Buying an espresso machine is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. Why? Well, you’re going to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on this purchase, so you should be sure you’re making the right choice. Read our expert tips to help you decide.
The best espresso machines to buy today will give you great results every time, without any hassle. But there are many factors to consider when choosing a new machine, including price, size, features, and brand reputation.
If you’re looking for a manual machine, you’ll need to learn how to use it properly. This means learning how to grind coffee beans, measure water temperature, and adjust the pressure of the pump. It also means knowing how to clean the machine after each use. If you prefer automatic machines, you won’t have to worry about these things. However, you’ll still need to pay attention to maintenance and cleaning.
Choosing Your Espresso Machine Type
If you want to invest in an espresso machine, first choose between a semi-automatic, super-automatic, manual, single-serving, or stovetop machine. While they all create delicious espresso beverages, some require more barista knowledge than others. In addition, consider if you want to add milk to your drinks. You can use a steam wand, automatic milk frother, or a stand-alone option. Take into account the ease of use of each machine as well as how often you drink espresso in order to choose the best option for you!
1. Go with a super-automatic machine if you want an easy-to-use option.
These are often one-touch machines that effortlessly make espresso beverages at home. With these machines, you do not have to grind the coffee or steam the milk yourself. While this is a quick, straightforward method, the quality can vary depending on machine model.22
If you want consistent results with little barista knowledge, consider super-automatic espresso machines.
These usually come with a bean grinder included with the machine.
This is a great option if you often have guests over that want to make their own espresso.
2. Select a semi-automatic machine for a traditional brewing method.
Semi-automatic espresso machines often use the same boiler for brewing espresso and steaming milk, and they require a bit of knowledge on preparing drinks. With these machines, you must grind your coffee and steam your milk yourself, and this can result in less consistent beverages. With a little practice, you can easily create delicious, gourmet espresso drinks.
If you want an entry-level machine, choose one that uses an undersized, pressurized portafilter. A portafilter is a handle that attaches to the espresso machine and contains the coffee grounds. These filters are made out of aluminum. They are typically 50–54 millimeters (2.0–2.1 in) in size.
If you want a high-quality or professional machine, select one with non-pressurized, chrome-plated portafilters. These are made out of more durable metals and are typically 58 millimeters (2.3 in) in size.
3. Select a manual espresso maker if you are up for a challenge.
With manual espresso machines, boil the water separately and then pour it into the machine. Choose from either a spring piston lever machine or a direct lever machine. The spring piston machines have a internal, calibrated spring used to push water through the ground espresso. The direct lever machines require the user to apply pressure to the lever to brew the espresso.
This is a good choice if you like rich, full-flavor espresso.
These machines are hard to get consistent results with until you are very experienced, since you have to operate the lever yourself.
4. Go with a single-serving machine for the most convenient option.
This is a type of super-automatic espresso machine where espresso is brewed using a single-serving capsule system. There is minimal cleanup or wait time with this option. To use, simply place an espresso pod inside the top, secure the lid, and press the “Brew” button.
This is a great option if you are not an avid coffee drinker but still want to have the option of brewing espresso.
Buying single-use pods can get more expensive than brewing espresso from ground beans.
While this is convenient, it is not the most environmentally-conscious option.
5. Try a stovetop espresso maker if you want a simple, non-electric option.
Stovetop espresso makers are also called moka pots. They come in small sizes such as 1–6 cups (0.24–1.42 L), as well as larger varieties, holding 9–12 cups (2.1–2.8 L) cups of espresso. These are a great option if you want to make espresso without the help of an accessory gadget.
To use a stove top espresso maker, fill the lower chamber up with water, and add your ground espresso to the inner dish above the lower chamber. Ensure the strainer is properly screwed on, then place your espresso maker on the stove. In about 5-10 minutes, the espresso maker will fill with freshly brewed espresso.
This does not work for making single shots of espresso. However, it works great to make cappuccinos and lattes.
Considering Machine Features
1. Get a grinder if your machine does not have a built-in option.
Typically, super-automatic machines come with their own grinder. If your model does not have a grinder, make sure you invest in one alongside your machine. After all, you will need it to make your espresso! A quality grinder is a necessity when properly preparing espresso for extraction.
Choose a grinder in your budget, as they can get very expensive.
When selecting a quality grinder, look for either step-less or stepped grinders. The stepped grinders have separate settings for fine to coarse grinding. Step-less has no pre-set settings, and you can grind the beans as fine as desired.
2. Get a machine with a steam wand if you want to create milk foam.
If you don’t want to drink straight espresso, look for a steam wand when selecting your espresso machine. These are mel stems that are usually located towards the side. There is a bit of a learning curve with steam wands, but with some practice you can easily use them to create voluminous milk foam.
To use, first fill up your pitcher with cold milk. Submerge the tip of the wand just below the surface of the milk, and angle your pitcher. Let a small bit of air into your milk, then let the milk heat up to the correct temperature.
These work great when creating lattes and cappuccinos, for example.
Steam wands can be slightly difficult to clean, so make sure you wipe down the wand after each use.
3. Go with a machine with an automatic frother to easily prepare your milk.
Many espresso machines come with a built-in frothing option. With a push of a button, these devices heat up automatically and mix your milk instantaneously. This is the most convenient method to make frothy espresso drinks.
Many of these models also offer a large, removable milk tank. You can easily pop this in the fridge instead of cleaning it after each use.
4. Use a stand-alone frother if your machine doesn't have a frothing option.
If you want to make foamy espresso beverages but the espresso machine you are interested in doesn’t have this feature, that’s okay! You can always purchase a separate milk frother. These effortlessly make your foam, but they can have slightly inconsistent results.
To use, fill the internal tank with your milk, and select the froth button. Some machines have settings to simply heat the milk instead of frothing it. Then, in about 30-60 seconds, your milk will be whipped and foamy.
These are not the best for creating luscious, extra frothy beverages.
5. Choose a dual boiler system if you want a professional machine.
If you are an espresso aficionado and want to invest in a professional system, go with a dual boiler. These have a separate tank for brewing your espresso and steaming your milk, as opposed to single boiler systems which require you to wait for the machine to calibrate between brewing and steaming. The faster you add milk to the espresso, the better and fresher the drink tastes.
Most single boiler systems require the machine to make the espresso shot, turn up the heat to make the steam, then steam the milk. Dual boiler systems complete both of these functions simultaneously.
Go with this machine if you want to serve espresso in a coffee shop, for example
Get an in-depth look on the basic parts of an espresso machine. See their functions, where they are located and what are their purposes are to create your perfect espresso. We detailed this article to give you a clear understanding of the basic espresso machine inside out. If you're going to buy one for your home, you need to know everything about that espresso machine, all its parts, their functions, how to clean, maintain, and preserve them. Read Article >>> Parts Of An Espresso Machine
Now that you have an idea on how to choose the best espresso machine to buy for your home, check out these articles with more information to better understand espresso machines;
A Complete Guide To Espresso Machines
How To Make An Espresso
The Best Espresso Machines To Buy Today
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