Choosing the best Espresso Machine can be a daunting experience. There are so many different brands, recommendations and a lot of misinformation out there; knowing which Espresso maker are best can be a real challenge.
>> Also read: Best Budget Espresso Coffee Maker
Rather than attempting the expensive method of trial and error and wasting money on machines that might not suit your needs or lifestyle, it’s a good idea to invest some time in learning what to look for in an Espresso Machine.
|1||Breville BES870XL Barista Espresso Machine|
|2||Mr. Coffee ECMP1000 Premium Coffee System|
|3||Bialetti 6-Cup Stovetop Espresso Maker|
For the price, brand and features, the Breville BES870XL Barista Express is our top pick for espresso machine to buy. It comes with built-in coffee bean burr grinder, milk frother, tamper and can make up to 2 cups of espresso at the same time. It’s easier to maintain and requires less cleaning than other cheaper espresso machines in the market.
>> Related: Breville Oracle Espresso Machine Review
[Kelly: Try to fill the grinder with beans you need for the drink(s) you are making, instead of pouring more and leaving it for future use as leaving them inside the hopper might heat up the beans too much. Store your beans in a separate container and use the included scoop when u need to fill the beans.]
- Single serve version: Breville BES840XL Espresso Machine
- Higher end version: Breville BES980XL Espresso Machine
Available in three colors: Silver, Black & Red [Jacob: You need to checkout the red version! Totally hot stuff.]
>> Here’s a cheaper alternative replacement cleaning tablets: Urnex Cafiza Espresso Machine Cleaning Tablets
This coffee maker comes with a single and double shot filter, a measuring scoop, a tamper and a coffee guide loaded with 20 different delightfully recipes. The Mr. Coffee ECMP1000 features a single-touch control panel which offers user-friendly controls to choose from a wide selection of single-shot, double-shot espresso, cappuccino and even latte.
This machine can supply 15 bars of pressure, and its automatic milk frother is able to quickly transform milk into a light and creamy foam. It can also steam and froth the milk at the same time. The machine allows users to control the amount of froth that it makes. Its consistent temperature is gives the best tasting shot every time. The drip tray can be removed to fit large mug as tall as a full-sized pint glass.
[Kelly: What we really most about this machine other than the control panel is its ease of cleaning. From the milk and water reservoir to the drip tray and catcher, everything can be easily removed for wash.]
Also check out: Mr. Coffee BVMC-BMH23 Automatic Burr Mill Grinder
Patented in 1933 by Italian inventor Alfonso Bialetti, the original Bialetti Moka Express is made of quality polished aluminium and comes in the classic Bialetti Octagon shape. This stovetop espresso maker has a patented safety valve and comes with a knob, handle, heating vessel, coffee collector, funnel, valve, filter plate, internal column, lid and gasket
>> Related: Best Stovetop Espresso Maker
It’s compact size can easily fits into the kitchen or countertop. The parts can be disassembled for easy cleaning and wash. It can produce 6 demitasse (2 ounce) cups of rich and smooth espresso under 5 minutes with a maximum boiler capacity of 10 fl oz (300ml).
[Kelly: Rule of thumb, if you like strong coffee and only need to brew for one person, go for the 3-cup size. Get the 6-cup if you are brewing for two. If you drink lots of coffee at once or regularly host friends or relatives, go for the 9 or 12 cup model.]
What to look for in an Espresso machine
Here are some of the top features we look for in an Espresso coffee maker at home:
Cost – Pricing of espresso machines can range from less than a hundred dollar to a couple of thousands based on factors like durability, quality, features. Generally, the more features and the higher capacity the espresso machine entices; the more costly it will be .
Aesthetic looks – This is pretty straight forward. One thing to highlight is, when considering the Aesthetic factor of your espresso machine, don’t simply decide whether they look nice on your kitchen countertop. Other factors like spout placement, cord length and material of exterior play a critical part as well.
Grinding Capabilities – Having an espresso machine with built-in grinder not only adds convenience and save counter space, having coffee that’s fresh ground can make a big difference in terms of flavor. [Jacob: personally, I only pick machines with built-in beans grinder]
>> Check out our coffee grinder related articles
Water Storage – Higher-end espresso machines are usually designed with a direct connection to a water source (like a refrigerator with a water dispenser). Be sure to check if piping works for where you plan to place the espresso machine.
Most espresso machines for use at home use a manually filled water reservoir instead, and can hold enough water for making up to 8 cups of espresso. Which in our opinion is more than enough for usual consumption.
Frothing Capabilities – Most espresso machines come with frother capability which allows you to make espresso-based drinks like, lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos. [Jacob: Although you can easily get a milk frother separately, but if you are someone who prefers to simply press a button and have your beverage done for; be sure to pick an espresso machine with built in milk frother.]
Ease of cleaning – Cleaning the espresso machine is necessary in order to use it for years to come. In order to minimise the time and effort needed to clean them, it is ideal to choose an espresso machine that’s relatively easy to disassemble and reassemble. Be sure to ask the salesperson regarding the steps involved in cleaning the espresso maker before you decide. Rule of thumb: The more features and components the machine have, likely it will take longer to clean as there are more steps and parts. [Jacob: if your espresso machine is easy to use but takes ton of effort to clean, then it’s not that convenient after all.]
>> We will create an article in future to talk about the essential items to clean (be sure to subscribe to our newsletter to get first hand updates), for now, simple note that any parts that can be exposed to moisture should be cleaned and dried properly after use.
Other Features to Consider
Some models come equipped with some extra features that differentiates them from each other. Here are a few for your consideration as well:
- Cup Warmer – If you like taking some time to drink your cup of coffee, a cup warmer can be a nice addition.
- Programmable Settings – some machines allow pre-sets in the machine.
- Storage space – the amount of counter space needed.
- Boiler Type – There are 3 main types of boilers: Single boiler, heat exchanger and dual boiler. For temperature consistency and the ability to pull shots and steam milk at the same time, a dual boiler is required.
Types of Espresso Machine
Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines
Semi-automatics are the most common type of espresso machines. They are relatively easy to operate and features an electric brewing pump and do require the most manual intervention. They’re the most popular type of espresso machine on the market today.
Fully Automatic Espresso Maker
A fully automatic espresso maker features the ability to automate the volume and delivery of the water in the process of espresso making. This makes them even easier to use than the semi-automatic ones. Having removing another piece of control from you makes things even easier for users unless you are particular about how your espresso wil turn out.
Super-Automatic Espresso Machines
Super-automatic espresso makers take ease of use to the extreme, where the process from bean to cup are done at the touch of a button. This type of espresso machine is great for those who are not interested in the process of making the cup and isn’t too concerned about the intricacies of the flavor.
Manual Lever Espresso Machines
Manual espresso machines allows control over every part of the process of making a shot of espresso and if done right, you can potentially end up with the perfect shot. They do require a high level of skill to master and you can easily screw the espresso up if it’s not done right.
They look really stunning and professional over the countertop but can be costly. As such, we only recommend these for experienced connoisseur or individuals who are prepared to put in the effort to master the craft.
Capsule Espresso Machines
This is pretty self explanatory. The capsule espresso machines are the most convenient among all the espresso machines. Simply insert a capsule into the machine and press a button to produce the espresso.
>> Also read: Capsule & Pod Coffee Machines
Most capsule espresso machines also comes with a built-in milk frothing system for producing cappuccino and latte. The capsule espresso makers are most ideal for offices, restaurants and in the home where convenience and space matters.
Tips For Make An Awesome Cup of Espresso
- Start with cold water (instead of room or warm water).
- Use small flame.
- Use freshly ground beans (ceramic burr hand grinder is cost saving and works great)
- Grind the coffee beans slightly coarser than an espresso grind (water pass through too quickly if too coarse).
- Avoid tamping too hard (the idea is to achieve an oozing of the coffee through the top instead of a gushing flow).
Depending on your budget and how much work you wish to get involved, there will definitely be an ideal selection about to fulfil your espresso craving and requirement. Apart from function, do also consider the capacity and machine size before pulling the trigger to decide which to buy.
Apart from the espresso machine, the choice of coffee bean is also crucial in the outcome and taste of the espresso. [Jacob: One tip for espresso lovers is to avoid buying beans online in bulk. Try getting whole beans from indie roastery in small quantity and try and find a blend that suits your liking.]
It might take some time to find that perfect combination or coffee coarse level, coffee bean, water temperature of your liking. In the process, you will also get to try and experiment various types of espresso taste (which can be both ‘scary’ and fun).
Which of espresso machine listed above are you most likely to go with? And what’s your biggest consideration when it comes to picking espresso machines? Let us know in the comment.