In Search of Great Coffee: Buying an Espresso Machine

espresso in cup on desk

You know how picky I am about good food, so it may not come as a surprise that I’m also picky about good coffee. After working quite a few late nights and early mornings, I developed something of a latte habit and decided I wanted to look into buying my own espresso maker. But, you know what? That stuff is actually a little bit complicated. I guess I should have realized—clearly, baristas do a lot of things behind the counter. So I started doing some research on the best home espresso machines and bought one that I absolutely love. In case anyone is interested, I thought I would share a little of what I learned.

Drip Coffee Makers
Drip coffee is still what most people drink in the morning. It’s quick, simple, and gets you caffeinated. Drip coffee makers generally don’t take up much room, don’t require a lot of maintenance, and are easy clean. They’re also usually pretty inexpensive. So what’s not to love? Well, they don’t make espresso. That means no espresso shots, lattes, macchiatos, etc.

I loved my old coffee maker because it could make a single serving or a full pot of coffee, depending on what I chose. Sadly, just not espresso.

Espresso Machines
There are actually three types of home espresso makers—semi-automatic espresso machines, automatic espresso machines, and super-automatic espresso machines. They vary in functionality, cost, and the amount of work you need to put in to make espresso.

Semi-automatic espresso machines are the most popular because they let the user customize their espresso, and they have a lot of flexibility when it comes to using coffee pods or espresso grounds. They do require some work, though. You have to tamp the grounds and then run the pump to extract the espresso, which is kind of a precise process and definitely require some trial and error to learn.

This is the best one I found because it’s reliable, consistent, and sturdy. Still, a bit too much work for me.

Automatic espresso machines have similarities to both semi-automatic and super-automatic espresso makers. You still have to grind the beans separately and tamp them, but the machine regulates the water for you. It takes away some of the control but also the margin for error, which I like.

There aren’t too many fully automatic espresso makers that I could find, but this one comes highly recommended and is reasonably priced (for a home espresso machine, anyway)

I ultimately went with this super-automatic machine because it is the easiest to use and produces the most consistent results. All I have to do is push a button and the machine (this one) grinds the beans, tamps the grounds, and pulls the espresso shot. It’s perfect for busy, fussy people like me. And while my espresso maker is on the pricey side, I don’t think it will take long to pay for itself now that I’m not spending $7 on lattes every day.

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