There is a wide variety of espresso machines available at the market today. For every budget and every unique requirement, you will always find a pretty good range of machines to choose from. In order to know what machine you should buy, you need to know the pros and cons of each category of espresso machine.
There are two main categories of espresso machines- steam driven espresso machines and pump driven espresso machines. In case of the steam driven machines, the espresso is made with the steam pressure from the boiling water. In the pump driven machines, there is a small internal pump that puts pressure on the water as it is passing through the ground coffee. In case of steam driven machines, you need to let the machine cool out completely in between brews. But in case of pump driven machines, the machine does not get that hot and hence you need not wait between two successive brews for the machine to cool down. Besides no crema(the creamy sweet layer on top of espresso) is formed on the espresso while brewing in a steam driven machine generally. Cream is only formed on top of espresso brewed in a pump driven machine. For all its benefits though, pump driven machines are more expensive, compared to their steam driven brothers.
There are three sub categories in the pump driven machines- semi automatic espresso machine, automatic espresso machine and super automatic espresso machine. A semi automatic espresso machine is the perfect to use for home purposes for the average coffee drinker. In this machine the user has to switch on the pump manually which leads the water under pressure through the ground coffee. They are moderately priced, compared to an automatic or super automatic machine. They require some labor to operate the pump and control the volume of espresso. The rest is done mostly by the machine. Also, most semi automatic espresso machines do not come with a grinder. So you need to invest in a good coffee grinder before buying a semi automatic espresso machine.
An automatic espresso machine does everything for you- it grinds with an inbuilt grinder, doses the coffee, tamps and brews it and then throws off the coffee muck. They are more expensive than the semi automatic machines.
And then there are the super automatic machines which are like coffee making robots. You press a button and they do everything for you. Moreover, they have additional features, which vary from machine to machine, for the ultimate brewing experience. Most super-automatic machines also have auto-descaling system. Hence maintaining them is cheaper. These machines are the most expensive of the espresso machines.
Apart from all these, there are the vintage beauties- the manual espresso machines that look oh-so-classy. But go for these machines only, if you have the patience to learn. These machines can make some of the best coffees, and yet some of the worst coffees. It all depends on you.
And lastly, there is the pod espresso machine. The coffee in these machines comes from per-packed coffee pods that you can buy from any good coffee shop plus lot of places online. These machines are easy to use and clean too, since there is no coffee muck to clean up after brewing.
It is advisable that you always choose machines suit you, your budget and your lifestyle the most. See the list of best espresso machines to find one that’s perfect for you. If you can afford to spend some extra money but want consistently good coffee with very little manual labor, then get a super automatic machine. It will save you the cost of the grinder too. But if your budget is a bit low, or you are gifting it to someone, and want a good quality durable machine, you might want to think about the semi automatic ones. So choose one wisely and indulge in caffeine binging!