So you want to be the next great barista?
Before you start grinding coffee beans and pulling shots, you’re going to need an espresso machine. While buying a new espresso machine sounds simple enough, it’s actually much more complicated than that. There are dozens of different makes and models that can make your head spin if you don’t know where to start. Here are our five best tips for finding the perfect espresso machine for your home barista needs:
1) Decide Whether You Want A Manual Or Automatic Machine
There are two main types of machines on the market today; manual and automatic. Each has its own benefits, so knowing which one is right for you before making a purchase will definitely help in narrowing down your choices.
Manual machines require you to perform each step of the espresso-making process manually. You’ll have to grind your beans, place them in a portafilter, tamp down the grounds using a tamper , attach the portafilter to the machine and pull down an attached lever to extract your shot. If you like customizing every aspect of your coffee experience and want full control over all brewing variables, then a manual machine could be for you.
2) Decide How Much Money You Want To Spend
How much money do you plan on spending? For many people, this will determine precisely which machine they end up buying because it’s one of the best ways to narrow down options. Like most products in life, when it comes to home espresso machines, you really do get what you pay for.
Machines on the lower end of the price scale will run anywhere from $100-$250 and work well for occasional use by a casual coffee drinker. Those who enjoy making espresso more than once or twice per day will want to invest in something higher-end . Machines that fall within this category cost anywhere from $300-$1,000 or more.
3) Decide What Size Machine You Need
Unless you plan on keeping your machine out on your kitchen counter 24/7 (and some folks do), then you’re going to need to decide how much space it will take up in your home.
If it’s just going to sit on a counter, then you can go with a smaller model that takes up less space. But if it’s going to be tucked away in a cabinet most of the time, make sure you buy one with enough height clearance before making your purchase.
4) Decide Whether You Need A Built-In Grinder
Some machines come equipped with built-in grinders that are capable of grinding coffee directly into portafilter baskets . If having one is important to you, then check for this feature before buying. While these types of machines are usually not quite as good as separate grinders, they do have their benefits. One big plus being that they save you from having to spend money on yet another piece of equipment—assuming the machine comes at an affordable price.
5) Look For A Good Warranty
Last but certainly not least, a good warranty should be at the top of your list when buying an espresso machine. If you can find one with a long warranty (three years or more), it will give you peace of mind knowing that the manufacturer isn’t going to go belly-up anytime soon, and thus won’t stop backing up their products for many years down the road. And if something does unexpectedly break on your new machine within the first year, this will usually entitle you to free repairs due to faulty workmanship.