Are you looking forward to buy an espresso machine? Then you might be confounded about what to consider and what doesn’t matter. But don’t worry, we’ll make your task easier, and help you choose the perfect espresso machine.
If you’re an everyday coffee drinker, then that’s probably the reason you wish to buy an espresso machine for yourself. If it’s your first time, then you might have seen that there are thousands of espresso machines available in the market.
From low-end to high-end, basic to professional, everything that you need is well-equipped in these espresso machines. And your budget is the driving force that affects all the factors as well as the buying decisions. So let’s delve deeper into the matter without further ado
What’s An Espresso Machine?
So before we proceed, let’s understand what basically is an espresso machine. Simply put, an espresso machine is the machine that extracts espresso, which is a concentrated form of coffee beverage, made by forcing hot water through coffee grounds.
Espresso machine uses high pressure, and forces hot water through finely ground coffee beans to extract a rich, velvety concoction with a golden foam on the top, known as crema. The espresso machine is either manual, allowing you to have full control over the espresso extraction process.
Or it is automatic that does the work by itself, without requiring you to do any of it. Will discuss more about the various types of espresso machines further in this article.
If you haven’t decided your budget, then lemme tell you that espresso machines start from $100 and go up to $40,000. That’s insane!
The espresso machines at the higher end of this price range are the premium ones like we have Rolls Royce, Porsche as luxury car brands. Now let’s get the answer to the query, “what to know before buying an espresso machine?”
What To Know Before Buying An Espresso Machine?
With plenty of features and variety of espresso machines available in the market, it’s a daunting task to choose the right one. So let’s look at the considerations before buying an espresso machine:
The boiler of the espresso machine forms its key component. Whether you need a single boiler that brews only espresso or only milk at a time, or whether you want a double boiler that allows you to steam milk and brew espresso simultaneously, is an important decision on your part.
If you’re making many milk coffee drinks, then a dual-boiler espresso machine is what you should choose, otherwise it will take an eternity for all of you to get your milky beverages. But if you are the only one or have a small family, then a single boiler would do.
There are also espresso machines that come with a thermoblock, and most home espresso machines have a thermoblock heating system. This system is not as effective as a boiler is, and you better buy an espresso machine with a boiler for better results.
Ø Type of Espresso Machine:
There are several types of espresso machines. The one that suits your preferences will be the best one for you. Let’s discuss them one by one:
- Manual (Lever) Espresso Machine: This type of espresso machine functions manually, where you will have complete control over your coffee-making process. If you have enough time to devote to your brewing process and love to craft it, then manual espresso machine is your take. Here, your coffee won’t be ready at the touch of a button, but you have to cutomise your brew and control every part of the process. Manual espresso machines are also available at a lower cost and give you the original espresso flavour.
- Semi-automatic Espresso Machine: If you don’t want to break your head in managing every single aspect of the espresso machine, then a semi-automatic espresso machine is what you need. They automate most of the brewing process except for the grinding and tamping, steaming etc. These machines require a tiny bit of human enrollment.
- Automatic/Fully-Automatic Espresso Machines: Want your espresso/coffee at the click of a button, then you have the fully-automatic espresso machine. All you need to do is place a cup underneath the brew head and the rest is up to the machine. Consider buying this machine if you’re a busy person and need your morning cup of joe super early and quickly, or even if you just want your java without much hassle. These machines are kinda expensive, so you have to keep your budget high to get one.
I think the portafilter is the heart of the espresso machine because it’s where the coffee grounds meet water to create a perfect match. And the size of the portafilter matters as it affects the espresso extraction.
Portafilter with a diameter of 58mm is considered the standard one, as the larger the portafilter the more is the force of extraction. Hence, if you want your espresso to taste great, like the one in your favorite cafe, choose an espresso machine with a 58mm portafilter.
Ø Stress-free Cleaning:
What’s the use of an espresso machine that is easy to use but not easy to clean? Can it even be considered? Never. Because cleaning forms a very essential part, as it ensures the good condition of an espresso machine, increases its lifespan, and maintains the high-quality of your espresso.
And if cleaning your espresso machine becomes a monotonous task, you eventually stop cleaning and maintaining it, thereby leaving your espresso machine to wear-out soon. So select an espresso machine that is easy and quick to clean, and makes your cleaning process fun and not burdensome.
The budget that we decide for an item is the most crucial factor. Sometimes, we even let go off necessary products if they don’t fit into your budget. I recommend you read our article, how much should I spend on an espresso machine? where we’ve given a detailed analysis of the costs and espresso machines available under it.
However, long story short, if your budget is low, select a manual espresso machine (though automatic are also available) because they tend to give a better quality espresso. Whereas, an automatic espresso machine under low-budget will not give you a high-quality espresso as it will probably compromise on its taste.
But in case of high-end espresso machines, a super automatic espresso machine is what I recommend as it gives you the most sophisticated experience with a touchscreen digital display and app connectivity features. Expensive manual espresso machines are also good enough, but are suitable for experienced baristas.
Ø Choice of Drinks:
Do you prefer only espresso or sometimes you also crave milky coffee? If it’s only espresso that you usually drink, then an espresso machine without a milk frother would be fine. But when milky coffee drinks have a soft spot in your heart, then a milk frother is a must.
Note that even when purchasing an espresso machine with a milk frother, it is suitable for making latte art. Moreover, what’s a latte without its art?
Ø Other Factors:
Apart from these major considerations, there are also other factors that play a vital role in choosing your espresso machine:
Grinder: If you have little counter space, then select an espresso machine with an in-built grinder, But ensure it’s a burr grinder and not a blade one. But if space is not your concern, then you can also purchase a grinder separately by dividing your budget, 1/4 for grinder and 3/4 for espresso machine.
Build-Quality: The build-quality of your espresso machine is also said to be one of the major factors. Buy an espresso machine with metal body parts and not plastic, as they prove to be durable.
Customization Settings: Want to control the temperature, pressure, and brew time, a customizable espresso machine is what you need. But if you only want a shot of espresso, no matter whether you can modify its settings or not, a machine with pre-loaded settings is good to go.
Size: Looking for a compact espresso machine? Buy a compact one, but if space is not a concern, purchase a rather larger espresso machine as it is capable of brewing double espresso shots.
With all the vital factors that affect your espresso machine purchase, get the one that you feel is best for you and will also be under your budget.
- Is it worth buying an espresso machine for home?
Yes, buying an espresso machine for home is worth it as it saves your money on everyday coffee and helps you hone your espresso-making skills. Moreover, you can also craft your espresso as per your will.
- Do espresso machines use a lot of electricity?
The amount of electricity consumption by your espresso machine varies based on the company, brand, size, minutes or hours for which it is being used, and various other factors. However, the average power consumption by an espresso machine is 350 watts.
- How long do home espresso machines last?
As per the studies, home espresso machines last for 3-5 years with regular use. However, with better care and maintenance, they can last up to 15 years. Breville espresso machines have a strong, long life.
- Do espresso machines require high maintenance?
Not really, espresso machines require minimum 5 minutes of daily cleaning, weekly cleaning of some vital machine parts such as backflushing. And once in every 2 months or so a deep cleaning called descaling.
- How long to run water for espresso?
To achieve the perfect shot of espresso, you need to pull an espresso shot within 25-30 seconds. But this greatly depends on the grind size, coffee bean quality, and the machine itself.
So plan your espresso machine purchase by properly considering all the factors. It’s okay to let go off some features if they don’t hold any importance to you. Consequently, you can use that amount to purchase a more superior espresso machine which will produce better espresso.
And as you now know what to know before buying an espresso machine, you can effectively plan out your purchase and look for the best espresso machines, keeping in mind the crucial concerns. All the best with your purchase!