Espresso Machine Guide

So You Wanna Buy an Espresso Machine...

You've come to Total Espresso because you're interested in purchasing an espresso maker for your home or office. This buying guide exists to help you decide which machine type is right for you by explaining the differences between the various machines. 

A perfect shot of espresso starts with a high quality freshly ground coffee bean. Water at the correct temperature is extracted through the coffee grounds at high pressure to produce an intensely caffeinated beverage with a flavorful thick layer of foam sitting on top of the coffee.

That perfect shot of espresso can be mixed with other ingredients to make other popular espresso-based beverages, including, cappuccino, latte, mocha, and macchiato.

Keep in mind that each machine type has varying degrees of technical intricacy, space required, time to brew, quality of the final product, and, of course, cost. By using this guide, Total Espresso will help you find the type of machine best suited to your needs and expectations.

There are five general types of espresso machines: Manual, Semi-Automatic, Super-Automatic, Capsule/Pod Machines, and Steam-driven Machines. Total Espresso does not advocate Steam-driven machines because they are unlikely to create the proper temperature and brewing pressure required. So that leaves us with the four main categories of machines:

Manual Espresso Machines

Manual machines are for the purist who wants to control every part of the espresso-making process. They require much practice and skill to perfect one's technique. A manual lever is used to force water through the coffee grounds. The water is heated in a boiler and takes about 10-15 minutes to heat and build pressure. Once the water runs out, you have to wait until the machine cools before opening the boiler and refilling. Manual lever machines are relatively simple mechanically, require little counter space (and look attractive), but are the most complicated to use. However, with the right coffee, practice and patience, the results can be perfecto!  Here is a picture of an Elektra Manual/Lever Espresso Machine.  We have the finest performing and exquisite looking Manual/Lever Machines available on line.

Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines

These types of machines are the most popular type of machine today because of their ease of use. They feature an electric pump to create the pressure to force the water through the coffee grounds. They are easier to use and give the operator some degree of control over the length/volume of espresso by using a dial or lever to start and stop the brewing process. These machines can have large reservoirs or direct line feeds for water which makes them more efficient for large gatherings. Some machines in this category have electronics to regulate the amount of water passing through the coffee grounds.  

Vibiemme Domobar Super Espresso MachineOne of our popular machines is the Vibiemme Domobar Super Espresso Machine.

Our selection of semi-automatic machines is one of the best online. 


Super-Automatic Espresso Machines

These machines have all the bells and whistles, including a built-in grinder and programmable settings (with an accompanying degree of electronic complexity). They are extremely easy to use – push button espresso! These sophisticated machines will grind a measured amount of coffee beans, tamp the grounds into the filter, brew the desired amount of espresso, then dump the used grounds into a self-contained waste bin. These machines can froth milk for cappuccino or latte using either a steam wand or an automatic milk frothing system, depending on the model.  For example, the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II Super-Automatic Machine is fully automatic and just 12 inches wide!Nuova Simonelli Oscar II Super-Automatic Machine

 We proudly sell Super-Automatic Espresso Machines that will last for years and make your espresso based drinks a hit with anyone.  






Capsule/Pod Machines

These machines are the ultimate in convenience and ease of use, No muss, no fuss. Simply insert a pre-packaged capsule (or pod) filled with ground coffee into the machine and press a button to get an authentic espresso shot. One example of a pod machine is the "Rapido" Machine by La Pavoni.       LaPavoni "Rapido" Pod Espresso Machine                     

Some of the Pod/Capsule Machines can even use ground coffee.  


Now that you have a general idea of what's available, keep in mind the following points when buying an espresso machine:

The beauty of owning your own espresso machine is that you can brew a shot anytime the urge hits at a fraction of the cost per cup versus heading out to your favorite coffee shop. If you are not yet sure what you want out of a cup of espresso, start with a simpler machine and move up. We, at Total Espresso, are dedicated to helping you along your journey.