Buying a coffee machine can be a considerable investment of money and often a commitment to learning how to brew a great coffee. So what do you need to consider when buying an espresso machine to ensure you chose the best one for your needs? Well we have created a guide of main points to help you evaluate what type of machine may best suit your lifestyle and needs.
This is designed to help you find a machine that suits your needs, it is important to have an understanding of what is important to you. This guide will look at some of the different factors that people find important when buying a machine - there is is no right or wrong it simply depends on what meets your needs best.
Quality of Coffee Output
The quality of coffee that is produced by your machine is dependant on many variables. It is necessary to mention that simply spending a lot of money will not produce a quality coffee if the knowledge of how to use it isn't present. Quality coffee can be produced on something as simple as an entry level home espresso machine. This makes it difficult to say definitively that one machine produces a better quality coffee than the other as this depends on the beans used and the experience of the operator among many other variables.
The quality of coffee is of course subjective based on personal tastes and preferences. All machines, when used correctly and with fresh quality coffee will produce a quality brew. Coffee drinkers with more experience in brewing coffee may find pod/capsule machines to be poor in quality due to lack of control and necessity to use proprietary coffee pods. While newcomers to freshly brewed espresso may find this set up goes above and beyond expectations. By using the points listed in the rest of the post you should be able to narrow down what type of machine would suit you best to produce the quality of coffee that you expect.
Willingness to Learn
For some, the purchase of a coffee machine is purely to produce great tasting coffee at home with as little fuss as possible. While for others it is a passion and a science which they wish to delve deeper into in an effort to master the perfect brew.
For someone who just wants to press a button and is not worried about understanding the why's or how's of coffee making you would be looking at machines on the left hand side of the spectrum below. Alternatively if you are keen to learn the art of brewing espresso and don't mind spending a little more time to craft your drinks then you will find that the machines on the right hand of the timeline are suited to you.
If you are all about convenience and just getting the drink in the cup for your busy weekday mornings then a machine that requires a lot of cleaning will frustrate you and most likely be pushed aside in lieu of that expensive latte from the coffee shop near work.
If you have a little more tolerance for putting up with a little mess in order to brew a coffee just how you like it, you may prefer a grinder + espresso machine combination. There is of course the goldilocks solution which you can find in the middle of the spectrum - consider it the best of both worlds.
Many coffee machines get purchased with the best of intentions, then find themselves pushed aside because the dreaded instant coffee is just more convenient. Consider how you plan on using your machine! Is it the sort of thing you plan to utilise on those busy workday mornings to fill up your cup and go, or would you be happy spending a few more minutes on preparation and the process of brewing coffee?
For someone looking for the ultimate convenience this means little day to day work, little set up and little effort required to produce your drink. Machines such as super automatics and especially super automatics with one-touch - these are for you. Pod and capsule machines also fall into this category thanks to the ease of use and minimal amount of cleaning required.
While cost is definitely a factor as it limits just how much you are able to spend on a particular machine, I would certainly encourage you to not let this be the only thing that drives your purchase. For example, if you are keen to learn the intricacies of brewing espresso and are looking for a hands on machine a cheap pod machine may fit the brief for cost - but will not give you the results or experience you are looking for.
There is also a scale within certain categories, for example single boiler or thermoblock semi-automatic machines range from $100 to $1000, the same applies for pod or capsule machines. So the spectrum below is to be used as a general guide.
Speed & Recovery
Some machines are suited to a heavy workload better than others. Something that you may like to evaluate when shopping for a coffee machine is it's ability to churn out multiple drinks quickly - especially important if you like to invite the crew around to show off your new found barista skills.
If speed of preparation and a quick recovery of your machine are important, look for a coffee machine with the following:
- Large Water Tank
- Heat Exchange/Dual Boiler
- Ability to Steam Milk and Brew together
Machines with these qualities will mean you can fire out some delicious drinks all in quick succession without your machine holding you back. One-Touch automatics will also perform well here as the machine looks after every step for you and within moments you have a drink & the machine is prepped waiting for the next.
Our Recommendations By Profile
I just want a quality coffee, no fuss & without learning the in's and out's of espresso
For this kind of coffee drinker we recommend a Capsule machine similar to the very popular Nespresso system of machines. Easy to operate, no knowledge needed, clean up's a breeze!
I'm the next Primo Barista & want my drinks to be as good as a Cafe!
If you have the intention of learning how to brew the quality of espresso you get at a coffee shop then either an entry level of high-end espresso machine is for you. This will serve you well as you develop your skills and will last you a long time.
I'm an entertainer and want to serve many people quickly
There are two machines for you, if you want to spend as much time with your guests as possible - opt for a One-Touch Super Automatic. This allows you to touch a button and be presented with a completed drink without you doing anything, giving you time to spend with your guests.
If you are keen to show off your espresso making skills, but don't want to be stuck in the kitchen. Opt for a dual boiler or heat exchange espresso machine. This will allow you to personally craft many drinks quickly.
I like the simplicity of a Capsule machine, but the ability to use my own coffee.
Definitely go for a Pressurised Home Espresso machine. This gives you the flexibility to use your own coffee beans, while the pressurised basket is very forgiving meaning you don't have to invest in learning the intricacies of brewing espresso. Costs for these are often on par with Capsule machines as well.