Your Complete Guide to Espresso Machine

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So when you enter the gate of the coffee magic, a witch may tell you that the espresso is the most powerful magic in the coffee field. Well, I will say yes. By knowing the 3 phases of coffee brewing, you shall learn that pressure is the best way to get the solubles from the ground coffee bean. Unlike other brewing methods, espresso machine could produce up to 15 bars of pressure to the coffee bean, making the crema easy to appear.

For Moka Pots, they can only generate up to 3 bars of pressure, which is far less than the espresso machines. Even though the best pressure is around 9 bars for an espresso, 15 bars also showcase how powerful a modern machine can be.

However, when comparing the expense you will spend on different coffee makers, espresso machines are the most expensive ones. People will step back when they look at the price. But, most of the machines could be last for more than 5 years, and if you take it to the second-handed market, it will still worth half of its original price. Well, what I mean is that if you consider its values that decay in the next 5 years with what you have enjoyed in the next 5 years, it is just a good bargain, right?

Now let’s dive into the topic.

Our Favorites

Under $200

ModelPriceEditor RatingWarranty
Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker | Café Barista
Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker | Café Barista
Check Price4.60/51 Year
STARESSO Portable Espresso Machine
STARESSO Portable Espresso Machine


Check Price4.60/52 years
De'Longhi EC155 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
De'Longhi EC155 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker

Check Price4.30/51 year
Breville BNV220CRO1BUC1 Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine
Breville BNV220CRO1BUC1 Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine
Check Price4.40/51 year
Mr. Coffee Automatic Dual Shot Espresso/Cappuccino System
Mr. Coffee Automatic Dual Shot Espresso/Cappuccino System
Check Price4.30/51 year
ROK EspressoGC
ROK EspressoGC

Check Price4.50/510 years for metal part

Under $500

ModelPriceEditor RatingWarranty
Breville BES840XL/A the Infuser Espresso Machine
Breville BES840XL/A the Infuser Espresso Machine

Check Price4.80/51 Year
Delonghi EC680M DEDICA 15-Bar Pump Espresso Machine
Delonghi EC680M DEDICA 15-Bar Pump Espresso Machine

Check Price4.60/51 years
Gaggia Brera Super Automatic Espresso Machine
Gaggia Brera Super Automatic Espresso Machine

Check Price4.60/51 year
KitchenAid KES0504OB Nespresso Bundle
KitchenAid KES0504OB Nespresso Bundle
Check Price4.40/51 year
BREVILLE BES810BSSUSC BES810BSS Duo Temp Pro Espresso Machine
BREVILLE BES810BSSUSC BES810BSS Duo Temp Pro Espresso Machine
Check Price4.60/51 year
Nespresso EN550B Lattissima Touch Original Espresso Machine with Milk Frother by De'Longhi
Nespresso EN550B Lattissima Touch Original Espresso Machine with Milk Frother by De'Longhi

Check Price4.60/51 year
Saeco HD8645/47 Vapore Automatic Espresso Machine
Saeco HD8645/47 Vapore Automatic Espresso Machine
Check Price4.30/51 year

Semi-Automatic

ModelPriceEditor RatingWarranty
Breville BES880BSS Barista Touch Espresso Maker
Breville BES880BSS Barista Touch Espresso Maker

Check Price4.90/51 Year
Breville the Barista Express Espresso Machine, BES870XL
Breville the Barista Express Espresso Machine, BES870XL

Check Price4.80/51 years
Nuova Simonelli Oscar II Espresso Machine
Nuova Simonelli Oscar II Espresso Machine

Check Price4.60/51 year
Mr. Coffee Café Steam Automatic Espresso and Cappuccino Machine
Mr. Coffee Café Steam Automatic Espresso and Cappuccino Machine
Check Price4.20/51 year
AICOOK 219 Coffee Maker
AICOOK 219 Coffee Maker
Check Price4.30/51 year
Gaggia RI8525/01 Carezza De LUXE Espresso Machine
Gaggia RI8525/01 Carezza De LUXE Espresso Machine
Check Price4.60/51 year
De'Longhi EC155 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
De'Longhi EC155 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
Check Price4.30/51 year

Super-Automatic

ModelPriceEditor RatingWarranty
Breville BES990BSSUSC Fully Automatic Espresso Machine
Breville BES990BSSUSC Fully Automatic Espresso Machine

Check Price4.90/52 years
Saeco Xelsis SM7684/04 Super Automatic Espresso Machine
Saeco Xelsis SM7684/04 Super Automatic Espresso Machine

Check Price4.50/52 years
DELONGHI ESAM3300 Super Automatic Espresso/Coffee Machine
DELONGHI ESAM3300 Super Automatic Espresso/Coffee Machine
Check Price4.60/51 year
Saeco Incanto Carafe Super Automatic Espresso Machine
Saeco Incanto Carafe Super Automatic Espresso Machine
Check Price4.40/51 year
Delonghi ECAM45760B Digital Super Automatic Espresso Machine
Delonghi ECAM45760B Digital Super Automatic Espresso Machine
Check Price4.40/51 year
KRUPS EA89 Deluxe One-Touch Super Automatic Espresso and Cappuccino Machine
KRUPS EA89 Deluxe One-Touch Super Automatic Espresso and Cappuccino Machine
Check Price4.20/51 year
Gaggia RI8263/47 Velasca Prestige Espresso Machine
Gaggia RI8263/47 Velasca Prestige Espresso Machine
Check Price4.40/52 years

Four Classes of Espresso Machine

There are four types of espresso machine in the market by its level of automation. You may guess that the price will drive up with the automation a machine has. That’s right. But unfortunately, that’s not with the taste of the coffee.

All these machines are made up of pump(s), boiler(s) and other essentials parts like basket or grinder. The four types are:

  • Manual Machines: You take control of everything from the pump to the boiler’s temperature.
  • Semi-Automatic Machines: All pumps and boilers are automated. But you can engage or disengage the pump.
  • Automatic Machines: All automated. Nowhere you can change anything if the preset is set.
  • Super Automatic Machines: This kind of machine with everything you need including grinder, tamp and etc.

If you are skilled with the manual of the semi-automatic machines, you may not choose an automatic machine. The reason is simple, you will not try a preset taste. This is not an art and it becomes science only.

Three Subclasses Under Semi-Automatic and Automatic Machines

For the semi-automatic and automatic machines, there exist 3 subclasses under them. The reason to divide them into different subclasses is simple. The first reason is the number of boilers and their heat exchange system. The second reason is their price range. When you are going to choose one machine, you can’t just blindly look at the price and know how many boilers they have and how the heat exchange system is.

  • Single Boiler, No Heat Exchanger Machine: This type of machine will have 2 thermostats. Why they have 2 thermostats? One is for controlling the temperature for brewing and the other one is for steam. Due to the reason that it has no heat exchanger, you can’t do brewing and steam for the same time. You will need to stop brewing and wait for steam to be done. The price is normally under $1,000.
  • Single Boiler with Heat Exchanger: This type of machine, unlike the previous one, have only one thermostat. But with the heat exchanger, you can steam and brew at the same time. The price of this machine is more expensive than the previous one.
  • Dual Boilers: Well, this kind of machine is expensive since they have two boilers. Two boilers are independent, so you can steam and brew at the same time. And the advantage is that it can maintain a consistent temperature. Price above $2000.

For the ones with heat exchangers and dual boilers, it will be great to have a reservoir with them. You don’t need to unplug the power and it will maintain the temperature. Save your time and make your coffee better.

Grinder Matters

Well, grinder matters all the time. If you fail to generate the right fineness, you will not get the taste or flavour you want. If you have spent much of your money on the espresso machine, don’t get a cheap grinder. At least, you shall get a burr grinder with the fineness selection on the panel.

Unlike Moka Pot, the fineness of the espresso machine could be as fine as you can. You don’t need to worry about the explosion. These machines have solid quality.

If you grind too coarse, your espresso will taste like bitter water rather than a real espresso. The water vapour is generated from the boiler and push by the pump, it the ground coffee bean is too coarse, it will just like going through big rocks rather than sands. Flows quick and the pressure is not pushed on the coffee beans.

Therefore, you need fine ground coffee beans. Only in this way can bring you a cup of good coffee. However, how fine is the best fineness? That needs your practice to bring insight. Different machines and different beans combinations will give you a different answer.

Manual Machines

Manual machines as their name imply you have full control over everything from pumping, pre-infusion to how much water you want to go through the ground coffee beans.

There are two types of manual machine, one is Spring Piston Machines and the other is Direct Lever Machines.

  • Spring Piston Machines: this kind of machine will have a lever in the upright position when it is resting. You can push down the lever to cocks the spring. Releasing the lever handle will reduce the pressure of the spring, then forces the water to go through portafilter and the ground coffee beans.
  • Direct Lever Machines: these machines will have the lever in a lower position when it is resting. You can directly push the lever to force the pressure on the water to extract your espresso.

A manual machine is hard to use at first glance, but as you practice and become skilled at it, you will find your comfort zone. Even if you are a skilled barista, your first shot on manual machines may disappoint you. So the learning curve for everyone is the same, you don’t need to worry too much. But if you get a shot with rich taste, at that time, you may feel different. The feeling of art.

Semi-Automatic Machines

Semi-Automatic machines will leave the room for you to control your extraction time. You can manage the time the water goes through the ground coffee bean.

If you feel it is complex to use a manual machine but still want to craft your own espresso, then this one is best for you. You can start from grinding beans, tamping them in the basket and then brew them via the semi-automatic machines. Feel the aroma in the air with your nose and then control the right time. At last, try it with your mouth.

However, just as the manual machines, you need time to practice.

Automatic and Super-Automatic Machines

The automatic and super-automatic machines will do almost everything for you. The difference between automatic and super-automatic ones is the grinder and tamping process.

For the automatic ones, you need to grind yourself and tamp it. That means the machine will do 75% of the work for you. You don’t need to control the pressure and the volume of water. Even if you have the option on the machine to choose the water volume, they are fixed. You can’t do it with any volume you want.

For the super-automatic ones, it will just do everything for you. Set the profile and then press the start button to enable the machine. That’s it! You will get a cup of coffee in just a minute. But that’s not fun for most of the coffee lovers. However, it is still easy for you to enjoy a cup of espresso while you are busy. Most of these machines are for commercial usage.

Accessories

You will need some accessories to fulfill your task of making a shot. We have listed some for you.

  • The Tamper: It is a must for you. You need to tamp the ground coffee bean in the basket to make it firmly stay in the basket. Why? Even you have high pressure in the machine, you still need that pressure to go through the coffee, rather than the holes between coffee beans.
  • Knock Boxes: This will help you clean your tamper easily.
  • Streaming Pitcher: Want a cup of Cappuccino? This is a must.

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