Home espresso machine guide…
You’re probably here because you feel spoiled for choice! You want good home coffee machine but you have no idea which option is right for you. Finding the right brew method, coffee machine or device for you can be…just a little overwhelming. Fortunately we’re here to help with a combined 25+ years of working in the specialty coffee industry, we can help you Find exactly the right machine for you!
What is the best coffee machine for you?
Are you chasing a smooth cappuccino? A rich dark espresso or maybe a nice and easy fresh pot of coffee for the home or office? We’ve divided the most common home coffee machines into three basic categories. Espresso machines, Pod machines & Filter coffee makers
The holy grail of coffee drinking, invented by the Italian Angelo Moriondo in the 1880’s. These machines are now synonymous with all aspects of coffee culture from starbucks to third wave coffee nerds. Since then this huge commercial machines have been refined into smaller home coffee machines.
Is an espresso machine right for you?
If you want the widest range of freedom for coffee drinking through espresso, (long black, latte, flat whites, and cortados) to using your preferred beans from anywhere in the world, it’s perfect. Sounds great right? But a huge deciding factor should be your attitude to making coffee. Espresso machines have a steep learning curve to make the same quality you have come to expect from your local coffee shop; however there is little more rewarding than perfecting an espresso recipe where the stars align from the best beans perfectly ground extracting the best flavour and pairing that with perfectly steamed milk for that first sip of pure satisfaction.
So buying an espresso machine is like buying yourself a hobby and to enjoy it you will need to learn a lot and practice regularly, but if tinkering and tweaking in the hunt of the perfect cup sounds like you this is definitely the way to go. Another key consideration for buying an espresso machine is cost. This can get very high very quickly when you factor in scales, grinder & a quality machine. My at home setup cost around $700 but this could easily climb to the thousands. That being said you can definitely get started with a quality machine for less than $500.
3 Key considerations when choosing an espresso machine:
I cannot understate the importance of high quality build . when picking the best coffee machine for your home, you want to actually enjoy making your coffee but if you spend 80% wrestling with a plasticy machine that’s lighter than a feather with inconsistent heating and an overflowing drip tray, you’ll soon feel your inner barista is ready to throw in the apron! Making coffee should be fun and can be fun. The variables you want to be battling against should be grind, weight & brew time not temperature surfing and weedy steam wands!
Does your machine take half an hour to warm up only to loose so much temperature that you can’t even steam your milk after? This isn’t something you want to use every day! When you buy quality the feeling is much closer to the sunday morning cappuccino dream. Rolling out of bed grabbing the paper, flicking on your elegant coffee machine that heats up in a couple of seconds, whilst you enjoy the smell of your perfectly roasted coffee freshly (and quietly) grinding your single origin beans and proceeding to pull a shot of pure liquid gold complemented by the perfect lightly sweet & fluffy milk…I mean it’s pretty much never that simple but it sounds good right? Simply put, don’t buy cheap espresso machines, you will regret it. Not to worry if you don’t have 2k to drop on your coffee setup we have guides to the best cheap set ups and maybe, just maybe a pod machine is right for you.
This is where coffee machine retailers like to try and bamboozle casual users but we’re in your corner and can put it in plain english! Basically, brewing good espresso requires high and consistent pressure water heated to a specific temperature range to be forced through a puck of evenly ground coffee. Manufacturers may like to brag how they can generate more pressure than competitors, but 16 bar does you no good when the ideal brewing pressure is 9 bar, so be wary of the snake oil sellers in the espresso machine game and we will make sure our reviews point out any marketing BS.
Head to our best espresso machines blog which is our central hub of all things espresso machine.
Ok the first thing to be completely honest about is the best coffee from an espresso machine will beat the best espresso from a pod machine every single time. However if I gave 100 people a pod machine and an espresso machine with zero training 99% of them would make a tastier coffee on the pod machine than the espresso machine. It’s that easy to make bad coffee on an espresso machine.
Now there are super automatic espresso machines that require no training to pull good shots but they also cost around $2000. So one solution, instead of spending hours of training and thousands of dollars on expensive gear, is buying a pod machine. That being said there’s still lots of things to consider when picking a pod machine.
Keurig or Nespresso
The two biggest brands of pod machines in the world are Keurig and Nespresso. Keurig machines are more of a quick and easy pod loaded filter coffee machine. Whereas Nespresso machines are trying to closely emulate a traditional espresso machine but a lot easier. For most people that should narrow it down if you want a latte,cappuccino or espresso go with Nespresso. Keruig does have options for these but personally I feel the way the achieve “espresso” drinks is far from the best way to extract good flavour from beans.
Both Keruig and Nespresso machines have reusable & recyclable pod options if you want to be more eco-friendly with your coffee making, and surprisingly enough coffee pods are one of the more eco-friendly ways to drink coffee.
coffee pods cons
I don’t pull any punches with the drawbacks of coffee pods. They have lots of benefits but it’s only right to look at what they are doing wrong and hope it improves in the future. Firstly, leaving coffee ground for any extended period of time is not a good idea for maintaining flavour. Most of the coffee you’ll find packed in these pods is commodity coffee blended and roasted at scale.
Usually you’d expect to spend $18.50 on a kilo of this grade of coffee. Some quick napkin math reveals for the same weight ground a put into a pod or cup at a similar grade of coffee you’d pay $46.80. None of this is really going to break the bank but it is the cost of convenience! Lastly, you’re restricted on choice of coffee, you can’t just pick up a nice bag of beans that you liked from your local coffee shop; you have to choose from a pretty slim range of coffees picked out by massive corporations who might be more concerned with the bottom line than good flavour. So yeah you won’t find a single origin geisha with notes of peach and honey, but saying that if that’s what you’re looking for you’re a long way from home and should head to our espresso machine page.
Why you should buy a pod machine
Pod machines are ideal for casual coffee drinkers who usually prefer a dark chocolatey coffee with no funny business or a quick tasty pick me up with two sugars. A lot of snobby baristas would look down their thick rimmed glasses at the mere mortals who actually enjoy a decent pod coffee..but not here. There’s clearly a reason over 24 billion of these pods are sold every single year! People love the convenience, price and considerably superior taste to instant coffee and I say the more the merrier. If your in a rush and don’t want to learn how to make espresso this will be best coffee machine for your home. Find out which Nespresso machine is best here!
Filter coffee maker
To me there is no purer form of coffee than a black filter coffee, no adulteration just clean pure rich coffee. A filter coffee machine (or batch brewer) is simple and easy to use: drop some ground coffee and water in it, press go and brew a pot of fresh coffee. If you’re brewing for a small office, a family gathering or just putting a pot on for yourself to write a blog about coffee this is a really good way to go.
Compared to espresso coffee filter coffee is brewed at lower temperatures for longer with a coarser grind to lower the surface area exposed to water, this prevents the coffee from getting over extracted and tasting bitter.
Filter coffee generally has less body than espresso this leads to a cleaner more refreshing style of coffee. Personally I love to brew a fruity, slightly acidic bean with this method but you can also get classic diner style rich chocolatey brew from this.
What to look for in a good filter coffee machine
I mean they all just pour hot water on coffee right? How different can they be! Well turns out quite a lot! From hard to fill water tanks locked into clunky machines, leaky jugs that can’t keep your coffee warm to fragile plastic casing that crack within weeks of owning them. You certainly can ruin your easy breezy coffee experience by picking up the wrong machine! I’ve broken down the key things to look for in a good batch brewer into three sections, build, usability and technical specs.
First off, if the exterior is made of cheap thin plastic, it’s reasonable to assume that as much effort has been put into the interior. This means that it’s very likely you have a low powered cheap heating element which will probably go kaput on you in under a year. How’s the water tank? Is it removable? Is it BPA free? Are the switches sturdy or will your button go bust after a few months. These things and many more are what we closely inspect on our reviews for build quality.
One of the most important things to get the most out of any coffee maker you buy is a user-friendly experience. If you have to wrangle your machine to fill it up from a tiny hole,wait ten minutes for it to warm up and have to basically take the thing apart to clean it. You’re going to be dreading even using it! We want to make sure any of the products we recommend have the least friction points possible as far as user experience goes.
In days gone by, the filter coffee machine was a lot more potluck; pour your coffee in the top and the water will be heated to some unknown temperature and poured through your lovingly chosen beans as some factory set flow rate. For those of us who like to tweak our settings and get stuck into the hunt for the perfect brew, the filter machine market is a lot friendlier these days. So if you’re looking to tweak your temperature, flow rate, set a timer for your morning brew or even slow brew some cold brew there’s a lot more options out there for you now and we’ll be sure to break them all down in plain english!
There it is all the core information you need to know to select the perfect coffee machine for you. Head over to our individual pages on espresso machines, pod machines and filter Machines to find out more and get some of our top recommendations.