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Best Espresso Machine for a Home Barista | Buyer's Guide for 2019

Best Espresso Machine for a Home Barista | Buyer’s Guide for 2019

best espresso machine for home barista

Any coffee lover worth their salt appreciates being able to make awesome espresso at home for themselves, family and friends.

For me, I decided to take the plunge and purchase my home espresso machine after realizing how much I was spending every month at various coffee shops. It was A LOT.

I didn’t have any prior experience, but I knew I wanted to be able to pull espresso shots that tasted good and learn a process that wasn’t overly complicated.

As a home brewer, you can extract some flavor from a basic $20 coffee press, but the only way to really release the full aroma, taste and perfect crema from freshly roasted and ground beans is to extract their oils under pressure from water at consistently the right temperature. Each perfect shot of coffee requires a well-made, reliable espresso machine, so that you don’t need pro-barista skills to get the results you’re looking for.

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The Final Shot: For novice home brewers just starting out, the Capresso EC100 is the top pick with the easiest to use frothing wand. If you’re a bit beyond entry-level and looking for a mid-range option, upgrade to the Gaggia 14101. It has a faster brew time and is made of commercial-grade components. Have a bigger budget to upgrade? The Breville BES920XL offers dual boilers for simultaneous milk steaming and shot extraction.

A coffee shop barista will select quality Arabica beans and freshly grind them to a perfect consistency. They will know just the correct amount of grinds to place in each basket and how to tamper them just right, so the surface is smooth, level and packed. And a competent barista will know just when to end the pour so that all the best oils are in the shot, stopping just before the bitter oils take over. While these skills are pretty cool, you don’t need to achieve this level of mastery to have an enjoyable home experience. The right machine can do this for you.

If you are new to home brewing, to get you started, I highly suggest you sign up for my free course. It will provide info on a lot of the basics and give you enough detail to really get started.

To find the right machine that won’t break the bank, I’ve put together a list of my top picks for any experience level: entry, mid and pro. I’ve included a range of options, all at various price levels. All you need to do is decide on your level of investment, hone your skills and enjoy great coffee at home or in the office.

Top Espresso Machine for a Home Barista

  • Gaggia 14101 Classic Espresso Machine in Brushed Stainless Steel
    Product Name
  • 3.9Rating
  • $$Price
  • Semi-automaticMachine Type
  • Capresso EC100 Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Machine
    Product Name
  • 3.7Rating
  • $Price
  • Semi-automaticMachine Type
  • Breville BES920XL Dual Boiler Espresso Machine
    Product Name
  • 4.5Rating
  • $$$$Price
  • Semi-automaticMachine Type

Entry-Level – Capresso EC100 Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Machine

My pick for a great entry-level espresso machine, the Capresso, is stylish enough to look great on any countertop, yet compact enough to take up minimal counter space. It heats up rapidly within minutes of being turned on so morning coffee lovers can get their fix without waiting around.

Your cups will be warm and ready on the designated area above – it helps to keep them covered with a clean towel to trap the heat. The fully-removable large clear water container also makes it easy to see when the water needs to be topped off.

Perfectly heated milk is often the make or break for those who prefer lattes or cappuccinos so this machine has a little addition that I think is a great bonus for novices. The steam wand has a frothing sleeve that helps rookie baristas to produce great aerated milk for cappuccinos. Remove the sleeve to heat milk for lattes. Always run steam through and wipe the wand with a damp cloth after every use to ensure does not clog up.

A plastic tamper is supplied with this machine, however these do not make it easy to apply just the right amount of pressure to the grinds in the basket, or to polish the surface smooth so I would recommend buying a replacement metal tamper to help your barista skills. This is one of my favorites, which you can pick up for less than $20. Insert selected tamper here.

This simple espresso machine has no pretense to be anything other than a solid, manual machine, perfect for making basic espresso shots for a new home brewer. It’s a great way to test the waters and make sure you enjoy making espresso at home, without a big financial commitment.

The Capresso also has a solid 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon from happy home baristas!

hotfeatures

Capresso EC100 Hot Features:
  • Stainless steel lined Thermo Block heating system
  • 46-ounce removable water container for easy filling
  • Indicator lights for On/Off and Coffee/Steam
  • Two basket sizes for single or double espresso
  • Suitable for pre-packed espresso pods or ground coffee beans
  • Swivel steam wand
  • Unlimited steam output produces hot frothed milk
  • Separate wand attachment for frothing milk
  • Self-locking filter holder with thumb guard
  • Removable heavy-duty stainless steel cup warming platform
  • Easy to clean removable stainless drip tray
  • One year limited warranty

Mid-Level – Gaggia 14101 Classic Espresso Machine in Brushed Stainless Steel

This Italian designed Gaggia espresso machine is a tried and true classic that has endured the test of time since 1991. Made by one of the best in the industry for more than twenty years, its distinctive style looks as sleek and as modern as ever.

This is what I consider a really top-notch mid-range machine. It is manufactured with commercial-grade components for longevity, including the chrome plated brass portafilters and group heads. It has a highly powered  17-1/2 bar pump and a high voltage boiler to assist rapid warm up times.

When each espresso pull is finished, a three-way solenoid valve provides immediate pressure release from the grouphead. This allows for the next shot to be prepared immediately in the portafilter without waiting for pressure to again build up.  I love this feature for early mornings, when everyone needs their coffee stat.

Each machine is supplied with 3 different styles of basket for different amounts of coffee per shot. The Gaggia Classic can be used with coffee grounds or pods, as preferred.

For perfect coffee milk, air is siphoned via an intake hole directly for heating and aeration to produce consistent rich milk foam for cappuccinos and steamed milk for lattes. A handy feature is that other hot water dispenser is always there to make Americanos or other beverages.

For maintenance, the machine is easily cleaned with a damp cloth and the convenient-to-fill 72-ounce water reservoir is fully removable for washing.

hotfeatures

Gaggia Classic Hot Features:
  • Stainless-steel housing
  • 72-ounce removable water reservoir
  • Chrome plated brass portafilters and grouphead for temperature stability
  • 17-1/2-bar pump with high-voltage boiler
  • Hot-water dispenser
  • Steam wand for heating and frothing milk
  • Single- and double-shot stainless-steel filter baskets
  • Tamper, and measuring scoop included
  • Size 14-1/4 x 8 x 9-1/2 inches

Pro Product – Breville BES920XL Dual Boiler Espresso Machine

The Breville is a serious machine for the true “caffiend.” It is a domestic espresso maker with serious commercial muscle. The Breville Dual Boiler is for the home coffee barista who is discerning and demands a great espresso shot regardless of how they are going to drink it – whether a double shot ristretto or a single shot soy milk latte.

There is an optional aut- start to make sure the machine wakes up before you do with warm cups and power ready.  Brew temperature, pressure for pre-infusion are both user-friendly and programmable, plus a shot clock and pressure gauge provide direct feedback to hone your barista skills.

The dual stainless steel boilers mean that you can be extracting your espresso at the same time you are foaming milk for your friend’s coffee of choice, time after time – no waiting for the pressure to rebuild while your shot goes cold.

Even the grouphead has a heating element to cosset the grinds in warmth and the dual boiler has an over pressure valve to limit pressure to optimum during extraction, and reduce the chance of nasty bitter flavors.

As one Amazon reviewer put it, “the result is a syrupy, thick, creamy, fruity, chocolaty liquid that is pure heaven to drink if done right.”  The Breville scored a stellar 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon.

hotfeatures

Breville Dual Boiler Hot Features:
  • Dual stainless steel boilers and Italian pumps
  • Over-Pressure Valve (OPV) to limit extraction pressure
  • Electronic PID temperature control for precise water temperature
  • Backlit LCD displays brew temperature, shot clock or time
  • water pH test strips provided
  • Descale alert and LCD assisted descaling procedure
  • 2 year limited warranty

For a perfect start to the day, there is nothing quite like drinking an expertly made espresso. Whether you are at home or at the office, with the help of these machines you can become that expert barista. Now you can shop with confidence knowing there are great espresso machines out there to suit any price bracket. No more excuses, “Wake up and smell the coffee!”

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Questions? Leave a comment below!

Chatting about coffee is my passion! Leave me a question in the comments, I answer each and every one and would love to get to know you better.

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Week 1 - Home Espresso Machines

Week 2 - Coffee Beans

Week 3 - Types of Drinks

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4-Week Free Espresso E-mail Course!

Week 1 - Home Espresso Machines

Week 2 - Coffee Beans

Week 3 - Types of Drinks

Week 4 - Advanced Brewing

Join Mike (me) and learn all the basics of making great tasting espresso!

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About the Author Michael York

I am a die-hard espresso fan. I love every form of the drink from straight espresso shots to lattes and cappuccinos. I currently use a Breville BES870XL Barista, it is an awesome machine. BUT, my dream machine is definitely an Italian Quickmill Andreja. Those bad boys make badass espresso. I love answering your questions, leave a comment or question below!

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