What To Look For When Buying An Espresso Machine ((BETTER))
Every year, we walk thousands of people through their first home espresso machine purchase. After 9 years of advice, here is a distillation of that expertise to help you choose the best first espresso machine for your budget. We'll start with a video and then dive into the key questions and considerations. The most surprising piece of becoming a new home barista is that you will never have coffee better than the one you will make at home. There are no trade-offs here.
what to look for when buying an espresso machine
In our experience, there are two common mistakes new espresso enthusiasts make with their budget. They under-allocate money to a grinder and often overbuy on the espresso machine side. We get it. Some of the most beautiful machines are large dual boiler machines and we understand that this purchase is part form and part function. There is certainly a degree of kitchen art in these handcrafted beauties. Our goal is to replicate high-end café performance at home while balancing aesthetics and space. For more help setting a budget, check out our home espresso calculator.
One of our promises to our customers is that we will not sell something that we wouldn't buy with our own money. Everything we offer can make exceptional espresso. However, not all can properly steam 16 oz. lattes. We want to make sure your machine matches your morning routine.
If you prefer large milk drinks, you will most likely need a dual boiler or heat exchanger machine, unless you are only making one drink at a time. If you like straight espressos or Americanos, a single boiler machine will do the trick. Read more on espresso machines types by boiler here.
Quick!! Run over to your ideal space and grab a tape measure. If you don't want to run or don't have a tape measure, you can estimate. The real questions here are whether you have cabinet clearance constraints for either your espresso machine (most non-plumbed machines have top-filling reservoirs) or your grinder (hoppers also fill from the top). While most customers work around this, it is a key consideration. Whether you plan to plumb this machine in now or in the future is also important.
The commercial industry standard for espresso machines is a 58mm filter basket size (though some commercial machines use a 57mm basket). 58mm baskets, when loaded with 16-19g of coffee give a nice 1cm (roughly) thick puck of ground coffee that can handle good distribution of brewing water above it. 57mm is very nearly as good. 53mm and the same dose of coffee means a thicker bed of coffee and the potential for more extraction issues.
If your primary goal with a home espresso machine is to produce milky drinks like lattes and cappuccinos, A machine with two heating devices, including boilers, thermoblocks, and the like, is a major step up and will make you very happy. The reason is simple: espresso needs brewing water at one temperature (around 205F or lower), and steaming milk requires water at a much higher temperature (about 235F minimum, under pressure in the boiler). If your machine has one heating device (boiler, thermoblock or similar) and is used for both brewing and steaming, you will be waiting between the modes, and banging out cappuccino after cappuccino after cappuccino becomes a real chore. Dual boiler machines used to cost thousands, but now some are available as low as $650.
Some espresso machines are lucky to get 1/5th their full retail value when you sell it used. Others can get as much as 50%, even 75% of the original retail value, based on demand and product reputation, which really increases your ROI on the machine if you do decide to upgrade. When seeking out espresso machines, do some diligence and search eBay, Facebook Marketplace and other sources for used models to see what the typical used prices are for good condition machines.
This is the liquid just as it comes out of the machine. Many espresso lovers prefer drinking it in its natural state, which resembles a slightly darker version of black coffee. Macchiato: Your espresso shot, with just a little bit of steamed milk on top to add some extra foam and temper the strong flavor.
Cappuccino: Like a macchiato, but with extra milk. A cappuccino is one of the most popular ways to drink espresso and easy to make at home if you have an espresso maker.
Latte: This is similar to a cappuccino, but with more milk and only a thin layer of foam.
Mocha: Like a cappuccino, but with chocolate added in.
Those are the main standards, but if you want you can always add extra touches based on your preferences like whipped cream, flavorings like hazelnut, caramel or peppermint, and even use alternatives to milk (although something like soy milk tends not to froth as well).
As likely became clear as you read through the description of the different types of espresso makers available, a big differentiating factor in different models is how easy and convenient they are to use. If you want a machine with which much of the process is automated, you can easily find one. You can even find models that will make some of the more complicated espresso drinks like cappuccinos with the press of a button.
If convenience is your top priority, look for an espresso maker that falls into one of the more automated categories and has programmable settings. And make sure you find all the buttons and extra features intuitive before you buy.
For example, how many boilers a machine has can make a big difference (more is better), whether the espresso maker uses steam pressure to make the espresso (not recommended), and what temperature the machine gets to and how steady it keeps that temperature.
Many of the higher-end espresso machine models come with a warranty, which can give you some idea of what to expect from their durability. Based on brand reputation and reviews, you can gain a clearer picture of just how long you can count on a particular model to last.
The type of material the machine is made of can also make a difference, espresso makers largely made of metals will tend to last longer, as well as maintain heat in a more efficient manner. And the more highly automated models with a lot of electric parts will likely need repairs more often than manual espresso machines.
Some espresso machines can get pretty darn big. If you have limited kitchen space (and most people do), you could have a hard time finding anywhere to fit it without sacrificing the accessibility of another kitchen appliance. Many of the larger models do make two espresso shots at once or have extra useful features, which can be benefits that make the big size worth it.
You should know how much the espresso machine can handle before purchasing it. A professional-grade espresso machine should be able to work all day without malfunctioning. A small, budget-friendly espresso machine might break or overheat if used all day.
Find out how much coffee beans the espresso machine can hold and if there is an external grinder attached to it. You should also find out the amount of water the tank can hold and how many cups of espresso it can make within each brewing session. If you brew a lot get a higher capacity machine.
There are two types of grinding when it comes to espresso machines: using a built-in grinder or a separate grinder. Espresso machines without built-in grinders will need a separate grinder.I have a few articles on the best automatic and manual external grinders if you need one. Only the more expensive super automatic machines will come with the built in grinders.
Most espresso machines can hold enough water for making up to 8 cups of espresso. If you need more than that you are making a ton of espresso! Some machines have water tanks with small filling spouts. For these machines it is handy to have a a funnel.
Large, high-end espresso machines are designed to connect to a water source, like a refrigerator with a water dispenser. Before you purchase this type of an espresso machine find out if you need your piping rerouted just to accommodate it.
Most espresso machines can make espresso-based drinks like, lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos. If you like these brews make sure you purchase an espresso machine that comes with a frother which froths the pressurized milk.
Find out how easy the espresso machine you would like could be disassembled and reassembled. Cleaning the espresso machine can be a chore, but it is necessary to do every so often to keep it operating at a high level.
If the espresso machine you would set your heart on is made predominantly of stainless steel, but most of the other appliances in your kitchen are black or white in color, the espresso machine will stand out like a sore thumb. An espresso machine white or black in color would stand out in the same way in a kitchen in which the rest of the appliances are made of stainless steel.
I am a die-hard espresso fan. I love every form of the drink from straight espresso shots to lattes and cappuccinos. I currently use a Breville BES870XL Barista, it is an awesome machine. BUT, my dream machine is definitely an Italian Quickmill Andreja. Those bad boys make badass espresso.I love answering your questions, leave a comment or question below!
An espresso machine is a kitchen appliance that brews coffee by pushing nearly boiled pressurized water through a compressed puck of ground coffee. The result is a thick, concentrated coffee going under the name of espresso.
The boiler is the component that heats the water, the grouphead delivers water into the filter, the pump creates the brewing pressure, and the filter is where the ground coffee is brewed and filtered. Here is a dictionary of espresso machine parts, if you want to learn more.
In order to qualify as an espresso machine, the appliance needs to be able to create pressure for the brewing process. Although many times people refer to stronger coffee as espresso, this is not a correct denomination. We cannot make coffee in a coffee machine, or in a French press. But more on the subject here: What Is Espresso? 041b061a72