How to choose an espresso machine: deciding what you really want

When you are serious about your coffee, you know that the type of beans, the roast and how it is prepared has a huge impact on the taste. But the machine has just as an important role to play.

You may know exactly how to choose the best beans for your taste, but buying a new espresso machine can be a little more complicated.

In this piece we will give you a few tips on how to choose an espresso machine. A good machine can make the experience of your daily caffeine boost even better. So what should you look for?

First know your type

There are different types of traditional espresso machines and each of these have quirks of their own. The main types can be divided into three main groups.

These are a single boiler, a double or dual boiler and a heat exchanger. A double boiler allows you to have a consistent temperature and the ability to steam milk at the same time as pulling a shot of espresso.

For home use this will probably not be necessary, but if you are thinking of commercial use then this will save time and keep customers happy. Most home machines will have single boilers or heat exchangers.

Sizing it up

Size does matter when it comes to coffee. The difference between a single or double shot of espresso should be consistent.

The size of the machine itself it also an important consideration.  Depending on your kitchen or office, you will need to decide how much space you have and if that designer espresso machine will actually fit.

High-end commercial grade espresso machines can be quite large and cumbersome. If you want a simple countertop appliance just do a quick check and measure if it will actually fit.

If you plan on grinding beans from scratch you will also need more space for the grinder, so keep in mind if it will work. Some machines will require a separate milk frother. This can also take up space.

A river runs through it

An important question when you buy an espresso machine is, where will the water come from? Different espresso machines have varying ways of how the water is used.

Some have reservoirs that need to be filled. Where others need to be connected to the water supply directly. There are also a few brands that offer machines that do both.

Think about how you will use your machine, and if you will be moving often, the plumbed in option might be an issue. With a reservoir machine check where the water is poured in and if it will be convenient to do so when it is settled in your kitchen.

Looking good

Another consideration is of course the way the machine is designed. For some of you this will not be an issue. But dealing with a badly thought out machine, every time you want coffee, gets old very quickly.

Consider your tastes and look at different machines, there are sleek models with button controlled settings and also more industrial machines that work more old school with levers and so on.

Consider if you would like a café-style machine (these are the ones with buttons) or a more traditional looking machine. There are also options in terms of the styling, is it covered in shiny chrome or stainless steel?

Does it have timber edging or do you prefer a racy red number?

Pump it!

An espresso machine also has a pump to get the water to where it needs to be. Some pumps will be a little louder than others.

But if you use a grinder they will be soft sweet darlings by comparison. With standalone machines that aren’t directly connected into the water supply, the pump will usually be a basic vibratory type.

When the machine is connected to water supply directly the pump changes to either a gear type or rotary type. Rotary types do not make as much noise as other types.

If you have kids that wake up easily or a partner that gets annoyed by ambient noise, think carefully about the type of machine you choose.

The final verdict

As with almost anything you will buy for yourself, the decision will be determined by your own needs and tastes. Hopefully if you think about size and type and see an espresso machine that looks good, it will be enough to be the beginning of a beautiful coffee filled relationship.