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Francis!Francis! X1 Espresso Machine
Francis! Francis! X1 Espresso

How to Buy an Espresso Machine

By Tanja KernSHOP.COM For the Home Editor

Cappuccino, macchiato, mocha, latteif you are a fan of any of these coffee drinks, then you are a fan of espresso! Espresso is strong black coffee brewed by forcing hot water under pressure through finely ground coffee beans, and its the base for many of todays most popular coffee drinks. The first espresso machines were introduced at the beginning created by Luigi Bezzera of Milan, Italy in 1901. Whether you like your coffee drinks fancy, or just strong and black, a home espresso machine is a smart investment for java lovers. Read on to learn about all the features and brands available on SHOP.COM.

The Basics

Step 1Stovetop models: Stovetop espresso machines, often called Moka pots, are a low-tech, inexpensive way to make espresso. Water sits in the bottom of the pot and as it heats, it forces steam through the coffee into the top half of the pot.
Step 2Manual espresso machines: Manual espresso machines use a lever to force the water through the grounds instead of an electric pump.
Step 3Semi-automatic espresso machines: Semi-automatic espresso machines work by having the barista add ground coffee to the portafilter and then pressing a brew button to start the pump.
Step 4Automatic espresso machines: Automatic espresso machines have electronic controls to start and stop the brew cycle at preset levels. The home barista adds the ground coffee beans to the machine.
Step 5Super-automatic espresso machines: Super-automatic espresso machines have built-in grinders so you do nothing but add beans and water and push a button.

The Lingo

Bean grinder: Some machines have a built-in grinder that grinds the beans just before making the espresso for super-fresh tasting espresso.
Cup Warmer: A heated flat spot on the top of the machine warms up your cups and coasters.
Frothing Wand: A wand sends steam into your cup of milk to create frothy foam for lattes and cappuccinos. More expensive machines will come with a separate container for frothing milk
Pre-moistening cycle: A touch of water goes on the grounds before the shot is pulled to help pull out the aromatic oils out of the grounds for a better-tasting espresso.
Pod-compatible: Some models accept pods, or pre-packed disks of coffee grounds, that make espresso making mess-free. Certain
Strength controls: Fine-tune the amount of water and the amount of grounds used through the controls.
Water Filter: Many espresso machines have built-in water filters to take out any chlorine, calcium and iron out of the water for more pure-tasting coffee.

The Experts

Experts say this is the best espresso machine for most home espresso enthusiasts. The Rancilio Silvia gets high marks for its espresso taste, features, ease of use and build quality. The stainless-steel Silviahas a forged-brass boiler and a three-way solenoid valve. Some say the Silvia is somewhat sensitive to grind coarseness, and frothing milk properly takes practice, but experts say that the Silvia lives up to its excellent reputation as best in this price class.
Slate recommended the Francis! Francis! X3 Looking like the prow of some World War II-era battleship, the Italian-made X3 is the most beautiful model I testedand produced some of the best shots. The machine is compact enough to fit in the smallest kitchen, but a metal exterior and brass boiler give it heft and solidity, and the cup warmer is big enough to hold six espresso cups.

The Brands

Bialetti products are renknowned for combining the best of Italian-quality, style and design. The name is synonymous with Italian coffee making.
Delonghi DeLonghi has been renowned worldwide for innovative, stylish Italian design. Headquartered in Treviso, Italy, DeLonghi has a long history of bringing outstanding home appliances to market.
Francis! Francis! Beautiful and well-made, Illys Francis! Francis! espresso machines are a true marriage of striking Italian design and state-of-the-art technical innovation, crafted for the sole purpose of creating the perfect espresso experience in the home.
Gaggia is known for helping to develop todays French press. The company operates in 17 different countries with over 600 employees worldwide.
Krups Bold design, precision, ingenuity and unwavering craftsmanship uniquely define the philosophy of the company Robert Krups began in 1846.
Nespressois known for its hermetically-sealed capsules with the large variety of Grand Cru ground coffees and state-of-the-art, easy-to-use, sleek-looking coffee machines

The Price

$: Experts agree that higher-priced machines give you more value and durability for your money, but entry-level machines can offer delicious espresso without a lot of bells and whistles. Try the De'Longhi EC155 Espresso Maker.
$$: Mid-range espresso makers can cost several hundred dollars but come with warming trays, frothers, pre-set brew options and color options. Check out the Saeco AROMA coffee maker.
$$$: High-end espresso machines come with lots of added features, like bean grinding and water filtration. Super-automatic brew espresso at a touch of a button. Try the Solis Mastertop Super Automatic Espresso Machine.