An Espresso machine will likely be the best coffee maker you’ll ever buy. Their unique design allows a super dense blend of caffeine and flavor to be available at the press of a button. Taking a survey of several espresso machine reviews can help familiarize you with which design may offer you the most benefit.
A Home espresso machine can help your morning routines become more convenient, and also help revitalize your bank account. A lot of thought goes into finding the best espresso machine or best coffee maker for your home, though the rewards can be tremendous! Before wading into the depths of finding the best espresso machine let’s first consider just what characterizes an espresso machine compared to, say; a regular coffee pot.
Coffee Machines vs. Espresso Machines
Espresso machines have been around for a long time—having been invented sometime in the late 1800s by the Italians. The first commercial espresso machines were produced in the city of Milan and began cultivating demand for dense, delicious caffeine that is known around the world today.
If you are unfamiliar with the differences between some of the best espresso machines and coffee makers, it can benefit you to learn a few basic facts. The ultimate goal of both of these machines is to produce a warm caffeinated beverage from coffee beans.
Coffee makers do this in a very casual manner—by simply dripping hot water over an amount of ground up coffee beans. Espresso machines were invented for those who like a bit more flavor, and would likely prefer less volume.
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Benefits of Espresso Machines
Espresso machines take a more engineered approach, with the goal of providing total control over potency, flavor, and production of beverages from coffee beans. The best espresso machines on the market offer control over temperature, system pressure, and where and how you introduce hot water to your grind. Espresso machines produce a much more flavorful and potent type of coffee. They are often served with frothed creamers and milk as an accompaniment and are even regarded as suitable for dessert in many cases. Home espresso machines offer fewer features but also offer affordability. There are several different types of espresso machines, each of which offers a unique ability to produce a different variety of drinks. Knowing the differences between each can help better understand which type may be the best espresso machine for you.
Types of Espresso Machines
Espresso machines have evolved considerably since their invention. Espresso machines are now capable of working entirely autonomously and producing several different varieties of drinks. The best espresso machines on the market are able to produce espresso, cappuccino, mocha lattes, lattes, and many other fabulous recipes. Cafe style espresso is no longer restricted to the confines of local cafes, and these new modern machines have begun to bridge the gap. Modern home espresso machines offer a full range of benefits to accommodate an even larger range of preferences for those with a daily grind. Below, you’ll find a brief outline of several of the most notable types of these variations in espresso machines.
Commercial Espresso Machines
These are obviously the cream of the crop—utilized by the most successful cafes in the world. These types of espresso machines feature compartmentalized boilers, separated pressure systems, integrated electronic controls, milk texturing wands, and also accommodate high volume production.
These machines often cost upwards of $15,000, and can only be justified for business use. There’s little doubt that this type of espresso machine will provide a powerful and delicious drink—but you’ll likely have a hard time affording coffee beans after buying one. If you’re wondering how to make espresso at home without bankrupting yourself, there are some tremendously high-quality home espresso machines that feature a wide array of automated brewing.
Super-Automatic Espresso Machines
As their name implies—and also emphasizes—super automatic espresso machines pretty much handle everything. If you love espresso but aren’t quite sure how to use an espresso machine—super automatics are likely going to be a favorable option for you. These machines handle everything but going to the store to buy more coffee beans for you. Many of the best super automatic espresso machine designs feature full-feature programmability.
This allows you to adjust the settings for temperature, pressure, grinding, and even automatic steaming/frothing to your taste. Once you have found your ideal configuration, you can save it and produce it over and over again with a simple touch of a button. The main difference between many super-automatic and semi-automatic espresso machines is the ability to choose when to start the pump to perform the extraction process.
Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines
The lines between the automated features of semi-automatic and super-automatic have become blurred with the latest espresso machines technologies. As mentioned before, the main difference between a semi-automatic espresso machine vs super-automatic espresso machine can be seen in the control of water flow. While super-automatic espresso machines will allow you to hit a button and walk away, semi-automatic machines require a bit more supervision.
Portafilters are also another feature that isn’t seen on many super-automatic machines and require manual insertion before each brew. Non-pressurized portafilters resemble handles when inserted, and are typically 58mm in diameter (where they meed the espresso machine). Super automatic machines rely on other methods to expose your grind to the hot pressurized water, though many purists argue that better control equates to better flavor. If you are serious about flavor and like to experiment with different brews, a semi-automatic espresso machine is likely your best option.
Steam vs Pump Espresso Pressure Systems
Arguably the most characteristic function of an espresso machine is the amount of pressure it generates before pumping water through the portafilter. Steam systems create this pressure by heating internal tanks of water to a boil and using the pressure generated from the escaping steam. This typically creates anywhere between 1 and 2 units of barometric pressure (BAR). This amount of pressure is regarded by many as being insufficient to produce a ‘true’ espresso flavor.
These types of design rely almost entirely on high temperatures to produce their pressure and tend to cause a slightly bitter flavor. Separate pump systems are often what separate cheap espresso machines from those truly capable of producing cafe-quality blends. You won’t find the best espresso machine under $200, and you shouldn’t expect to after all.
Consideration for separating pumping from pressurizing, allowing simultaneous frothing and brewing, and systems to tightly monitor temperature is expensive. If you’re just looking for a token espresso machine for your home, we suggest you check out the Nespresso Inissia Espresso Maker and call it a day. If you’re serious about getting cafe-quality flavor from a home espresso machine, keep reading.
The Best Espresso Machines
Baristas in local cafes across the globe have found themselves becoming almost cult heroes among local communities. Much of their success rests on the quality of their cafes espresso machine. The only real difference between commercial espresso machines and the best home espresso machines today are the amounts of volume they’re capable of handling. Below you’ll find an overview of several espresso machines that we believe meet the bill for delivering cafe-quality espresso at home, assuming you don’t
Breville BES870xl Barista Express
The Barista Express offers a powerful lineup of features often found in commercial espresso machines. It has an integrated conical burr grinder crafted out of rugged stainless steel. This design helps to ensure both longevity and cleanliness. The BES870XL comes standard with an intuitive dosing control that allows accurate measurement of either single or double shot espressos.
This machine also features impressive temperature control and pressure monitoring system, completely integrated throughout the brewing process. One of the most notable features, not found on many home espresso machines, is the rotating steam wand for the texturing. This helps the Breville BES870XL espresso machine really pack a punch for those seeking cafe-quality espresso at home and is a true contender for the title of the best espresso machine.
Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine
If you’re looking for an Italian espresso machine, the Rancilio Silvia’s should tell you—you’re looking in the right place. This little powerhouse is capable of delivering some truly remarkable roasts right in the comfort of your own kitchen. This machine features a commercial-grade steam wand, a brass boiler, and a commercial grade portafilter. These powerful features combine into one magnificent work of art from the Italian-based Rancilio.
One very noteworthy feature of this espresso machine is the bifurcated outlet allowing for a two-cup simultaneous brew! This feature particularly qualifies the Silvia to be considered for the best home espresso machine. If you’ve grown accustomed to cafe style lattes but can’t keep footing the bill—investing your money into this home espresso machine might help you sustain your habit! It comes with a bit of old-school looking design, but its capabilities are nothing to scoff at. The Rancilio Silvia espresso machine is considered by many to be the best espresso maker on the market.
De’Longhi Magnifica Espresso Machine
This super automatic espresso machine tends to impress unsuspecting caffeine nuts (don’t know any, dooo you?) with its impressive array of commercial-esque features. At its heart, the De’Longhi Magnifica Espresso Machine is meant to translate commercial quality espresso into the most convenient form available. This design does well to illustrate what one should expect from a super automatic espresso machine, down to the finest detail.
It has a built-in grinder with coarseness control, comes with pre-grind storage for coffee beans, has a removable water tank, an infuser, removable drip tray, and knob to accurately adjust steam flow. To be expected, this machine won’t likely satisfy your palette if you’re looking for total cafe style espressos at home—but it’s about as close as you’ll come with a super automatic. Judging by the wildly positive reviews this espresso machine has gotten, it’s safe to say the De’Longhi Magnifica is one of the best out there.
Breville Oracle BES980XL Espresso Machine
The Breville BES980XL Espresso Machine, fondly named the Oracle, leave little to be desired for those serious about their home espresso. This machine features all the quality that is found in the Barista Express but goes a bit further to offer total cafe-quality. This espresso machine blurs the lines between commercial and home espresso classification. One one hand, you couldn’t produce nearly enough volume to compare with commercial models such as those from the renowned La Pavoni. On the other hand, the flavor and textures will be on par with commercial espresso machines.
This espresso machine comes with a unique dual-boiler system that allows simultaneous brewing and texturing. It’s rotating steam wand allows total control in the movement for however you prefer to best arrange your espresso-making workflow. This espresso coffee maker serves as a cappuccino maker, latte maker, and features built-in settings for the infamous Americano. The Oracle has a beautifully-curved stainless steel design that is easily cleanable. If you’re looking for true cafe quality espresso from an automatic home espresso machine, the Oracle is certainly one of the best machines on the market.
Espresso machines are some of the most enigmatic machines on the consumer market today. There exists an air of mystery surrounding the way to achieve a cafe-style taste from a home espresso machine. As with most consumer products, many sacrifices get made to offer more affordable pricing. Espresso machines are no different—though the best espresso machines available have found a very unique balance. Super-automatic espresso machines offer one-touch solutions for those not sure how to make espresso at home.
Each of these brands represent a high-tier of quality that we feel offer the best chance of achieving a true cafe-style of espresso quality at home
Semi-automatic machines allow for a greater degree of options and control along the way. Regardless of which approach you feel might best suit your needs, you’ll save big in the long term by avoiding expensive cafe blends and relying on your own homebrews to sustain you. The espresso machines mentioned in this article are but a few of the magnificent designs offered by the companies mentioned. The best espresso machine for you will offer features that help meet your daily needs, while also falling within your budget. Each of these brands represents a high-tier of quality that we feel offer the best chance of achieving a true cafe-style of espresso quality at home.
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