Quick Buying Guide to Espresso Makers

EspressoWhen it comes to brewing superb espresso, you could say the Italians know a thing or two. On my first trip to Italy as an undergraduate studying abroad, espresso, as the Italians do it, completely seduced me. One day, standing in a small, hot café momentarily secluded from the hustle and bustle of the Roman street outside I asked Stefano, an Italian acquaintance of mine how they do it. How Italians create such a rich and creamy brew that is strong but never bitter time after time? With a sly smile on his face, and with his voice as smooth as the brew in my tiny espresso cup, Stefano replied: "macinazione, miscela, macchina, mano". To my American ears, he had simply confirmed everything I had begun to suspect but until then refused to accept: Italians are a little crazy.

An Italian-English Travel Dictionary and one internet café later, I figured out his words were neither cryptic nor crazy. Now I know they are the ingredients that lead to espresso genius:

Macinazione refers to the correct coffee grind of the bean
Miscela is the type of coffee bean used
Macchina is the espresso machine used for brewing
Mano refers to the skilled hand of the barista

When these four ingredients or blended correctly, the espresso enjoyed in cafes all over Italy and other parts of Europe can be enjoyed in the comfort of your home. As you research and learn about the three different types of espresso makers, you want to keep in mind the four keys to making authentic espresso.


The piston, semi-automatic and super-automatic espresso makers are all capable of fulfilling these four ingredients however deciding which machine to buy is a purely personal matter in which you must consider the following keys that are vital to your own personal espresso success:

  1. Price Range
  2. Machine Aesthetics
  3. Machine Features
  4. Your Own Espresso Style

To help you achieve espresso glory, we created the following handy Quick Reference Buying Guide to Espresso Makers, go ahead, take a look, and please call us with questions or for advice!

The Piston

Manual Espresso Maker Price Range: Anywhere from $500 - $1000. For a high quality machine, expect to pay $800 - $1000+

• Old World Beauty
• Internal Boiler for brewing, frothing, steaming
• Manual lever for pulling espresso shot
• Beautiful brass, chrome, or copper exterior

Barista Skill: Manual or Piston espresso makers require a skilled barista hand, or lots of practice!


Who Should Buy: True espresso connoisseurs looking to recreate an authentic and nostalgic espresso. If the lever is pulled with the correct force, you will enjoy a wonderfully delicious brew.


Semi-Automatic Espresso Maker Price Range: Prices vary from $50 - $3,000. Most high quality and affordable semi-auto espresso makers are in the $250 + range. Price really depends of features and looks

• Electric pump system which insures proper pressure for brewing espresso is met every time
• Internal Reservoir & Boiler
• Flip Switch to determine liquid volume

Barista Skill: Semi-automatics do the hard part for you, they insure accurate brewing pressure. However, it does take time and a little espresso love to figure out the perfect grind and tamp!

Who Should Buy: Espresso aficionados who want the reliability of automated brewing pressure yet still want to dedicate the time to learn and truly create their own espresso with their own grind, dosage, and tamp.


Super-Automatic Espresso Maker Price Range: Super-automatic espresso makers range anywhere from $400-3,000 + Price depends on the amount of features you choose, and there are plenty to choose from!

• Complete computer automated brewing system
• Internal reservoir & boiler
• Optional water filter
• Internal Grinder and Bean Storage
• Automatic milk frother
• Self Cleaning
• A cup warmer & more!

Barista Skill: Really, the only thing you need to bring to the espresso bar is a love of fine coffee. Super-automatic espresso makers take care of the rest!

Who Should Buy: Super-automatic espresso makers are an excellent purchase for lovers of consistent, delicious, and easy to make espresso. While some of the true barista experience is lost, ease of use outweighs it!



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