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Buying an Espresso Machine -10 Important Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Buy

by Luciano Iarusso July 14, 2018

Buying an Espresso Machine -10 Important Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Buy

You are ready to take the plunge.  You want to buy an espresso machine for your home or office.  You have established that buying a machine makes financial sense when you consider how much you have been spending each week at the local coffee shop.  Getting a machine will not only save you money, but you will also have the convenience of having a latte or cappuccino right at your fingertips.  No more driving and wasting gas, no more waiting idly in the drive though lane and wasting precious time.

You have done your research and determined that buying a refurbished machine may be a very good option and can save you money.  Now the question is which machine do I buy?  You know that a superautomatic machine is the way to go because you want your coffee with the push of a button.  Now you are wondering what else you need to consider.

Here are 10 important questions to consider when you are ready to purchase your superautomatic espresso machine.

Is the machine for home or office use?

If the machine is intended for an office, one can assume the machine will get used more frequently and perhaps by a greater number of people.  In this case, you need to consider things like the size of the water tank, dump box and bean hopper.  If these components are too small, more time will be needed to keep the machine filled and cleaned. This could become cumbersome for staff responsible for the machine.  In fact, if it is a really busy office you may need to consider if a  direct water hook up issuitable for your office needs. On the other hand, if the machine is for home use, the size of water tank, dump box and bean hopper are not so important.

How many people will be using the machine?

The greater number of users means there may be greater variance in individual coffee profiles. You need to ensure you choose a machine that allows you to provide  choices in coffee strength and length.   You may also need to consider a machine with two bean hoppers if users have varied taste in coffee beans. 

What kind of drinks will you be primarily making, coffee or milk based?

If the machine is going to be making many milk based drinks, consider the type of steam capability you need.  Also, determine if a manual steamer or carafe is ideal for the intended users. A milk carafe is, for example, safer and cleaner for kids who may want to steam milk for hot chocolate drinks. A milk carafe is also ideal because any left over milk can be refrigerated directly in the carafe reducing wasted milk. 

What type of cups will be used?

This may seem like a trivial question to consider, but it's not.  You know you're strapped for time in the morning and every saved minute counts. If you plan to make lattes or cappuccinos to go and you want to use a travel mug, make sure your machine is built to dispense directly into your travel mug.  This small convenience can save you time and avoid dirtying extra cups or pitchers. When you leave the house happy, you're already half way to having a great day. 

Will non espresso drinkers use the machine?

Can the machine produce a long coffee? Let's face it not everyone in your household may want an espresso.  If you buy a machine that has the function to make an Americano, everyone will be happy.  In fact, they may thank you because now their morning brew will be tastier than ever. Why you may ask? Because their Americano will be made with espresso beans (a darker roast) which is more flavorful and full bodied than other roasts. 

Espresso machine dispensing into a travel mug


Do you have any decaf coffee drinkers?

If there are users who want a decaf you need to ensure the machine has a bypass doser.  A bypass doser allows you to use ground decaf coffee so it easy and seamless. Another option is to consider a machine with  an extra bean hopper so it easy to go from one type of blend to another. 

Where will the machine be placed or reside?

Be sure to determine exactly where the machine will be housed. The machine's footprint may be a determining factor.  Refer to machine dimensions if you plan to place it on the counter under your cupboards. Knowing exactly how much space you have to work with is key.  Otherwise you may buy the machine of your dreams only to discover it doesn't fit in the only spot where you want it.

Accessibility to water tank and bean hopper are important considerations too.  These require regular filling.  Some machines have front access to the water tank while for other models  have the water tank  on top. 

Who will maintain the machine?

All machines require regular maintenance to keep them running like new.  One of the most important things required is regular descaling.  Some models will come with built in tracking systems and will provide notice when descaling is required. Other models, require the user to keep track of when this task needs to be completed.   Will someone keep track or is the built in descaling function an important element to have in the machine you purchase?

What is the price?

We have kept this question for last purposefully.  Sometimes we start with this question and neglect to ask ourselves all the others which may be equally important. Like cars, there is a wide price range in espresso machines.  Any car for example can do the job of moving you from point A to point B, but obviously there are differences between a Toyota and Ferrari.  You don't always need the most expensive machine.  Be clear about how you plan to use the machine to make the best choice for your needs.  You also don't want to get something that you will outgrow too quickly either. 

Who can help me understand what I need?

While many box stores sell espresso machines you don't always find knowledge personnel. You need to determine which features are the most important for you.   Finding a store with trained personnel who can explain the various features is an important step to finding the  machine that is perfect for your needs and budget. 

So there you have it. 10 important questions to consider before buying a superautomatic espresso machine.  If you want to talk to an espresso machine expert    contact us. 

Luciano Iarusso
Luciano Iarusso

1 Response


March 18, 2019

I have a DeLonghi ecp3630 and have found that a Starbucks espresso coffee with an espresso grind has a problem pulling a shot because of the oils. Is this home machine not capable of pulling a decent shot from espresso coffee. Do I need a more expensive home machine.

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