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Barista Basics - Articles

Buying a Home Espresso Machine - Loreal's Club Matrix Magazine, Issue 3, 2005

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Buying a Home Espresso Machine



We’ve heard the following scenario played out in department stores time and time again.

Shopper: "Hi there. I’d like to buy an espresso machine."

Salesperson: "Manual or automatic?"

Shopper: "I said an espresso machine, not a car!"



Salesperson: "Right…Well you see there are two types of espresso machines. One with a group handle and steam wand and another with automatic capability where you can get a coffee just by pressing a button. They’re all fantastic so go for your life and look around. I’ll be over at the cash register when you’re ready to buy…"



Shopper: (muttering to self) "This is all too hard!"


There are lots of machines out there and they all look a little bit different. The purpose of this article is to give you a little bit of knowledge so that you can decide what machine is best for you.



The first decision to make is how much to spend because home espresso machines can be categorised as sub-$1000 or above-$1000. The type of coffee you produce and the ease at which you do it will be directly related to the above choice.


The former category will get you a manual espresso machine that comes with a group handle that you must load yourself with ground coffee. People who want the barista experience at home where they are preparing every aspect of the coffee themselves will prefer these machines. The latter category should get you an automatic machine. The increased expenditure will get you espressos at the push of a button from freshly ground coffee beans, a faster recovery time and arguably better milk because of the better pressure that these machines can produce.



If you have made the decision to spend a bit (but not a lot) of money on a home espresso machine, you will be manually frothing your milk and loading up the group handle with ground coffee to produce the espresso. You won’t be able to produce masses of coffees at once and the process can be an arduous one if you don’t like preparation and cleaning up.

There are two further decisions you will be faced with when considering this type of machine:

[1] Do you only drink black coffees or do you want a machine that can do good milk-based coffees as well?

After road testing fourteen different domestic espresso machines under $1000 with Choice magazine last year, we actually found that the cheapest machines produced the best espresso! Without naming names, the machines that were around the $200 mark were the best espresso makers. (We would, however, strongly recommend sticking to plunger coffee if you have less than $100 to spend on making coffee at home).

All home espresso machines come with a steam wand, but if you really want to make milk-based coffees (most salons and offices do) you need to be looking at the $450-plus category to get anything that has enough pressure to create a perfectly extracted espresso and café-quality milk. We recommend Saeco espresso machines such as Magic Cappuccino or perhaps better still Via Vanezia.

[2] Do you want a machine with a built-in grinder, do you want to buy a separate grinder or will you will be satisfied just buying pre-ground coffee to load into the group handle?

An extra $150 or so will get you a machine that has a grinder in-built. These are relatively new creations for this sub-$1000 hom


The sub-$1000 home espresso machine


Decisions, decisions, decisions



Effective Barista Training, Tea and Coffee Asia, first quarter 2006
Coffee The Australian Way, Tea and Coffee Asia, fourth quarter 2005
In the End, It's All in the Blend, Bean Scene, Issue 10, 2005
Tools of the Trade, Bean Scene, Issue 10, 2005
The Starters Guide To Coffee, Bean Scene, Issue 9, 2005
Cutting Edge Espresso - Bean Scene Magazine, Issue 8, 2005
Postcards from Seattle - Bean Scene Magazine, Issue 8, 2005
Making Great Coffee At Home - Loreal's Club Matrix Magazine, Issue 2, 2004
Buying a Home Espresso Machine - Loreal's Club Matrix Magazine, Issue 3, 2005
Australians v Italians: Who Makes Better Coffee? - Bean Scene Magazine, Issue 6, 2004
The Decline of Tea and the Dethroning of the Flat White - Bean Scene Magazine, Issue 7, 2005
Coffee Indulgence - Loreals' Club Matrix Magazine, Issue 4, 2005
Coffee Appreciation
How to be a Gun Barista - Bean Scene, Issue 5, 2004
Affogato with a twist of Mocha - Australian Table, May 2004
Hygiene in the Café Environment - Bean Scene, Issue 3, 2004
Grind It, Baby - Eat Drink Magazine, May 2004
Coffee Myths, Dispelled!, Bean Scene, Issue 4, 2004
Coffee Art - Eatdrink Magazine, June 2004
Questions: Hospitality Magazine, May 2004


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