Which Home Espresso Machine is for you?
Looking at purchasing a home espresso machine?
Here's our guide to purchasing the machine that's right for you!
Firstly you need to decide what type of home espresso machine you are after. Once you've decided this, it’s time to look at different sizes, looks and all the little extra’s you will need to make your home espresso machine work like a dream.
First things first, deciding which home espresso machine is right for you:
These machines are great if you want a consistent coffee with no fuss! They are basic and have very little flexibility in recipe and milk texturing.
Bean to Cup
Bean to Cup espresso machines are exactly what they sound like. They house a grinder built into your home espresso machine. They generally offer auto milk steaming therefore if you want your home machine to be mess free and easily used by all members of the family – then we would recommend a Bean to Cup machine.
Manual home espresso machines require some skill and prior coffee knowledge before purchasing. As the name suggests everything on this machine, from the flow of water, to length of shot is controlled by the user - not by a button or the machine.
Volumetric's are the unsung heroes working hard behind the scene of your espresso machine to make sure your yields are on recipe shot to shot. The button you push works by talking to a flow meter – a box which the water passes through, pushing around a small click wheel that has 2 magnets on it. Every time it rotates a ‘pulse’ is registered. This is how the machine controls how much water gets through to your group head.
WHY do you need to care about this, I hear you asking? A couple of reasons...
Getting our volume spot on will make a big difference to the consistency and the tastiness of your coffee. Sometimes they drift out and you may need to change them. Other times you may be running a single origin or different blend, which has a different desired yield. Pulling your scales up onto the drip tray to ensure you get the correct yield is great, but getting the machine to do all the hard work for you is way better (not to mention easier!)
Dual Boiler or Heat Exchange?
A boiler is a cylinder made from stainless steel, copper, brass or aluminium which stores heat and maintains water at a set temperature. This water will then be pumped out to your brew head.
As the name suggests, dual boilers consist of two boilers combined in a single machine, though each serve a different function. One boiler is set at a lower temperature which will be a brew boiler, while the other will be set at a much higher temperature and be a steam boiler. Using two separate boilers allows you to have complete control of the temperature of the brew boiler, producing a more consistent extraction.
Dual boiler machines are large given the need to house two boilers inside them. This is something that needs to be carefully considered when choosing which home espresso machine is best for you. Secondly, given their superior output and greater number of parts dual boilers are much more expensive espresso machines and can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $25,000.
A heat exchange espresso machine is equipped with one boiler, which will be set at a steam temperature. These machines feature a small heat exchange rod which passes through it to differentiate the steam and extraction water temperate. When the extraction occurs, fresh water will be pumped through, being heated as it passes through the heat exchange rod. The water used to brew the coffee spend very little time in the machine, this prevents the water being taintned by the metal.
Heat exchange machines tend to be smaller than dual boilers, and are perfect for those who value their kitchen bench space. However due to the method these machines use to heat brewing liquid, they can experience greater fluctuation in temperatures then a dual boiler. Heat exchange machines range from $2,000 to $7,000 in price.
If some of that info was a bit wordy and went over your head – let us summarise!
Dual boilers represent the best of the best, but are more suitable to those with large budgets and the kitchen bench space to house their large size. Heat exchange machines are more suitable for the home baristas who want to make a great brew while still staying price and space conscious.
Here are just a few of our recommendations for great home espresso machines:
1. Breville Oracle Touch
In our opinion this is one of the best bean to cup machines on the market. We have used quite a few and they are quite stable. This machine is a good choice for someone with limited barista experience. This machine grinds doses and tamps. No mess. No need to wait for steam as its dual boiler. You can change the dosage of coffee with this machine too. We do recommend keeping the grinder full as the weight of beans will help stop the popcorn effect. Do note that all Oracle Touch models have a built in grinder, so keep this in mind when looking around!
2. ECM Coffee Machines
We love the EMC range of home machines. They are fully manual machines therefore will need to know what you are doing if plan to buy one of these. They also make volumetric machines if you are looking for consistency in your coffees.
3. The Rocket R58 Dual boiler V2
The Rocket R58 Dual Boiler is not only easy on the eyes, but is also reliable. As the name suggests, it's equipped with a dual boiler. The steam and hot water wands are cool to touch. The machine also comes with twin gauges for steam and system pressure.
4. Linea Mini
La Marzocco are the people behind the Linea Mini. It comes with dual boilers and an integrated brew group which allows the machine to achieve great temperature stability and energy efficiency. The Linea Minis are solid well made home espresso machines.
5. Mini Slayer
Ahh the Mini Slayer, a beautiful looking manual machine. We would only recommend someone with strong background knowledge of how to make a great coffee to purchase one of these!
Once you’ve digested all of the above information and have an idea of the type of espresso machine you are wanting to purchase, you will also need to get a few extra bits to get you going, they include:
Knock Tube (for your used coffee)
I have my home espresso machine, but can’t get it to produce a delicious tasting coffee..
We hear you! Customers ask our baristas all the time for tips on how to produce a better coffee in the comfort of their own home.
Become the master of your home espresso machine. We currently run our “Home Espresso Machine Tutorial” where we teach you to master your espresso machine.
Bring your machine into our concept store in Myaree, Perth and let our experts teach you how to make the best coffee possible from your machine! No more guessing, no more sub standard coffees!
You can find more information about our Home Espresso Machine Tutorials here