How to Choose a Home Espresso Machine
Whether you are a dialed in connoisseur, or a green bean newbie, buying a home espresso machine is not as easy as “I see it, I like it, I buy it.” With so many different an exciting options available it can sometimes seem impossible to decide. Over the last few years we have helped hundreds of clients analyse and choose what is the best machine for their needs and wants.
Based on the research and experience with our customers, we have narrowed down the selection criteria to the following 5 key factors.
- Counter space
- Type of drinks
- Volume of drinks
- Type of Grinder
Picture this, you do all the research, you discover what you want to get out of your machine, pick out the colors you love only to find out it doesn’t fit under your counter space! The standard space between the counter top and the bottom of your cabinets is typically 18 inches. Depending on how you plan to set up your home coffee bar it is something to keep in mind when finalizing your purchase.
Type of Drinks
Every espresso machine we sell we have personally used and know can make great espresso. However not all are suitable to make large lattes. If you prefer large milk drinks, you will most likely need a dual boiler or heat exchanger machine, unless you are only making one drink at a time. If you like straight espressos or long blacks then a single boiler machine works great.
Volume of Drinks
The number of drinks you will be making also plays a big part in the selection of the right machine. Whether making one or two drinks per day or are you always entertaining guests and usually need to make 10 plus drinks at a time will determine you need a dual boiler machine or if a single boiler will work.
Type of Grinder
Yes, your grinder is just as your espresso machine, if you can’t achieve the right grind you will never be able to extract the ‘perfect’ shot of espresso. To dial in your espresso grind, it is crucial that you have a grinder that has the ability to make fine enough adjustments to help you pull a balanced and flavorful shot. A common misconception is that once your grinder is dialed in that you never have to touch it again but this is not true. Your coffee grind may need to be adjusted depending on the kind of beans that you are using, as well as other factors such as the coffees freshness or amount of oils present. Check out our article on Beginner’s Guide to Coffee Grinders.
Finally the ever important bottom line question – what’s your budget? It’s no secret that buying a home espresso machine comes with a hefty price tag, prices can range from RM3,000 to even as high as RM 30,000, but knowing what you are comfortable spending is going to help narrow down your options. Are you buying a new machine, are you upgrading your current set up? Do you need to buy a machine and a grinder? Once you know what you are willing to spend, the rest of the answers will guide you along the path to bringing home your brand-new machine!
So there you have it, the 5 key factors in deciding how to buy a home espresso machine. Schedule a call to talk to us and we will help you go through these factors and select the right machine just for you.
Beginner’s Guide to Coffee Grinders
A consistent grind is hugely important in the process of making a high-quality cup of coffee, which is why the grinder is the most important piece of equipment when it comes to coffee preparation. The espresso grinder is what determines how we unlock the flavor hidden within the beans. But what makes some grinders great and other less so? It comes down to relatively simple criteria: uniform particle size without excess heat or static. The 3 main elements that affect this are:
Size of Burrs
The burr size is what most immediately gravitate to explain the difference between grinders. It is an easy thing to say: the bigger, the better, and to a large degree, this is true. The larger the burr size, the more cutting area available. A greater diameter burr means that for any quantity of beans, there will be fewer rotations of the burr set to grind them thoroughly, which leads to a faster dose of ground coffee: not a more rapid spin, a quicker result. In the world of coffee, faster usually means cooler - as one does not want to "bake" their beans while they are ground. So, we'd like to amend the knowledge and say "faster is better," rather than "bigger is better." Quicker has an added benefit as well. The more rapid the dose, the less chance for static electricity to build between the grinds, which leads to clumping, uneven distribution and inevitably, channeling.
Shape of Burrs
The burr shape often goes hand in hand with the burr size, as conical burr grinders have far more cutting surface than a flat burr for the same given diameter. Also, they can spin slower, as they do not rely on centrifugal force to dispense the grounds: gravity takes on that load. Of course, that means that conical burr grinders are better, right? Not so fast. Unlike the other two criteria, burr shape comes down to personal preference. Conical burr grinders can create more "fines" than flat burr grinders. "Fines" are smaller coffee particles that dissolve more quickly in the cup - bringing out the lighter, more floral flavors. Unfortunately, these "fines" may also create less restrictive pathways through an espresso puck: in other words, channeling. The flat burr grinders, on the other hand, tend to have a more uniform particle size which allows the coffee particles to extract at a more consistent rate. This absorption lends itself to a more balanced, traditional type of espresso. Conical burr grinders definitely retain fewer grounds in the burr set - as they rely on gravity to "clear" them. This can certainly affect the taste, as flat burr grinders - which rely on centrifugal force, will retain grounds in the burr set once the spinning stops.
Size of Motor
And finally, we have the opportunity to discuss motor power, which is relatively straightforward. Big motors = big power = better espresso.