Guide Posted: Saturday, December 26, 2009 Author: Mark Prince
This guide was written by Mark Prince, edited by Cindy Taylor and Michael Garth, and contributed to by other CoffeeGeek members. It is based on research and advice passed around our forums and through email over the years. It is very much a "work in progress" and we intend to supplement and expand the content after the initial publication, so check back often!
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This guide was updated on December 26, 2009
One of the most common email requests received here at CoffeeGeek is "Help me choose an espresso machine!" As the senior editor of CoffeeGeek, I get at least five or more of these requests every day.
Unfortunately, as much as I would like to personally assist everyone who takes the time and effort to write in, it is simply too time consuming. I stopped responding to these requests long ago, for a variety of reasons - not the least of which was that my answers inevitably led to more questions and emails. These emails often took up to several hours of my work day, leaving little time for all the other tasks this website generates daily.
But I haven�t forgotten all you folks who want some easy to digest advice on buying your first serious espresso machine! For some time now, we�ve been working on this "how-to" article to satisfy this need, and it got to be so long that it made more sense to break it up into a full blown guide, with clearly defined sections.
I've delved into a lot of the past advice I've handed out over the years in my email correspondence, in order to compile key points that I hope have helped people over and over again to find a good first espresso machine. The advice in this guide is by no means definitive. It's designed to help genuine newbies, those who may not know a lot about machines and their abilities. Veterans looking to upgrade from a $1,200 machine to a $2,000 machine won't find much of value here, except maybe a page to which they can direct their friends who are seeking advice on what machine to buy.
This guide also presumes that you want to buy a hands-on espresso machine - not a super automatic. You want to produce the best espresso you possibly can in the home, and going for a manual (lever), semi automatic, or automatic machine is your preferred route. We may at a future date publish a "how to" on buying a super automatic.
So with the preamble out of the way, let's get into it - our guide on how to buy an espresso machine. Choose one of the sections below, but I ask - no, I plead with you - if you only read one page in this guide, read the first one - the Grinder Advice page!
Don't Skimp on the Grinder Quite possibly the most important step in buying a good espresso machine is getting a good grinder to match up to it. A quality grinder is crucial to good espresso.
Consider Life of Ownership There's many things to factor into the purchase price of an espresso setup for the home; and instead of comparing the purchase price to a toaster or microwave, compare it to an entertainment system or something similar.
Making the Best of the Consumer Reviews With more than 4,000 reviews written by CoffeeGeek members, our consumer reviews section can often be daunting and time consuming for new visitors. Here's your guide to getting the most out of the reviews section, and how you can help make it even better.
Vendor Tips and Tricks The most controversial section of this Guide, but we aim to provide you with the best tools possible - find out the best ways to buy from vendors, and find out about lots of industry secrets that vendors don't want you to know!
Choosing a Semi / Auto Machine Maybe not quite the content you were expecting; this section of the guide tries to get you thinking outside the box when it comes to the most common type of consumer espresso machine - the semi automatic and automatic classes.
Choosing a Manual Machine While semi-auto and auto machines may be the common choice, the most hands on type of espresso machine available today are manuals, otherwise known as levers. Here's an idea of what you're in for if you go this route.
Accessories to Consider Once you get your espresso gear on, here's some accessories to consider - both the necessary and the helpful optional choices. You'll also find some concluding thoughts for this guide.