Buying an espresso machine for home can seem daunting, especially if you are accustomed to picking up your coffee from your favourite coffee shop. Even when you search online for “best coffee machine” or “espresso machine”, you are sure to be hit with machines that range from plastic espresso machines for less than R3,000 to shiny espresso machines that cost as much as a small car. But, the ceremonious act of drinking coffee at home is not a one-size-fits-all situation.
Whether your morning coffee of choice is a black americano, flat white, cortado, or iced latte, the act is the same: Slow down, and have a coffee. Consider this edition of Save, Spend, Splurge your guide to finding the right espresso machine suited not just to your budget, but your skill level as a home barista. More experienced coffee-makers will look for machines with good pressure and a consistent temperature, whereas more casual coffee drinkers just want a machine that is convenient, but produces a decent espresso-based drink.
As coffee-lovers and meticulous shoppers, we look for at-home coffee machines that produce quality coffee, the complexity of the coffee-making process, extra features, and price. There are two different kinds of coffee machines you can consider: A semi-automation machine or a super-automatic machine. The former will grind your beans, have a temperature gauge, and you have to tamp the ground espresso in the portafilter. The later, will do all of that for you, it is commonly coined a ‘bean-to-cup’ machine. Both however, will have the ability to steam milk through a milk spout. It is now up to you to consider the kind of morning coffee routine you’d like to follow.
Save: DeLonghi Dedica Pump Manual Espresso Coffee Machine, R4,599
This is a great machine for beginners who simply want to pull their own espresso and have the choice to froth their own milk. The complexity of more advanced machines is at a bare minimum with only three buttons to extract a single espresso, split the espresso, and steam the milk. You will get the versatility of a high-end espresso machine with the simplicity of a bean-to-cup machine.
Available through www.yuppiechef.com
Spend: Breville Barista Express, R11,999
There are few coffee machines that have been seen and heard around the world like the Breville Barista Express, which has quickly become social media’s go-to home espresso machine (and for good reason). If you have the space on your kitchen counter, you cannot go wrong with this machine, especially if you are more than a novice home-barista.
A beautiful espresso machine at home can also be a gateway to a new hobbie or untapped love language. As someone who reviews products and loves making coffee at home, I can confirm the shots pulled from the Breville Barista Express are flavourful, the steam wand creates smooth foam with both dairy and non-dairy milks. My boyfriend for instance bought the Breville a few months ago and we can easily say he has made over 200 coffees since then. I’ve tried my own hand at it, but can’t get that same marshallow-like texture of perfectly frothed milk, (a textural recommendation of James Hoffman).
Available through www.bash.com
Splurge: La Marzocco Linea Micra Domestic Espresso Machine, R62,300
Let’s get one thing straight, many coffee consumers have become accustomed to coffee machines supposedly made for people who love drinking good quality coffee, but want to put as little effort into the act as possible. If you are looking for the crème de la crème of coffee machines, be prepared for a longer process or ceremony of preparing a cup of coffee. For the serious espresso enthusiast, the La Marzocco Linea Micra Domestic Espresso Machine is for those with a larger budget and refuse to compromise on quality of both machinery and result.
What folk might find tricky about this La Marzocca machine is almost every aspect is up to the control of the barista, unlike other commercial machines where with a push of a button the machine will reach temperature, pressure, and steam consistency. This machine is the perfect platform for perfecting your technique. For example, the machine has a dual boiler system, which ensures exact performance in both brewing and steaming, and is equipped with a programmable PID to ensure consistent and predictable temperatures. For the barista who wants maximum control over their shots, and the peace of mind of the best machinery in the world.
Available through www.capecoffeebeans.co.za