What You Absolutely Need To Know Before Buying Your Espresso Machine
In order not to get lost in the jungle of technologies of these machines, here is a small list of everything you need to know before making your choice.
Single Or Double Boiler
Dual boilers are great, but not really necessary for an espresso machine, especially if you’re just starting out. However, having a double boiler has its advantages:
You can make more espresso: the double boilers allow you to prepare two espressos at the same time. This can be useful when you need to make two coffees in a much faster time.
Special drinks: A double boiler allows you to prepare an espresso and steam your milk at the same time, which is very convenient.
However, I don’t have a double boiler on my espresso machine and since there are only two of us at home, this hasn’t been a problem.
A PID is used to control the temperature of the water in the boiler. It is very practical in order to have a constant extraction and to master the parameters.
Most entry-level machines don’t have a PID. It is often possible to control the temperature of the water by doing what is called “temp surfing”.
Steam Nozzle For Milk
If you dream of making lattes with beautiful micro-foam and lattes with hearts, be sure to buy best budget espresso machine with a powerful steam wand.
Most inexpensive models are equipped with a so-called “Panarello” nozzle, which is actually quite effective for preparing cappuccinos.
However, for latte art, you need a steam nozzle capable of creating a swirl in the pitcher. This means that you should look for a model with a powerful manual steam wand.
Why is pressure important? Because the amount of pressure with which the water passes through the coffee grounds is an essential part of the espresso making process.
Many machines, often entry-level, boast of high pressure (we sometimes see 19 bars or 15 bars)
In reality we will look for a machine with 9 bars of pressure. The less it is possible, the more it is not really advisable
Espresso flavour improves at up to nine bars, since as pressure increases, water passes faster and faster through the packed coffee grounds in the espresso puck.
But when the pressure exceeds nine bars, the water begins to compact the coffee grounds in the puck, which slows down the rate at which the water passes through the puck, and therefore the flavour of the espresso is less good. .
It is important to understand this optimal pressure setting, as most of the machines we tested had different pressure profiles – from 3.5 to 15 bar.
Machine With Integrated Grinder
Here is a very practical solution if you have little space in your kitchen and if the purchase of a mill is not possible for you.
On the other hand, the integrated grinder can also pose some problems. In the event of a breakdown, your entire machine goes to after-sales service. The built-in grinder usually has less adjustment for your grind. This won’t be a problem at first, but can get frustrating later on.
Port Filter Size
It is in the port filter that you will put your coffee.
The standard port filter size is 58 mm. Sometimes some machines like Lelit work with a 57mm port filter (VIP line models come with 58mm port filters).
On low-cost machines, you will find 51-52 mm port filters that are often pressurized.
Smaller, and often pressurized, they make it easier to create pressure and cream.
It’s handy for understanding how it works, but if you’re really serious about your espresso I recommend using a non-pressurized port filter.