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Selecting and choosing espresso machines: differences espresso machines

Selecting and choosing an espressomachine - differences between espresso machines and espresso coffee makers - how to choose an espresso machine - espresso coffee maker?

Differences and selection criteria espresso makers

Which espresso coffee maker is best for you? Difficult to answer, but we can help you in your choice. As taste and look and feel is personal we will focus on technical differences and offered functionalities of various coffee espresso makers. We will not consider full automatic espresso machines, although this could be a right choice for you.The heating system: espresso water direct out boiler, or boiler with heat exchanger or (electric) thermoblock?

  1. boiler: A water heater warms a larger amount of water, a smaller part is used for the coffee.
    boiler with heat exchanger:
    The boiler water is used to heat a separate circuit of water that is used for coffee. The boiler acts as heater for the coffee water.
    A thermoblock
    heats water directly (electric) during the flow.
    A thermo block generally has less capacity that can cause small fluctuations in temperature or flow. If you drink only a few espresso's a day a thermo block is in general ok (more at 2).

  2. Steam pipe to heat the milk.
    A steam pipe gives relatively small amounts of steam. With a simple thermo block espresso machine the same thermoblock is used for heating the coffee water or generating the steam, so simultaneously making coffee and steaming milk is not possible. This is also the case for a simple boiler system. Coffee is made with water that is about 90-96 degrees while steam, is about 120 degrees. This means heating or cooling time.
    Simultaneously brewing coffee and steaming milk means at least one steam boiler and a boiler (or thermoblock) for heating water for the coffee!

  3. Espresso machine with tea water supply?
    If you will use your espresso machine for making cup of tea, then a steam nozzle is not enough and you need a separate water pipe for hot water supply.
    Note that the water should be cooked at 100 degrees C and not heated to 90 degrees! You will also need a relatively large boiler to make several cups of tea.
    Best in this case is a two-boiler system with one heat exchanger.

  4. Material: pipes, boiler, thermoblock: Preferably copper els stainless steel, nothing else (some internal parts / pipes can be made of plastic).

  5. Espresso machine with memory?
    An espresso machine with memory function could give you some comfort.
    The espresso machine will stop automatically the water flow. This can be useful, but after some practice you will know exactly what the right amount is.

  6. Espresso machine with adjustable temperature?
    Although this is more for professionals, it can be useful if you can set the temperature.
    Some coffee is made best at 92 oC, other wat 95 oC. The majority of espresso machines are adjusted around 90oC.
    Always avoid that the coffee is burnt, so at about 96 oC is max as group head could be some degrees above. Check if some temperature management system is on board. Fluctuations in temperature will cause less consistent espresso's over time.

  7. Espresso machine for ESE pods?
    Do you use fresh grinded espresso coffee, or just use ESE pods, or both?
    Many espresso machines can handle both.
    La Piccola espresso machines solely uses ESE pods and makes a good espresso. ESE pods are more expensive (about € 0.25  ESE servings make less mess.

  8. Speed ​​and preparation time
    We do not mean the speed at which an espresso is made, but the preparation time before you can start making your espresso.
    Large espresso machines with large boilers can make many espressos in short time but will take some time to heat up and use lots of electricity. A smaller machine heats up faster, same machines with a thermo block.


In any case, choose a boiler / thermoblock system made of copper or second best of stainless steel. Copper means less maintenance and better espresso!

Differences and selection criteria espresso makers