Your Guide to Shopping for an Espresso Machine
You might be a little shocked and surprised when you start your espresso machine shopping adventure. These machines aren't cheap! Not the good ones anyway.
But, if you take out pad and pen and do the math, you will quickly decide that a home machine - a good home machine - will pay for itself rather quickly.
Let's assume that you buy just one espresso drink per day at the modest cost of $3.50 (I know most drinks run higher and many of us cannot get by on just one per day!) That adds up to over $1277 per year! If you have friends, roommates, family (my wife, oh my wife!), then you can easily see the cost-effectiveness of an the commercial grade home models.
Plus, when you get good at making drinks (and that's a lot of fun), you can wow friends and family. It beats a card trick most everytime.
A Word of Caution when Buying an Espresso Machine
If you're budget minded, like I am, you might be tempted to snap up a $60 expresso machine at Target. Hey, I love Target too. But you will likely be disappointed by the performance of the machine. Frankly, I think a good barista can make a decent drink on any machine - but you'll likely wish you saved up a bit over time and purchased a higher quality pump-driven model.
It's true that the pump-driven espresso makers are bigger, heavier, and more difficult to use (until you learn to use it). But they'll produce a better cup of coffee. And you will be happier in the long-run as a result.
What should I look for when buying an espresso machine?
Machine Look and Design:
Ask any barista; Making a good cup of espresso is an art form. The best espresso machines, largely influenced by their Italian roots, are themselves a work of art. Given the wide variety of high performance machines available, you'll want to select a machine that complements your own unique style.
Quality of the Machine:
Is the machine consistent? Is it easy to use? Does the company back it with a long-term warranty? Are the key parts made of high quality materials? Or does the machine feature mostly plastic?
Convenience and Usability:
Some of us want to push a button and let the machine do the work. Others of us want to be intimately involved with each step of the brewing process. Some machines come with a built in grinder - and other will require you purchase a special grinder. Think hard about how much effort you're willing to put into making a drink when you crawl out of bed!
Value is really a comparison of the above features, weighted against the price of the machine. Are you willing to pay twice as much for a machine that looks stunning, but is functionally similar to another? That's your call!
Whatever you do, remember that espresso is one of life's finer pleasures. This probably isn't the most practical investment you'll ever make, but it will bring years of enjoyment and happiness. As is the case with most things, you will get what you pay for - I recommend you buy the best machine you can afford whether this machine be for home, office or business use. As soon as you start enjoying your own handcrafted lattes and mochas, your investment will feel well worth it!
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