Do you want to enjoy your mornings with the best cup of espresso or need a perfect espresso machine for your coffee shop? We’ve got you covered. In this article, we will explore everything that you need to consider and keep in mind while choosing the perfect espresso machine. When making any investment, we often tend to consider many choices so that we buy the right product. So does apply to an espresso machine, be it a home espresso machine or a commercial one, there are certain standard rules that affect your buying decision. Also, after purchase, if you don’t want your espresso machine to die very soon, you need to take proper care of it by cleaning it regularly and using it appropriately.
Espresso machines have seen great demand these days having a market share of $11.99 billion and still counting. Coffee addicts buy it for their homes also managers are investing in these products to install it in their offices. In Office coffee keeps employee feeling fresh and also ensure they are not daydreaming and are focused on their work. Small coffee shops or renowned coffee chains are on the lookout for it as they always believe in giving their customers the best coffee experience.
However, do you know what type of espresso machines are available for you? What are the top brands in this field? What factors affect your buying decision for an espresso machine? And why maintaining it is utterly important? We’ll dive into all these topics and you can consider it as the “ultimate guide to choosing the perfect espresso machine.”
Types of Espresso Machines
Before you make a purchase decision, you must be aware of the various types of espresso machines available in the market. The first and foremost major separation is a home espresso machine that is specifically designed for home use and is delicate yet professional, giving a barista-like experience. The next is a commercial machine that is designed for coffee shops/cafes. They are usually heavily built and are large in size with some distinct features. Nevertheless, any of these two types of espresso machines is one of the following type:
1. Steam-Driven Espresso Machines:
These machine date back to 1884 and are pretty old, but are still in use today. They are affordable and easy to maintain. What happens in these machines is that the water in the reservoir is brought to a boiling point, which produces steam. Consequently, this creates pressure and forces the water into the coffee. Interesting how it works, following an old method.
2. Lever-Driven Espresso Machines or Manual Espresso Machine:
These machines require a lot of human involvement. As soon as the lever is raised, the preheated water flows into the brewing chamber to begin the brewing process. And the moment it is released, espresso is extracted and is ready to consume. The barista when using such an espresso machine has more control over it. These are either be manual or work with a spring.
3. Pump-Driven Machines:
These machines are the most popular ones and are used widely. The electric pump creates high pressure and flows the hot water into the coffee. You don’t have to apply physical force of any kind, thus making it more feasible. The pumps in your espresso machine may be geared, rotating, or vibrating ones. Moreover, such machines again have sub-types which are important ones and should be known:
a) Semi-automatic Machines:
Semi-automatic espresso machines maintain a balanced control between humans and the machine itself. While it automatically is in charge of flowing the water to group heads, the grinding, tamping, and extracting time is to be taken care of by the barista.
b) Automatic Machines or Fully Automatic :
Automatic Espresso Machines are almost similar to semi-automatic ones. What sets them apart is that in automatic machines, the water flow stops automatically. This feature isn’t available in semi-automatic espresso machines.
c) Super-automatic Machines:
Super-automatic Espresso Machines Having less customization options, semi-automatic espresso machines do everything for you. From grinding beans to pulling a great shot of espresso, they do it all without much human involvement and just a click of a button away.
Difference between Semi-automatic Machines, Automatic Machines, Super-automatic
|Feature||Semi-automatic Machines||Automatic Machines||Super-automatic Machines|
|Manual Operation||Requires manual input||Minimal manual input||Little to no manual input|
|Brewing Process||User-initiated start/stop||Fully automated brewing||Fully automated brewing|
|Coffee Grinding||Often separate grinder||Integrated or separate||Integrated|
|Pressure Generation||User-controlled||Typically automated||Fully automated|
|Milk Frothing||Manual or separate device||Manual or integrated||Fully automated|
|Customization||High level of customization||Some customization options||Limited customization|
|Skill Level Required||Some barista skills needed||Minimal skills required||No barista skills needed|
|Espresso Quality||Depends on user’s skills||Consistent and reliable||Consistent and reliable|
|Convenience||Moderate||Easy and convenient||Very easy and convenient|
|Price||Lower cost||Mid to high cost||High cost|
Key Factors To Consider When Buying An Espresso Machine
It may be anything that you’re buying, you will always have some pre-determined factors that affect your decision to buy that particular product. The factors will differ depending on your preferences, it may be featured for someone, while others may look for others.
Let’s take a look at some of the important considerations:
Low cost of a product is the driving force. But if you find that an espresso machine is low-priced, you shouldn’t be taken away by it. Look for its features as well. It doesn’t mean that machines with low cost are not of good quality. Rather there are also machines that are worth the price and give you additional features. So buy an espresso machine that proves to be a good gamble for the price and are worth it.
2. Type of Machine:
The type of machine that you need also affects your buying decision. Whether you want a manual, semi-automatic, automatic, or super-automatic espresso machine is also an important decision. Depending on your convenience and ability to customize your coffee or your home, you can choose any of these types for your home or your coffee shop.
3. Coffee Beverage:
The coffee drink you relish on is also a major factor of your that affects your purchasing decision. If you find delight only in espresso, you can buy a machine specifically meant for it. But if you’re a fan of milky coffee drinks and find comfort in it, then you have to look for an espresso machine that has a built-in milk frother/steam wand. Though you can also buy it separately, an in-built one would occupy much less space.
4. Customizable options:
If you love to try out new espresso drinks and experiment with different recipes, then choosing a programmable espresso machine would be the best for you. A programmable machine will allow you to have greater control over it as you can modify the temperature, strength, and extraction of the espresso. Whereas, if you only looking for an espresso machine that produces good quality espresso and is easy to use by just clicking a button, then choose a machine that is pre-programmed.
5. Descaling Option:
Your espresso machine can function properly only when maintained and cleaned from time to time. Regular cleaning/descaling of your espresso machine will ensure that your coffee tastes good and not bitter. Descaling is a very important aspect as it cleans up any calcium deposits or other tiny particles that may either clog your brewing process or may result in the coffee tasting bad and bitter.
If you’re looking for a home espresso machine, then consider buying one which is compact. It shouldn’t be heavy or too large so that it can fit into your kitchen very easily. However, in the case of a commercial espresso machine, you can select one with more groupheads if your coffee shop is a busy one and this will also mean a heavier machine. Taking into account your kitchen space, buy an espresso machine that will perfectly fit into it without causing much inconvenience.
7. In-built Grinder:
Coffee made-up of freshly ground coffee beans is the best tasting one. When you want freshly ground coffee beans, purchase an espresso machine with a built-in grinder. Pre-ground coffee beans are much more easier to access, but when taste is a priority investing in the essential features is a must. At the same time make sure that your grinder is set to the perfect grind.
8. Quality of the Espresso:
The taste of the espresso/coffee is the main thing that we buy an espresso machine for. It’s difficult to know the quality of the espresso that a machine produces before you buy it. Hence, read the customer’s reviews and select the one that gives you the most delicious espresso. Moreover, we will also mention to you some of the best espresso machine brands in the next part of this article.
List Of 4 Top Espresso Brands:
Before buying an espresso machine it is best to know the most well-known and finest brands in this sector. These brands have all types of professional machines for you. From cheap espresso machines to those which use cutting-edge technology, you can get your type of espresso machine from any of these brands.
Here are 4 of the renowned brands:
An Italian manufacturer of home appliances, De’Longhi is the best among espresso brands around the globe. The espresso machines that it produces are highly affordable with some of the best features in that price range. The customers who purchase the products of De’Longhi are never dissatisfied with the quality, functioning, and price tag of its appliances. Moreover, as a cherry on the top is its steel grinder in all its machines that allow you to manage the grind level, strength, and density of your espresso.
2. La Marzocco:
This brand produces high-end espresso machines. They are best suitable for large coffee shops or cafes. Their machines are not just beautiful in appearance, but also function seamlessly and extract high-quality espresso and coffee. La Marzocco has great respect in the market because it lives by what is says and meets all the standards. Though a bit costlier, the espresso coffee machines by La Marzocco are elite and also reliable.
Breville, an Australian home appliances brand has been in the market producing espresso machines that pull the most delicious shots of espresso. Whether you want an espresso manufacturer extracting only espresso, or a machine producing velvety milky coffee beverages, Brivelle is the premium brand choice. From manual espresso machines to automatic ones, Brivelle doesn’t disappoint you whatsoever. Their espresso machines are easy to use and affordable, making them one of the top brands.
Looking to get an espresso machine that would last for years without causing you any trouble? Choose espresso machines manufactured by Gaggia. Their machines have proven to be durable over the years and have lasted for almost 30 years. This one-time investment is worth the price paid for. Alongside, most of the espresso machine parts of this brand have the utilisation of stainless steel as they believe in quality. And also, its espresso machines are very easy to use.
Maintenance And Cleaning Tips For Espresso Machines:
Proper maintenance and cleaning of the espresso machine is a crucial part of affecting the functioning of your espresso machine and your espresso’s taste. When you don’t bother about your espresso machine and don’t clean it regularly while using it every day, it is sure to break down very soon and ultimately shorten the lifespan of the espresso machine. Hence, to ensure that you take good care of your espresso machine and prevent its malfunctioning, here are some quick maintenance and cleaning tips:
- Wipe the steam wand after every use before it dries up and hardens. This is the most important cleaning tip recommended by many baristas to avoid bacterial build-up on it and avoid difficulty in cleaning.
- Use a water filter to remove minerals from hard water that will further reduce the amount of scale building up. Or you can also buy filtered water, but it will be expensive.
- To prevent the growth of algae or slimy substances in your water tank, wipe it at least once a month. And if it’s removable, that’s a great advantage as it can be removed, washed, wiped, and then returned to its place.
- Flush the group head after extracting every shot of espresso as this will remove the stuck coffee grounds in the filter screen that were already used in the previous shot. Moreover, it makes the cleaning process easier.
- Wipe the portafilter after pulling every shot of espresso, and also note that you wipe its edges as the coffee grounds on the edges can get stuck in the rubber seal when pushed up.
- At the end of the day, after serving all the shots of espresso, backflush your espresso machine with water five or six times to remove any build-up or so.
- Once a week or once a fortnight, clean the filter screen and its sides with a small brush/toothbrush to get rid of any oils or coffee grounds. Furthermore, the filter screen can be removed and soaked in a machine cleaner.
- The steam tip of the steam wand should be taken off (it’s okay if it doesn’t come off) and soaked in hot water for a few minutes, then wipe it. This will remove any stains of milk.
- Keep the drip tray clean and dry to avoid any nasty odours or insects and to avoid rust.
- From time to time, wipe the exterior of your machine to make it look brand new.
- Last and the most vital tip is to descale your espresso machine every two to three months using vinegar or descaling products.
Frequently Asked Questions About Espresso Machines:
As an ultimate guide to choosing the perfect espresso machine, you have probably come across all the details and I hope it has solved many of your queries as well. Buying an espresso machine either for your home or for your coffee shop isn’t an easy task. It requires you to know various requirements that will help you in choosing the perfect one. For whatever reason you’re purchasing the espresso machine, either to enjoy it in your jimjams in a cozy corner of your house or to serve it to customers looking for a caffeine kick, buy an espresso machine that you won’t regret purchasing.