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Do You Need an Expensive Coffee Machine? 

An expensive coffee machine

When dreaming about being able to prepare the perfect cup of your favorite coffee at home, exploring the various coffee machines on the market can be truly overwhelming.

Even when armed with a sense of whether you’re after a drip machine or an espresso machine, there are still endless options to consider.

So you’re probably wondering, do you need an expensive coffee machine? Does spending more money mean a better coffee drinking experience?

If you’re on a set budget then you’ll probably be pleased to hear that the price tag on any given machine doesn’t necessarily represent how well it will serve you. In fact, there are some incredible bargains to be found, just so long as you know what to look for in a coffee machine.

So, beyond things like space restrictions, what are the factors that should truly influence your decision? Read on as we delve into everything you need to know to find your ideal coffee machine!

Drip or Espresso: What to Look For In a Coffee Machine

The factors that will shape the type of coffee machine that you buy—and how much you ultimately spend on it—are personal and tend to be unique to every household.

So, the decision-making process will first depend on what kind of coffee machine will best suit your lifestyle.

For the purpose of simplicity, today we’ll explore the key factors to consider when shopping for drip coffee machines and espresso machines, as most people fall into one of these two camps.

Hot drip coffee being made. Photo by Julien Labelle.
Hot drip coffee being made. Photo by Julien Labelle.

Know Your Go-to Features For a Drip Coffee Machine

A drip coffee machine is a great choice for those desiring long and simple coffee drinks made with absolute convenience.

Since this type of machine only makes a lovely big pot of the black stuff, you might imagine that there aren’t many variables to weigh up. However, keep the following things in mind before making your selection!

How much coffee do you want to make? If you’re pouring coffee for only one or two people, then a single-pot machine that either features a smaller glass pot or offers the capability to change the speed of water flow over the coffee grounds will allow you to make just the right amount.

If, in contrast, yours is a big household or you’ve always got friends or family passing by, then a double-pot machine with a much larger capacity might be ideal for you.

Other factors to consider include whether the drip coffee machine is programmable, allowing you to wake up and come downstairs in the morning to find hot coffee waiting for you.

Plus, if you like to drink coffee throughout the day, then a machine with a heating plate under the pot will ensure your coffee always stays warm.

“How to Make Coffee with a Drip Coffee Maker” by Folgers on YouTube.

Know What to Look For In an Espresso Machine

Do you need an expensive coffee machine for great espresso? The answer is not necessarily! However, there are still some important things to look out for.

In a moment, we’ll cover the importance of the right BAR or pressure rating for unlocking the full flavor potential of the coffee bean, but first, let’s explore some other practical considerations.

If you are a true espresso purist who doesn’t drink milky coffees like cappuccinos and lattes, then a simple single-boiler coffee machine without a frothing wand will do the job for you.

However, if you want to be able to steam your own milk then look for a machine with a frothing wand—which will add a little to the cost of the machine but dramatically increase your coffee-drinking possibilities!

If you want to be able to create a wide array of different coffee drinks for several people at once then you’ll require an espresso machine that is equipped to recover quickly and meet the demand. A coffee machine with a heat exchange boiler will better be able to manage steaming milk and drawing espresso in parallel.

Finally, if you tend to entertain en-masse and your coffee machine is going to have to earn its keep in a major way, a twin-boiler machine is the beefiest option of all.

“How to Pick Your First Espresso Machine! – Dialing In the Choices” by Xris on YouTube.

Choosing the Right BAR Rating For an Espresso Machine

Aside from high-quality and fresh coffee beans, what goes into creating the smooth texture and caramel-hued crema on the top of every drawn espresso? Well, the magic lies in achieving the perfect pressure.

The BAR measurement—or barometric pressure—that your coffee machine provides will dictate the caliber of the coffee it produces. So, how do you know what to look for in a coffee machine in terms of BAR rating?

To help you understand the term a little better, 1 BAR equates to the Earth’s standard barometric pressure, so 10 BAR is equal to 10x that amount of pressure.

When coffee is brewed, it is the pressure exerted on the hot water passing through the grinds that unlocks the complex flavors within. To create a crema—which is that creamy layer on the top of espresso—a BAR of 7 is an essential minimum. However, to release the true potential of your coffee beans, a BAR of 9-11 is considered ideal.

“What is Espresso Machine BAR Pressure?” by Seattle Coffee Gear on YouTube.

So, do you need an expensive coffee machine? As you can see, it isn’t really the price tag that dictates how well your coffee machine will serve you, but rather the range of features it has to offer.

By weighing up how you intend to use your coffee machine and what would suit your lifestyle best, you can discover what to look for in a coffee machine that will be just right for you.

Breville Barista Pro Espresso Machine.
Image source: Breville.com

Our Pick: Breville Barista Pro Espresso Machine

The 4 keys formula for third wave specialty coffee at home:

  • Rich, full flavor
  • Perfectly balanced taste
  • Irresistible body
  • Silky, velvety mouthfeel

FAQ – Do You Need an Expensive Coffee Machine?

Are good coffee makers worth it?

Depends on what your taste profile looks like. If you’re really into great coffee and want a rich aroma, we can’t recommend a great coffee maker enough. It will definitely pay off.

Do more expensive coffee machines make better coffee?

Generally, no. Obviously, a great coffee machine coupled with a great coffee bean that you grind to perfection (or according to your own preference) is likely to produce better coffee than a drip-coffee-machine off the shelf.

How much should I spend on a home espresso machine?

Obviously that depends on your household budget. But, I’d say that you could get a fantastic espresso machine for between $300-$500.

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