Levelling up on your home barista skills is a great move to make and finding out how much does an espresso machine cost is a great start and getting the best one possible is always a great move to make.
If you are in a rush I’ll give you a good ballpark figure to have in mind: around US$500 at today’s prices will get you a good machine. Normally I’d say US$300, but I advise you to spend more and get that better model as your machine will last you 7 to 10 years if you take good care of it and maintain it well.
What Is An Espresso Machine?
An espresso machine, first invented by Angelo Moriondo in 1884, is a machine that brews short, concentrated and focused coffee by forcing pressurized water of 92C to 96C (195F to 205F) through a bed of finely ground coffee.
The resulting coffee, an espresso, is distinctive with its thick crema on top. Other milk based coffee drinks such as a latte, cortado, cappuccino can be made also, thanks to the steam wand to steam and forth milk can extend to making hot milk, hot chocolate.
An espresso machine has 4 main mechanisms of operation, including the original old school steam driven way of working, pump driven, piston or the relatively new air pump powered machine.
The best type to keep an eye on is a piston based machine, also known as a vibratory pump powered espresso machine. An espresso machine can be manual or automatic.
Automatic machines can be either semi-automatic, fully automatic or super automatic. Either of these are fine as long as you avoid super-automatic machines.
Read: Best coffee for espresso machine
Why An Espresso?
Before I get down to detailing various machines and makers and their differences let’s be clear why you need one and why an espresso.
An espresso is unique as it differs from your regular cup of coffee. You need an espresso machine for true espresso extraction.
The acidity, color, density, texture, bitterness to produce that beautiful creamy espresso shot that you love. A basic stovetop espresso maker, like a moka pot, makes an average to half decent espresso coffee but is evidently missing the quality that an espresso machine can and will produce.
For Beginners On Their Coffee Journey
If you are just starting out on your home barista journey and thinking about an espresso machine, you can get a good machine for US$300 that will produce a shot of espresso that hits the spot and can make all the milk based drinks such as a flat white that you need to.
With a US$300 machine, you will get a machine that is more than good enough for a beginner but will not match up to the quality served by your local coffee shop.
You will get good coffee, just not great coffee. I advise spending a bit more to get a machine that is more aimed at home baristas.
The extra money spent is money saved. As you move up on your coffee journey, it will save you from buying another machine that is more complex in its operation and fits your future needs.
Also, the extra money is worth it as your machine will last you for many years. Take good care of it by regularly maintaining it well by cleaning the pipes inside by running a flushing cycle with distilled white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda.
Also, use filtered water always, to prevent minerals and limescale building up.
How Much Is An Espresso Machine For Home Baristas?
Even if you are just starting your coffee journey and want to make truly amazing coffee, this is the minimum entry point that you should be aiming at, or at least to achieve with your coffee skills.
A good quality espresso machine that is perfect for barista style coffee will cost you in the US$500 to US$800 price range currently, with a US$600 is a better starting point. This will get you to make high quality espresso and coffee-based drinks that have milk.
A machine like this at home will have Italians the world over throwing out their basic stovetop espresso machine, the Moka pot. Even the most ardent of coffee lovers will be forced to admit that your coffee matches that of your local favorite coffee shop.
This type of machine will function by means of a pump. A vibratory pump model is best as they offer the best and most control. If you can, focus on one that has a dual boiler as these are much better than a heat exchanger or single boiler system.
You will also see these as either semi-automatic or automatic models. I prefer a manual machine as these allow you, personally, more control over the elaboration of your coffee and greater control over how it ends up. The extra effort is worth it and is literally no hassle at all.
Super automatic coffee machines I strongly advise against as these are too automatic, require no skill, and that is a bad thing, a very bad thing! It’s like production line coffee, push button, no control for your own creativity and personal liking. An example of a super automatic coffee machine is vending machine coffee.
You need some same to “move” and shine your barista skills.
How Much Is An Espresso Machine For Commercial Use?
This is what you think of as the commercial coffee machines that you find in your local gourmet coffee shop. You can buy one of these for your home, but you really need to be a serious coffee lover to get one of these. The home and office versions are slightly smaller and have smaller output capability – this is serious next level stuff.
The starting price for low end basic commercial espresso machines is around US$2,000 and right up to US$40,000 and more.
You can find professional grade machines for around US$1,800, which are smaller and more designed for smaller coffee shops and offices. Larger or busier coffee shops will not be using these smaller professional machines.
Generally speaking, a good midrange commercial grade espresso machine will use a good quality machine that has two or three groupheads, twin steam wands and a hot water outlet. A good semi-automatic machine like this will cost US$4,000 to US$12,000 price range.
Keep in mind these are not really for coffee shops or that environment as their output capability makes them unviable as they are low volume machines. They can only make 50 cups of coffee per day, which is about 11 pounds of coffee (approximately 5 kg) per week.
Coffee shops use the medium output machines which can output 10x that at 500 cups per day. The price of this kind of output is in the US$15,000 to US$40,000 range.
If you are an independent coffee shop owner, that is the output range you are looking at. A coffee shop is looking at 300 cups of coffee per day at least.
What Espresso Machine Is Used By Starbucks?
Starbucks uses a Mastrena, which is a specific and special automatic design by Thermoplan AG. The price is unknown. The cheapest I have seen models sold by this company is US$20,000. The assembly time is 8 hours and is tested by brewing 100 cups perfectly before they are available for sale.
This model – it is exclusive to Starbucks and unavailable to the general public, sadly!
What Makes A Good Espresso Machine?
It’s ability to make an absolutely perfect espresso shot and a range of other barista quality barista made coffee drinks. Above all, high quality espresso shots.
Obviously, some adjustments that I can set and forget and not adjust every day or week or every single time I want to use it.
One of the big things I look for is consistency. I want top quality every single time with no adjustments needed at all to the machine once I have it all set to how I like and love it!
This is why I personally look at dual boiler vibrational pump models. How many grouphead is something you will need to think about. Most people at home will need just one with a portafilter that has a twin output to make two coffee at the same time.
It is rare that you will need one with two portafilters with the ability to make up to 4 coffees at the same time. You should also look at one that has the ability to vary the temperature from 92C to 96C (195F to 205F) and vary the water pressure to at least 9 bar.
You need to have at least 9 bars of pressure to make a good cup of espresso. Home machines and commercial espresso makers need to create 15 bars of water pressure in order to get the 9 bars of pressure at the grouphead where it counts.
Other things to consider are – does it come with a built-in coffee grinder or will you need to get your own grinder.
Having an all-in-one machine might sound great and very enticing and convenient. Trust me, when it comes to maintaining and cleaning it out you will have wished you didn’t bother with a built-in grinder.
with this type of machine you have little control or management over the grind size and mastering that skill as well as the skill of tamping.
An independent grinder gives you more and better control over the grind size and quality and, above all, are easier to maintain, keep clean and keep your coffee fresh from stuck old grounds getting into your coffee.
Pro Tip: The best grinder type is a ceramic conical burr grinder due to less heat build up, resistance to heat, ability to maintain and consistency in grind quality.
Even a commercial grinder is cheap enough and most that are available for home use are good enough for a commercial setting anyway.
Minor details to look for include a cup warmer – minor for a home setting as you can easily heat up your espresso cup in the microwave. A removable drip tray is a plus point for obvious reasons. The size of a water reservoir is something to consider as you don’t want to keep refilling it too often. Measure it not by ounces or liters but by how many cups you can make. 1 liter (33 ounces) is about 3 cups of latte or 3 caffe Americanos, more or less.
Manual Or Automatic?
This is something you need to look at and consider if you want a manual machine or an automatic one and how much automation you want and need.
A manual machine is what the name sounds like, It is a manual espresso machine that gives you as the barista full control over all aspects of the brewing process. In no time, your coffee skill level will shoot up as you get more practice.
An automatic machine or semi-automatic machine are, generally speaking, a little more expensive and will require less work on your part. You will have a degree of the work done for you, which may include grinding, tamping and the frothing of your milk.
To be honest, the convenience is not worth it as your end coffee is not any better and is at best, average and there is little you can do about it.
The choice depends on yours, but seriously – if it is an espresso machine that you want, then it is crazy to look at anything other than a manual machine. It literally only takes 2 minutes to grind, tamp, brew and serve.
What Accessories Can I Get For My Espresso Machine?
There are of course some accessories that you can get for your espresso machine. Demitasse cups for an espresso is a great start. If you are going to make a concentrated coffee, you might as well put your dose of coffee in a proper classy good quality coffee cup for that purpose.
As is a tamp set if one is not built into your espresso machine or grinder.
A milk pitcher for frothing milk for your cappuccinos, mocha, and latte’s is also a good idea. A set of cleaning brushes, and cloths are a good too – although there is no need for coffee specialty brushes. You can get good ones from your local hardware shop.
A bump box for you used coffee pucks which you can and should save – you can recycle them easily. There are many uses for them, including for beauty products and body scrubs to compost and fertilizer.
An extra portafilter if you don’t have one with a dual output. If you have two groupheads an extra dual portafilter with a dual output, so you can make 4 coffees at a time, is a great addition.
What About Renting An Espresso Machine?
this is a viable possibility where you can get a top class espresso machine without being thousands of dollars out of pocket and make all your espresso-based drinks from home.
This is a good choice if you are just opening a coffee shop and wish to invest your money elsewhere and not the nearly US$20,000 and more for an espresso machine.
Rental prices can vary and start at US$100 per week for a high volume, high quality machine that will easily deliver an output of 500+ cups per day.
Frequently Asked Questions About How Much Does An Espresso Machine Cost?
Is It Worth It To Get An Espresso Machine?
Yes, absolutely! For most coffee lovers, an espresso machine is an investment and will save a lot of money over the years in the money spent at gourmet coffee outlets like Costa and Starbucks.
If you take good care of your expensive manual machine it will last you as long as 10 years or longer. At a US$1200 to US$1,500 for a good one, the cost is only US$120 to US$150 per year, which is the equivalent of one Starbucks coffee every other week.
How Much Does An Espresso Cost?
A cup of espresso will vary in price depending on your location, the quality of the coffee used and the establishment you get it from. The price can vary from US$2.50 to US$4.
Is Making Espresso Expensive?
Making espresso shots is not expensive, but the espresso machines are more expensive than other coffee machines due to being much more complex and requiring expensive parts.
The pressure stat alone can cost US$120 to US$150. The pressure stat and the boiler must be made to a very high quality standard in order to maintain constant pressure and temperature.
Why Are Some Espresso Machines So Expensive?
An espresso machine must use high quality components to maintain the water pressure and the water temperature and keep the temperature and pressure constant while brewing. This requires quality parts which cost a lot of money.
If an espresso machine fails to maintain pressure, the machine will make a low quality shot of espresso.
How Much Should You Spend On Espresso Machine?
A good quality espresso machine at entry level should cost you from US$600 to US$800 and will brew you a great espresso without fuss.
At this price range you can expect some good features such as a PID controller and a better quality heating element and milk frother.
Do Espresso Machines Use A Lot Of Electricity?
An espresso machine will consume from 1 kilowatt to 1.5 Kilowatt. A shot of espresso will have a total brewing time of 25 seconds, which, assuming a 1.25 Kilowatt machine, a cup of espresso would consume 0.00866 kWh.
Frappé-Ing It All Up – How Much Does An Espresso Machine Cost?
Now you know how much does an espresso machine costs, you know that they are both worth it and an investment. Spending a little more than you would expect to is a good idea as it will pay you back in great coffee and can save you money from visiting your local Starbucks so often as you will be making your own coffee of equal and even better quality.
Plus, casting your eyes to the level you want to achieve rather than the level you are at will save you from buying a second machine later. That extra money spent now will save you more down the line in the future.
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