Is it worth buying an espresso machine and what should you look for? We round up 10 factors for buyers.
Amateurs may often lump coffee and espresso together, but the connoisseurs know that there is a world of difference between the two. An espresso delivers a higher intensity of flavor whipped up in luscious crema that gives you a kind of experience you cannot imagine with an ordinary cup of Joe.
With so many different brands, models, and features to consider, it is natural for anyone to feel intimidated. If you are ready to take the plunge and invest in an espresso machine, here are ten things to know before buying an espresso machine.
• Espresso quality and preferred drink
• Who are the consumers
• Where is the installation site
• Ease of Use
• How durable is the machine
• What is the right size
• Is it easy to clean and maintain
• What is your budget
• Does the company offer customer service
• Extra Features to consider
What Is An Espresso Machine?
This is brewing equipment designed in a way to enable you to extract coffee in a thicker and luscious form. When the high-intensity pressure is created and hot water is passed through the freshly ground coffee beans, you get different forms of espresso drinks like cafe latte, cappuccino, mocha, and Americano.
Top 10 Things To Know Before Buying An Espresso Machine
1. Espresso quality and preferred drink
Most espresso fans will agree that this is a richer, stronger, and creamier version of coffee, and the quality of brew matters the most. This is what separates a coffee maker from an espresso machine. If you are a beginner, you will probably be satisfied with the quality of brew offered by any decent espresso machine.
However, if you are an aficionado that appreciates the finer things about a cappuccino or mocha, you need to consider a lot of other factors. The number of boilers present in a machine can have a huge impact on quality (the more, the better).
Other factors include whether the machine uses steam pressure (which is not recommended), the highest temperature a machine can reach and whether it can stay steady at that temperature.
2. Who are the consumers?
When buying an espresso machine, you need to think about the target consumers – just you, guests, family members, customers, or office employees? The target consumer and their requirements may change depending upon how you intend to use the machine.
If you are buying for home use, you can choose a standard size of a water tank, hopper, and dump box, depending upon the number of family members and guests' frequency. If you intend to keep it at your office, you will need a machine that has a bigger water tank, bean hopper, and dump box.
Having smaller components will result in filling and cleaning the machine several times during office hours. For commercial use at a coffee shop or café, you will need to look into the high-end espresso machines with two hoppers for different flavors.
3. Where is the installation site?
A lot depends on where you choose to install the machine. So, make sure you know exactly where the machine will be housed before buying one. Whether you wish to keep it on the kitchen counter or a special shelf, you will need to know the exact dimensions before purchasing the machine.
Not paying attention to the footprint may result in ending up with a product that does not fit into the desired installation site. You must also consider the accessibility to the coffee bean hopper and water tanks, as they need to be filled and cleaned regularly. In some models, the machines have water tanks with front access while others have access on the top.
4. Ease of use
I know some espresso fanatics who love having more controls in their hands while brewing their drink, while there are others who wish an automated device to take the guesswork out of making a delicious cappuccino. If you prefer the ease of use over anything else, look for models that can make the most complicated espresso drinks at the push of a button.
People who don’t have much time to indulge in the coffee brewing rituals in the morning may buy an automated espresso maker that comes with programmable settings. Make sure the device has intuitive controls and simple-to-understand features before you buy.
5. How durable is the machine?
You will be shelling out a lot of money to buy an espresso machine, so it makes sense to consider how long the product will last. Most of the high-end models come with a manufacturer warranty that can give you a fair idea of the machine’s durability. You may also check the brand reputation and customer reviews to get a picture of the life expectancy of specific models.
Besides these aspects, the type of material used for construction also matters, and most espresso machines are made of metals to sustain heat and stay durable. You must also consider the fact that the super-automatic models will comprise numerous electric parts that may require more repair work than the manual espresso machines.
6. What is the right size?
If you look online, you can find espresso machines of varying sizes and shapes. Some of them come with a plethora of features that can be too big to fit into a small kitchen. If you have limited counter space, it is important to look for an espresso machine that takes less space and does not restrict the accessibility of other appliances.
Sometimes a bigger size can be good because it allows you to brew two espresso shots together and enjoy extra features that add to the overall experience. If you have the space and budget to accommodate a big one, go for it!
7. Is it easy to clean and maintain?
Whether you are looking for a machine for home or office use, it is important to buy one that is easy to clean and maintain. If a machine requires a lot of time to clean, it is not convenient at all. Not being able to clean the espresso machine frequently may impact the performance and flavor of the brew.
Finding out later that a machine requires high maintenance can be upsetting and cost you a lot of money and time. Make sure you look into this factor and have an idea of how much time is needed to clean your espresso machine. If a machine has more components and several features, it will perhaps take more time to clean than a standard machine.
If you are buying an espresso machine for office, ease of cleaning is extremely important or else you will need to appoint a staff especially for this task.
8. What is your budget?
This is perhaps one of the most important things to know before buying an espresso machine. If you look into the various models available, you can see that they fall into a broad spectrum of the price range.
The factors vary so widely that it is difficult to generalize the models into different categories. While some expensive models are pricey for their quality of materials and life expectancy, others are highly priced for additional features.
If you are an espresso purist who is particular about the flavor and strength, or the time spend brewing a cuppa, you may consider buying a higher-end model, which is worth the price. On the other hand, if you are not very particular about the flavor or ease of use, and you are content with anything that tastes like espresso, a lower-end model may be a good choice.
If you are looking for a good espresso machine at a reasonable price, my recommendation would be the Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Machine (semi-automatic). It is stylish, easy to use, and consumes less energy.
9. Does the company offer customer service?
Just like an electrical device, espresso is also prone to breakdowns and bugs so make sure you look into manufacturer warranty and customer service. Most reliable brands will offer a warranty period within which you can contact the manufacturer for repair or replacement of parts. Even after the warranty period is over, you should be able to contact customer service in case you have any issues.
To be on the safer side, always check the reviews to see what old customers have to say about the company’s customer service. You would not want to be stuck with a product you cannot use and no one to seek help from in case the machine breaks down.
10. Extra features to consider
You can take your espresso experience to another level with extra features. They may not have an integral part to play in the brewing process but they are important nevertheless. Some models come equipped with additional features that may convince you to purchase the product.
Here are some extra features worth looking at:
• Water filter is a useful feature if you live in an area that supplies hard water. It can remove extra flavors so that you can enjoy the rich taste of coffee!
• A built-in grinder can save counter space as you need one appliance less to make a cuppa. It also adds convenience and helps in delivering freshly brewed espresso every time.
• Cup warmer is a nice feature if you want your espresso to keep your drink warm instead of seeping out the warmth from it.
• Frothing wand comes handy if you are the kind who prefers espresso with a dash of steamed milk to enhance the sweetness and flavor.
• Programmable settings allow you to adjust the machine to your preferred brew strength and flavor so that you can enjoy the perfect brew at the press of a button. Some machines may allow you to save program settings for multiple users.
Things To Know Before Buying An Espresso Machine For Café
Are you looking for a professional espresso machine to use in a café? To impress your customers, you will need to look into the various factors that influence the aroma, quality, and flavor of the espresso.
These factors include grind size, extraction time, temperature, pressure, and so on. In some models, you may be allowed to tweak in changes to accentuate the flavors, acidity levels, and mask any defects.
While a machine nullifies human errors, you need a good barista to operate the high-end commercial espresso models. Most of them come with touchscreen displays that enable the barista to control the settings. Some of the things you might need to know before buying an espresso for a café are:
• How long does the machine take to get heated?
• Does it allow you to serve drinks with attractive latte art?
• Do you want a model with multiple group heads to cater to more customers at once?
• Do you have enough space to accommodate a large machine?
• How many boilers does the model include?
• How quickly is the pressure resumed after one shot?
• Will the espresso stay consistent during the peak periods?
• Do you need pressure profiles to create a variety of espresso drinks?
• Will you require multiple steam wands?
• Does the machine allow you to have a constant flow of water
• How much energy does the machine consume
• If the model requires you to install a water filter, is this a feasible option for you
If you are looking for a professional espresso maker for your small café, my favorite brand would be La Pavoni because it is one of the major brands in the espresso coffee machines sector.
What To Know Before Buying An Espresso Machine For Home
I have friends who used to spend dollars buying espresso from the nearby café before heading to work. This expensive habit continued until I did the math and explained to them how they can benefit from investing in a home espresso machine.
Now they can’t stop thanking me, but that’s a different story! If you have a similar habit, buying a home espresso can be a great move! Here are a few things you need to know and consider.
Good things come at a price and here I’m not referring to money but real effort. Maintaining a home espresso demands some time as you will need to empty capsules or remove coffee grounds, clean the tray, refill the water tank, and so on.
At this point, you have two choices – a detachable brew unit that allows you to disassemble the parts for inspection or cleaning; or an in-built brew unit that cleans automatically. While the first option gives you full control over your brewing machine, the second option provides convenience. On the downside, it is difficult to detect issues in an in-built brewing unit.
You will also need to look into the pump pressure offered by a machine. This is an essential feature as it determines the kind of flavor a machine can extract from the grounds. It will also impact the crema quality.
I would recommend a home espresso machine that includes at least 9 bars or more. Here are the four types of home espresso machines you can buy:
Manual Espresso Machines
These traditional models use manual pressure to pull a shot and create extraction. While these models look conventional and old gentlemen prefer them over the others, these devices take a lot of effort and thinking. You would certainly not want a machine that you do not feel comfortable brewing.
These are a mix of professional and home machines, hence they are called prosumer machines. They usually sport a group head and a steam wand. Some small café owners may prefer using this machine, however, if you are planning to buy a prosumer for home use, make sure a complex machine as this is suitable for you.
To brew like a barista using a prosumer machine, you will need to control the various parameters such as the number of grounds used, grinder regulation, tamper pressure, water temperature, and so on.
While it requires a learning curve for beginners, some buyers love the experience to be able to brew like a pro. Let me warn you that this machine takes time to brew and if you are looking for a quick fix then this might not be the machine for you!
If you want a barista-style latte but a prosumer device looks like a lot of work then a semi-automatic machine device may fit the bill. Some of the common features include the pre-grinding option, pre-infusion, programmable settings, digital displays, and temperature control.
You just need to select a program and push the button to start brewing. While a semi-automatic takes the stress out of brewing an espresso drink at home, it still gives you some control.
Fully Automatic and Capsule Machines
The fully automatic machines are what they say they are. You just need to make sure there are enough beans in the hopper and the water tank is full. Just press that button and leave the rest to your machine to figure out with its smart controls.
You will get consistent quality and great-tasting espresso every time. On the downside, these machines give you practically no control over the brew and some people may not appreciate this.
The capsule machines (see my reviews), on the other hand, eliminate any chance of human error. You just need to ensure that you keep the water tank full, put a sealed capsule of high-quality coffee, and push the button. While these machines are convenient to use and leave no mess, they are steeply-priced.
Do you really need a capsule machine? Be honest to yourself before you part with that amount of money.
What To Know Before Buying An Espresso Machine For The Office
Most offices will have a coffee maker to allow employees to enjoy a refreshing drink anytime they want. If you buy an espresso machine, your staff members are going to love you. For office use, I would recommend automatic machines that can brew with minimal effort.
If your office has a lot of employees, the machine will be used frequently so you may want to look at these features:
• A bigger water tank
• Bigger capacity of the bean hopper
• Multiple group heads
• Quick brewing and easy to use
• Simple controls
• Easy to clean (self-cleaning if possible)
Besides offices, some businesses may also offer espresso to staff and customers as a specialty. You may want to buy one for your retail shop, salon, or wine bar. Your focus should be on the quality of brew and the ability to control the machine should on least priority. Look into the above factors to find an espresso machine that suits your needs.
- Semi automatic 3 in 1 espresso maker, cappuccino maker, and latte maker
- 15 Bar Pump System Brews Rich Tasting Espresso Coffee
- Trouble Free Automatic Milk Frother Removes the Guesswork. Do not wash the water reservoir in the dishwasher
- One touch control panel for drink selections
- Easy fill, removable water and milk reservoirs
Is It Worth Buying An Espresso Machine? The Final Word
Brewing a perfect cup of espresso is no less than an art but thanks to technology, the automatic espresso machines make it possible to brew like a barista at home. Whether you wish to pamper your taste buds, show off your espresso making skills or cut down your trips to Starbucks, buying an espresso machine can be a wise investment.
With so many options and features, everything boils down to one essential thing – a perfect cup of delicious espresso. You can achieve that with an expensive high-end espresso maker or a simple manual device – the choice is yours! I hope the information provided in this guide helps you make the right choice!