How To Choose the Best Espresso Machine

Ask any true coffee-lover worldwide about the best cup of coffee and you'd most likely get an answer "The Espresso!" This one tiny shot of pure coffee adorned with foam at the top gives a kick-start to many of us, awakening our minds and bodies and making us fit to survive through the rest of the day. Most people who haven't had a good cup of espresso typically say they don't like it because it is bitter. If espresso is bitter, it most likely hasn't been made properly as it is supposed to taste like a cup of molten bitter-sweet chocolate. It doesn't need sugar; it is naturally sweet. This belief is true at least for US, while in UK and India, the opposite might be true. In any case, so many of us depend on Barista, Starbucks or Peet's and other cafes for our daily dose of caffeine, that it's easier to invest in a high-quality espresso machine and brew your own cup, which I'm sure would not only save you a lot of "moolah", but also give you immense satisfaction! The million-dollar question though: "How to choose the perfect Espresso Machine? and How to Brew your Coffee the right way??"

The sad fact is, outside of Italy and the other Latin espresso-making countries, few people have had real espresso. Most caf├ęs sell overpriced hot milk with coffee flavoring, and the majority of the mass market home espresso machines are designed to produce the same. So for most of us who insist on good espresso made with organic coffee beans, the only option is to make it ourselves.

Espresso is made when water is forced through a puck of ground coffee at 9 bar of pressure to extract 2 ounces in 25 seconds. However, good espresso is not easy to make — it takes practice. But with the right tools, the best java beans, and a little technique, you can enjoy this bliss at home. When buying a new Espresso Maker, ask yourself these 4 questions:

1. Does this machine produce exceptional espresso?
2. Does this machine have the steaming ability to make outstanding foam?
3. Would I be proud to use this machine in my home to serve cappuccinos and lattes to my guests?
4. Is this worth the price I pay for my coffee everyday?

These essentially translate into the following criteria:

Quality: How consistent was the machine? How good were the shots of espresso it produced? The layer of foam at the top of a shot is called the crema—how thick and well-formed was this layer? When I poured some sugar on it, did it take more than a second or two for the granules to sink through? And how well did it foam milk for cappuccinos?

Convenience/Usability: How difficult was the machine to master? How easy was the machine to use on a daily basis? How long did it take to disassemble and clean? How quickly did it heat up? Espresso cups should be warmed before use—did the machine have a cup warmer? And, for those living in cramped quarters and cooking in cramped kitchens, how much countertop space did it occupy?

Looks: Making a good cup of espresso is something of an art form, and the best espresso machines are themselves works of art. As well they should be, given how much they cost and how much time you'll spend using them (not to mention looking at them sitting on your kitchen counter). All of which is to say that, when it comes to espresso makers, looks count.

Value: On an average, a cup costs 4 bucks, and 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year gives roughly 1500 dollars per year that you spend for just one cup of coffee per day. So accommodate this in the price of the machine you are looking for, and also the added value of being able to use it anytime at home or work!

I'm sure you can find a wide variety of machines of different brands in the market. For beginners, try Saeco or Krupps. Make sure you check out some true reviews for a machine that you've seen or liked before jumping into buying it. Select ones that others have rated high based on personal experience.

I hope this write-up helps you make a suitable choice. After all, this is the first cup of morning caffeine that we are talking about, and our body deserves to be given nothing but the best and the perfect, right?!!

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Andy said...

that's a nice article..I was looking to buy a new espresso machine for my wife for christmas with a budget of $1000..your writeup is helping me decide on the criteria!



Anonymous said...

hmmm...I love espresso, and can agree with your notion that very few places serve authentic espresso anywhere! these are good tips for people who are coffee enthusiasts like me; makes sense to invest in a good machine than drink bad coffee:)


Shirley said...

that sure would save a lot of money that my BF spends on at least 3 cups of espresso a day!! maybe I should gift him this for christmas:) thanks for the idea!


Marco Italy said...

Espresso was developed in Milan, in the northern industrial (and inventive!) part of Italy, about 100 years ago. The secret is to have a machine with a pump (as opposed to steam) so that the speed at which the hot water flows through the ground coffee can be slow enough. Also, a pump-operated espresso machine can better control the temperature; the ideal temperature is definitely much lower than steam!

musical said...

A good Espresso machine is really worth it :). Very informative article, Mansi!

Mansi Desai said...

thanks everyone! hope this article helps someone make a helpful decision:)

Marco - that's a great piece of authentic advice! sur eit will he useful for my readers!

Shirley, Richard, Andy - go for it guys! its holiday and gifting time of the year:)

Musi - thanks for the feedback and the note of encouragement! friends and their comments keep me going here!!

SteamyKitchen said...

great info - I love love love espresso, especially espresso con panna!

Margaret said...

I'm a coffee lover and make my own at home. The article is very helpful. To buy good coffee beans for espresso, here in the UK where I live, isn't very easy and the internet is a good place to source them.

Chris said...

Great article! I recently posted an article detailing the various types of espresso machines. Far and away the most important element to a consistently good quality espresso is the grind. A conical burr grinder is definitely recommended!

Heavenly Housewife said...

Hi there, just stopped by to wish you a wonderful valentines day :)
*kisses* HH

The Cooking Photographer said...

Great post!

CharlieM said...

Espresso machines can get so expensive. Especially the repairs. I recommend just getting one of the small new machines for $100.

dancilhoney said...

Thank you very much for excellent blog and an excellent information about vending machine services

Anonymous said...

Nice article! I have also heard of
Espresso machine having a safety device ( Sounds great! Don't you think?