by Matt Gibson
Do you find yourself going to Starbucks or other coffee shops every morning to get your caffeine fix? If you buy an espresso drink every day or just about every day, you will save a lot of money purchasing a home espresso machine and making your own espresso instead, unless of course, you continue to buy espresso at the coffee shop as well. In fact, if you drink espresso regularly, you can save a tremendous amount of money from buying your own espresso machine, but we’ll get into the numbers later on in this article. There are plenty of other factors to consider besides cost as well. Let’s dive in.
Factors To Consider
You can save a lot of money buying an espresso machine and making your own coffee at home. But will you use it everyday like you go to the coffee shop every day? You have to prepare it yourself, which can take time and effort, not to mention skill. Do you know how to make an espresso shot, or how many pounds of pressure to apply when tamping down the shot? Once you learn how to make an espresso shot, you can master the technique easily with a bit of practice, but the baristas at your local coffee shop have already mastered it, and sometimes they put fancy designs on the top of your latte that you have no idea how to replicate.
Espresso machines can be pretty costly as well, though they will eventually make up for their cost in the savings that they provide if you use your machine regularly. Still, a really good espresso machine will cost you between $300 to $5,000. The high end machines come with tons of bells and whistles that you probably don’t need at your house, but they sure are nice, and they allow you to make all the drinks you can get at the coffee shop. Cheaper machines come with more limitations, and the amount you spend will directly affect the quality of what you are able to create at home.
It’s true, the baristas at your local coffee shop are (hopefully) trained espresso making professionals who have learned how to make the perfect cup of coffee and pull the perfect shot of espresso, and have practiced the artform on a daily basis. Making espresso is a skill that you have to learn and practice regularly to perfect. You also need a pretty good machine in order to make an espresso shot like the one you get at your local coffee shop. Quality is a big factor to consider when deciding on whether or not to buy a home espresso machine.
Quality is also important when deciding how much to spend on the home espresso machine as well. Do you want to be able to make lattes and cappuccinos too, or do you just need an espresso shot machine? Do you need to make regular coffee sometimes too? There are hybrid machines that can do both, but you will sacrifice some quality when purchasing a hybrid machine, unless you go for one of the high end models, and those can get pretty pricey.
Getting that double americano or that triple white chocolate latte at the coffee shop is also very convenient. It’s available on the go, in a portable cup that you can toss out when you’re finished. Plus, not only do they have every single type of espresso drink that you could possibly want, but they have all the syrups, creamers, and sweeteners on hand as well, making it quick, easy, and especially convenient to get whatever you want, whenever you want it. It’s much harder to keep that kind of selection on hand at home, not to mention costly.
Going to the coffee shop every day creates a lot of waste that you end up throwing away, which puts more packaging waste into the landfills, and when it adds up over time, the amount of waste can be quite environmentally irresponsible. If you are going to keep going to the coffee shop, you should invest in a reusable cup to cut down on all that waste so that you can continue to support your local coffee shop without damaging the environment. On the other hand, buying a home espresso machine allows you to use your mugs and cups instead of disposable cups, which can limit your waste without limiting your taste.
Though this could be covered under the convenience factor, there is a lot of clean-up involved to owning a home espresso machine that is not an issue when buying from your local coffee shop, as the barista takes care of all the clean-up for you. All you have to do is dispose of your cup when you are finished draining it. Easy peasy.
Can You Save Money By Buying A Home Espresso Machine?
Yes, you can save a lot of money buying a home espresso machine. Just how much? We’ll cover that very shortly. But keep in mind, once you invest in a home espresso machine, it only saves you money if you use it instead of going out and buying your lattes regularly. We’re not saying that you can never go to the coffee shop again, but it makes a lot more financial sense to get your espresso at home once you invest in a machine. If you stick to the protocol, you can save way more than you’d probably imagine.
The Cost Of An Espresso Machine
There is definitely a one-time investment involved if you choose to buy an espresso machine, and the ticket price can feel pretty substantial. However, if you’re currently paying coffee shop prices for your espresso, that one-time investment can really pay off. For example, let’s say your regular coffee costs $5 and you tip the baristas $1 each day. After a year of coffee drinking, assuming you have just one espresso drink per day, you’ll have spent just under $3,000—not an amount to be taken lightly. So the savings you’ll see from skipping the coffee shop can offset the cost of your espresso machine and make the investment worthwhile.
Of course, there is some ongoing cost associated with espresso even after you’ve bought a machine. Keep in mind when you’re weighing the pros and cons of purchasing an espresso machine or not that a 12-ounce bag of coffee beans (which, for quality coffee, can cost around $18) will last through 15 double espresso shots. If you take your coffee black, your cost per double shot will be around $1.20 once you’ve purchased an espresso machine. Even if you want to add cream and sugar, adding $6 or so to the $18 you spent on coffee beans, your 15 double shots will still only run you $1.60 each.
When you compare that figure to the $6 or so you’re likely to spend buying espresso drinks at a coffee shop, you can see why if you’re a person who drinks lots of espresso, it can be worthwhile to purchase an espresso machine of your own.
Just how worth your while? Well, if we continue under the assumption that you drink one espresso beverage per day, the ongoing cost of coffee beans, cream, and sugar for an entire year will be just about $1,600 less than the cost of buying your espresso drink at a coffee shop each day.
Considering that you can buy an espresso machine in the neighborhood of $200 up to $700 or so, in light of the yearly $1,600 savings, you could almost say that an espresso machine practically pays for itself in its first year just on account of the money you’ll save.
The Cost Of Espresso
The cost of espresso itself is pretty expensive as well, especially if you are paying someone else to make it for you, and tipping them for doing it. Espresso beans aren’t especially cheap, but they can be a heck of a lot cheaper when you purchase them at the grocery store or order them online compared to buying them one drink at a time.
Purchasing A Home Espresso Machine
So, you’ve decided to invest in an espresso machine. That’s exciting! Now it’s time to learn about the different kinds available so that you can determine which machine you’re going to buy for you home espressos. There are four different types of machines. After briefly describing the differences between them, we’ve also compiled a helpful list of our picks for the best budget level, mid-tier, and high-end espresso machines on the market to help you narrow your search. So, let’s find your perfect home espresso machine.
The 4 Types of Espresso Machines
Manual machines are a hands-on way to brew your own espresso. These are non electric espresso machines that require your arm strength to pump the machine by hand. Manual machines are usually much cheaper than electric options, but are usually very simple, and can only make espresso shots.
Semi-Automatic pump espresso machines are a step above the manual options in terms of convenience. It is still a very hands-on espresso making process. You have to grind your own beans, tamp the grinds down into the filter, (Barista’s pro tip: use a foot scale for weighing your tamp, and apply an even amount of pressure until the scale hits 20 pounds), screw in the portafilter, and turn on the power. The machine handles the rest, sending pressurized water through the beans and pouring you a hot cup of espresso.
There’s not a whole lot that an automatic espresso machine does for you that a semi-automatic doesn’t do. You still have to grind the beans yourself and tamp down your shot. The main difference is that an automatic espresso machine will turn off by itself. Big deal.
If you want to take skill out of the equation and purchase your own electronic home barista, go for a super-automatic espresso machine. Sure, they are pretty pricey, but they will grind your beans, tamp the perfect shot, line it up and pull it for you too. The only thing they don’t do is drink your espresso for you.
Other Factors to Consider When Buying An Espresso Machine
Buying a home espresso machine is a pretty self-explanatory process, but there are a few things you should consider when deciding which machine to purchase. First, decide on your budget. Do you want a machine with all the bells and whistles of a commercial espresso machine? Do you really need a big fancy machine that can make every type of coffee drink you could want? Or would a more simple, focused machine serve your needs better? Also, consider all the ingredients that you will be purchasing regularly to keep a good stock on coffee beans, creamers, syrups, sweeteners, milk, and other additives, and consider that cost when planning out your budget.
Then, think about the kind amount of time you want to spend making your coffee each day. Do you drink a latte or just a single or double espresso shot? Or do you like to switch it up and try all of the various italian coffee styles on a regular basis. If you like to keep it simple, buy a simple machine. If you like a lot of variation, invest in a commercial style espresso machine that can do it all.
Lastly, consider the clean-up and maintenance that will go into whatever machine you decide to buy. No matter what device you decide on for your home espresso machine, it will need to be cleaned regularly. Some machines have extra components that require extra cleaning. Some machines have a built-in grinder, some have removable trays and milk steamers, while other machines are simply a pump, water tank, and portafilter device. Keep in mind the amount of cleaning that will go into whatever machine you purchase, as there is no getting around keeping your machine clean between brewings.
Now that you know the ins and outs of home espresso machines and have considered the many various factors that one should marinate on before purchasing, take a look at your options and see if you can spot the machine that best fits your needs and budget. Here are our favorite 13 home espresso machines, including several budget, mid-tier, and high-end options.
The Best Home Espresso Machines
Budget Brewers ($50 – $200)
De’Longhi Stilosa Espresso Machine – $100
De’Longhi’s Stilosa Espresso Machine is a great value at around $100, offering a dual espresso maker and milk frother to make espressos, lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos in minutes without breaking the bank. This is one of the best, and most affordable countertop home espresso machines on the market.
Krups 15-Bar Pump Espresso and Coffee Maker – $120
If you are new to making your own espresso, don’t want to spend a lot of money on your first machine, and have limited counter space to devote to espresso making, this is your huckleberry. At just over a c-note, the Krups semi-automatic 15 Bar Pump Espresso and Coffee Maker can make espresso or coffee in no time, and it’s very compact too, with only a 1.5 liter removable water tank slightly bulking up its frame.
Staresso Portable Espresso Machine – $65
If you are on a budget and portability is what you’re after, look no further than the Staresso Portable Espresso Machine. The cheapest model on our list, this portable espresso wizard weighs less than one pound, takes beans or pods, and even froths milk, all in a slim, ultra-portable, lightweight package. What’s not to like?
Mid-Range Machines ($200 – $700)
Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine – $700
This machine has it all (just about). It has fully customizable settings and convenient presets to allow you to have full control over your brew. Perfect for beginners and experienced espresso makers, the Breville Barista Express comes with a built-in, fully adjustable conical (bladeless) burr grinder, a steam nozzle that twists any way you need it to with 360 degree versatility, a cup warmer, a hot water spout, and so many customizable options, you will forget you are at home. It even tells you when it’s time to clean-up.
De’Longhi Super Automatic Espresso/Coffee Machine – $530
This java maker has a lot of bells and whistles for the price range, and can deliver a cafe quality espresso, cappuccino, or latte in minutes. There are 13 different settings on its dual-chamber built-in conical burr deluxe grinder, a built-in manual steam wand, and a highly customizable menu that allows you to program in your go-to options. You can customize the size, temperature, and strength of every brew. This machine is packed with features that you will love putting to use.
Flair Manual Press Espresso Maker – $160 & Flair Signature Press Espresso Maker – $240
Flair makes two excellent manual press espresso makers that require no electricity. All you need is a coffee grinder, access to hot water, and a way to measure your coffee grinds for the perfect espresso shot. If you know what you’re doing, or you are willing to learn and practice, these inexpensive machines can help you create the perfect cup of espresso without breaking the bank. The signature model is less portable, but easier to use, while the cheaper model is perfect for the traveling espresso enthusiast.
Illy X1 iperEspresso Anniversary 1935 Machine – $430
If you want convenience and versatility in a mid-priced espresso machine, this is probably your best bet. The Illy X1 iperEspresso Machine is a capsule based espresso maker for people who don’t want a hands on brewing experience, just a solid espresso on the go. The milk frother is somewhat short, but it does the job, and the machine itself is super slick and modern looking, and very easy to use.
Nespresso by Breville VertuoPlus Coffee & Espresso Machine – $300
Heating up in just 25 seconds, this versatile machine makes coffee and espresso drinks, uses pods or beans, and includes a built-in frother and 40 ounce water reservoir. All you need is a grinder and something to measure out your grounds with, and you can do pretty much anything with the Nespresso by Breville VertuoPlus.
Smeg Retro Espresso Maker – $490
The Smeg Retro Espresso Maker is elegant and simple. It can make one or two shots of espresso using a pump and portafilter, or with disposable pods, whichever you prefer. For the price, however, it would be nice if it did a little bit more, like steam some milk, or something.
High End Hysteria ($700 and Up)
AnZa Concrete Espresso Machine – $1,180
The AnZa Concrete Espresso Machine is literally made out of concrete. It is simple and elegant, and it can make a shot of espresso in 30 seconds. It’s milk frother is excellent, and it is certainly the most solidly built machine on the list. One suggestion for improvement for future models, is to make the water reservoir removable for easier cleaning. Other than that, this machine is pretty perfect as is.
Ascaso Dream PID – $1,150
This spanish espresso machine is elegantly designed and easy to use. It’s highly customizable, quick, and very compact. This might be the best coffee machine on this list, but don’t tell the next two machines, as they are certainly more decorated, but this one is the definition of classy, and it’s one hell of a coffee machine as well.
Jura X8 Platinum Automatic Coffee Machine – $3,200
If you want a luxury machine that truly does it all, the Jura X8 has more bells and whistles than anyone in their right mind actually needs. That doesn’t stop us from wanting one though. With 21 options and plenty of customizable settings, there is nothing that this super-automated machine cannot do well. It even froths your milk for you, and can be controlled via smartphone on the Jura X8 app. This machine has wow factor for days.
La Marzocco Linea Mini – $5,100
If you really just want to show off, swing for the fences with the La Marzocco Linea Mini. For a professional machine that delivers cafe quality coffee in seconds (literally under 30 seconds), this machine is so ridiculously awesome, we had to include it, even though it is the price of a nice used car. If you are a coffee fanatic with a massive budget, treat yourself.