Espresso. It’s a beautiful word, isn’t it? Just in case you still aren’t quite sure what espresso is, here’s a good definition: strong black coffee made by forcing steam through ground coffee beans.
If you’ve ever ordered a latte, a cappuccino, a mocha or a macchiato, you’ve had espresso. And it’s likely that you paid dearly for the experience. It isn’t unusual to spend $5 or $6 on a good espresso drink. And one of the reasons is because espresso is often labor-intensive.
It takes great care to brew great espresso.
Our goal at Espresso Mess is to sort out the mess of espresso machines available for home use and help you decide which one is the best choice for your kitchen.
Let’s jump in…
Types of Espresso Machines
Super Automatic Espresso Machines
With a super automatic espresso machine, everything is set up in advance and the magic happens with the push of a button.
The coffee is ground and brewed and then the milk is steamed and frothed. It’s all automatic.
Affordable: The Jura Impressa C60 Super Automatic Espresso Machine
The Jura Impressa C60 is a great example of a super automatic espresso machine priced under $1,000.
The rotary switch and plain text display simplifies the brewing process: With the touch of a button, you can brew a perfect cup of coffee.
The fine foam technology adds light milk foam to top off a cup cappuccino or a latte, giving you professional quality specialty coffee at home.
Impressive: The Jura GIGA X7 Professional
This espresso machine will do everything, and do it well, but it is definitely an investment. If you’re looking to spend top dollar one of the best machines on the market, you may find the GIGA X7 worth it’s $8,995 price tag.
The Jura GIGA X7 Professional offers a professional-grade specialty coffee experience with the ease of a home machine.
The Thin Film Transistor (TFT) provides a high-tech display that uses color, text and graphics allows you to brew an amazing cup of specialty coffee at the touch of a button.
The Jura GIGA X7 Professional is fully programmable: Select the volume of water and milk, temperature and strength of coffee.
Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines
Semi-automatic espresso machines typically feature a single dual-purpose boiler for making espresso and steaming milk.
Most semi-automatic coffee machines feature an electric pump which generates the pressure necessary for a quality espresso. Semi-automatic espresso machines are the economical and the most popular because they tend to offer a great balance between control and ease of use.
With semi-automatic coffee machines, you determine the shot volume using the pump. You have control over the entire extraction process from grinding, measuring, tamping and controlling the extraction time.
Stylish: The Ascaso Dream Up V3 Espresso Machine
The Ascaso Dream Up comes in love red, anthracite gray, dark black, kid blue, mandarin orange, sun yellow, or polished aluminum. It’s retro feel would be a dream for many kitchens but that doesn’t mean anything is sacrificed in terms of making quality espresso.
The stainless steel-lined thermoblock is designed for fast warm up times and its thickness provides for good temperature stability. The pump is controlled by a microprocessor which continuously pulses water from the water tank into the thermoblock heating system for unlimited steam.
It features a 3-way solenoid valve, adjustable overpressure valve, and aluminum tamper. It’s moderately priced at around $600 to $750.
Helpful: Delonghi Espresso Machine with Auto Cappuccino
For a delightful cappuccino treat select the Delonghi EC860 Espresso Machine.
It comes equipped with an automatic cappuccino feature that produces a rich and creamy cappuccino at the touch of a button.
For ease of use the detachable 16 oz. milk container can be stored in your refrigerator, and the chrome plated portafilter has 3 sieves: Single, Double and Pod.
This affordable espresso machine (priced at around $400) accommodates various cup sizes and offers a selection of three different coffee temperatures.
You can use ground coffee or espresso pods. The Delonghi EC860 features simple to use illuminated buttons, a cup warmer with on/off switch, and removable drip tray.
If you are up to the challenge of mastering the art of hand-made espresso, then consider manual lever espresso machines. While it might take some practice to get the absolute perfect brew with manual espresso makers, having the ability to tailor your drink personally is a luxury.
Being able to take control of your drink from start to finish makes for a beautiful process that is second to none in the espresso world.
There is no better way to involve yourself in the process of making espresso than a piston lever espresso machine. Their simplicity creates a small footprint in the kitchen or on your coffee bar while at the same time being more dependable due to their simplicity.
Elegant: Electra S1 Microcasa Lever
The Elektra S1 is absolutely beautiful with it’s copper & brass lever. This espresso machine for the home features a very special design.
The gleaming finish is the mirror of unrivaled quality. The S1’s performance in making quality espresso and cappuccino equals its beauty.
You pull the lever down against a spring piston, which when released, pushes hot water through the coffee resulting in a consistent, perfect espresso extraction.
The pressure gauge shows the steam pressure in the boiler. When the needle is in the green area you are at the optimal time for preparing espresso.
If you are an espresso connoisseur who desires the best quality machine for your home, then prosumer espresso machines are most likely the best type for you.
Commercial espresso machines require heavy duty engineering and construction compared to those for home use. Prices of professional espresso machines range from about $2,000 to almost $9,000.
Obviously a commercial espresso machine will be overkill for most homes, but if you’re looking to entertain and have a large capacity for making a lot of espresso, you may want to go this route.
Jura Impressa XS90 One Touch
The Jura XS90, which ranges in cost between $2,000 and $2,800, is both an automatic machine and commercial in grade. So it has the capacity for serving a crowd while also offering the convenience of pushing a button.
It has a six-quart water tank, a bean hopper that holds one pound of coffee beans and a grounds container that accommodates up to 40 portions.
The XS90 has sleek lines, background lighting and graphic display that ensure the machine looks as good as the specialty coffee drinks it prepares.
The Jura XS90 uses One Touch technology to produce specialty coffee at the touch of a button. It can be programmed for up to seven individual drinks and offers a professional frother that makes cappuccino and latte macchiato with ease. The adjustable-height coffee spout accommodates several different sizes of cups or glasses and two separate heating systems to make it simple to switch from hot water to steam, saving time. After the restaurant, café or office closes for the evening, the integrated rinsing and cleaning programs can be activated to extend the life of the machine.
Pods & Capsules
If you prefer having easy access to a blissful cup of espresso every morning before you leave your home, then purchasing your very own single serve espresso machine may be the best solution.
Single serve espresso machines are used with pre-portioned coffee. To make a cup, you will also need to purchase the appropriate espresso pods or capsules.