1. Decide what type of espresso drinks you like.
Do you like cappuccino, a latté macchiatto or a regular espresso? Do you also drink regular coffee or tea? Not all machines offer you the same number of options. Most fully automatic espresso machines let you prepare multiple drinks. However, the machines that allow this are often a lot more expensive than the semi-automatic or nespresso variants. We'll get straight to the second point here.
Black coffee only
If you only drink black coffee, a milk function is not necessary or you may use a separate milk frother. An espresso machine without a milk frothing function is cheaper.
Coffee with a dash of milk
Are you a fan of cappuccino or latte macchiato? Then choose a coffee machine with a milk container or milk hose. A milk container is connected directly to the machine. You put a milk tube in a jug of milk and you can then easily and quickly make several cappuccinos.
If you only make a cappuccino once in a while, a steam pipe will suffice. With this you steam the milk yourself. You usually get nicer milk froth with a milk nozzle. A steam wand is also easier to keep clean. You can froth the milk in a milk jug but also directly in the coffee cup. A real barista chooses for an espresso machine with a steam nozzle.
Many people want all the bells and whistles, but buying an espresso machine is a lot like buying a car. Do you need DVD players in the headrests if no one ever sits with you in the back of the car? Do you buy a car that runs on petrol if you get low mileage? The answer is probably 'no'. It is the same principle here. Decide which drinks you like and see which coffee machines offer the ability to make these drinks.
3. Popular features.
We list some popular features. Based on your requirements, you decide which functionality should absolutely be present and which should not.
A powerful boiler
If you like drinks prepared with milk such as a cappuccino, buy a machine with a good boiler. With a powerful boiler, you can quickly use the steam nozzle that makes these drinks. Espresso machines under €150 usually have a longer warm-up time and are by definition less suitable for making cappuccinos, for example.
Adjustable water volume and coffee dosage
Some machines only have the option to adjust the water volume to your liking. The more water, the weaker the coffee. When you can control the amount of coffee in addition to this functionality, you have optimal control over the taste of your coffee. These are very convenient options, especially if you drink a lot of regular coffee.
Digital or analogue control?
There is much debate about which of the two is better. This is a matter of personal choice. With digital control, for example, you have more influence on the amount of coffee and water used. Another advantage of digital control is that it indicates when the machine needs to be cleaned or refilled. However, digital control can also offer too many options, making it a bit cluttered.
Other key features:
A large water tank - Usually around 1.5 litres.
Height-adjustable coffee spout - Choose between a large or small cup of coffee.
A water filter - espresso machines with a water filter produce better coffee and reduce the risk of wear and tear on various parts. A water filter is strongly recommended.
Bean container - Look for a machine with a bean container larger than 250 grams.
Cup warmer - Coffee tastes better when drunk from a pre-heated cup.
Integrated coffee grinder - It is convenient if the grinding of the coffee beans is done automatically for you. Look for a machine where you can choose from at least three different grinding modes.
Warm-up time - You don't feel like waiting 5 minutes for the espresso machine to warm up. A good machine will be ready for a second cup of espresso within 1-2 minutes, after the initial warm-up time.
4. Format and material
First of all, make sure you have enough space on your countertop for the espresso machine. The formats can vary widely. Almost all fully automatic espresso machines have a casing made of metal, steel or plastic. The formats can vary widely. Many people think that a plastic espresso machine is not durable, however, this is not true. It is about the materials used on the inside. A stainless steel boiler will last for years if properly maintained. If you are considering buying a semi-automatic espresso machine choose a stainless steel design, this because of the many interactions with the espresso machine.
5. Cleaning and maintenance
The biggest enemy of all espresso machines is mineral build-up in the machine's pipes. Some appliances have an automatic cleaning or descaling system.
Finally, it is of course important to buy your espresso machine from a specialised and reliable party. If you buy an espresso machine online, always look for the home shopping guarantee logo. Try to take the above tips into account as much as possible, we hope you enjoy picking and buying your own espresso machine.
6. Simultaneous Brewing Capabilities
Do you want to be able to brew one or two cups at the same time? If you get a lot of visitors or have a large family, you don't want to have to wait for each other all the time. With some machines you can make two cups of coffee at the same time but not two cappuccinos, so pay attention to this. If you are alone or with your partner, one cup of coffee at a time may be enough.
7. What about those different types of machines?
What is the difference between a "coffee cup machine, semi-automatic espresso machine and fully automatic espresso machine"?
Coffee cup machine
Do you go for quick and easy? Then you choose a coffee cup machine or coffee pad machine. The purchase of the coffee machine and maintenance are low. You can’t adjust the machines to influence the flavour, you can buy different flavours of cups or pads instead. Coffee cups and coffee pods are more expensive than coffee beans, when you convert this to the cost per cup of coffee.
Fully automatic espresso machine
Do you prefer better quality coffee and convenience? Then choose a fully automatic espresso machine. Purchase and maintenance costs are average. The machine can be well adjusted to your taste and beans are cheaper in the long run. There is a wide range of fully automatic coffee machines to choose from.
Semi-automatic espresso machine
Do you require the best, most beautiful and perfectly adjusted coffee? And you don't mind having to make it all by yourself? Then go for a semi-automatic espresso machine. You have to perform more actions yourself here, such as grinding and tamping the coffee, which is why a real barista will always choose this. The purchase is high and maintenance is average. The coffee can be adjusted perfectly, provided you make coffee like a real barista