Express Coffee Makers

If you are a lover of good coffee, one of the best investments you can make is to buy an espresso machine for home. In this guide we help you buy one, with a selection of the best of the moment.

De’Longhi Dedicates EC685

The De’Longhi Dedica EC685 is already a classic of espresso machines, one of the best sellers in recent years.

This coffee machine is one that enters through the eyes, thanks to its particular vintage design and compact size, only 15 cm wide. But beyond how beautiful it is, and how good it looks in our kitchen, it is a great coffee maker that makes very good coffee.

With its 15 bar pump and pressurized filters , the De’Longhi Dedica guarantees a dense, aromatic espresso with a good layer of cream, regardless of the user’s level of expertise, and is also very tolerant with different degrees of grinding.

Its simple use, through backlit buttons with programmed and customizable volume, is also transferred to the cappuccino maker, with one of the best vaporizers on the market , which allows you to make a large milk foam without overheating it, and also very hygienic thanks to the fact that it consists of two easily removable pieces, which prevent embedded milk from remaining inside the circuit.

Key points

  • Quality coffee thanks to its 15 bars and Thermoblock system
  • Automatic pouring with possibility of dose adjustment
  • Pressurized filter to obtain a creamy espresso
  • Vintage compact size design
  • The steam hose is of high quality

Philips 3200 Series Fully Automatic Espresso Machine in Value For Money

In a market plagued by models, why do I recommend this coffee maker?  Basically the  Philips EP3246 / 70 has the easiest to use milk  frothing mechanism on the market.  This system is patented by Philips and is called LatteGo. What is special about it?  Well, it does not have tubes or internal circuits, and consists of only two pieces that can be disassembled and assembled super easy. 

Key points

  • The easiest to use and cleanest milk frother on the market
  • Ceramic grinding wheel grinder
  • Very modern and elegant design
  • Control panel with intuitive touch buttons

The different types of espresso machines

In this chapter we will address an important question for those who want to buy their first espresso machine: the different types of espresso machines and which one is best for the use you are going to give it.

Manual pump coffee maker

The manual espresso machine is a traditional pump coffee machine, the one of a lifetime . It works with ground coffee, which you must place in a scoop inside a portafilter that is attached to the shower of the kettle of the coffee maker.

These types of coffee machines also usually have a steam sleeve that is used to froth milk in a jug , and thus be able to prepare cappuccinos and other recipes for coffee with milk.

We say that they are manual espresso machines because you must take care not only of using the right amount of ground coffee and pressing it correctly, but also control the spillage, stopping it when the desired amount of coffee is reached in the cup.

Being completely manual and being able to control the entire process to the millimeter, they are the favorite coffee makers of baristas and coffee fans, but they are certainly not the most comfortable and practical option for the day in a domestic environment.

Semi-automatic espresso machine

We call a semi-automatic espresso coffee machine a traditional pump coffee machine like the previous one, but in which as an added advantage we will have an automatic pouring system , which will dose the amount of coffee that is programmed in the machine or that we have programmed.

These types of coffee machines also usually have a manual mode in case we want to adjust the coffee dose at some point, but the functionality of these coffee machines is focused on preparing coffee by pressing a button, without the user having to be in front of the coffee machine to stop pouring manually.

Some models of semi-automatic espresso machines replace the steam hose with a milk tank and a system to automatically froth milk . This type of coffee maker is ideal for those who drink many cappuccinos or latte macchiatos , as it can be made automatically by pressing, at most, a couple of buttons and in a much more comfortable way.

Super-automatic coffee machine

A super- automatic coffee machine is called that because it does everything for you: it grinds the coffee, presses it, infuses it and automatically pours it into the cup . It is the easiest, cleanest and most comfortable way to have freshly ground coffee beans at home.

This type of coffee maker has a coffee bean container and a grinder that you can adjust to different degrees of grinding. In addition, they come with a lot of settings to personalize the coffee to your liking , being able to save these values ​​and thus personalize the coffee and always drink it in the same way.

As with pump coffee machines, the super automatic ones also have a steam hose to froth milk, but if you want it even more complete you can buy one that comes with a milk tank, and thus make   barista quality cappuccinos  and  latte machiattos by pressing only a couple of buttons. 

Although they are designed to use coffee beans, they usually also have a small deposit for ground coffee. In this way we can also use decaffeinated coffee.

As you can imagine, baristas are not very supportive of this type of coffee maker, but the general public that drinks a lot of coffee at home is, since they are coffee machines that are unsurpassed in comfort and speed by automating the entire process. The main drawback of this type of coffee machine is its price , which is considerably higher than that of traditional pump coffee machines.

Another drawback of this type of coffee maker is that it requires a little more maintenance. And they work with what is called an infuser group, which is a piece of gears that is in charge of pressing and brewing the coffee, and this piece needs to be cleaned and greased with some regularity.

Capsule coffee machine (or single-dose)

The capsule coffee maker is the simplest, fastest and most comfortable type of espresso machine to use . They work by inserting an aluminum capsule with ground coffee inside into a compartment. You press a button and after about 30 seconds you get a fairly decent quality espresso.

This type of coffee maker sacrifices coffee quality for the benefit of offering the maximum comfort and speed possible. They are perfect for those who are not very demanding with coffee, and are just looking for something with which to make a decent coffee quickly and without headaches.

There are many companies that bet on this type of system due to its high popularity in these years. The best quality brand of capsule coffee is Nespresso. If you opt for a capsule coffee maker, I recommend that you buy a Nespresso .

Express coffee machines: Frequently asked questions

How does an espresso machine work?

In an espresso machine, very hot and very high pressure water is passed through a filter where there is ground coffee. Since the water circulates at a very high temperature and pressure, it takes less time to extract the coffee than Italian or drip coffee makers need. The coffee is also of better quality, much denser and more concentrated.

How many pressure bars should my coffee maker have?

For a good  espresso , the pressure at the time of extraction must be 9 bars. Why then do espresso machines usually have more bars? Domestic coffee machines use vibrating pumps to reduce costs, and with these types of pumps it is necessary to have more bars so that the pressure remains constant at those 9 bars during extraction. Hence, most espresso machines have 15 bar pumps, to compensate for the bars lost by using vibrating pumps. Therefore, 15 to 20 bars in a domestic espresso machine is normal.

What is the Thermoblock?

You will see it often mentioned on this website and in others shortly after you look for information about coffee machines. The Thermoblock (thermal block) is a system that heats water to the temperature necessary for coffee extraction. It works differently from a boiler, which is the traditional water heating system for coffee machines. The Thermoblock system is neither better nor worse than a boiler, it has its advantages and disadvantages, but the truth is that it is increasingly widespread, especially in terms of domestic coffee machines. 

What is the difference between a manual espresso machine and an automatic one?

The manual espresso machine is the traditional pump coffee machine, the typical one that you can see with its filter holder arm and its filters where the ground coffee is poured. We call them “manual” because the coffee is made manually, but then they can have an automatic pouring system (the coffee maker stops pouring once the programmed dose has been reached) or manual pouring (the user manually doses the amount of coffee in the cup ). 
On the other hand, automatic or super-automatic coffee machines are called that because they do everything for you. They grind just the right amount of coffee for each cup (some can also work with ground coffee), extract the coffee in its infuser group and automatically dose the amount of coffee in the cup. Cleaning tasks are also automated, making them ideal coffee makers for enjoying top-quality coffee without spending a lot of time.

Is it really better to grind coffee beans than to buy it already ground?

Yes. Once ground, the coffee undergoes an oxidation process  5 times faster than with the whole bean , and this results in a degradation of the original aromatic profile of the bean. The factors that cause this oxidation are oxygen, light and heat, and this is why ground coffee is vacuum packed in aluminum packages to preserve them from the outside, but even so, at the time of grinding they have already started this process. oxidation.
Therefore, if you want an  intense, aromatic espresso  with the nuances that the bean has in origin, it is better to grind the coffee just before consuming it.

Why do you need to descale espresso machines?

Where there is water, there can be accumulations of lime. This lime is a great enemy of coffee machines, as it can cause breakdowns due to obstructions in the circuits, and it also damages the quality of the coffee, producing a coffee with a much more bitter and unpleasant taste. The usual recommendation is to descale the coffee maker every 3 months or so, although it largely depends on the use you make of it.

What is the infuser group of super automatic coffee machines?

The infuser set, also known as the brew group, is the heart of a super-automatic coffee maker. It is a group of pieces and gears, in charge of «infusing», as its name suggests, the coffee, passing the pressurized hot water through the compartment where the ground coffee is located. The infuser group can generally be removed for cleaning and maintenance, which is very suitable so that you do not have to replace the entire machine if this group breaks down.

Is a capsule coffee maker an espresso machine?

Yes. Espresso machines are so called because the extraction of coffee is very fast, unlike the Italian or drip coffee machine, where extraction is much slower, so a capsule coffee machine meets this requirement. In addition, the extraction of coffee in an espresso machine mainly consists of passing very hot and high pressure water through a filter where there is ground coffee. Capsule coffee machines do exactly the same, except that the pressurized water is injected into a capsule rather than a filter. As you can see, they work much more similarly than it seems, although obviously there are huge differences in their use.

Can I clean my espresso machine with vinegar?

It is not advisable to do so. There is a common belief that using vinegar is a cheap and effective way to descale a coffee maker, but this is not true. First, the acetic acid in vinegar is not as effective as the citric acid that decalcifying liquids often use. Second, the vinegar leaves a very strong smell, and you have to clear the circuit many times to make it go away. As it occurs to you to decalcify your coffee maker with vinegar but there have been residues of lime to clean, the smell of vinegar may remain inside the circuit, ruining the aroma of your coffees forever. In addition, if you send the coffee machine to the technical service for any problem, and they detect that you have used vinegar, they will wash their hands, since it is a practice that goes against the guarantee of these devices. 

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