How To Choose The Best Espresso Maker

Posted on 12. Dec, 2012 by in Articles, How-To

Before you figure out which would be the best espresso maker for your home, you need to figure out what type of espresso maker you are. There are two main types of home coffee makers; those who want to make the best coffee and those who just want to make a coffee quickly and easily.

In this article we are going to look at all the types of espresso makers on the market today and discuss some of the good and bad points of each so that by the end, you can have a good idea of what type of machine would be ideal for you.

 

Before We Begin

Before we jump in to the specifics of each type of coffee machine, here are some basic questions that you will also need to answer:

  • Are you a “one-button” coffee maker or a “great cup” coffee maker?
  • How much money do you want to spend on your machine?
  • How much space do you have in your kitchen?
  • How many espresso’s will you be making at once?

 

Fully Manual Espresso Machines[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B00004S9G8″ locale=”us” height=”240″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41G7TTEK4ZL.jpg” width=”120″]

Manual espresso machines work via a handle that you need to pump in order to push the hot water through the coffee grind. Other machines apply steam pressure but with a manual machine you have full control over the speed and pressure at which the coffee is made.

They are still very popular in Italy and are used widely in cafe’s around the country as it is seen as the authentic way to make an espresso.

The Good:

  • Full control over the brewing process
  • Can produce the best tasting espresso
  • Pump pressure won’t burn the coffee like steam pressure might
  • You can feel pride in your pure coffee making skills when you make a good one
The Bad:
  • Very easy to mess up as everything has to be perfect, from the grind to the pull
  • Not the quickest method of making an espresso

Who is it for?

Manual espresso machines still have a place in many peoples hearts. The purist coffee maker will enjoy the art and science that goes into pulling the perfect espresso, so this is recommended for people who enjoy the whole process of making and drinking a  coffee.

 

Single-Serve Pod & Capsule Espresso Machines[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B004YKRFV4″ locale=”us” height=”250″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41vIDsQ3zyL.jpg” width=”221″]

Single-serve machines like this are incredibly quick and easy to use and don’t take up much space. They are a reasonably modern invention and have been made fashionable by recent celebrity endorsements. They are more than just a fashion statement though as can be found when we look at the pro’s and con’s here:

The Good:

  • Very quick to make an espresso
  • Extremely easy to use, just load the pod or capsule and then press a button
  • Easy to keep clean and there is no mess made when making a cup
  • They produce a very consistent espresso every time
  • Very small and will fit on any kitchen worktop
The Bad:
  • Variety of coffee may be limited as you will have to buy the same brand as your coffee machine
  • Capsules and pods will not be as fresh as freshly ground coffee beans
  • Takes the art out of making coffee
  • Pods and capsules work out slightly more expensive per cup than coffee beans
  • Not all models include a steam wand

Who is it for?

Single-serve espresso makers are ideal for anyone who either just wants a quick and easy way to make a decent coffee at home, or anyone who doesn’t have the space available for a larger coffee machine. You could also use one of these types of machine in your RV, boat, caravan or other holiday home.

 

Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B0015QTC7K” locale=”us” height=”240″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/413p4Q7FAVL.jpg” width=”240″]

These are one of the most popular styles of espresso machines around and give a great balance between control and convenience. You control the flow of water with each brew which means you can make any adjustments along the way, like letting the water pour for longer if it’s coming out too slow. This can however also mean that there is more that you can mess up!

Here are some of the things you should consider to see if this could be the one for you:

The Good:

  • Regulated pump pressure will result in a more consistent coffee
  • Temperature is maintained for a good brew
  • Some may grind the coffee beans for you
  • Can take ground coffee and some types can use pods too
  • Can be used to steam your milk

The Bad:

  • The more control you have, the more can go wrong
  • Lots of practice needed to make the perfect espresso
  • You might need a separate grinder
  • Most models have a single boiler for both the brewer and the steamer so temperature will need to be reset after using steamer

 

Who is it for?

Owners of a semi-automatic espresso maker will need quite a large space available on their kitchen counter and many hundreds of dollars to spend to buy their machine. These machines are great for coffee drinkers who like to take pride in the brewing of their coffee and who like a hands-on approach.

 

Semi-Professional Espresso Machines[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B001U8A1NC” locale=”us” height=”250″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41NA6U4femL.jpg” width=”235″]

Prosumer espresso machines are similar in function to semi-automatic machines but have a few differences that take them up a level towards being more of a professional level machine.

The Good

  • Programmable cup sizes
  • Some machines can be plumbed in for more of a permanent solution
  • You can brew and steam at the same time
  • A larger boiler than other consumer machines
  • Solid construction

The Bad

  • Can get very expensive
  • Can be overkill for the average coffee drinker

Who is it for?

Prosumer espresso machines are great for hardcore coffee fans who will get lots of use out of their machine. Alternatively, someone who needs to be constantly making great coffee for a lot of people all day but do not require a fully professional system would be wise to consider a prosumer.

 

Super-Auto Espresso Machines[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B002PI82OQ” locale=”us” height=”230″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51uZCl%2BUUgL.jpg” width=”230″]

The super auto is exactly as it sounds. From grinding your beans, to heating the water, brewing the shot and frothing your milk, it does everything at the press of a single button!

The Good

  • Complete automation of every aspect of making your coffee, from grinding to seaming and brewing
  • Programmable functionality, like cup sizes and timers etc
  • Advantage over single-serve machines because you can choose your own beans

The Bad

  • The coffee might not be quite as bold and full bodied as a more manual method
  • The machines are very complicated and there’s more that can go wrong with them than other types
  • They will generally have a shorter lifespan than other coffee machines
  • You have no control over how your coffee is made

Who is it for?

Super-auto espresso machines are definitely NOT for the purist coffee maker, someone who likes to “make” their own coffee and appreciate the end to end process.

The people who will enjoy this type of machine are those who want a decent cup of coffee and don’t have the time to mess around making it and potentially getting it wrong. If you’ve tried making coffee in the past and just don’t seem to be able to get the hang of it, then this might be the right type of machine for you.

These machines can be rather large so you will need a big space available in your kitchen and they can also run into the thousands of dollars to buy. Maintenance costs are also something that you will need to consider as things may malfunction from time to time.

 

So, What Is The Best Espresso Maker For Your Kitchen?

As you can see, there are a lot of options to consider when you are in the market for a home espresso maker. As mentioned at the top, it comes down to a few main decisions that you will need to make.

  • Do you want convenience or quality? (Arguably, even the most automated espresso makers still produce a great espresso!)
  • Do you need to save on space?
  • How much money do you want to spend?
  • How often will you use your home espresso maker?

If you are currently thinking about investing in a new machine then hopefully this article will have helped you get a step closer to figuring out which is the best espresso maker for you.

 

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