Features to Look For in Espresso Makers

By:  Katya Coen

Who doesn’t like their cup of Starbucks in the morning? A shot of piping hot espresso to get the day started. It’s a booming business, but in today’s economy not necessarily where you can afford to spend your money. So how do you get your shot of espresso? With an espresso maker of your own.

Today you can have an espresso maker in your kitchen without spending a fortune in the process. You can get them with or without steaming wands and even as a part of your coffee maker. You can get simple models that are used on your stove, steam pressure models or electric pump models. You can choose from semi-automatic to fully automated versions. Espresso lovers have a literal buffet of machines to choose from.

With all those features to choose from, how do you know what is important and what is just accessories that aren’t necessary? Read on.


Cup Warmer: This is definitely not a necessity. Most are nothing more than flat space located on the top of the machine. Fancier models can be found with a warming cabinet for storing espresso cups.

Frothing Wand: Simple espresso machines come with a plain wand; fancier machines come with a wand and a canister for holding the milk. For espresso only, this is not important. If you want to be able to make latte you will want a steam wand for frothing milk.

Controls: A really good espresso maker will have more flexibility in adjusting the various elements crucial to a good espresso. You should be able to control the amount of water for each espresso and possibly even the amount of coffee grounds (if the machine is automatic). Having these controls allows you create just the right espresso for your tastes.

Pre-Moistening: There are many names for this, depending on the brand of machine. Simply put the coffee grounds are dampened before the espresso shot is pulled. This is supposed to help release the aromatic oils to create a better espresso.

Pod Compatible: This is simply a convenience factor. Today there are pre-packaged pods of coffee to make espresso making a no-mess task. Many espresso makers can use the pods or regular loose coffee.

Filter: Some of the better espresso makers have a built-in water filter to remove chlorine or iron taste from the water. While this is a nice feature, it adds extra cost and the filters have to be replaced. If your tap water is already filtered this is not necessary.

Bean Grinder: Luxury model espresso machines come with integrated bean grinders. These machines grind enough beans for the current use. This is an expensive feature.

Bypass Doser: If your machine has a bean grinder it might also have a bypass doser. This allows you to slip in a different coffee than what is stored in the grinder. If you are going to pay for an integrated grinder you should go ahead and get the bypass doser as well, in case you want something different one morning.

Hot Water Dispenser: This is simply a convenience feature. It keeps you from having to heat water should you want a cup of hot tea instead of coffee.

When deciding on an espresso machine for your personal use, keep the cost at a minimum by only purchasing as much machine as you need. You don’t need an integrated grinder – you might want one, but it is not a necessity. By cutting out the options you don’t need you can spend more on the actual machine and purchase a reliable espresso maker that will last for years.

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