While the initial cost of an at-home espresso machine may be daunting, investing in one that is well made and durable will definitely pay off in the long run. If you go to coffee shops every day to buy a latte, cappuccino, or other espresso drink, you probably spend the overall cost of the machine over.
If you aren’t a fan of straight espresso, you can buy a milk frother and be your own barista. Some models of espresso machines even come with a built-in frother. Like having flavor in your coffee? You can find any number of flavored syrups online or in stores. All of this will give you a cafe-ready beverage at a fraction of the cost.
Types of espresso machines
Espresso machines come in three types, depending on what you’re looking for: manual, semi-automatic, and full-automatic.
Manual machines (also called lever machines) will give your kitchen a vintage vibe. It resembles the early industrial style models of espresso machines.
Semi-automatic machines are the most common. They are easy to use and consistently brew good tasting espresso. However, they don’t have a built-in grinder, so you’ll need to purchase one to keep on the side.
Full (or super) automatic machines aren’t the greatest when it comes to appearance. It mostly resembles a plain black plastic box. But it’ll give you a tasty latte at the push of a button. Super easy to use, plus they come with a grinder built in so you don’t need to worry about buying one.
Espresso beans need to be ground at just the right setting, or you risk losing much of the flavor that comes with brewing coffee in this manner. This is why it is important to have a machine with a built-in grinder or to have a standalone one. Purchasing pre-ground coffee will work, but if you’re spending money on an appliance in order to get the best you can out of your espresso, then it seems a little counter-intuitive.
You don’t have to buy a gargantuan machine that demands all your counter space when you buy an espresso machine. Some models are adorably compact and pack a lot of character. Just keep in mind that smaller machines, while nifty and easy to store, aren’t ideal if you brew for more than one or two people.
Some models come with bells and whistles to expand your espresso-brewing experience. While a simple machine that has just the basics is great, it may be beneficial to buy something that lets you customize certain functions.
The temperature of water, just like with drip coffee, is crucial to the brew of the perfect espresso shot. Buying a model that gives you consistent temperature will translate to a more consistent coffee making experience.
Models that include options for pre-infusion, dosing, and programming are also useful to have. If your machine comes with a grinder, make sure you are able to adjust the grind so you can get your espresso just right. Grind adjustment is crucial and having a one-grind-fits all machine is not in your best interest if you’re investing in a nice espresso machine.
If you are new to the espresso experience or don’t have the money to shell out on a quality grinder if your machine doesn’t come with one, some models come with something called a pressurized portafilter. What this means is that if your grinder isn’t the best, the filter will be more forgiving for inconsistent grounds. This is helpful, especially if you aren’t ready to make espresso brewing a hobby yet.
Some fully automatic machines come with extra features like warming trays, a descaling cycle (which is amazing), functions to brew according to how hard your water is, and removable parts to make cleaning a breeze.
If you feel overwhelmed by the sheer range of machines and the intricacies of espresso brewing, or, maybe you just don’t have time to mess with making a cup in the morning, fear not. There are machines that are super basic. There are espresso versions of K-cups that will give you a single-cup serving of espresso without breaking the bank.
Even better, some of these models come with an attached milk frother so you can still make lattes and cappuccinos. You don’t need to be a barista. There is an espresso machine for everyone; you just have to look!