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Espresso’s history bloomed in Italy—from the very first espresso machine prototype to what espresso machines are today—Italy owns and lives up to espresso’s past and present.
If you’re in the market for an espresso machine, you can’t go wrong by picking a brand manufactured in Italy with the knowledge found in their long history of making espresso.
However, many varying factors need to be considered to ensure that you are purchasing a machine that will fit your lifestyle, brewing preferences, and distinct flavor profile.
That is why we decided to review the best Italian coffee machine brands to give you all the information you need to make the best choice for you and your family.
|De'Longhi ESAM3300 Magnifica Super Automatic Espresso & Coffee Machine, Silver||Prime||Buy Now|
|Gaggia Anima Coffee and Espresso Machine, Includes Steam Wand for Manual Frothing for Lattes and Cappuccinos with Programmable Options||Prime||Buy Now|
|Rancilio Silvia M V5 Espresso Machine - Stainless Steel (Black)||Prime||Buy Now|
|De'Longhi EC685M Dedica Deluxe Automatic Espresso Machine, 1, Metallic||Prime||Buy Now|
|Gaggia Brera Super Automatic Espresso Machine in Silver. Pannarello Wand Frothing for Latte and Cappuccino Drinks. Espresso from Pre-Ground or Whole Bean Coffee.||Prime||Buy Now|
A Brief History Of Italian Espresso Machines
Going back a little in time when espresso was still a dream for many coffee lovers, the first Italian to receive a patent to devise espresso’s prototype was Angelo Moriando.
Angelo invented the bulky machine with dual pressure that would push water and steam into a coffee puck at 1.5-Bar pressure.
Not much evidence of the machine was left behind, only a single patent that recorded Angelo Moriando’s process back then; the rest was lost with time.
Luigi Bezzerra made changes to the original prototype to devise a machine that can brew espresso shots in seconds under 250°F.
However, Bezerra’s model couldn’t control the high temperature and pressure, which eventually ruined most shots.
Furthermore, Luigi didn’t have financial or marketing support to produce his espresso machines, and he later approached Desiderio Pavoni to promote and commercialize his inventions.
Pavoni, a Famous brand and marketer that still produces manual espresso machines, introduced a pressure valve and steam wand to release pressure.
However, the steam valve and the wand could only balance 2-Bars of pressure, which ultimately burnt the shots.
Nonetheless, Pavoni’s invention was used as a base model to improve espresso machines. Arduino switched steam pressure to brew with pistons.
Piston-driven devices and electricity usage finally controlled the temperature (only to a certain extent) to brew quality espresso shots.
Arduino influenced espresso machine’s marketing throughout Europe, but it was still not worldwide famous.
Next comes Achiele Gaggia. Gaggia, the owner of the Milanese cafe, devised lever-driven espresso machines that accelerated and controlled the steam pressure and resulted in 8-15-Bars of pressure.
These high-pressured machines eventually led to the discovery of crema. Crema’s taste and texture enticed coffee lovers all around the world. Crema, termed as Caffe crema back then, profoundly standardized modern-day espresso machines today.
Still, many changes were made before and after Achille Gaggia, but these are some of the highlights that termed, coined, and largely contributed to the antiquity of espresso machines. Italy is the sole inventor of these espresso machines and not Seattle, unfortunately.
The rest of the history is known! There are many manufacturers producing espresso machines with similar guidelines. Among them, Italy’s present inventions are still considered superior for apparent reasons!
Magnifica ESAM3300 is a portafilter-less superautomatic espresso machine with a large water reservoir, drip tray, removable group head for cleaning, medium bean hopper, Panarello steam wand, bypass doser, built-in grinder, programmability, and whatnot!
- Built-in Grinder:
Starting from the top, the built-in grinder is present at the left. The bean hopper has a capacity of 8.8 ounces. The grinder has 13 grind size settings to provide fine-finer coffee grounds. These portafilter-less built-in grinders directly grind, dose, tamp and brew inside the system. With Magnifica, you can program the volume/strength of grinds.
- Bypass doser:
These superautomatic espresso machines (Without portafilter) also offer a bypass doser that allows you to scoop down pre-ground coffee (decaf/caffeinated/flavored). It’s present beside the grinder and at the center of the machine. There’s also a scoop present inside the location. Please note: This machine only allows you to brew one scoop at a time.
- Brewing spout and Steaming wand:
The brewing spouts (dual) are present at the center, and their height is adjustable to accommodate bigger/smaller cups. You can slide up and down the spouts easily. The tallest cup height Delonghi Magnifica offers is 4.25 inch.
There’s no portafilter in this machine, so these spouts will directly brew in the coffee mug without having to lock/unlock/tamp the portafilter baskets inside the group head.
The manual steaming wand has a Panarella to create a better microfoam. It’s present at your right and can rotate inside-out for flexibility. Most of the parts are removable for easy cleaning. Always rinse after using the steaming wand. Also, you will have to hold the pitcher in hand while steaming with Magnifica.
- Programmability and structure:
The machine offers simple programmable options, including—the volume of the brew (rotary-push button), the ground volume, power button, one shot, two shots, hot water, descaling, and bypass doser activator. Along with these, the machine also offers a water reservoir indicator, brew head indicator, etc.
However, the machine is made of plastic accents from head to toe except for the stainless steel drip tray.
- The water reservoir has a capacity of 1.7 liters (60 ounces), and it can be removed/refilled from the front.
- The cup warmer stays warm and does a great job.
- You can stop the pre-programmed brewing period at any given time.
- The machine remembers your details of the last shot and saves it automatically.
- The coffee container can hold 14 brewed coffee pucks.
- A dialer to switch between steam and water. Hot water comes out from the steaming wand as well.
- You can brew 8 ounces of coffee (Americano) with this machine.
- It’s made of plastic.
- NO automatic steaming wand in the machine
- The average heat timing is 75 seconds.
- The temperature doesn’t fall between 190-205 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The built-in integrated grinder is difficult to clean. It’s more challenging to dispose of beans already in there.
Gaggia Anima is another advanced portafilter-less superautomatic espresso machine with a large water reservoir, multiple programmable buttons including a menu (descaling, water hardness, temperature changes, etc.), a center display LCD screen with blue backlight, adjustable spouts, etc.
Gaggia Anima’s grinder is present at your right and can hold 8.8 ounces of coffee beans.
The integrated grinder offers five grind size settings, all set for default fineness of espresso shot. The machine also has a bypass doser included with the grinder that can accept a single scoop brew every time.
Gaggia Anima has a plastic built with some elegant stainless steel accents that compliment the design and model of the machine. The center LCD screen additionally focuses and displays the ongoing action in and around the device.
The programmable buttons include espresso, espresso lungo, coffee strength, steam, hot water, and menu. The manual steaming wand allows you to attempt barista-style milk frothing.
This portafilter-less espresso machine has double adjustable spouts that can slide up and down to adjust bigger/smaller coffee mugs. The tallest cup that can fit Anima is 6 inches. So, feel free to use your favorite mug.
The machine is compact and concise compared to other bigger models; it’s tall but has a very narrow breadth and body. As a result, it can easily fit in a small kitchen as long as the height space is tall and adequate for the machine.
With Gaggia Anima, you can program your brew, and the machine will remember it for future beverages.
- The water reservoir is present at the left-back. It’s still easy to remove with a giant handle. The water tank can hold 60 ounces (1.7 liters) of water inside.
- It’s a Panarello steaming wand.
- The indicators include empty tank, descaling, empty hopper, and maintenance.
- Removable Brew group.
- The sleek black model with a concise frame.
- Floater indicator for the drip tray.
- Adaptable with water filter
- The max temperature this machine offers is 185 degrees Fahrenheit which is 5 degrees less than what it should be. (this isn’t a deal breaker and it still makes great shots but I just found it odd)
- Gaggia Anima will not brew when the water tank indicates low volume (even if there’s sufficient volume for the brew)
- Most of the machine is made of plastic.
- Brewing and grinding are both noisy..
Rancilio is famous for producing commercial-style domestic espresso machines. Silvia is a semi-automatic commercial-style espresso machine with minimalist design but accurate technology and barista services.
Domestic machines are rare to offer commercial inputs in the device. However, Rancilio Silvia has a commercial style 58mm portafilter with a giant commercial-style group head and manual steaming wand.
The machine is entirely made of stainless steel from head-to-toe and has a concise body and easy-to-use switches for brewing, steaming, and turning on/off the device.
Because it’s semi-automatics, home baristas or rookie coffee brewers must go through a learning curve to adapt to the real art of brewing espresso and how to do it properly. Along with brewing espressos, individuals must also learn how to steam with a commercial steaming wand.
Rancilio Silvia is an expensive purchase because it’s equipped with a chrome-plated brass boiler with a capacity of .3 liters (12 ounces). Chrome-plated brass is the most costly and the most high-quality boiler that you will come across.
However, it lacks temperature stability. To maintain temperature, you must equip the machine with a PID controller or the temperature will increase with every shot pulled.
Rancilio Silvia offers a stainless steel manual steaming wand and a silver knob to control the pressure. You can also use your steaming wand to reduce the machine’s overall heat by sinking the steam inside the machine.
Overall, Rancilio Silvia is for individuals who enjoy the art of brewing without superautomatic tactics and who don’t mind taking a couple of minutes to perfect their beverages.
You will also need a stand alone grinder because it doesn’t come with one.
- Silvia has an extensive water reservoir with a capacity of 2 liters approx (1890 liters)
- Stainless steel body.
- Expensive chrome-plated brass boiler.
- Easy interface with four buttons to brew, steam, add hot water, and power on/off to operate the machine. Each button has an indicator.
- High-quality espresso brewer.
- Ample cup warming metal space.
- The drip tray is pretty tiny compared to previous models.
- Although the device produces hot beverages, it doesn’t have any control over the temperature whatsoever. If you don’t decrease the heat, the machine might brew scorching shots that will scald your tongue.
- The machine takes 10-15 minutes to heat up before brewing correctly.
- It’s a single boiler machine—brews and steams separately.
Delonghi Dedica is a small semi-automatic espresso machine with programmable beverages, a high-quality steaming wand, pressurized baskets, and a removable drip tray for bigger cup space (5″ approx).
Dedica Deluxe is the upgraded version of the original Delonghi Dedica series. This machine is specially designed for individuals with smaller kitchens.
Delonghi Dedica is only 6 inches wide, and that speaks a lot about its surface area.
Delonghi Dedica can adjust beautifully in the corner with a switch. In fact, the deluxe version has many colors to offer, including—matte white, matte black, red, and silver metal color. The price tag might differ with different colors.
Dedica deluxe offers pressurized baskets for individuals who haven’t polished their grinding skills just yet.
These pressurized baskets add additional pressure to the overall coffee puck, terminating the chances of a wrong extraction. Thus, you can avoid a lousy grind size with pressurized baskets and still brew decent espresso shots.
The manual steaming wand offers dual choices—hot milk (only steaming and cappuccino milk (teaming and foaming). When you slide it down to cappuccino, Delonghi Dedica produces great microfoam for milk-based beverages.
Delonghi Deluxe is a semi-automatic espresso machine, so you will need to go through a learning curve to understand the art of brewing and how to do it perfectly with it.
Another exclusive feature Delonghi Dedica offers is—programmable shots. You can program these slots’ volume/extraction periods by long-pressing the buttons and stopping when the desired time/volume is met.
The machine will save your programmable settings. (Refer to the manual.)
- The machine has a beautiful, slim exterior, especially the white+metal colored interface.
- 15-Bars of pressure pump for proper extraction and crema.
- Removable drip tray for adjusting giant cups.
- Floater inside the drip tray to indicate ’empty the drip tray.’
- The heating time is only about 40 seconds. It’s best to steam the milk before brewing shots to avoid a cold espresso. Also, after steaming, the machine might get a little too hot, sink the temperature (Steam) through the steaming wand to adjust the temperature for brewing.
- Three simple buttons—single shot, double shot, and steam to operate the machine and a single knob to switch between steaming and hot water.
- The water reservoir is 35 ounces which is pretty large for a machine so small.
- The lights illuminate to indicate different actions. (Refer to the manual)
- 51 mm portafilter. The size is weird, and finding similar-sized baskets and other accents is even more difficult.
- The machine offers a plastic scoop+tamper which should never be used for tamping. Instead, I would recommend using this 51mm stainless steel tamper.
- Portafilter doesn’t lock in if there’s too much ground inside the basket.
- The portafilter is made of aluminum with a bit of plastic on the inside.
Gaggia Brera is a magnificent machine with stainless steel accents, classy exteriors, a center LED display screen, four operational buttons, a front removable water reservoir, and a flat ceramic burr.
Brera is an easy-to-use superautomatic espresso machine with a built-in grinder and bypass doser.
The grinder has five default grind settings. In addition, the machine adapts to a new grind size setting after pulling a couple of shots to avoid damaging the insides.
Similarly, the bypass doser must not be overfilled with too much ground. Don’t tamp or press down coffee inside the coffee scoop, either.
It’s a portafilter-less machine and directly grinds, doses, tamp, and brews inside the system without any spilled content or coffee. Gaggia Brera is programmable (Refer to the manual). It can brew espressos and long coffees.
With Brera, you change the coffee’s strength to low, medium, and high. The double spouts slide up and down to adjust bigger and smaller cups (max-height: 4.5 in).
The manual streaming wand is present at your left. It takes only 9 seconds to heat the system to microfoam milk. A center knob lets you switch between steaming and hot water.
- Gaggia Brera has flat ceramic burrs that don’t give away a burnt taste. Also, flat burrs grind consistent coffee grounds (finer than conical).
- The grinder’s knob is easy to rotate and change the grind size settings.
- The bean hopper can hold 250 grams of coffee beans.
- Removable group head for easy cleaning.
- The coffee container can hold eight brewing cycles (eight coffee puck)
- The water reservoir is smaller and can only hold 1.2 liters of water (41 ounces).
- Smaller drip tray
- No wheels to rotate the espresso machine.
- Only the front panel is made of stainless steel.
Gaggia classic pro is similar to what you expect in Rancilio Silvia, with a couple of exceptions. First off, Classic pro is much cheaper than Rancilio Silvia.
So, if you want something like Rancilio but the budget seems way too much for that machine, you can check this machine out.
Gaggia Classic pro is a semi-automatic espresso machine with minimalist features and accessibility. Like Silvia, Gaggia classic pro also has a stainless steel frame without plastic accents and a commercial-style 58mm portafilter and group head.
The commercial-style group head offers extended flexibility and stability with temperature and pressure. Classic pro also has the most expensive and quality chrome-plated brass boiler.
The machine has a smaller footprint than Rancilio Silvia, but it is taller. Classic pro, just like Silvia, has issues controlling the temperature.
It heats up faster than Silvia, but the machine still can’t attain a stable temperature between 190-205 degrees Fahrenheit for brewing and 160 degrees Fahrenheit for milk foaming.
The machine will heat up but might not stop at 205 degrees; it will continue to heat unless you sink some of the heat with the help of a steaming wand. The steaming rod helps drop the heat in machines like Gaggia and Silvia.
Classic pro has three easy-to-use and straightforward switches— power on/off, brew, and steam. In addition, a single knob on the machine’s right face allows you to switch between steaming and hot water.
- Gaggia classic pro is wholly made of stainless steel and has many colors for you to choose from. These different color varieties include matte black, polar white, red, blue, stainless steel metal, and industrial grey.
- It offers pressurized baskets.
- The water tank has a capacity of 2.1 liters. You can refill the water tank from the top or remove and refill it from the front; you can access it from both places.
- Modest cup warmer right above the aluminum boiler.
- The drip tray is removable for adjusting giant cups.
- Light indicators.
- Chrome-plated brass portafilter.
- The machine is semi-automatic and will require a learning curve. (this isn’t a bad thing) some people don’t like taking the time to learn, but you will have more control over the flavor profile once you do.
- Milk frother takes time to steam and foam the milk completely.
Simonelli is a semi-automatic espresso machine without a built-in grinder but with many advanced features.
Nuova has a unique design and a minimalist body with stainless steel accents, panels, and little plastic inputs. The main point of attraction in Nuova is its classic extra-large group head.
A giant group head can better stabilize the temperature and pressure inside the system. Furthermore, this machine is equipped with a copper boiler.
Again, copper is one of the most expensive boilers out there with enhanced quality, long life, and quick heat up.
Nuova is a high-quality heat-exchanger machine, i.e., it can steam and brew at the same time. Another exclusive feature of Nuova Simonelli’s model is the long four-holes steaming wand.
It’s one of the most professional steaming wands you will come across, and it rotates in almost all angles.
The steaming wand is a traditional high-quality frother with four holes and transfers very high-pressurized air and dry steam. This wand steams the milk for the cappuccino in seconds (9-10 seconds to be precise).
The knob to initiate the steaming rod is present at the top of the machine, and you might accidentally start it while removing the upper panel. So be careful around the knob.
The machine offers single shots and double shots; both the buttons are programmable, and you can program the time/volume of the brew in this device (Refer to the manual for better illustration.)
- Stainless steel panels and an inverted model to access the stainless steel wand better.
- Pressurized and non-pressurized baskets.
- 58mm portafilter.
- The water reservoir can hold 77 ounces of water, present at the back.
- The plastic drip tray has adequate capacity.
- Water level indicator and descaling indicator.
- It brews tasty espressos and milk-based espresso beverages.
- The machine comes with a plastic tamper which is not ideal for tamping. You will have to purchase a separate steel coffee tamper for brewing decent shots.
- It doesn’t offer milk pitchers for the price.
- The machine is expensive.
- It takes 15 minutes to preheat it.
Delonghi has many unique and affordable machines to offer—Delonghi all-in-one is one such machine with the ability to brew espressos and coffee carafe.
This is an entry-level semi-automatic espresso+coffee maker with 15-Bars of a pressure pump, dual water reservoir, dual heating system (for espresso and different coffee), 10-cup carafe, 24-hour programmable buttons, and whatnot under a couple of hundred dollars. That’s offering a lot!
The espresso’s group head is present on the left, it has a 47-ounce removable water reservoir, stainless steel portafilter, cappuccino frothing wand (farthest left), and massive drip tray.
The machine offers three programmable buttons to brew, steam, and power the device. The device is not preprogrammed, and you can stop the brewing process by clicking the button again at any time.
The machine has a center touch screen LED display to show time and other ongoing actions.
On your left is the filtered coffee brewer with a 10-cup capacity. The machine offers a spout spill-proof carafe and 24-hours programmability, which allows you to brew in the future at any desired time.
Coffee brewer allows instant coffee (on/off touch), bold, gold-tone permanent filter.
The dual heating system in this machine allows you to brew espresso and coffee simultaneously. It also offers the option to brew pod with pre-ground baskets and pod baskets.
- It’s affordable.
- The machine is suitable for individuals who drink both espresso and drip coffee.
- The combined machines take less space on the counter compared to separate devices for both.
- It comes with a descaling unit and water filter.
- The digital LED touch screen is an exclusive, modern feature.
- Cup warmer at the top.
- A modern interface and concise body.
- The frothing wand allows you to switch between hot milk(only steaming) and microfoam (steaming+foaming) immediately (push up and down with the help of the manual)
- The machine is made of plastic and is very light in weight.
- You will have to hold the device with one hand while locking in the portafilter to keep it stabilized.
- It comes with a plastic tamper which doesn’t tamp well. You will have to purchase a stainless steel tamper for better extraction and tamping.
- The drip tray gets filled too quickly.
Last but not least, La Pavoni Europiccola is the traditional manual espresso machine.
The model is very similar (with a couple of changes) to the first-ever espresso machine invented (it was massive).
La Pavoni is every barista’s dream. Admittedly, it demands a significant learning curve, but once you get a hold of the device, the freedom and complete control over the espresso shot is tremendous and very much aesthetic.
Everything else is in your hands with manual machines, including applying 9-bars of pressure (through piston/spring piston), pre-infusion, extraction time, steaming milk, etc.
Structure and design: La Pavoni is a piston-driven espresso machine without a spring. Without the spring, the complete pressure application is in your hand.
The device is made entirely of high gauge steel and is chrome-plated to last for decades.
It has a tall slim body with a downright piston, solid brass water boiler, a water glass to show water level, steaming wand, knobs, traditional group head, and a portafilter. The machine is only 7 inches tall horizontally.
Functionality: It’s a manual machine but does need electricity to boil the water. The temperature has no stability, and you might need to manually sink the heat to avoid overheating the system.
You can sink the heat by releasing steam through the steaming wand or switching off the machine.
The piston must be pushed upwards to apply pre-infusion pressure, extraction pressure, and releasing time. This must be done accurately at a pressure under 25 seconds.
Steaming wand: The manual steaming wand has enough pressure to heat and foam the milk quickly. However, you will need to be careful while dealing with the machine.
It’s made of metal, and the metal heats up pretty quickly and might result in severe burns if you forget to use gloves.
- There’s a safety valve above the water brass boiler to avoid direct burns.
- A knob on the left to control steam’s strength.
- A single switch to turn on/off the machine (Boiler)
- If the water is hot enough or waiting for the heat to sink, turn off the switch to save electricity and still brew. Brewing and steaming don’t require electricity.
- A water glass tube to display the capacity of water.
- Surprisingly enough, this fully manual machine still offers an automatic cappuccino frother. It can be installed instead of the steaming wand. The frother is exclusive to all Pavoni’s inventions.
- Small footprint.
- It’s expensive.
- The manual machine is not heat protected and may lead to severe burns.
- Plastic grill above the drip tray.
- Significant learning curve before you perfect the brewing process.
- The pressure is not supported by the spring.
- Small water tank with a capacity of 20 ounces only.
Questions to ask before purchasing an Italian Coffee machine.
Italian Coffee machines are superior in the market.
However, you must ask yourself, your seller, and the retailer a couple of questions to choose an espresso maker that will fit your needs and lifestyle!
Italian coffee companies produce coffee machines, including automatic drip coffee machines, espresso machines, traditional manual espresso machines, Moka pots, etc.
Italy has a great history behind these inventions, especially manual espresso machines, but their modern invention, automatization, and other features are no less.
It can be confusing which device to choose and which machine suits you the best with so much on the palette.
These Q&As will help you select the machine that best suits your home, your counter space, and your definite requirements from the espresso machine.
All the devices mentioned above are of high quality with unlimited features and automation. You can also prepare the list of features you’d like in the machine and elements that you’d avoid.
How big is it?
The counter space in your kitchen matters because espresso machines are both horizontally and vertically long. How big of a device can your counter accept?
You will need additional space around the machine to operate the coffee brewer properly.
Your machine’s size can depend on the water reservoir, the boiler present inside, portafilter/portafilter-less, built-in grinder, integrated system, steaming wand or steaming carafe, etc.
If you want most of the things above, your machine will be bigger than a smaller counterpart.
- Manual espresso machines: These are the slimmest machines with minimal design and functionality. However, they are tall.
- Semi-automatic espresso machines: These machines can have various shapes and sizes as they may or may not come with a built-in grinder. Commercial-style minimalist espresso brewers are half the size of super automatics.
- Superautomatic espresso machine: With or without a portafilter, your device is going to be massive given all the features, programmability, functionality, enormous water reservoir, built-in grinder, etc.
Not just the machine, your counter should have space at the top to easily adjust cups on the cup warming plate (if present in the device) and enough space to remove/refill the bean hopper, water reservoir, bypass doser, etc., present at the back.
Manual machines have many taller counterparts. Although they don’t take much space horizontally, they are tall and will need bigger height space than other superautomatic espresso machines.
How much does it cost?
Your budget can help you decide what features to have in your machine and what features you can live without.
A high-quality espresso machine may cost you $1000-$2000. On the other hand, entry-level espresso machines may cost $500 or below.
Depending on your budget, you can choose an intermediate between the features.
Unlike other brewing methods and devices, espresso machines are a technological accomplishment in the coffee world; their advanced system, pressure pump, heating element, steaming wand, etc., will cost you more than any average coffee brewer.
What makes these machines so damn expensive?
- Dual heating system: Super-automatic espresso machines can brew and steam simultaneously with the help of double boilers or dual heating systems. This is probably the most expensive element in espresso machines. Also, the material used to build these boilers further decides the cost of your overall device. If you are fine brewing and steaming separately, then invest in a single boiler.
- Built-in grinder: Integrated grinders are an expensive addition to your overall machine. Super-automatic espresso machines are usually of high quality, and they will equally have a high-quality grinder. If you already have a high-end grinder, you can save that money.
- Programmability and functionality: LED digital screen, touch screen, buttons, etc.
- Steaming wand: Many individuals prefer their espresso without milk, but unfortunately, most of these machines come with a steaming wand. However, there are few exceptions, and you can find a device without the steaming wand to cut additional expenses.
- The material used to build it.
- Size of the machine.
Does it steam milk?
As mentioned, many individuals prefer the real taste of espresso and robust coffee without diluting it down with milk or any other sweeteners (chocolate, maple syrup, etc.).
However, almost all the machines come with a steaming wand but, there’s an exception! Jura makes an espresso machine that doesn’t have a steaming wand. This will save you extra dollars!
For individuals who prefer their espressos with milk, a high-quality espresso machine will offer great microfoam. The two varieties of these steaming wands are: Manual and automatic,.
- Automatic steaming wand foams and steams the milk automatically without your input and knowledge. Automatic steaming wands are more powerful than manual ones. However, you won’t be able to froth different textures on your own.
- Manual frothers are less powerful but allow you to steam according to your choice. Of course, you will need to invest in a learning curve to better your foaming skills, but it will taste just as you’d like once you do.
- Steaming carafe: The steaming and foaming are done inside the carafe, and a direct spout pours the foamed milk directly into the coffee mug placed below. Steaming carafes are also considered automatic.
Every different company will have distinct steaming wands with a decided number of steam holes. Small holes will produce more pressure and foam the milk faster. This can also depend on the technology behind the speed of the milk frother.
Dry steam is the best for producing great foam.
Does it have a built-in grinder?
Built-in grinders are an expensive addition to espresso machines, but they are a high-quality upgrade nonetheless.
Please note: Built-in grinders are programmed exclusively for grinding espresso.
So, they mostly will offer finely ground coffee only. Exceptions will include coarse grind size settings, but you will have to find the correct coarse settings through trial and error.
Built-in grinders have two structures—an integrated grinder with an enclosed system and a non-integrated grinder.
Portafilter-less espresso machines have integrated bean hoppers that grind, dose, and tamp inside the system. Unfortunately, you cannot see it with your own eyes.
Espresso machines with portafilters have visible bean hoppers sitting at the top with a portafilter cradle to grind directly inside the portafilter.
Super-automatic espresso machines with a portafilter have an enclosed cradle that doses and tamps inside an enclosed system right after grinding. You can then unlock the portafilter from the cradle and lock it in the group head for brewing.
On the other hand, semi-automatic have open portafilter cradles. It is similar to separate grinders.
It allows you to witness (program) the dosing, grinding and tamping. Thus, a semi-automatic espresso machine will enable you to use the coffee ground for other brewing methods as well.
Please note: Super-automatic espresso machines will only grind and brew for the espressos because they don’t allow you to use pre-ground coffee.
The coffee ground is directly tamped inside the machine.
If you wish to brew more than one brewing method, it’s best to purchase a separate grinder. On the other hand, if you only brew espressos, built-in grinders are great to have.
How many people are you making coffee for?
Espresso can brew double shots in 25-30 seconds. The higher-quality the espresso brewer is, the faster it will produce shots back to back.
The tendency to brew faster shots can depend on the temperature stability of the machine and the temperature equipment used to brew the shots.
High-quality espresso machines are equipped with PID controllers, dual boilers, giant group heads, a thermostat, and other thermal equipment to stabilize and maintain the temperature throughout the process.
If you are a solo espresso brewer, any simple semi-automatic espresso machine will be fine to brew two shots at a time but not back to back. Semi-Automatic will require breaks in between to brew shots.
However, suppose you entertain parties frequently or have a more significant population at your home who drink espressos.
In that case, you will need a high-quality espresso machine with dual boilers, a PID controller, or other temperature stabilizing technology.
Dual boilers steam and brew simultaneously without having to fluctuate temperature for brewing constantly.
Thus, these machines brew faster and don’t need frequent temperature changes. Hence, they can brew back-to-back shots without any trouble and entertain bigger parties.
The PID controller also allows the machine to adapt to different temperatures pretty quickly. Brewing demands a precision of 190-205 degrees, and steaming requires 160 degrees. The PID controller maintains that temperature.
However, machines that are not equipped with this stabilization often need manual sinking of the temperature and a lengthy heating period.
Semi-automatic espresso machines take longer to heat up, such as Rancilio or Gaggia classic pro (this will differ on different brands)
Similarly, manual espresso machines cannot regulate temperature, and their temperature might increase up to 210 degrees if not handled and require manual sinking through the steaming wand.
Manual machines and many semi-automatics will brew 2-4 shots and need breaks in between.
How much automation is possible with it?
With advanced technology, espresso machines can offer you enhanced automatic features that will only require a single touch/click to brew and steam within seconds.
The real question is how much automation would you like to have in your machine.
From complete manuals to super-automatics, there are several intermediate options for automation.
Some individuals prefer brewing manually and polishing their barista skills. However, the art of brewing espressos is through manual control and mastering the learning curve.
However, some individuals enjoy espresso but don’t really have the time to invest in teaching themselves through trial and error. Such individuals may want to spend extra money to attain complete automation.
Manual espresso machines:
- Complete control and zero automation.
- Major learning curve.
- Expensive, makes great espresso but are also known for their aesthetic looks.
- Automated pressurization of the coffee puck—9-Bars of pressure pump for extraction and automated preinfusion.
- Extraction manual control: Brewing time, manual tamping, Grinding, dosing, steaming the milk, micro foaming, etc.
- Sometimes, built-in grinders included
Fully automatic espresso brewer:
- Automated pressurization, brewing, steaming, and grinding.
- Manual dosing and tamping.
- Moderately expensive.
- Brewing with a single touch without any manual actions.
- Highly technological, modern technology, intelligent machines.
- Very expensive.
What are the top coffee machine brands made in Italy?
The brands that established Italy as the powerhouse in espresso machines still produce conventional and modern espresso machines! Some of the famous Italian coffee machine brands are:
- Micro Casa
- La Pavoni
Delonghi started in 1950 as a small industrial appliances company that produced AC and heater units. Soon after, the brand began making kitchen appliance goods, including some of the best-known Italian espresso machines.
Unlike other expensive products, Delonghi is known for producing affordable entry-level and costly high-quality espresso machines to suit every customer’s needs.
Gaggia’s significance and inventions were some of the official landmarks of modern espresso machines today.
Gaggia introduced lever-driven espresso machines that created 8-15 Bars of pressure inside the device that further gave birth to crema production.
Since then, Gaggia is known as the creator of the authentic espressos with a natural golden crema. The brand still creates espresso machines with modern techniques and developments. They offer commercial quality in domestic home machines.
Rancilio was a brand competitor to Gaggia and produced a vertical boiler in 1927. Later, Rancilio switched back to the horizontal boiler and sped up their technology by studying the nature of espresso and other manufacturers.
Roberto Rancilio owned the brand, and they still manufacture commercial-style espresso machines.
The industry started producing espresso machines in 1905. Victoria Arduino and Nuova Simonelli initiated the company and still have some of the most significant domestic espresso machines.
Saeco, an Italian manufacturer company that produces espresso machines bought the prestigious and probably the biggest historic company, Gaggia.
Sergio and Arther founded Saeco in 1981. By 1985, the manufacturing company had the first automatic espresso machine, called superautomatic.
Elektra, the company, was founded in 1947 by the Frogmen family. The company mainly produced manual espresso machines worldwide, famous for their unique models and designs with the eagle’s logo at the top of every Elektra machine.
The famous Moka pots are still owned by 90% of Italian citizens. These Moka pots were produced by the Bialetti company, founded by Alfonso Bialetti. Bialetti has kitchen appliances, including coffee machines, cookware, and other smaller devices.
As history claims, Pavoni was the first marketer who promoted and advanced the first patented espresso machine’s model. Since then, La Pavoni is still running and producing manual espresso machines with the same model but upgraded features.
What’s the difference between Semi-, fully-, and super-automatic espresso machines?
Espresso machines have moderate levels of automation.
However, many baristas recommend Semi-automatic espresso machines because it allows individuals to brew their espressos according to their demands and taste properly.
Individuals with busy schedules prefer super-automatic espresso machines.
Unfortunately, fully automatic and super-automatic espresso machines have negligible differences, and they might confuse individuals. It’s not difficult to grasp, though.
Also, now manufacturers and high-end companies have added many features that used to be exclusive to different automation.
For instance, semi-automatics now come with built-in grinders that were exclusive to super-automatic espresso machines.
Similarly, super-automatic espresso machines allow individuals to pre-program their beverage according to their preference. At the same time, these machines also offer super-automation. You can switch between the two at any given point.
Semi-automatic espresso machines
Semi-automatic espresso machines are affordable, barista-preference devices built to brew espressos as per your demand manually.
Semi-automatics are also high-quality products with PID controller, accurate pump, metallic body, built-in grinder, quality boiler, etc.
These machines aren’t complex to operate once you understand the whole brewing game.
With a semi-automatic, you will need to practice the art of brewing with patience and surrender fully to the learning curve. Semi-automatic espresso machines offer you control over your beverage and its taste.
- Automatic pressure pump to apply 9-Bars of pressure during extraction every time.
- Automatic heating and temperature control.
- Manual brewing time, brewing volume, and steaming.
- Manual/ Automatic grinding.
- Manual dosing and tamping
- Small footprint if no built-in grinder.
- It May or may not have a built-in grinder.
Fully-automatic espresso machine
There’s a very meager difference between a super-automatic and a fully automatic espresso machine.
They might even be considered the same level of automation, but they are different. The difference is minimal but significant for baristas and coffee enthusiasts.
- Automatic pressure through the 9-Bar pressure pump
- Automatic heating and high-quality pressure control.
- Automatic brewing, pre-decided volume, brew time. Also, an automatic steaming wand.
- Automatic grinding.
- BUT, manual availability to dose and tamp according to you.
- Bigger footprint.
- Built-in grinder included
Tamping is essential for even extraction. Without a proper tamp, the coffee puck will over-extract and under-extract the flavors in the same mug, resulting in a terrible tasting coffee.
Tamping even outs the coffee puck for uniform extraction. Some individuals prefer automation but also control over their manual tamp.
Baristas believe an accurate manual tamp is always better than what a machine can tamp.
- Automatic pressure, heating, brewing, steaming, grinding, dosing, tamping, etc.
- Big footprint
- Built-in grinder
- Innovative features like a touchscreen.
- Automatic with programmability!
You can switch your super-automatic espresso machine between complete automation and manual programmability at any given time.
Do larger espresso machines make better espresso than smaller espresso machines?
Larger espresso machines will make high-quality beverages but are they better/worse than espresso shots brewed from a smaller espresso machine?
Both smaller and larger espresso machines will produce decent shots, but their quality depends on the barista brewing the shot and the skills applied.
Also, larger espresso machines will have more features and advancement, but ultimately the game is in the barista’s hand.
Smaller espresso machines will have small parts and equipment, but their size doesn’t define their quality.
A high-end small espresso machine will still have quality features and equipment to brew excellent shots.
Bigger machines result in a big water reservoir, water drip tray, portafilter, built-in grinders, giant water boiler, heating element, heating system, etc.
These large installments will yield a high volume of espressos, faster espressos, faster milk steam, back-to-back shots but not quality. The quality comes from how consistent you are and how much time you spent perfecting the perfect shot.
A bad barista will pull terrible shots even with a great and massive espresso machine. Similarly, small devices don’t directly implement entry-level or low-level espresso machine
Grinding option for your Italian Coffee machine
Depending on your choice of a grinder, you can choose a machine with a built-in grinder or without one.
Espresso machines with a built-in grinder are expensive, but they are exclusive for your espresso brewing techniques. In addition, they are designed to serve better cups.
Integrated grinding will save you from the learning curve of tamping and dosing.
Also, integrated grinders brew directly without exposing the ground. On the other hand, a separate grinder will give you complete control over the brew and different brewing methods.
While a built-in grinder may or may not grind for other brewing methods, separate grinders will grind for multiple brewing methods from coarse to fine.
Built-in grinders used to be an exclusive feature of super-automatic espresso machines.
At current, most of the manufacturers now produce semi-automatic espresso machines with a built-in grinder as well for accessibility and mess-free brewing.
These grinders are either integrated (hidden hopper, dosing, and tamping) or unintegrated (full-view hopper, grinding, and tamping).
Individuals who wish to witness the whole brewing process must invest in a portafilter espresso brewer because you will have the liberty to crush the coffee beans inside the portafilter directly.
This can be witnessed in semi- and fully automatic portafilter espresso machines. Super-automatic espresso machines with portafilter will have an enclosed cradle to lock in the portafilter for grinding.
- Exclusively grinds fine for the machine without having to invest much in the learning curve. But, of course, you can still change the settings.
- No need for two separate machines when one is just fine and more concise with a built-in grinder.
- High quality guaranteed with ceramic/steel burr.
- Integrated grinders will not grind for other brewing methods.
- Default is often too fine and doesn’t allow multiple coarse options for other beverages like a french press.
- If the grinder breaks down after the warranty period, you’ll have to replace it yourself.
- It’s difficult to empty the integrated hopper and clean the insides because everything is inside the machine’s footprint.
- Expensive addition
If you don’t want to invest in a built-in grinder, you can always choose a separate one that will not only fulfill your espresso demands but also brew other beverages with varied grind size settings.
Stand-alone grinders are affordable but make sure you are purchasing a high-quality grinder for your high-end machine.
These grinders are usually smaller but are often very noisy. Stand-alone grinders have multiple grind size settings, but only high-end grinders will provide you consistent, uniform, and fine/coarse ground.
Please note: an entry-level grinder will give you acceptable fine grounds, but they won’t ever be fine or consistent enough for espressos.
Entry-level grinders’ fine ground will perform and extract well with pressurized baskets.
Features of high-quality coffee grinder:
- Multiple grind size settings.
- Small footprint.
- Quality stainless steel/ceramic flat/conical burr.
- Portafilter cradle. The cradle can also transition into Hario cradle V60 cradle or be replaced by a direct coffee container.
- Doser chamber for espresso
- Tinted hopper for freshness protection.
- 50mm burr size.
- After purchasing a high-quality espresso machine, you will need to invest in an equally high-quality grinder. Both the separate devices might cost more than built-in grinder espresso machines.
- The two different machines will occupy an ample space on the kitchen counter.
- Both will need two separate switches.
- The separate grinder is bound to create a ground mess near both the machine at the time of grinding, dosing, and tamping.
Manual grinders don’t require electricity to grind beans. Instead, a little hand force will grind your beans accurately.
These devices are small and built to serve solo individuals who drink their coffee alone or while trekking. Yes, manual grinders are portable and can be used in the most remote areas.
However, It takes a little effort to grind enough for espresso and also costs valuable minutes.
On the positive side, these manual grinders have pleasing designs and metallic bodies to compliment your kitchen and coffee collection.
High-quality manual grinders have an aesthetic design with large handles to facilitate easy hand grinding.
The only quality difference between a manual grinder and an electric grinder is volume and time. Electric grinders are faster and grind more.
On the other hand, manual grinders are slower and grind less. However, their ground quality is no less.
These manual grinders are also equipped with quality conical/flat burrs for consistent ground.
- Portable and travel-friendly. With manual grinders, you can ground fresh coffee wherever you are.
- Small and doesn’t occupy much space. It can be easily disassembled for traveling or for storing in the kitchen.
- They don’t waste electricity.
- These devices aren’t noisy. In fact, manual grinders produce a very soothing sound while grinding.
- Very affordable
- Very time consuming
- Grind very little.
- Demand a lot of manual strength.
ESE or easy-serving espresso pods are exclusively designed for brewing pre-packed espresso coffee ground in a pressurized espresso machine.
These pods are circular flat paper sacks of espresso coffee that can fit inside the pod basket to brew. Every manufacturer will produce differently sized ESE pods and ESE pod baskets for exclusive brewing.
Individuals who sometimes prefer pre-ground coffee can use ESE pods because they are packed and keep their freshness longer inside the baggage than loose ground coffee.
To brew with ESE pods, insert the pod inside the pod basket and then insert the pod basket inside the portafilter. Next, lock the portafilter in the group head and initiate the brewing.
- ESE pods provide flavored, decaf, high caffeinated pre-ground coffee options.
- ESE pods are better than loose ground coffee because they are packed fresh and directly open inside the machine.
- These pods are easy to use.
- Pre-ground and pre-dosed to avoid the learning curve of grinding and dosing.
- Packed pre-ground coffee can never be as fresh as freshly-ground coffee.
- The coffee might taste stale or lose multiple flavor content and aromas when grinding and packaging.
- In addition, paper sacks are prone to damage.
Why should you grind right before you brew?
For freshness, of course!
Pre-ground coffee starts to lose its flavor content, aroma, and essential oil as soon as it is introduced to the oxygen in the air.
Why? Pre-ground coffee beans are ground until they become powder or particles; that is, all of the oils that make up the flavor content is exposed to oxygen.
creating a process called oxidation.
These particles will lose their content readily because they cannot hide it after being crushed.
On the other hand, whole coffee beans store the fresh flavor content, like oils and aroma inside the packed beans.
It’s recommended to grind right before you brew to ensure all the flavors are present inside the ground during brewing and extraction.
Grinding fresh coffee beans will enhance the overall taste of your espresso/coffee with full flavor content, rich crema oils, and aroma.
Why are Italian espresso machines so expensive?
Italian espresso machines can be expensive, but any high-quality espresso machine from any corner of the world is also going to cost you a bit of money. Quality comes at a price, but yopu get what you pay for.
Italian coffee machines have roots deeply buried in the history of espresso.
Their knowledge and wisdom towards espresso machines help them produce quality coffee machines with quality parts like brass boilers, commercial-style portafilters, professional steaming wands, large warming trays, etc.
Italians have always strived to produce authentic-tasting coffee with traditional flavor with just the right amount of bitterness.
Thus, they design intricate, straightforward, quality espresso machines with the lessons learned from their definitive history.
What are the best espresso beans to use?
Espresso is a brewing method, not an exclusive bean-type or a roastery variety.
However, regular coffee beans used to brew espressos started to be called espresso beans because of their unique characteristics that vividly flavored espresso shots.
Espresso beans or coffee beans used to brew espressos are dark-medium to heavily dark roasted.
These beans are slow-roasted until crunchy brown to cook out most of the flavors from the green coffee beans. Slow roasting also ensures the extraction of oils in the overall content of the beans. These oils result in crema formation.
The dark-medium roast cooks most of the flavors without burning down the beans.
Also to note, dark-medium roast or highly dark roast eliminates the acidic character of the beans.
Medium or lightly roasted beans are acidic and don’t have much flavor profile for extraction. Thus, espresso beans are any kind of coffee beans that are roasted medium-dark for authentic flavors.
How many bars of pressure do you need?
Most of the semi-to super-automatic espresso machines will provide 15-Bars of a pressure pump.
To brew a perfect espresso shot, you only ever need 9-Bars of stabilized pressure. The 15-bars of the pump provided in most of the machines protect itself from wearing off.
How? 15-bars of pump only applies 9-Bars of pressure, thus, protecting itself from complete exhaustion or complete disposal.
If your machine offers 9-Bars of the pump, it will wear off more readily because it’s applying absolute capacity without any additional saving to back up the energy.
Manual espresso machines offer piston/spring piston to create pressure of 9-Bars only.
Please note: since you are manually creating and applying pressure and not using a designated pump, the machine will never get exhausted.
The same 15-Bars pump is used to apply 1-3 bars of pressure while pre-infusion. With a manual machine, you can apply pre-infusion pressure manually.
It will take some time to master the piston and use the force to pull great espressos.
Avoid purchasing espresso machines that falsely advertise 20+ bar pressure pumps; these machines deceive people into giving more money on features that you don’t require.
Tips for great espresso
Espresso’s flavor depends on the coffee beans, their flavor profile, freshly ground beans, and extraction period, and various other factors that are equally important.
For instance, cleaning your espresso machine to avoid stale residual in your shot, preheating to avoid pulling cold and sour espresso, water hardness (always use filtered water).
Moreover, espresso demands an extensive learning curve that requires patience and consistency. More than anything, individuals must be dedicated enough to have the kind of patience needed to brew perfect shots.
Don’t use milk in espressos.
Italian coffee machines and coffee enthusiasts have always praised coffee’s real taste with slight astringency, slight bitterness, and a dark coffee bean roast.
Most of the time, when we use milk in espresso shots, most of the taste is subdued by the milk.
Instead of coffee, the beverage starts to taste like diluted choco-sweet milk. This is because milk also reduces the natural bitterness and acidity of the coffee.
Espressos have a thick, flavorful coffee profile and golden brown dense body. Every sip from an espresso shot comprises dense flavors and oils that get ruined after adding milk.
Thus, many individuals recommend experiencing espressos without milk to taste the authentic flavors of coffee.
Individuals started to dilute espressos down to reduce the harsh, bitter, and robust flavor of coffee with milk/water.
However, you can consistently brew a smooth espresso shot with the correct coffee beans, roasting, grinding, and brewing settings.
Weigh your coffee
Using a coffee scale or dosing is essential while brewing espresso to avoid uneven extraction, over-extraction, under-extraction, or bad tamping.
Every brewing method has a specific coffee to water ratio. For espresso, the coffee to brewed coffee ratio is 1:2 (one gram of ground coffee results in 2ml of espresso shot)
To brew the perfect ratio and attain ultimate collision, you must weigh your ground coffee and the brewed coffee. If both fall under the ratio (½) within 25 seconds and with 1/10crema, most of your techniques are accurate.
Weighing your coffee beans before and after grinding will decrease the coffee wastage as well! Only considering the coffee ground after grinding will leave you with too much coffee or too little coffee.
Time your shot
Brewing time is very crucial for accurate extraction. An espresso machine is a high-pressurized piece of equipment that requires precisely 25 seconds (Sometimes more) to pull espresso shots.
Twenty-five seconds ensures proper extraction of all the flavor content without extracting tannins.
At the time of brewing, water soaks in the coffee flavors readily and then the oils. It takes 25 seconds for the water to flow in the coffee’s content readily at 9-Bars of pressure to absorb it wholly.
After 25 seconds, water starts to soak in tannins (it’s absorbed in last). Tannins are the bitter content in coffee’s composition. Its absorption will increase the bitterness of your coffee, ultimately ruining it.
So, always time your shots! Use a coffee scale that comes with a timer and place it below the coffee mug. If your espresso machine doesn’t allow much space for a timer, remove the drip tray to adjust it.
Italian coffee machines can be an expensive addition to your kitchen but one of quality. These machines offer quality brass/copper boilers, lavish footprint, modern additions, and whatnot.
These high-end Italian espresso coffee machines are everything you’d need to grind and brew your favorite cup of coffee.
As a general thumb rule, Rancilio and Gaggia offer commercial-style machines. On the other hand, Delonghi is Italy’s high-end, affordable product line that offers quality at affordable rates.
La Pavoni is the traditional manual espresso machine with a unique metallic body and historical structure to brew espresso shots.
Whatever your choice may be, Italian coffee machines have an excellent variety for you to choose from. We have enlisted some of the best coffee machines produced by Italy to make it easier for you!