Espresso Machine Reviews

What is the Best Espresso Machine?

Gaggia Classic Semi-automatic Espresso MachineHow to choose the best espresso machine? As a new espresso machine buyer, you have many choices. You can choose between automatic, manual, and semiautomatic, depending on your personality, lifestyle, and budget.

Once you’ve decided which type of espresso machine is for you, you have to decide which brand. Again, way too many choices for someone new to the market. Some of the best manufacturers are Gaggia, Breville, DeLonghi, Jura, Krups, or Rancilio. Which one is best for me?

Even when you chose your espresso maker type, you have the option of choosing between different degrees of automation, complexity and functionality.

If you are an espresso enthusiast you will probably go with the manual or semi-manual types, whereas if your goal is to deliver a great espresso without too many headaches, you will probably want an automatic model. Choosing the best espresso machines is not a difficult task, if you know what you are looking for. Read on for more tips on choosing the best espresso machine.

Semi-automatic Espresso Machines

The semi-automatic machines require certain operations to be done by the home barista.
Some of the operations include:

  • grinding the coffee
  • spooning it,
  • tamping it,
  • and timing the shot pulling.

These type of machines give the barista more control over the process, which you don’t have with the fully automatic one, or with a capsule based machine.

Why do you need more control?

If you like to change your coffee beans often, and get a taste of different flavors, you will see, that the shot strength, and the amount of crema, are different every time you change the coffee. You will always need a few trial shots until you get the right grind, the right amount of tamping, etc. Also, we can’t ignore the fact that espresso lovers are many times artisans, and they like to play with various ways of pulling a shot, even from the same beans.
Some enthusiasts will tell you that the ritual is the most important part of preparing an espresso. If you are someone who likes to put his/her soul into pulling that shot, this is probably the way to go. Unless you are not afraid to spend some time into learning how to pull an espresso with a semi-automatic.

The best machines in the semi-automatic class will be chosen by comparing reliability, compactness, water temperature precision, and pump power. For those who can afford the more expensive models, these come with more features, and endless ways to tweak your shot. Take a look at this in depth post about semi automatic espresso machines.

Super Automatic Espresso Machines

Is a Super-Automatic Right for Me?

The super-automatic has the advantage that does everything for you, reducing all the risks of making mistakes during brewing/preparation.

You still have to make adjustments to your grind, fully controllable through the machine’s settings. This is because not all beans are the same, so some tweaking is necessary to match the density and humidity of your beans.

If you are a person of habit, who likes their shot prepared with precision, just press a button and get your perfect shot, this is probably for you. You would still need to readjust your settings if you change your beans, but once that perfect combination between grind size, water temperature, and extraction time has been found, write down the numbers, and next time you’ll use the same beans, you won’t have to do this again.

Don’t forget to take in consideration the higher price of the super automatic espresso machines. For a comprehensive super automatic espresso machines review, follow the link.

Home Espresso Machines

How To Choose A Home Espresso Machine

Home espresso machines are now more popular than ever. The cost of a shot at a coffee shop is very high, more and more people buy an espresso maker for home. Firstly, the price tag for automatic espresso machine is decent enough to make it affordable to most consumers, and secondly, espresso as a brew, has gained considerable popularity.

Home coffee makers are more than capable of producing the perfect result at a fraction of the cost of commercial machines, and some are are just scaled down variants of the commercial machines, used in coffee shops. Not to mention that some popular coffee chains do a poor job with their espresso, so why pay more for less quality, when you can make it easily at home?

When you buy a machine for personal use, you need to think reliability and robustness, but also what features you need from that machine, and how easy is it to operate.

You also have to determine the following:

  • How many cups per day this machine will deliver.
  • Is it for real personal use, or is it for a small office?
  • Are there a lot of espresso or cappuccino drinkers in your family, or just you and your spouse?
  • Do you want a fully automatic machine or prefer to pull your shot more traditionally?
  • What features do you need?
  • What is the maximum price you can afford?

Manual Espresso Machines

Manual Espresso Machine
Photo credit rohsstreetcafe via Flickr

Fully manual espresso machines require you to control most of the operations involving the espresso pull.

Manual espresso machines are lever operated, this means that there is no electric pump. The pressure needed for the steam to go through the coffee is obtained by pulling a lever.

Why would someone buy a Gaggia or Pavone lever operated espresso machine?
They are very silent, no pump noise at all, they are very elegant in anyone’s kitchen, and they offer the espresso enthusiast the best manual control over the brewing.

For instance, variating the pressure during the brewing can dramatically improve your shot. A low pressure at the beginning of the extraction can ensure that all the grinds are moist, so there is no channeling. Then increase the pressure to extract the shot perfectly.

One other advantage is that some of them are electricity independent, so you can use them in remote areas, where electricity is not available. La Pavone, the famous manual espresso machines, need electricity for heating the water.

Nespresso Machines

Capsule based espresso machines are probably the most popular machines on the market for the segment. The reason is simple, it takes away the guessing of espresso brewing, and it ensures consistent shots every time. You can’t pull a wrong shot, unless the capsule has been tampered with,

It has a great design, and user-friendly functionality, and it brews espresso based drinks quickly and easily.

Nespresso is a capsule based coffee maker, but it makes a great espresso that most of us cannot distinguish from an espresso pulled with a Jura, or Gaggia.

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