Whether you are a dialed in connoisseur, or a green bean newbie, buying a home espresso machine is not as easy as “I see it, I like it, I buy it.” When taking the dive into home espresso it is more than just about saving money in the long run, it is backed by an entire community. They are there if you have questions about dialing in your beans, showing off some amazingly good (and bad) latte art or help troubleshooting, the espresso community is always there to help. Just like most investments, doing a little bit of research is very important when deciding what type of machine will work best for you. We have narrowed it down to seven key factors that will play a role in exactly what kind of machine will suit you best.
Do I Have Enough Counter Space?
Picture this, you do all the research, you discover what you want to get out of your machine, pick out the colors you love only to find out it doesn’t fit under your cabinets! The standard space between the counter top and the bottom of your cabinets is typically 18 inches. Depending on how you plan to set up your barista station it is something to keep in mind when finalizing your purchase. If this is something that is limiting for you, another option may be to purchase a cart to put your equipment on which will also help to save counter space for more coffee and espresso accessories.
What Are My Electrical Requirements?
Although espresso machines are relatively small, they are still incredibly powerful. When deciding on where you are going to be putting this machine, you have to take into consideration how much power it is going to draw. Ensuring that your electric can handle the output of power without blowing a fuse or tripping your breaker is something you need to keep in mind. Generally speaking there are two types of electrical systems in the world and depending on where you are located will determine the kind of frequency you run on. North and Central America, along with some parts of Japan, typically run at 100 – 127 volts or 60 hertz. The rest of the world typically runs at around 220 – 240 volts or 50 hertz. However, all machines sold through Chris’ Coffee imported from Italy are specifically wired to be run on 110 volts in either 15 amp or 20 amp.
Plumbed In or Pour Over
In regards to plumbing you have three main options – direct plumb into your water source, connect to a 5-gallon jug of water, or a pour over. However, not every home machine will allow you the option to plumb in, some come standard as only pour overs – such as; QM67, Vivi, etc. One of the main reasons that people choose to plumb their machines in, aside from the convenience factor, is that it allows them the ability to run the water through a softening system to prevent scale build up as well as internal damage to your machine. If you are leaning towards a reservoir machine then it’s important to keep in mind that most machines have a top loading tank and if you have limited space this could be a problem when you need to refill it with water. The Dream T and Mini Vivaldi are both pour over machines that have front loading tanks which could help to solve this space issue. In addition, the Silvano has a side loading reservoir.
The Importance of The Grinder
Yes, your grinder is just as, if not more important than your espresso machine, if you can’t achieve the right grind you will never be able to extract the ‘perfect’ shot of espresso. To dial in your espresso grind, it is crucial that you have a grinder that has the ability to make fine enough adjustments to help you pull a balanced and flavorful shot. A common misconception is that once your grinder is dialed in that you never have to touch it again but this is not true. Your coffee grind may need to be adjusted depending on the kind of beans that you are using, as well as other factors such as the coffees freshness or amount of oils present. We recommend either the Ceado E37J or the Fiorenzato F4E grinder for a reasonably priced home unit that is built to last and will meet all your grinding needs.
What Kind of Coffee Will I Be Using?
Although there is technically no difference between coffee and espresso beans, it boils down to the brewing method being executed. With that being said there are some benefits to getting your hands on fresh roasted beans, the main reason being the crema. Crema is creamy in texture and found on the top layer of espresso and is made up of CO2 bubbles which gives the coffee a distinct burst of flavor. Whether you plan on using light, medium or dark roasted beans the science behind the flavor of the shot is just another part of what makes the espresso experience both equally frustrating and amazing. Keep in mind that some beans work better for straight espresso shots and others can really make a latte come to life, but like most things in life coffee preferences are a matter of opinion.
Which Machine Is Best For Me?
There are three main types of espresso machines – single boilers, dual boilers and heat exchange machines. If you plan to make mostly milk based drinks then either a heat exchange or dual boiler would work best for you, like the Vetrano 2B or Appartamento. With that being said, you can make milk-based drinks on single boiler machines as well, there are just a few added steps that will slow your process down. In addition, if you are more of a straight espresso drinker and shot consistency is important to you then a dual boiler with a PID is the way to go, like on the Alex Duetto IV Plus. If you are trying to narrow your decision down between a heat exchange machine and a dual boiler then it might come down to our last and most important question, budget.
What Is My Budget?
Now it is no secret that buying a home espresso machine comes with a hefty price tag, prices can range from $800 to even as high as $10,000, but knowing what you are comfortable spending is going to help narrow down your options. Are you buying a new machine, are you upgrading your current set up? Do you need to buy a machine and a grinder? Once you know what you are willing to spend, the rest of the answers will guide you along the path to bringing home your brand-new machine!
So, you made it! You found the machine that fits your space, all the plumbing and electrical will work for your home. You called Chris’ Coffee Service and got a great deal on a grinder and some great accessories to start. Now start tagging us in all your latte art and home set-ups and make sure you buy your espresso in quantities of 2 or more to take advantage of our bulk coffee discounts. Don’t forget that we have a service department made up of 9 experienced technicians here for you if you need any help along the way. Be sure to follow us on all of our social media platforms so you never miss out on anything Chris’ Coffee. Leave a comment down below or send us a message and let us know what your dream set up is.