How to Choose the Right Home Espresso Machine

If you are an espresso lover looking to enjoy your favorite espresso right in the comfort of your own home, you need the right machine to make the magic happen. Don’t be mistaken into thinking your regular coffee machine will do the trick. Not even the most expensive brewing system on the market can mimic the true flavor of an espresso like a machine made for the job will do.

If you’re in the market for a proper espresso maker, you need to know what’s out there and what to look for when shopping; Jiale has you covered:

Types of Machines

There are different types of espresso machines to choose from and if you’re in the market for a new one, you need to understand these differences.

  1. Manual Espresso Maker – as the name implies, with a manual espresso maker you’re going to need to put a little extra work into preparing your morning shot. These machines have a lever that you pull to press the beans. They create high-quality and great-tasting espresso shots but it’s also easy to mess up if you’re not experienced. They can be difficult to use and are not recommended for someone who is new to it, unless you’re willing to study up first or have someone experienced who can teach you.
  2. Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine – A semi-automatic machine has electric pumps that makes them easier to use than manual machines but also give you some of the control that people like from a manual machine without the potential of messing up as much. You still have a high level of control, but the machine does some of the hard work for you, meaning you get a better shot of espresso.
  3. Fully Automatic Espresso Machine – A fully automatic machine will automate the pump as well as the amount and delivery of the water in the espresso making process. They are very easy to use and there are many affordable options available to choose from.
  4. Super Automatic Espresso Machine – Finally, a super automatic espresso machine takes it to the next level and practically does it all except drink it for you. This is an all-in-one system that does it for you, has built-in grinders and programmable settings and is the easiest to use. If you just want a quick shot without all the fuss and related work, this is probably the best choice for you.

Don’t Forget Your Grinder!

Before you move on to selecting the espresso machine that is right for you, we need to talk about grinders. Before you can make the perfect espresso at home, you also need the perfect grinder for your beans.

Most espresso machines with a portafilter do not have a grinder built in. And even in they do, some people just prefer their own grinder to ensure the beans are treated properly before starting the espresso.

As stated above, super automatic machines usually have their own grinder. Again, it all depends on the machine and doing your research is key.

Why is the grinder so important?

The grinder is actually the factor that most determines the quality of the espresso extraction. It influences the extraction process more than the machine itself and will determine the type and quality of flavor you get from your coffee beans. For maximum flavor, choose the right grinder.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Adjustment system – Look for screw-based smooth regulation which will give you both ease of use and also better grinding precision.
  • Burr diameter – Consider the burr diameter (bigger is better) and also the material it is made from. Steel burrs have the best quality.
  • Purpose – Not all grinders are created equal. Those made for espresso are not the same as those made for regular brewing. In short, your regular coffee grinder is not “all purpose” and you want to select a specific grinder made for espresso for the best flavor.

Now that you’re on track for your bean grinder, let’s look at how to choose the right machine.

What to Consider when Shopping for One

Now that you know more about the types of espresso machines available on the market, what should you consider when shopping for the right espresso maker for you and your needs.

Some things to look for when choosing your espresso machine include:

1. Temperature Control – Water temperature is one of the more important parameters to getting the right espresso flavor. The setting and the stability over time greatly impact the coffee extraction process. Look for the types of temperature control, the thermostat or pressure switch and how it all works when considering your machine.

2. The Boiler – Next, consider the boiler. This is the heart of the machine and it’s what has the hot water and steam to make the perfect espresso shot. You may have a single boiler, a heat exchanger (HX) system, or a double boiler.

3. The Pump – Then there’s also the pump, which serves an important function in the machine. This controls the water pressure during the extraction process and does impact the flavor. Ideally, you want a pump that has programmable settings so that you have more control.

4. Cost – Cost is also a factor. If you have a budget or budget range in mind, keep this at the top of mind when shopping for a machine. They can range from a hundred dollars to thousands of dollars and with so many different parameters to choose from, knowing your budget upfront will be key to successful shopping.

5. Ease of Cleaning – Espresso machines can be a pain to clean. The more intricate parts, the more difficult it is. There’s also high pressure water and steam pumping through the machine and these will need to be cleaned properly to avoid buildup that impacts the flavor of your espresso.

Now, let’s take a look at some tips for selecting from the most popular brands available today.

What Drinks You Can Make

What kinds of drinks can you make with your home espresso machine? If you’re going to invest the time researching and the money into buying a machine, it’s a great idea to learn about the different types of espresso drinks you can actually make with it.

When you own an espresso machine, you can make the following drinks at home, provided you have the right ingredients.

  • Espresso shot – This refers to the liquid just as it comes out of the machine. You can do a regular shot, a double shot, or even a triple shot. In its natural state, espresso is just slightly darker than regular black coffee.
  • Cappuccino – Cappuccino is your espresso shot with extra milk. It’s one of the most popular ways to enjoy espresso.
  • Latte – A latte is similar to cappuccino, but it has more milk and just a thin layer of foam.
  • Mocha – A mocha is also like a cappuccino but it has chocolate added in for flavor.
  • Macchiato – To make macchiato, you use your espresso shot with a bit of steamed milk on top to add some extra foam. This also helps temper the strong flavor of a plain shot.

These are the standard drinks but the more you learn about making espresso flavors at home, the more you may begin to come up with on your own. You can experience and create flavor blends, or work with the espresso however you choose.

Not only can you get much better personalization than you’d get from your local coffee shop because you can tailor to your own personal preferences, but it’s also a lot of fun!