Espresso machines are basically of four types. The fully automatic, super-automatic, manual and semi-automatic. Depending on the availability of time for making your morning espresso choose a model that suits your needs. If you want some amount of control on the quality of your espresso then choose the semi-automatic or manual models. If you are just learning the ropes then an automatic or super-automatic machines is best for you.
Super-automatic espresso machines have a grinder to grind the coffee beans and extract the espresso in one simple process. This does not require any special coffee-making skills from you. The automatic and semi-automatic machines create pressure using a pump and this also requires very little expertise on your part. But, true espresso lovers want some amount of control on their espresso making process. But, it is also difficult to control the quality of your espresso when using a purely manual espresso machine. This needs skill and expertise. It is an intricate process where the right amount of pressure needs to be applied or your espresso won’t be what you are used to.
Espresso machines are available in all price ranges. There is wide variety of makes and styles in these machines and unless you decide on a budget you might end up spending way more than what you intended to. There are many fancy and cool models that you don’t really need. But, if you walk into a showroom with no idea of what you want you might end up with a machine more suited for starting a coffee bar not an espresso machine for your home needs.
Don’t be lured into buying the high-end machines that have a number of features such as hot water in an instant and pressure gauge readings for best espresso extraction. These are for those who have the money to splurge. People on a limited budget should remember that very good espresso can be made even with machines without these features. What you need is a quality machine not cheap models. Look for machines that will last long and have good reviews regarding their espresso making abilities.
Look for machines that can extract maximum pressure. As only at the highest pressures can the crema be extracted from the bean. This is the top oily foam that floats on top of your espresso and which gives it the rich flavor to your espresso. Most home machines can exert pressures of 9 to 18 bars. Choose the ones which can pressure in 15-18 bar range.
Choose a machine that is easy to use and is appealing to look at and matches your kitchen decor. Machines that are too complicated to use will rarely be used. So, find an espresso machine that matches your style of coffee-making, is simple to operate and easy to clean.