turning to T) What do you think?

he: I don’t know. Where would we put it? Let’s go! (heading back to the bikes)

me: Wait!! (frantically wheedling) I think we should get it. I’d love to have a steamer for frothing milk!

he: (sighing) Where are we going to put it? (turning to vendor) Would you take $5.00?

she: (firmly but pleasantly) No, $7.00 is as low as I’ll go. I paid over $100 for it at a vintage store on College about 3 years ago.

me: (defiantly reaching for wallet) I’m getting it!

$7.00!!! We got a Vesuviana Electric Coffee maker for $7.00!!

Vesuviana Electric Coffee Maker We really don’t have a lot of room in our kitchen for gadgets and weren’t sure where to store this. Then we realized the top of the fridge is the perfect location! The coffee maker is out of the way but still on display.

Since taking this photo, we realized that it’s better to store the basket detached from the machine and put the coffee pot on its stand. (I know, I could just take another picture but I’m lazy and want to post this now….)

And when we want to use it, it’s very easy to lift it down and onto the stove.

It’s very simple to use; the only drawback we have found so far is that there is no “on/off” switch. After filling the reservoir with water, and the basket with coffee (tamped down with a measuring cup because we don’t have a tamper), the Vesuviana is simply plugged in to get it started. In about 5 minutes, the water reaches the correct temperature and is pushed through the arm over the ground coffee and into the coffee pot. A sensor in the reservoir tells the coffee maker to stop sending hot water into the coffee pot, leaving water in the reservoir for steaming.

The first time we tried the coffee maker, we steamed cream because we didn’t have any milk. Even with cream (especially with cream??), the coffee was fabulous! But we really wanted to try it with milk and went out immediately to get some…. And came back to make coffee again and steam cold 2% milk (apparently, it foams better if it’s cold).

Cafe latte Now I understand why people with new espresso machines get addicted to coffee! It makes the best coffee!! In fact, we CAN’T stop making coffee!

Who, me? Wired? :-)

I discovered later that T was as thrilled as I about buying the coffee maker. When he was crankily shaking his head and objecting, he had simply been playing the “bargaining game” and was trying to drive the price down by appearing not to want the Vesuviana. Ooops!! Because she’d asked only $7.00, I didn’t think the bargaining game was necessary. Now, if she’d said $30 or $50, that would be a different story….


Kona coffee Our wonderful neighbours gave us a bag of delicious Kona coffee “Wings of the Morning” after going to Hawaii for a holiday! The beans are pesticide free and hand picked. Coffee made with it has a slightly dark warm flavour. And the coffee works out fabulously in our new coffee maker! (I love the cotton bag that the coffee beans came in too!) Thank you, J, T & L!


edit 15 June 2009, 12:30: Our next task will be to find a real tamper. Too bad we didn’t think to ask the lawn sale woman for her tamper…. Because, I’m amazed to learn that tampers can cost as much as $100!! But I gather they’re really important for making the coffee. If the ground beans aren’t tamped (or is that “tampered”?? :lalala:) down evenly and firmly, there will be room for water to whoosh through, thus making insipid weak coffee. And nobody wants that!


edit 18 June 2009: Yay. We found the perfect tamper! Please read more here: importance of tamping when making espresso


edit June 2011:

Vesuviana Electric Coffee Maker Thanks to a commenter on our YouTube video, we learned about’s Vesuviana Espresso Maker 3 Piece Seal Set that is available for a very reasonable price. We ordered a set and it is now in the cupboard, all ready to go. Just in case.

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38 responses to “Lawn Sale Find: Vesuviana Coffee Maker

  1. Preston

    we found a mint condition stove top and love it! The best coffee ever we have enjoyed! Now a family member needs some help after a fall and we are going to sell our unit to go to aunts home in Ar. So any body like to offer a price we are open to the idea of letting go for the trip……

    It does make great coffee doesn’t it, Preston? Personally, if I were you, I’d be inclined to pack it and take it with me to the aunt’s house. But if you really feel you have to sell it, you’re probably more likely to do so by putting it on Kijiji, Craig’s List, or Ebay than asking the few people who come here. -Elizabeth

  2. Ashley

    I was so excited to find a Vesuviana stove top espresso maker at the thirftstore for $5. However, It’s missing the portafilter, so sad!!!

    Does anyone have any ideas on if this is a replaceable item? The size I would look for?

    Any helps is greatly appreciated, I would love to use this little machine :(

    I suspect that the portafilter has to be the right size. But I have no idea where you could get one, Ashley. Why not take it to a shop that sells Espresso machines to find out if they have a portafilter that will fit? -Elizabeth

  3. ric

    I am considering looking around for an electric Vesuviana Espresso Machine but should appreciate peoples thoughts regarding the quality of the made espresso from this particular machine as opposed to a Brevetti Robbiati Atomic. My thanks for your anticipated response

  4. Ray

    I came across your page looking for the top part of my electric Vesuviana Espresso Machine. That was a great bargain for $7.00. Enjoy and take a good care of it. I would appreciate a holler if you come across the Vesuviana part. Thanks.

  5. Ari Berger

    I’ve enjoyed my vesuviana for about ten years (luckily found by a friend at a vintage store) and yesterday morning a huge “bang” came from it and coffee leaked everywhere…Is this a gasket problem? I did replace a seal once on the filter, but I can’t actually tell what the problem is, except that I desperately need to fix it! suggestions?

  6. T

    @Ari Berger
    If I understand your post correctly I had a similar situation with my vesuviana 2 years ago. There was an explosion and I had coffee and coffee grounds all over my kitchen. I replaced the gasket (the one on the coffee maker where you fit the portafilter*) and all has been working well ever since.

    *portafilter = the basket that you fill with coffee grounds.

  7. Julia

    Hi there,

    I totally scored at ValueVillage last week; I suppressed squealing as I clutched the $12.00 gorgeous Vesuviana Electric Cappuccino machine. Mint condition and to my relief works like a charm from the first go!

    My stovetop model was given to my parents as a wedding gift in 1961; this spring I purchased a new gasket and did some serious buildup removal but other than that this is my favourite machine. It’s so groovy looking and many friends have offered to “take it off my hands”!

    My question….I’m finding the electric one is different because it holds back water for steaming milk. It’s brewed almost all of the water. and then other times it sees to reserve more water than I require — all that milk gets fattening for me so I typically do black except weekend treats ;) Any suggestions on this?

    Also, to tamp or not to tamp? How much do you fill your basket? I’ve always just filled to level, run a finger on the rim for clean seal and that’s it but reading others comments I’m wondering if less coffee and a light tamp? Also, how fine of a grind is recommended?

  8. T

    @ Julia
    Sounds like you scored a great machine. I agree they really are wonderful.

    If you’re not going to steam milk just be sure to open the steam valve when the coffee is finished dripping. That way you can get rid of the pressure which helps to prolong the life of your gaskets.

    We do tamp (see video) mostly because it makes putting the coffee filled portafilter* into the machine easier. I fill the portafilter with coffee even to the rim and tamp from there.

    *portafilter = the basket that you fill with coffee grounds.

  9. Theo Landon

    Hi, I have a stovetop Vesuviana. Got it off my Dad who got it who knows where. I’ve been using it for 1-2 pots of coffee a day for the last few years and while the seals are a bit gammy and it has a bit of scale buildup it’s generally been fine.

    However, it has recently sprung a leak at the bottom. It looks to me like you can unscrew it and I’m wondering if this is possible? Is the leak because there’s a seal down there that’s busted or should I do as Dylan did and cold weld it/fix it like that? I thought the screw between the portafilter and the water tank was to detach the base from the tank/top part, but reading above someone says it is/could be a safety gasket?

    Anyhow, I know it’s a lot of questions. It’s okay if they can’t be answered but I thought I’d as them all at once just in case! I haven’t ever gotten replacement seals (i’m about to) but I figured the three meant one at the portafilter, one at the weighted tank cap and one at the base of the tank?


  10. gloria gretczko

    I found this really nice Vesuviana, 3 cups, it looks rather old, but from doing research it makes a wonderful cappuccino. I need to find a coffee basket for it as well as the carafe. I would also like to get those replacement seals. The place where the carafe sits looks like a small pedestal…Please assist as to where to purchase these products…I reside in Florida and really want to get this little guy working. It is made very well and it is old. Thanks Gloria

  11. Lee Ball

    Hi,came across your site. I appreciate its 6 years old now but thought I eoukd comment anyway.

    I recently bought a Vesuvians off eBay here in the UK. No steamer like yours though.

    One issue I have is it seems the weight is broken so I need to make one (the pressure release weight).

    Do you still have this and if you do can I can photos of the weight please?


    Lee (Rambottom, United Kingdom)

      1. Lee Ball

        Thanks, I’ve asked there. Mine was in a rough condition when I got it, I already have bought those new seals which arrived today. I need to clean the inside some how. Maybe steam cleaner.

  12. MissM

    Hello, and a good day to you and everyone who is reading this. I appear to have the exact same model electrical coffeemaker as you do, except mine is called a salton. I bought her on ebay uk and she just arrived. Now for the problem: The water starts boiling, but instead of going in the portafilter the safety valve in the top of the bottle blows and…no coffee :-/.
    Do you think this may have to do with faulty gaskets? And also, do you or anyone know where exactly the top seal for the internal portafilter pressure valve (quoted from the orphanespresso website!) is located?
    Any help would be much appreciated :).

    Best Regards,

    Maryse in Amsterdam.

    1. Totton

      Indeed it sounds like a gasket problem. If you replace the faulty gasket with one of the 3 gaskets from the link below it should fix your problem.

      – Totton

    2. Totton

      Also If I understand you correctly; just unscrew the valve on the coffee maker, put on the new gasket ring and tighten up the valve and you should be good to go.

      1. MissM

        Totton, thank you for replying.Yes indeed it does look look like a
        gasket problem. The machine just isn’t able to build up enough pressure.
        I need to find the right screwdriver for the valve, one that is big
        enough, and a way to loosen it up as it appears to be frozen. (The screw
        on top that is.) Anyone any tips on how to loosen up frozen screws :)?


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