An Emerging Espresso Culture
There’s a whole other world to coffee that is tucked behind the coffee bar at your local cafe. At least for us Americans, espresso isn’t a common part of our coffee culture, yet. In the last one hundred plus years we went from the novel coffee commodity imported from the Central and South Americas to diners across the nation, to Starbucks, and now recently, the snobby hipster third-wave coffee found in bougie coffee bars in any well-populated area. Starbucks introduced espresso in a new way to the U.S. after Howard Schultz returned from Italy. His caffeine buzz from the trip was short lived, but his inspiration was not. Schultz was set on bringing the culture and tradition that surrounds Italian espresso to America. After tweaking, fine-tuning and pampering like hipster millennials tend to do with food, we now are beginning to see espresso emerge with more potential than ever before. Along with the growing trend of bringing coffee roasting into our kitchens, do-it-yourself espresso is following suit.
Innovative coffee products are storming crowdfunding sites like kickstarter because of the growing number of coffee lovers who just can’t be satisfied with k-cups anymore. To be honest, when my wife got on board with me buying a home espresso machine, my life morning routine (afternoon and evenings too, if I’m being honest) took a turn for the better. Also, she isn’t complaining when she wakes up to a delicious flat white with breakfast.
In light of that, we spent some time putting together a review of some of the best entry level espresso machines out there. Budget can vary widely when it comes to espresso gear, so below you will find a variety of options. In case you are completely new to espresso, you might want to check out this guide we put together for home espresso.
If you’re looking for a no-fuss, press a button and receive espresso goodness type home setup the Nespresso Pixie might be a good fit for you. Nespresso is known for making simple, easy-to-learn machines that require less from you in the morning. The Pixie, as you might guess by its name, is a small machine that fits snuggly on your countertop. No extra grinder needed, and like the Keurig, it is set up to brew espresso pods. You can use a variety of coffee as Nespresso makes espresso pods for all types of coffee lovers. Boasting a twenty five second heating time, you can grab an Americano as you rush out the door with less than a minute total brew time. This is our pick for a simple, convenient, espresso dispensing machine.
Gaggia Classic Pro
If you want a little bit more control over the process the Gaggia Classic Pro is one of the first entry level machines that allows you to do everything a professional barista would do, all the while including some modifications that won’t require an espresso grinder if you aren’t that committed to shelling out the big-bucks for a full home espresso setup. The Gaggia Classic Pro comes with a steam wand, a portafilter for dosing and packing that coffee puck with your favorite coffee. There is also the option to use a pressurized portafilter so that you don’t absolutely need an espresso specific grinder. This machine is the perfect in-between for the aspiring home barista who wants more than a button to press, but is still learning how to extract that perfect shot.
For the fully committed home barista the Rancilio Silvia is a popular option. While the Gaggia Classic Pro holds nothing back, the Silvia has slightly more potential with its large boiler and full-on steam capacity. The Rancilio Silvia characterizes the committed espresso lover since it requires an espresso grinder to get the best use out of this machine. With espresso specifically, adjusting grind setting is where the personal touch of the barista shines through. The Silvia’s large boiler allows for powerful steam which is necessary for frothing multiple milk drinks in a row. This machine is a fantastic option for converting your home kitchen into a functional coffee bar for yourself and a few friends to enjoy.
Quick Mill QM67 EVO Dual Boiler
Our last option comes with a hefty price tag, but this is the type of machine home espresso lovers drool over. In the case you are ready to go all out the Quick Mill QM67 Dual Boiler is a beautiful machine ready to do just about anything a coffee prosumer would dream up. This beauty has a boiler for brewing espresso and one for dispensing steam. With dual boilers no need to wait for your machine to heat up to steam temperature after pulling a shot. The chrome e61 grouphead protruding from the front is a symbol of espresso innovation, and is a mark of a refined espresso afationato. One notable feature is this machine comes with a PID installed which stabilizes the water temperature securing consistent shots every time. While this machine can’t be had for pocket change, for the espresso hobbyist it is worth every penny.
While there are plenty other notable machines on the market, these are some of the best we have selected that meet a variety of needs. If you have other suggestions feel free to give us your thoughts in the comments below.
READ MORE: Espresso and Coffee (What's the Difference?)
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