With so many different espresso machines on the market, choosing a new model can be a daunting process. In this article we’ll explore the various features to look for and suggest some machines which we think work for those new to espresso as well as the keen home enthusiast.
Buy A Great Grinder
It might seem strange to start talking about grinders in an article about espresso machines, but an investment in a coffee grinder is probably more important than an investment in an espresso machine.
Our advice is always to buy the best grinder possible and then use the rest of your budget to buy a machine! We will revisit coffee grinders in a future article but they broadly fall into two categories:
- Espresso specific grinder
- All round grinders for use with various coffee brewing methods
I’m new to espresso
Many people buy an espresso machine to replicate the coffee they experience in their favourite coffee shop. This means they have already set extremely high expectations for both themselves and their equipment. The best coffee shops will be using espresso machines and grinders costing around £8,000 to £10,000 and will employ trained baristas. Replicating this experience at home is possible but it is a big ask.
If you are new to espresso then our advice is to purchase your espresso machine from someone who can provide you with the support necessary to get you off on the right foot. All our sales of machines come with an introductory workshop to get you going, and then you can always book onto one of our Home Barista Workshops.
The Sage Barista Express is probably one of the best entry level machines on the market. It has a built in grinder, heats up very quickly and, with a bit of practice, you can steam very good milk on this machine. Many of our customers have started their espresso journey on this machine with great success.
The Sage Barista Pro is also worth considering. It has the same built-in grinder as the Barista Express but with the addition of a few more features, most notably a in-built shot timer. This really will help you master the perfect espresso shot.
I want to upgrade my machine
If you want to up your espresso game we would suggest taking a look at a separate espresso machine and grinder. The entry level machines here are called heat exchanger machines.
These machines predominantly use commercial grade parts making them easy to repair and service. The Rocket Apartamento, for example, has the same coffee group head as many commercial machines. You have a steam boiler which can supply both steam and hot water, and this in turn heats the espresso brewing water through a heat exchange system.
There is a lot more power in these machines and it is much easier to produce coffee after coffee with this set up. In addition there are various accessories which can be added to enhance your coffee making experience such as VST baskets, tampers and distributors.
These machines probably best replicate that coffee shop experience.
I’m a really keen home barista
To really push your home espresso experience forwards, you might want to consider a dual boiler machine. This allows for much more precise temperature control of the espresso brewing water, as there is a dedicated boiler for this.
The Sage Dual Boiler machine is an attractively priced option for the really keen home barista. Dual boiler machines also allow you to make an espresso and steam milk at the same time, which speeds up your coffee brewing process. If you make great coffee then family members will be queuing for a drink so pace of service might become quite important!
The Rocket Cinquantotto is a serious dual boiler machine with precise PID control over temperatures. It also has a commercial grade rotary pump (as opposed to the standard vibratory pump), which makes for a quieter experience. This machine can function from the in built reservoir or be plumbed into the mains.
We are always more than happy to offer advice on your important espresso machine purchase. You can email us, phone us or contact us through any of our social media channels. We can also arrange for you to visit to have a look at the machines we have available.