Anyone can be a barista in their own home now with the production of extremely affordable and high-quality expresso machines. Coffee is enjoyed by so many different people with a variety of unique needs, so finding the machine that’s right for you is super important to fit in seamlessly with your daily life.
Firstly, What Is an Espresso Machine?
Espresso machines use coffee grounds to make espresso, which is the base for most types of coffee. Basically, hot water is passed through the coffee to produce a ‘shot’ of espresso, to which you then can add more hot water (to create an americano) or steamed milk (to create things like lattes and cappuccinos).
Do You Want Speed?
If you don’t mind so much about quality and are more looking for a quick, convenient way of making your coffee in the morning before you rush off to work, you might consider using K-Cups.
These can come in mixed packs so you can try a variety of flavours if you’re in an experimental phase; you can try a Hawaiian coffee K-Cup, a cinnamon coffee K-Cup, or even a chocolate glazed donut coffee one.
These are air-tight pods that contain the coffee grounds which you can simply insert into certain types of coffee machines (usually Keurig brand, which is where K-Cups originate from), and select what type of brew you desire – so easy!
Or Do Your Prioritise Quality?
Whilst K-Cups are still sealed, which maintains their freshness. Grinding your own coffee beans is technically ‘better’ because it allows more control over the size of the coffee granules which can change the flavour and smoothness of the coffee greatly.
You may also just enjoy the longer process and routine of making coffee, as you grind the coffee beans, measure it out, and then tamperer it in the portafilter before inserting it into the espresso machine and pressing the brew button.
Why Not Both?
Some espresso machines have a section for K-Cups, and a place to insert a portafilter, so you can choose each day depending on your needs! When you have the time, you can practice the ‘art’ that is creating your perfect espresso, and then add whatever extra syrups and amount of milk you want. And when you are limited on time, the option of popping a K-Cup in is still there, and it still tastes great too.
Another thing to bare in mind is the size of the coffee machine. Some can get really big so make sure you have the space in your kitchen otherwise it could get in the way when you want to do other things.
Another overlooked factor is whether you want to plumb the machine in so that the water is constantly stocked, or whether you are happy to do this yourself; this may determine where your machine will live in the kitchen. Also, think about the storage of the coffee itself; K-Cups might take up more room than bags of preground coffee or coffee beans.
Your budget will obviously determine what kind of espresso machine you go for as well. The good news is, you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a decent espresso machine, but you need to make sure it is reliable.
Depending on how much you use your machine, you may want to opt for a pricier one if you think you’re going to be using it multiple times a day. Also, make sure you check for a warranty in case there is a problem because you might be able to get a replacement or get it fixed depending on the issue.
Espresso machines can come with a whole host of additional features, not just the espresso-making part. Another key factor in making certain types of coffee is the addition of milk and hot water. You might want to look for a machine with a hot water tap if you like your coffee a little bit weaker.
And for milk, a steam wand will be handy if you like making cappuccinos and lattes because it heats and froths the milk. Of course, you can always you a kettle or a separate milk frother but this can take more time and isn’t as much fun!
In summary, there are a variety of factors that will affect what espresso machine will suit your lifestyle and your home best. Weighing up between speed and convenience vs quality of the coffee is one thing, and then also consider the space, your budget, and the features too.