Five tips for the perfect home espresso machine setup

So you’re ready to buy an espresso machine that makes coffee as good as the professionals? Hooray! But the problem many people face is: “Where do I start?” With so many machines on the market and all those accessories to get your head around, we don’t blame you for feeling a little confused. Not to worry. Here are some top-notch tips on how to choose a quality, great value machine…

Good luck and feel free to contact us with any questions!

Tip #1: The grinder is the most important part of the set-up.

This might seem a little backwards at first, but let’s start with a tip about the grinder:

No matter the quality of coffee packaging, coffee only stays perfect a few minutes after being ground. That’s why you should always grind your beans at the time of making the coffee. The grinder itself needs to be able to produce very even, minute particles without burning the coffee in the process – and not every grinder can do this, in fact very few do! Our recommendation is the Mini Mazzer. It may be one of the more expensive options, but in turn it means you don’t need to spend as much on your machine. Interesting, huh? It also comes with a lifetime warranty so once you’ve got it, you’re set.

So if your goal is to be able to create true cafe-quality coffee every morning, start with the grinder (you can always use it to make the finest plunger coffee around if you can’t afford the machine yet).

Before I get to actual brands, here are a couple of tips about machine choice:

Tip #2: Purchase a brand that only makes coffee machines.

Or at least a brand that has coffee as their main focus. For instance, does the machine your interested in also make electric toothbrushes and food processors – where is their true coffee-love? A brand that only does one thing is going to put a lot more research and effort into the usability of their product, and will want their machines to last longer and perform well to protect their brand.

Tip #3: Purchase a machine that is serviceable.

Combine hot water, electronics and a lot of pressure in one machine and it’s going to wear out, requiring servicing. So there’s no point spending hundreds or thousands and having to chuck your machine out because it’s not made to be serviced. Or worse – it’s serviceable but the importer hasn’t bothered importing any parts for the machine (it happens). When you’ve found a machine you’re interested in, make sure you ask where it can be serviced. And if you want to be really thorough, ring that service provider to find out how long the machine model has been around and if there’s a good supply of parts available, just in case.

Tip #4: Choose the machine that's right for you.

So if you paid attention to Tip #1 above, you’ll know that a good grinder is pricey (approximately $900 – but worth it). So we’ve come up with a range of machine choices, from the lower budget entry options to the flashest professional machines.

Presso: Approximately $200

This is a completely manual espresso maker. Don’t let the low price fool you – this espresso machine paired with the mini Mazzer grinder and the right technique can give you a coffee extraction better than most home machines. The only downside is the manual milk frother accessory. But hey! If you like your espresso without milk, why spend more to start with? View Machine

La Pavoni Eurobar. Approximately $1000

The price jump to the La Pavoni may seem like quite a bit. However we’ve found that the machines available in between the two prices are not serviceable, rendering them useless after a year or so. Massive fail.

The La Pavoni range are great home machines, easy to use and clean. They’re perfect for making yourself and your partner a coffee in the morning, but they may struggle to keep up when entertaining larger numbers.

We usually don’t recommend buying a machine second-hand, as you can’t tell if the previous owner has had their machine serviced regularly. However, the La Pavoni range can be rebuilt rather easily by a professional service outfit, so if you can get your hands on a cheap used one and can afford an extra $200-300 on a good service it’s well worth it. If you decide to go second-hand we recommend the EPL, Plus and Eurobar – not the newer models as they’re not as easily serviced, therefore more costly to get rebuilt. View Machine

E61 Group Head Type Machines $2400+

These machines are for the more serious coffee maker. With the E61 range you can make cafe-quality coffee all day, every day and you’ll certainly impress your friends and family. Many of the machines in this range are built using commercial parts, so they’re similar to what you would find in your favourite cafe.

That also means that they’re made with great quality, have high durability and are easily serviced.

There is a lot of variation in quality across these models however. The coffee extraction quality is very similar, but the big difference comes in the steam pressure. This dictates how many jugs of milk you’ll be able to do in a row before the machine struggles to keep up. We recommend comparing the boiler capacities, and taking the time to have a go on the machine.

A test drive, if you will! Brands in this range include the Vibiemme Domobar (Junior and Super), Faema Compact, Cimbali Junior, Rocket E61, Fiorenzato, Argosini and more. View Machine

Tip #5: Look after your new family member!

Once you have decided on and purchased your setup it’s all down to ensuring you use sufficiently filtered water, cleaning it regularly, and getting it serviced every 12-18 months to ensure it has a long life of serving you beautiful coffee.

And of course getting yourself trained adequately to ensure you get the most out of your investment!

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