Let's face it – espresso is just good. The light crema, the bitter heart and the caramel body all come together for a treat that you just can't describe in words. Topping espresso with warm milk gives you the option of enjoying a cappuccino, latte or another of the many refined variations of coffee. Espresso is a nice pick-me-up on your way into work or a good way to relax after the kids have gone to bed.
Owning your own espresso machine means you don't have to wait in long coffee shop lines or endure late-night cravings because the café is closed. It will also save you hundreds of dollars throughout the life of you machine as you create tasty espresso right in your own kitchen. Some models of espresso makers brew multiple cups of espresso at a time, while barista style machines brew espresso and coffee simultaneously.
Espresso makers range from inexpensive units to high priced machines. We reviewed a variety of models, from the very simple to the premium adorned, in our effort to find the best espresso machines out there. The Krups XP Pump, the Cuisinart EM and the DeLonghi BCO all rated high on our espresso machine review because they use bar pump pressure brewing, come with extra features (such as a cup warmer) and have a variety of functions including the ability to brew both coffee grounds and prepackaged pods. Also, read articles on espresso machines in our Learning Center to help you make the decision of which machine to buy.
In determining the best espresso makers, we looked at each machine's performance and features, and we also considered the safety of the machine and the available support from the manufacturer. Below are some details for you to check for and be aware of as you search for your ideal espresso maker. Also, check out our learning center to read more articles on espresso machines.
All espresso machines come with a steam wand for heating milk to top your espresso. Some steam wands are adjustable so that you can change the consistency of the milk. This means you can turn your espresso into a latte, macchiato or a cappuccino. It's a bonus if your espresso machine comes with its own frothing cup. If it doesn't, you can grab any cup, mug or glass to steam, froth or blend the milk into.
The more parts of your espresso machine that are removable the better. This means you will be able to better clean every nook and cranny to help prevent calcium build-up and bacteria growth. Drip trays, portafilters and water reservoirs can all be removable, depending on the model of your espresso machine.
There are two important accessories that are needed for brewing great espresso: measuring tools and tamping tools. A measuring tool ensures that you use the proper amount of coffee grounds during each cycle. Too much can cause the filter to clog and reduce the effectiveness of your espresso machine. The tamping tool helps pack the grounds tightly in your espresso maker so you can get the best flavor from the coffee beans. Most espresso machines come with one or the other, but the best espresso machines come with both a measuring tool and a tamping tool.
A nice feature to have on your espresso machine is a cup warmer. Your delectable concoction will stay hot longer when it is poured into a warm cup. The best espresso makers include a cup warmer that heats one or two cups while the espresso is brewing.
Espresso machines use either steam pressure or bar pump pressure to brew espresso. The best espresso machines use bar pressure. All commercial espresso machines use this method because the taste of the espresso is much better than steam brewed. Bar pump espresso makers are heavier and more noisy than steam pressure machines. Because of their bulk, bar pump espresso machines take up more counter space.
Bar pump espresso machines have more parts than steam machines. Most espresso machines cannot be cleaned in a dishwasher and must be hand washed. Consider the time you have to devote to this chore since, depending on how often it is used, your espresso machine may need to be cleaned every two or three days.
Espresso servings are called shots. Each shot equals one ounce of brewed espresso. Coffee shops typically serve two shots, or doppio, for each serving. Espresso makers vary in the amount of espresso they can make. All the models we reviewed can brew at least two ounces, or shots, of espresso. The best espresso machines make four shots, enough for you and a friend. Some espresso makers allow you to brew two cups of espresso simultaneously.
The best espresso is made from freshly ground coffee beans. However, when you are in a hurry, it is nice to be able to brew a prepackaged pod rather than taking time to measure out and tamp the grounds. Not all espresso makers are capable of brewing pods, so if you'd like your machine to have this capability, look for one that specifically offers it. For even more convenience, look for a self-priming machine. A self-priming espresso maker will automatically ready itself for use, eliminating the need to go through a set-by-step setup.
Since espresso has the potential to cause scalding, burns or fire, it is important to consider safety when you're purchasing an espresso machine. For steam pressure machines, look for an adjustable safety valve. This will allow you to control escaping steam and minimize the risk of burns both while the machine is in use and during cool down.
Additionally, since heating elements do not change color or texture when they're hot, an on/off indicator light will let you know when your espresso machine is safely off.
Several espresso machines come with a polarized plug. This means one prong is larger than the other and can only be plugged into an outlet one way. This makes it difficult for inquisitive little ones to plug it in easily, reducing the probability of both electrocution and burns. Additionally, concealed cords allow you to hide the cord when not in use so it isn't even a temptation for little hands. Plus, cord storage gives the machine a cleaner look between uses.
Help & Support
The industry standard warranty for espresso machines is one year. Warranties generally cover manufacturer defects that are visibly apparent when your espresso machine is first unpackaged and used. In addition to traditional phone and email support, many manufacturers' websites include online user guides and FAQs. You can often connect with tech support through Facebook and with other espresso machine users to swap espresso recipes.
There is no need to travel to Europe or even to the local coffee shop for a creamy espresso. Save money and time by bringing a piece of Italy home with your own espresso machine. An espresso maker with a cup warmer or simultaneous brewing capability will allow you to enjoy a fresh cup of espresso with a loved one or friend. An adjustable steam wand lets you change the consistency of milk to turn your espresso into a latte, cappuccino or macchiato. Read our espresso machine reviews to find a machine that will fit your lifestyle and budget.
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