Ever wondered why are espresso machines so expensive? Read on as I reveal the factors that add up to the experience and cost of espresso.
I do not remember exactly when my love affair with coffee started but after tasting the real’ espresso my passion knew no bounds. I soon started scouring the internet for full-on espresso machines only to find that they are so expensive.
Trust me, if you wish to enjoy the taste of thicker and richer coffee with more caffeine inside, you will need to shell out a good amount of money…really good!
So, why are espresso machines so expensive? Let’s find out!
A good espresso machine capable of delivering that rich taste and flavor requires high-quality parts to maintain a consistent level of temperature and pressure. Here are the factors that add up to the price of espresso machines:
- Digital Display
- Brewing temperature adjustment
- Temperature adjustment – individual groups
- Pressure consistency and profiling
- Complex system
I will discuss these factors in detail below before we go further let’s briefly talk about an espresso machine and what makes it different from a standard coffee maker.
What Is An Espresso Machine?
Espresso machine uses high pressure to force steam through the freshly grounds beans to give a super thick and concentrated liquid with rich crema. They are highly appreciated for their ability to create intense coffee flavor profiles that usually get lost in brew times.
When doing my research for an espresso machine, I found several coffee makers that claim to make espresso. These machines come with a group head and a portafilter, however, the full-on espresso machines also include steam wands that are used for steaming /frothing liquids such as milk.
Moka pots are often regarded as the conventional stovetop espresso makers as they use a similar mechanism to brew using pressure. While your Italian grandmother may prefer stovetop espresso, it is still different from a traditional espresso machine.
Both Moka pot and espresso machines brew strong coffee, but they vary widely in terms of quality, consistency, and control. While the espresso consistently gives you great-tasting coffee cup after cup, the Moka pot lacks pressure consistency that may result in too concentrated or weaker coffee.
Espresso machines are a clear winner but the only flaw is that they are expensive which makes it difficult for average consumers to afford them.
Factors That Contribute To The Price of Espresso Machines
The high-end espresso machines have a body made of stainless steel, brass, or metal, which adds up to the cost of the equipment. Some manufacturers may use industrial plastic for internal parts and frames. While this does not directly make a difference, the weaker framing may affect the espresso quality.
As the top espresso machines are designed to maintain a stable brewing temperature, they use high-quality materials for a compact and solid framework. If you are looking for the best quality at a comparatively lower price, check out the manual or semi-automatic machines.
Most of the coffee makers in the market come with a digital display, however, the digital display used on traditional espresso machines are different from the standard ones. They are made of high-quality materials to deliver enhanced levels of stability and temperature constancy.
The digital displays in espresso machines also come with useful features such as water temperature adjustment, pre-infusion delay, on and off programming, shot timers, filters placement prompts, cleaning programs, and equipment diagnostics.
Brewing Temperature Adjustment
The traditional espresso machines come with a temperature controller and adjuster to give users more control over the brewing temperature. You can find different models that come with several operating styles and the most expensive ones have an extensive list of options available.
Temperature Adjustment – Individual Groups
This feature offers enhanced temperature adjustment and control for brewing coffee for individual groups. It works best for those who want more control over the equipment’s brewing temperature, or serve more than one type of coffee.
Espresso machines that come with temperature adjustment (individual groups) are made of the finest materials and they sport a unique design, digital display, and special barista controls. This category of espresso machines is perhaps the most expensive of all.
Pressure Consistency and Profiling
These features were unheard of in the past; hence, the old classic models do not provide users any control over the pressure consistency. The newer models enable pressure consistency and let you create your own pressure profiling.
To meet these demands, the espresso machines come with newer techniques that require a complex internal structure, both electronically and mechanically. The more complex internal parts, the more expensive the espresso machine will be.
Espresso making requires a lot of precision and patience. To consistently brew delicious and flavorful coffee with lower temperatures, high pressure, and perfect extraction times, the machine requires a complicated internal structure.
The structure comprises of a precision heating unit, boiler system, multiple thermometers (for steaming milk), and other safety features.
What Are The Different Types Of Espresso Machines?
Now that you know why are espresso machines so expensive, let’s take a look at the different types of espresso machines available to help you choose the right one.
The piston-driven espresso machines are the first standardized versions that were created about 50 years ago. They are operated manually and the users need to pull the piston to force the steam through the coffee grounds to get that perfect extraction.
They are the most commonly used machines that work on a similar mechanism; however, they are piston-driven instead of using manual force. These machines use a motor to force the stream through the grounds at high pressure.
They pump-driven espresso machines range from several hundred dollars for basic models to a thousand dollars for the industrial machines.
Espresso-making includes several steps such as grinding the coffee beans, tamping them into a compact bed for brewing, stopping the brewing process after 20-30 seconds, and emptying the used ground from the espresso machine.
Semiautomatic machines like this require you to do the grinding and tamping part. When you switch on the machine, the water is pumped through the bed and as the liquid turns black, you need to turn off the machine.
The automatic espresso machines also require you to grind and tamp the coffee beans into a compact bed. However, as you switch on the machine, it will automatically turn on the brewing process and switch off when the brewing is complete.
The automatic machines are expensive but best suited for the amateur barista as it helps in keeping the pressure and temperature constant, while only adjusting the ground texture and extraction time.
Just as the name suggests, a super-automatic espresso machine takes all control off your hands and performs all activities – grinding, tamping, and brewing. They can also empty the used waste into an internal container.
Some super-automatic models also steam and froth milk, allowing users to control the amount of air injected. Remember that the super automatics completely impact the coffee flavor, so if you are the kind of person who likes to have control, you might want to avoid these.
Making perfect espresso is an art that requires a lot of patience and skill development, but once you get it right, there is no looking back. I long argued with myself on whether or not it was a wise decision to invest in an espresso machine and finally gave in to the coffee enthusiast in me!
However, I would like to reassert that buying an espresso machine costs good money, so make sure you do your research well. Study the market, check customer reviews, and compare prices before you enter your credit card details!
If you ask me, I would say go for it (if the budget is not a constraint). With the freshly ground coffee beans, a good quality espresso machine, and some practice, you can achieve flavors that can make your taste buds do the salsa! In the end, it will be truly worth it!