Espresso is coffee intensified. To put the drink in perspective: a few ounces of creamy nectar are extracted from a brewed mug’s worth of grounds. Furthermore, this happens under the same atmospheric pressure you’d experience if you dove to 300 feet below sea level. Its preparation demands fresh, carefully roasted coffee and gear made to exacting specifications. You should expect an unrivaled sensory explosion in the cup as the richly deserved reward for your efforts.
Speaking of effort, while making espresso at home is a pleasure, it may also lead to frustration from time to time. This is one reason why comparatively hassle-free capsule-based espresso machines are so popular. Still, take heart: with a little attention and practice you can certainly go far beyond the likes of CBTL and Nespresso.
As you prepare to invest in an espresso machine, we encourage you to read our grinder buying guide alongside this one. Simply put, you should plan to spend 25-50% of your espresso-related budget on a quality grinder—the best you can afford—if you want to get the most out of your espresso machine purchase. As surprising or counterintuitive as it might seem at first, the grinder is that important.
Turning to the machines, here we separate them into three main categories differentiated by level of automation:
- Manual (e.g. moka pots, the Mypressi Twist, and levers)
- Semi-automatic/automatic (e.g. single boiler, heat exchanger, or double boiler)
The chart and discussion below touch on a number of factors that might influence your purchasing decisions: budget, ease of use, speed, temperature stability, and build quality.
Above all, increasing your espresso-related budget will buy you the promise of consistently excellent espresso. You might occasionally stumble into your own personal espresso nirvana on even the humblest set-up, but can you do it twice in a row? That said, a word of caution: generally speaking, the fancier the espresso machine, the more demanding it can be. This includes: bulk (i.e. weight, counter profile), electricity consumption, and plumbing requirements. As always, please feel free to contact us if you have any questions while doing your research. (Reference: http://www.coffeekind.com/reading-room/on-choosing-an-espresso-machine)
Other tips: Cheat's espresso at home