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How To Buy Your First Espresso Machine



If you're tired of spending an arm and a leg at the corner coffee shop and want to make your own espresso drinks like Cappuccino's, Latte's, Mocha's and more, then it's time for you to buy your own espresso machine!


The problem is, buying an espresso machine can be a daunting task! Don't worry, it's overwhelming for everyone! Espresso machines can be very expensive, and a little hard to figure out at first; but this guide will teach you everything you need to get the espresso maker that's right for you.


In this guide you'll learn:

  • Where To Start
  • What Kind Of A Machine You Should Buy
  • Where To Buy Them
  • How Much Money You Should Spend


It's much easier than you might think, and if you have any questions or just need to ask a question or opinion, drop me a message using the contact link on the menu at the top of the screen. I'm always willing to help point someone in the right direction.


Where To Start


The best place to start is by asking yourself how much money you're willing to spend. The reason why it's such a good place to start is because espresso machines are incredibly price sensitive.


If you've got less than $50 to spend, that limits your options to just a few. If you've got $100-$150 it similarly limits your options. And of course, if money is no object then that opens up a whole new category of options.


Price Ranges to keep in mind:

  • Cheap: Less than $50
  • Low-End: $90-$150
  • Mid Range: $150-$400
  • High-End: $500-$5,000


Cheap espresso machines are available, sort of, below $50. Here's the catch though, they aren't really espresso machines. Go to any superstore or department store and you'll see cheap espresso machines in this price range, but they're usually "Steam Powered" not "Pump Powered".


Espresso is espresso, not because of the type of beans you use but because of the way that water is forced over those beans. The high pressure caused by pumps is what turns the water into espresso. Steam machines attempt to mimic this using steam pressure, but it's not the same.


On the other hand, if you're just buying your machine to make cappuccino's or mocha's (where you'll be mixing the espresso with other powerful tasting things like chocolate or milk that will cover up the taste of the espresso) then you might be able to get by with a steam powered machine.


And if you're just starting out and don't have much to spend, they are certainly an acceptable option. Krups sells a lot of these cheaper models and can be found in most stores like Wal-mart, Target, or even Macys.


What Kind Of A Machine You Should Buy


There are two main types of machines:

  • Manual Machines
  • Automatic Machines (semi as well as super automatic)


Most manual machines will be single-shot. Many Automatic machines will be multi-shot but also single shot. By single shot, I mean that you pack in your coffee grounds, press the button, and the machine spits out a single shot of espresso.


Manual Machines start at around $90 and can run up to $300 or so depending on the brand. I use a Briel single shot machine in my home for my daily shot of espresso and it cost me around $110 ten years ago. I really like the $100-$150 price range for a single shot machine for a person who is just starting out.


Automatic Machines start at around $300 and can easily shoot up to several thousand dollars. $500-$700 is a normal price range for a basic model, while more advanced models (with more bells and whistles) generally cost around $1,500-$2,500 or more.


What's the real difference between the two? Well, with a single shot machine, you grind your own beans, dump some into the little ground holder arm, screw it into the machine, fill the machine with water, push the button, watch the espresso pour into your cup, and turn off the machine before the cup overfills. Then clean out the used grounds and wash the arm.


On the other hand, an automatic machine does all that work for you. They are usually large appliances that have their own bean grinder, and are self cleaning. So basically you just push a button that says how many shots you want. The machine grinds the beans, pipes in the water, pours the shot, turns itself off at the right time so your cup doesn't overflow, then disposes of the grinds...all automatically.


Sounds nice, but for me - doing all that stuff myself takes about 15 seconds so I don't see the point of spending 10 times more for an automatic. But if you drink lots of espresso, and have company over to your house often who also drinks lots of espresso, then the ease of use may be well worth the money.


Where To Buy Your Espresso Machine


Lower range machines can be bought at any super store like wal-mart or target, or even at higher end department stores like Macy's. Some Malls have espresso machine stores as well.


Personally I recommend using the Internet because most stores will only carry one or two brands (and they're usually lower-end brands). For instance, I use a Briel and I've never seen them in stores, ever.


Many brands don't sell directly on their own web site, but through distributors.


I constantly scan the Internet for the lowest prices and list them on my site. Just click the brand name on the menu on the right hand side of any page, then scroll down to the bottom of the page for specific models. There you can read up on each model and discover if I've found it on sale anywhere.


Since they are so expensive, there's large margins. That means a $2,000 machine might have only cost the manufacturer $400 to build...$2,000...$400...there's a lot of wiggle room there for passing on discounts and "sales". We sniff them out whenever we can.


You can also search for a specific model using the search function at the top of any page on this site.


How Much Money You Should Spend


Only you can answer that. If you're just getting started in the wonderful world of espresso, I suggest a manual, single shot machine in the $100-$150 range. Briel, Gaggia, Breville, Krups, Delonghi, and even Capresso may be right for you.


If you're looking for a super-automatic, you'll have to pay at least $400-$700. Jura-Capresso is the leader here, with Gaggia, Rancilio, and DeLonghi as solid alternatives.


If you've got less than $50 bucks, then grab a cheap steam powered Krups (or whatever else they've got that day at Walmart). Hey, it's better than nothing!


What's The Bottom Line?


The bottom line is this. Make sure your machine is pump powered, NOT steam powered, and try to read a few reviews before you buy. Sometimes a specific machine will be well known to have glitches. The reviews will reveal that sort of thing (my reviews always look for that specifically!).


Otherwise, it's really hard to go wrong. Pick out a machine that fits your budget and just jump right in! I'm sure you'll be happy with whatever you choose.








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