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Guide To Buying The Right Espresso Machine

How do you know which machine is the right one for you? Let’s start with your expectations. Are you a purist, looking for the challenge and eloquence of a Manual espresso machine? Perhaps you prefer consistency and ease of a Semi-automatic or Fully automatic machine? Do you simply long to pull out all of the stops and go for that beautiful Super Automatic with all of the amenities? Let us start with a brief overview of each style of espresso machine.

Manual Espresso Machines

Manual espresso machines, sometimes called piston espresso machines, are elegant pieces of functional art. Although these machines are the most difficult to learn to use, they give the operator complete control of the extraction process. These machines were the first true espresso machines capable of producing the 8 to 9 atmospheres of pressure required for making espresso. After grinding the coffee beans and tamping the ground coffee into the portafilter basket, the operator locks the handle into the machine. The operator must then pull down on the handle to force the water through the ground coffee. It takes a certain amount of strength in addition to an absolute consistency of pressure to create a really good espresso. The grind of the coffee is also critical to the flavor of the end product. However, there is nothing quite so rewarding for the purist as creating that perfect espresso through pure skill. With a skilled hand at the machine, the resulting brew is comparable or better than that produced using most other machines. Top manual espresso machine brands are Elektra and La Pavoni.

Semi-Automatic and Automatic Espresso Machines

The semi-automatic and automatic espresso machines have taken the guesswork out of the pull. They do this by using an electric pump instead of a manual lever to create the pressure to force the water through the coffee. This pump system is much easier for the operator to use and is much more consistent than the manual lever type. These machines often have larger reservoirs or direct line feeds for water making them much more efficient for large gatherings or commercial use. The semi-automatic machines are turned on and off by the operator to start and stop the extraction process, giving the operator control of the amount of water and duration of brewing. The automatic espresso machines employ a one-touch system that starts and stops the process automatically brewing a preprogrammed amount of beverage. These machines produce a good product consistently and efficiently. Top brands include: Rancilio, Saeco and Capresso.

Prosumer Espresso Machines

Prosumer espresso machines are elite machines from the Semi-automatic and Automatic category.  Taking advantage of commercial espresso machine technology, prosumer espresso machines provide the home espresso enthusiast with advanced features required for top quality espresso. We carry several brands in this category including: Izzo, Elektra, Rocket and Quick Millk.

Super Automatic Espresso Machines

Super automatic espresso machines have truly given us push button espresso technology. These super automatics have taken the automatic machine to the next level by incorporating a self-contained grinder and a stunning variety of other features into one machine. At the touch of a button, the super automatic espresso machine will grind a measured amount of coffee beans, tamp the ground coffee into the filter, brew the specified amount of espresso, then dump the used ground coffee into a self-contained disposal bin. It will even tell you when the bin needs to be emptied. These machines are efficient and clean. They are remarkably easy to use and easy to maintain. Many models are even self-cleaning. Some models also have adjustable features to allow greater control of the brewing process. These machines are a delight to use and produce an excellent brew. Jura of Switzerland is the leader in this category.

Commercial Espresso Machines

Commercial espresso machines can be Semi-automatic, Automatic or Super Automatic, but to be classified as commercial, they need to handled commercial volumes. Quick and dependable, with large water tanks or the option to connect a water line, commercial espresso machines must accomodate the production of a large number of drinks consistently and dependably. 1st in Coffee carries commercial machines from Jura and La Pavoni.  

We hope that we have helped you to find the type of machine best suited your needs and expectations. Now that you have a general direction in which to look, we are confident that we can help you find the perfect machine to best complement you and your needs.