So you’re ready to buy an espresso machine for your home, but you’re overwhelmed with the number of choices out there. How do you pick the right espresso machine for you? Here are a few points to help you out:

Super Automatic, Automatic, Semi-Automatic or Manual?

A Super Automatic espresso machine is an all-in-one unit that grinds, extracts and froths milks all automatically with a push of a button from you. It also cleans itself automatically, too. It’s a perfect choice for anyone who’s not very knowledgable about espresso making. An automatic machine makes the perfect shot every single time with no work on your part. While all that sounds great, Automatic espresso machines can be pricey (mostly over $1000). So if your budget allows it, it’s definitely a fantastic choice.

An Automatic espresso machine usually allows you to pre-set options; it automatically sets temperature for you and you can pre-set water volume for different espresso/coffee drinks. The many programmable options makes it an Automatic machine. It’s a great choice for someone who know how to work all those options to make what they want.

A Semi-Automatic espresso machine features an automated temperature set and an automated pump (the auto part), but there are no pre-sets or programmable options.

And lastly, a manual espresso machine has to be worked out completely by you.

For the average home user, and especially if it’s your first home espresso machine, an automatic or a super-automatic machine is highly recommended for you. It makes preparing the perfect espresso shot or drink a breeze and it comes out perfect every time. A semi-automatic or a manual machine requires some skills that a some what advanced user has to pull the perfect shot of espresso.

What To Look For in An Espresso Machine:

Usability: If this is your first home espresso machine, then getting a user-friendly machine is a must. This is why a super-automatic or automatic machine is recommended for you. Look for a machine that has a simple ‘push-button’ system, or one that comes with pre-set options. If you’re worried that an automatic machine can cost much, something like the Nespresso machine with pre-measured capsules is an affordable choice under $300.

Built-in Options (grinder, milk tank or frother):
Of course, the more of these built-in options an espresso machine will have, the higher the cost will be. So if you’re on a budget, you should know which of these you’ll be really using, and which will be just a fancy option.

If you’re looking to make only espresso (no Cappuccino, Latte or other coffee drinks that require milk) then a milk tank and a frother are not really necessary. But you’ll probably want an electric burr grinder, either integrated into the machine or a stand-alone one. Freshly ground beans makes all the difference when making coffee, espresso specially. Most automatic or super-automatic machines include all those options. Smaller automatic machines (which make espresso only) offer those as stand-alone accessories.

Water Tank: Consider how much coffee you’ll be making per day and how much water you’ll be using before you have to refill the tank again. Also, a removable water tank is always better and easier to use, pick it up, fill it up and place it back in the machine. Where with a built-in tank, you have to bring the water to it. But either way, that is certainly not as important as the capacity of the tank itself.

Drip Trays, Cup Warmers and After-Use Cleaning:

Drip tray is where you’ll be placing your cup before it fills up with fresh espresso. It is important that the drip tray is removable so it’s easy to clean and maintain.

Cup Warmer is the top part of the machine where you usually see the espresso cups are placed upside down, mostly in cafes. These work on keeping the cups warm until you use them, so your espresso is hot for a longer time. This feature is mostly part of super-automatic espresso machines.

As for after-use cleaning, this is the part that no one likes. Some machines require a lot of cleaning, which ruins the fun. Other machines, super-automatic ones especially, come with self-cleaning features that, with a push of a button, clean everything, and will only require some touch-ups from you every now and then. Smaller machines that use pre-measured capsules and pods don’t require any cleaning, as well. Simply toss out the coffee pods and everything is good as new!


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