There are a lot of models and brands of espresso makers in the market today and it’s quite difficult to handpick the best espresso makers out there. But in order to narrow your options, you may have to categorize them first according to their types before you decide which of them would best suit you.
The first espresso makers are actually the steam-driven machines; while they are the oldest type, they are still used today by many coffee lovers. This type of machine makes use of steam pressure to force water into the coffee beans to produce a very strong cup of coffee. The cheapest and best espresso machine of this type would have to be Mr. Coffee ECM 160 4-Cup Steam Espresso Machine. It only costs less than $50.
Pump-driven machines, on the other hand, make use of an electric pump to force water through the coffee beans. It is the type of machine that makes “true” espresso. It can be categorized into two: super-automatic espresso machines and semi-automatic espresso machines.
It is a common logic for most of us that when something is labeled “super”, it is the better version. However, in this case, that is wrong. The difference between these two machines isn’t about their performance, but about which of them best suits you.
Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine
Semi-automatic espresso machine implies that some steps are automated, while others are not. Having this type of pump-driven machine would allow you to personalize your final product. Here are some of its features:
- It has an automatic water temperature and pressure regulator so that you can create a perfect cup of espresso anytime.
- It enables the user to adjust the flow of the steam and water according to its preference.
- A user-operated pump allows you to manually turn the power on and off at preferred times for ultimate control.
- There’s no built-in coffee grinder; hence you need to manually fill the port filter with ground coffee and tamp on them as well.
To put it simply, semi-automatic espresso machines allows you to manipulate how you want your coffee made according to its taste and temperature. The best budget semi-automatic pump-driven machine is the Gaggia Classic Espresso machine; it is an entry-level espresso machine that is just under $400.
Super-Automatic Espresso Machine
The super-automatic espresso machine, on the other hand, is about ease and convenience. Almost every step of brewing is automated; that means, all that’s left for you is to fill the hopper up with coffee beans and turn it on. Here are some of its features:
- It has a built-in coffee grinder that automatically grinds and extracts the shot of espresso.
- It has a one-button touch technology where you only have to push a button to get a quality espresso.
- High-end models have an automated froth and milk dispenser that would give you more options for your coffee.
This type of machine is recommended for those who want an instant restaurant-quality coffee. The best budget super-automatic machine is probably the Nespresso Pixie.