Buying an Espresso Machine
Let’s face it–caffeine is lifeblood. For many of us, it’s impossible to get going in the morning until we’ve had a cup of coffee. Others of us require something a little bit stronger and head straight for a shot (or more) of espresso. And, for us, the cost has a way of adding up. My caffeine-loving friends, my hope for you is that this site will help you find an espresso machine that lets you make your favorite espresso beverages at home while saving the dough you’ve been spending on daily coffee runs.
Buying one of the best espresso machines isn’t quite as simple as buying a regular coffee maker. There are multiple types of espresso machines with different features and varying prices. I’ll help you find your way through the clutter to figure out which one will work best for you.
Three Types of Espresso Machines
There are three primary types of espresso machines, each with different pros and cons.
Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines
Semi-automatic espresso machines are the most popular choice for making espresso at home. They generally produce good quality espresso and allow the user to make the shots to their own specifications. Many semi-automatic espresso machines also have the flexibility of using grounds or pods along with a milk frothing tool, so you can make many kinds of espresso drinks.
Because there is a fair amount of user control with semi-automatics, using them can take a bit more time than other machines. Also, there is no built-in grinder, so you must grind the beans separately (or buy pre-ground beans) and tamp them yourself. If you want to be a “hands on” espresso expert, a semi-automatic machine is your best option.
Automatic Espresso Machines
An automatic espresso machine mirrors some of the functionality of both semi-automatic and super-automatic machines. Although automatic espresso makers do not come with a built-in grinder, they do regulate how much water is used to brew the espresso. Automatics also turn themselves off when the brewing process is finished. They are often more competitively priced than super-automatic espresso machines.
Super-Automatic Espresso Machines
Semi-automatic espresso machines make brewing espresso a snap. You just press a button, and, with its built-in grinder, the machine grinds the right amount of beans. It then tamps the coffee, brews your drink, and even takes care of the waste in no time. Many machines also come with milk frothers to help you make the perfect latte or cappuccino. Of course, many super-automatic espresso machines can be programmed, so your espresso or milk-based drink is made exactly the way you want it.
The best super-automatic espresso machines are all about ease and convenience. You often get what you pay for with these pricier machines. However, while some may run $1000s, there are a number of good machines in the $400-600 range. If you want quick, consistent espresso and don’t mind the higher price tag, a super-automatic espresso machine is likely the best espresso maker for you.
My Picks for the Best Espresso Machines
We’ve reviewed more than a dozen of the best espresso machines of different types at varying prices. Here are our top three picks.
The Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine takes espresso seriously. At twice the width of a regular drip coffee maker and in gleaming silver, this stainless steel espresso maker is imposing. Its grinder, pressure gauge, and bean hopper just make it look like it will produce professional-quality espresso shots. And it does.
One of the most important features of the Breville BES870XL is its pressure gauge. Not only does it help you make the best espresso by showing you that the machine has consistent, 15-bar pressure, but it also lets you know how the machine is performing. The Breville Barista Express’ integrated burr grinder –an unusual feature for a semi-automatic espresso machine–also ensures the freshest espresso because it goes from bean to drink in less than in minute. A dedicated hot water spout makes making tea, hot chocolate, or americanos easy, too.
The DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica Super-Automatic Espresso/Coffee Machine is the best super-automatic espresso machine available at a reasonable price point. Its consistent brewing and compact size make this Italian espresso maker a great addition to any kitchen.
Whether you’re making espresso, cappuccino, coffee, or lattes, the DeLonghi Magnifica does all the work. Once you add the beans, the burr grinder takes over. In a minute, you’ll have your perfect drink made to your specifications. And after you’ve made it once, the espresso maker stores the details. What could be easier?
The bottom line is that the reliable, durable DeLonghi Magnifica is a “must have” for anyone who know value and wants to easily make a variety of coffee drinks with minimal effort.
The Gaggia Brera Super Automatic Espresso Machine could not be simpler to use. It grinds the beans and immediately begins brewing so you get the best possible shot of espresso. If lattes and cappuccinos are your style, the Gaggia Brera has you covered there, too, thanks to its panarello wand for milk frothing. Producing great results takes almost no effort!
In addition to its compact size and its consistent, high-quality shots, one of my favorite things about the Gaggia Brera is the display that tells you when it needs to self-clean cycle or to be descaled. I love not having to guess when it needs to be cleaned. When I do have to clean it, I love that the removable parts make that easy, too. With easy operation, great espresso shots, and easy cleaning, it’s hard not to love this great espresso machine.
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