Espresso machines are an essential part of every coffee lover’s kitchen. You can make all your favorite coffee-house gourmet drinks at home, for a friction of the price. If you’re buying an espresso machine for the first time, then you’re probably confused by the many types of different machines available. In this post, we’ll briefly introduce the types of espresso machines available for the home consumer.
Manual Espresso Machines (also known as a lever espresso machine):
This type of machine calls for some effort since they are not pump driven. You get the extraction by pulling the lever and applying strength. A lever espresso machine is a bit tricky to use, pulling the perfect espresso shot with it requires a lot of patience till you get it right. It is not recommended for beginners.
Semi-automatic Espresso Machines:
In this machine, the extraction is done by turning the water flow on, and then off once you have enough coffee on your hands. The machines are pump driven, with a rocker switch connected to the pump. So then, when you turn on the switch, you turn on the pump. Semi-automatic espresso machines also have a steam wand that allows you to heat and froth milk with ease. They’re fairly affordable and are available at a range starting at under $100 and up to $300+. See some examples here. This type of machine makes an excellent beginner’s espresso machine.
Automatic Espresso Machines:
In an automatic espresso machine, the controls are set such that all you have to do is push a single button and the machine will automatically push through the right amount of water. They also are pump driven; only in this case, a microprocessor that controls the pump is installed in the machine. Various shot sizes are programmed into the espresso so all you have to do is press the right button. An automatic espresso machine also has a steam wand that you can use to warm your milk, and in some cases, it has an automatic milk frother. It also gives you extractions that are consistent and repeatable. This helps you get a consistent quality every time. This is the perfect espresso machine for someone who is looking for luxury and convenience. The most popular automatic espresso machine is Nespresso, which you can learn more about here.
Super Automatic Espresso Machines:
Super automatic espresso machines are the ultimate espresso machine for home, and are the easiest to use. All you have to do is fill the espresso with coffee beans, press the right button and watch the machine do the rest of the work. When you turn on your machine and click the desired button, the machine grinds the right amount of coffee beans, packs it into an internal porter filter, does the extraction and dumps the used coffee grounds into its internal knock box. All you have to do is empty the knock box (where used ground is collected) every now and then, ensure there is enough water in the reservoir and put the roasted coffee beans in the hopper. This type of machine is the most expensive, usually costing more than a $1000. However, there are some great exceptions, the Philips Saeco Vienna Plus is well less than $500, and there are many that super-automatics that are less than $1000.
More resources on types of espresso machines for home: