Espresso Machine Recommendations

checkerfred

New member
Jan 2, 2018
6
3
Visit site
Hi all, this is my first post. I’ve been reading on here as well as looking at reviews online. I’m looking at getting an espresso machine. I’ve never had one but want something I can grow into as I get more into it. I started out looking at Breville but it appears they have quite a few issues and customer service isn’t that great. I’ve seen Jura recommended but I’ve seen several posts here with issues too.

I want a good machine from a company that has good customer service. I’d say budget is 1000-1500. I may drink some straight espressos but mostly will drink latte’s, cappuccino, macchiato, and americano.
I definitely want a milk frother.
 

shadow745

Well-known member
Aug 15, 2005
1,809
67
Central North Carolina
Visit site
Pretty much depends on what level of involvement/expectations you will likely have. If you want decent/repeatable results with little involvement then something like a super auto would likely fill the bill. If you want a quality end result and be involved with making grind/dose changes, etc. and don't mind more involved cleaning/machine maintenance then a quality semi-auto would be better. That will also require a capable grinder, which is commonly overlooked.

If a hands-on approach suits you then you can go with a HX (heat exchange) machine that will give tons of steam, but most are designed in a way that requires some flushing to get a decent temp for espresso extraction, meaning a bit of time/wasted water to hit that target zone. You can also go to a dual boiler that will keep each boiler operating independently and will allow great espresso/steam capability with little time involved for recovery, very little water being wasted, etc. Of course dual boilers tend to cost more and have more internal parts involved. Decisions, decisions....
 

froze

New member
May 14, 2012
21
3
Visit site
All electric espresso machines will have problems, the pumps last between 2 to 15 years depending on how much you spend, and then there's the heating element that can burn out, but they are easier to operate than a manual type, which I prefer actually.

The best one, in my opinion of course, is the Cafelat Robot, it doesn't make messes like some of the others, and while it doesn't look as fancy as the La Pavani the Cafelat makes a better shot. The way this particular unit is constructed it will last you at least a couple of lifetimes, the original ones made in the 50's are still in service to this day, and the new version is a direct copy of it, using premium parts throughout. The only parts that will wear out over time are the bottom rubber gasket, and the piston seal, and you can get both of those for around $11, so replacement parts are cheap.

Of course, there is a learning curve with a manual machine vs an electric one, but after a few attempts at dialing in the grind, choosing the correct coffee, using the right temperature, and pressing it correctly you will catch on quickly and do it without even thinking about it. There is a newer model called the Barista that they've made that takes the guesswork out of the lever pressure, they have installed a pressure gauge on the unit so you just watch the gauge as you press.

They come in 5 different colors too.

And if you get a hand grinder, you can be making espresso without using any electricity!
 

shadow745

Well-known member
Aug 15, 2005
1,809
67
Central North Carolina
Visit site
All electric espresso machines will have problems, the pumps last between 2 to 15 years depending on how much you spend, and then there's the heating element that can burn out, but they are easier to operate than a manual type, which I prefer actually.

The best one, in my opinion of course, is the Cafelat Robot, it doesn't make messes like some of the others, and while it doesn't look as fancy as the La Pavani the Cafelat makes a better shot. The way this particular unit is constructed it will last you at least a couple of lifetimes, the original ones made in the 50's are still in service to this day, and the new version is a direct copy of it, using premium parts throughout. The only parts that will wear out over time are the bottom rubber gasket, and the piston seal, and you can get both of those for around $11, so replacement parts are cheap.

Of course, there is a learning curve with a manual machine vs an electric one, but after a few attempts at dialing in the grind, choosing the correct coffee, using the right temperature, and pressing it correctly you will catch on quickly and do it without even thinking about it. There is a newer model called the Barista that they've made that takes the guesswork out of the lever pressure, they have installed a pressure gauge on the unit so you just watch the gauge as you press.

They come in 5 different colors too.

And if you get a hand grinder, you can be making espresso without using any electricity!
I'd definitely agree with the manual approach, but the only reason I didn't mention it is due to OP stating that milk texturing is mandatory. I know some are OK using aftermarket milk devices to go with a manual, but I seriously doubt any of them will match what a quality electric machine can do and certainly won't do it as fast repeatedly as needed.
 

Musicphan

Well-known member
May 11, 2014
1,752
79
Kansas City
Visit site
I lean towards Shadow's recommendation of an HX machine. The automatics can do a great job, but they are prone to breakdowns and require more maintenance than a traditional espresso machine. Avoid single-boiler espresso machines since milk texturing is essential. Certainly doable with a single but much easier/better on an HX or dual boiler machine. Take a look at Lelit, Expobar, Rocket... there are are a number of great HX machines on the market. Keep in mind, you will need a grinder as well... not sure if your budget included that or was simply the budget for espresso machine.
 

checkerfred

New member
Jan 2, 2018
6
3
Visit site
I lean towards Shadow's recommendation of an HX machine. The automatics can do a great job, but they are prone to breakdowns and require more maintenance than a traditional espresso machine. Avoid single-boiler espresso machines since milk texturing is essential. Certainly doable with a single but much easier/better on an HX or dual boiler machine. Take a look at Lelit, Expobar, Rocket... there are are a number of great HX machines on the market. Keep in mind, you will need a grinder as well... not sure if your budget included that or was simply the budget for espresso machine.
Ok thanks everyone, I’ll check those out. Seems like there’s a trade off of auto being easy and simple but prone to breakdowns as opposed to manual and less working parts. If I’m going to invest in a machine, I definitely don’t want to drop 1-2k only to have it break down 2 years later unless it has a great warranty.
 

checkerfred

New member
Jan 2, 2018
6
3
Visit site
I'd definitely agree with the manual approach, but the only reason I didn't mention it is due to OP stating that milk texturing is mandatory. I know some are OK using aftermarket milk devices to go with a manual, but I seriously doubt any of them will match what a quality electric machine can do and certainly won't do it as fast repeatedly as needed.
What HX or double boiler machines do you recommend? What auto or semi auto machine would you recommend?
 

checkerfred

New member
Jan 2, 2018
6
3
Visit site
All electric espresso machines will have problems, the pumps last between 2 to 15 years depending on how much you spend, and then there's the heating element that can burn out, but they are easier to operate than a manual type, which I prefer actually.

The best one, in my opinion of course, is the Cafelat Robot, it doesn't make messes like some of the others, and while it doesn't look as fancy as the La Pavani the Cafelat makes a better shot. The way this particular unit is constructed it will last you at least a couple of lifetimes, the original ones made in the 50's are still in service to this day, and the new version is a direct copy of it, using premium parts throughout. The only parts that will wear out over time are the bottom rubber gasket, and the piston seal, and you can get both of those for around $11, so replacement parts are cheap.

Of course, there is a learning curve with a manual machine vs an electric one, but after a few attempts at dialing in the grind, choosing the correct coffee, using the right temperature, and pressing it correctly you will catch on quickly and do it without even thinking about it. There is a newer model called the Barista that they've made that takes the guesswork out of the lever pressure, they have installed a pressure gauge on the unit so you just watch the gauge as you press.

They come in 5 different colors too.

And if you get a hand grinder, you can be making espresso without using any electricity!
What electric brand would you recommend?
 

shadow745

Well-known member
Aug 15, 2005
1,809
67
Central North Carolina
Visit site
What HX or double boiler machines do you recommend? What auto or semi auto machine would you recommend?
There's several great brands that will offer a similar end result, build quality, etc. I have had a handful of home machines as well as commercial and stick with the Rancilio Silvia as my daily driver. Have had the Pro version for close to 2 yrs now and it will no doubt last my lifetime. Any machine will require periodic cleaning, backflushing (depending on design) and yes maybe something like a pump every 4-5 yrs based on my use, but I certainly don't expect much else to fade. Use balanced water so no descaling is ever needed regardless of what some wanna preach. Take care of it and it will serve you well daily indefinitely. Yes there are cheaper and more expensive options, but having used some good/solid machines in the past I stick with the Silvia line for a good reason.

A heat exchange is equal to a double boiler in many ways, but can be a bit wasteful with water at times. Of course some double boilers can be as well, but IMBHO that's where the Silvia Pro shines. Very little water ends up in the drip tray, it never needs flushing to a certain temperature, both boilers are well insulated and it sips small amounts of electricity even after being on for hours. Doesn't bleed off any heat to the space it's in either and has an auto shut-off feature if you want to use it, along with a very effective low water warning as well as auto filling of both boilers to recover quite rapidly. I personally don't buy things based on warranty as I expect the design/build quality to last indefinitely. Yes a warranty can be a good thing if you have to rely on it, but that's another topic altogether.
 

froze

New member
May 14, 2012
21
3
Visit site
Just keep in mind, the milk frothing thing has been going on for many years...before the electric stuff came along! So maybe search the internet as to how that was done.
 

shadow745

Well-known member
Aug 15, 2005
1,809
67
Central North Carolina
Visit site
Just keep in mind, the milk frothing thing has been going on for many years...before the electric stuff came along! So maybe search the internet as to how that was done.
Yep there are many devices like the Bellman steamer and others. I'm all for a manual approach, but it just won't cut it for my espresso consumption. A Robot or similar is fine for maybe 2-3 extractions and what would impress me more is the 9Barista device, but averaging 6-7 doubles in a few hrs timespan and have cranked out 14 doubles in 1 hr or so and that's precisely where a quality pump machine does extremely well. I'm also a huge fan of hand grinding and average doing close to 100 lbs yearly by hand, but also rely on a beastly electric when I need to crank out back-back volume.

For yrs I had an Olympia Cremina manual lever and would consider it the ultimate machine for capability, hands-on feel and build quality and I do miss that, but it would never keep up with my volume these days. OP seems to need/want something capable, simple, maybe not very involved and keep up with steady use without a ton of hands-on effort.
 

checkerfred

New member
Jan 2, 2018
6
3
Visit site
Yep there are many devices like the Bellman steamer and others. I'm all for a manual approach, but it just won't cut it for my espresso consumption. A Robot or similar is fine for maybe 2-3 extractions and what would impress me more is the 9Barista device, but averaging 6-7 doubles in a few hrs timespan and have cranked out 14 doubles in 1 hr or so and that's precisely where a quality pump machine does extremely well. I'm also a huge fan of hand grinding and average doing close to 100 lbs yearly by hand, but also rely on a beastly electric when I need to crank out back-back volume.

For yrs I had an Olympia Cremina manual lever and would consider it the ultimate machine for capability, hands-on feel and build quality and I do miss that, but it would never keep up with my volume these days. OP seems to need/want something capable, simple, maybe not very involved and keep up with steady use without a ton of hands-on effort.
You nailed exactly what I’m wanting in that last paragraph.

So is the Rancilio Silvia Pro what you’re using to make the 6-7 to 14 doubles in an hour?
 

shadow745

Well-known member
Aug 15, 2005
1,809
67
Central North Carolina
Visit site
You nailed exactly what I’m wanting in that last paragraph.

So is the Rancilio Silvia Pro what you’re using to make the 6-7 to 14 doubles in an hour?
I don't do that volume daily often, but it (Silvia Pro) easily handled that and recovered nicely between extractions. I have had it almost 2 yrs and average well over 2,000 extractions yearly and in true Rancilio fashion it never skips a beat and will no doubt last my lifetime.
 
Top