Any coffee lover will tell you that good espresso is essential to starting the day. A rich, flavorful espresso can give you the energy you need to power through your morning routine. There’s no denying that espresso machines are expensive. A good quality machine can easily set you back a few thousand dollars. So, why are they so pricey?
Coffee has a different layer of appeal to people because of its taste and fragrance. Don’t you agree?
We can’t deny the delights of coffee in our regular life. On average, Americans drink four and a half cups of coffee every day. There are numerous variations of coffee drinks. We love to make espresso or any variety in our home. There are so many espresso machines available. From less than $50 to more than $5000 for a home espresso machine.
There is always a question about why are some espresso machines so expensive. Also, what is the difference between a cheap espresso and an expensive espresso machine?
Let’s talk about everything in order.
- Espresso And Espresso Machine
- History And Types Of Espresso Machines
- Common Features Of Espresso Machines
- What Makes Espresso Machines Expensive?
- Expensive Espresso Machines: Worth The Money Or Not?
- Alternatives – Affordable Espresso Machines
- The Difference Between Home And Commercial Espresso Machines
- Making An Espresso
- Final Words
Espresso And Espresso Machine
The difference between regular coffee and espresso is the brewing process. In the process of making espresso, pressure is the key factor. The coffee grounds brew with boiling water under pressure. It makes a thicker solution with dissolved solids and a creamy top.
The hot water is forced under pressure. And that is called ‘expressed’. The shot we get is the ‘espresso’. We can turn them into any delicious variations by adding milk and other ingredients with respective ratios.
Like, for Caffe Americano it’s only espresso and water. Now, for Cappuccino and Latte, we add steamed milk and milk foam. Furthermore, for Caffe Mocha, we add chocolate with milk.
So, the variations are only played with different ingredients. The core is the same always. This brewing process makes espresso unique. So, the design of the machine is also different from other coffee makers.
Now, that is one of the reasons ‘why are espresso machines so expensive’ than others. Besides, performance and efficiency create a huge difference in price.
For example, there are many popular espresso machines that are a bit pricy (not more than $1000). Like – De’Longi La Specialista, Breville Barista Express, Jura D6, etc. Their popularity indicates their efficiency and performance. Also, justify the price.
Now, there are some espresso machines like Jura E8, Jura S8, Jura Z10, Breville Oracle Touch, and many more with more than $2000 in price. Their features, capability, and performance also justify their price.
While we are talking about expenses, there are many reasonably priced options available. If you are looking for budget espresso machines, you will get many choices from Breville, Nespresso, and De’Longhi (i.e. De’Longhi EC702) for less than $500.
History And Types Of Espresso Machines
Angelo Moriondo patented the first espresso machine in 1884. It was a steam-driven coffee-making device that controls the steam and water supply separately.
After seventeen years, in 1901, Luigi Bezzera patented some improvements to the existing machine. Then in 1903, Desiderio Pavoni bought the patent of Luigi Bezzera. He is the founder of the La Pavoni company. This company started producing espresso machines commercially.
Francesco Illy invented the first automatic espresso coffee machine in 1933. The automatic Illetta is the forerunner of the modern espresso machine.
Since the invention, there are a lot of designs for the espresso machine. Most of these designs have the same parts as a group head and a portafilter. In some espresso makers may have a steam wand to make milk froth or steam.
Espresso machines can be manual or automatic machines. In general, we know the category of espresso machines as manual automatic espresso machines, automatic espresso machines, semi-automatic automatic espresso machines, and super-automatic espresso machines. But these are conventional.
In the original, there are four types of espresso machines. Steam-driven, piston-driven, pump-driven, Air-pump-driven.
The first espresso machine was Steam-driven. This traditional espresso machine uses steam pressure to pass the water through the coffee grounds. The steam generates from a boiler and goes to four grouped pipe settings. These four group heads let bartenders make different types of coffee simultaneously. The steam-driven machine produces crema, the hallmark of espresso.
Piston-driven espresso machines are also known as lever-driven espresso machines. Achille Gaggia patented it in 1938 for use in his coffee bar. He founded the Gaggia Company in 1945. This machine has a lever to pressurize the hot water through the coffee grinds.
The piston-driven coffee machine needs to pull a long handle to make an espresso shot. There are two designs of piston-driven espresso machines, manual piston, and spring piston. In the manual piston, the operator pushes down the piston and passes the water through the grounds. In the spring piston, the operator creates tension in the spring to flow the water. Generally, the stress of spring remains between 8-10 bars.
The pump-driven machine is the modification of the piston machine. The Faema Company first introduced E61 in 1961. A motor-driven pump produced the required force during the coffee brewing. Depending on steam and water flow, there are four categories. Single Boiler (SB), Single boiler, dual-use (SB/DU), the Heat exchanger (HX), Dual boiler (DB).
Air-pump-driven espresso machines use compressed air forces hot water through the grounds. The hot water may be put into the espresso machine from a kettle or thermal flask. The source of compressed air might be a hand pump, electric compressor, or N2-CO2 cartridges.
AeroPress is the first air-pump-driven machine. Alan Adler invented it in 2005. Then, Handpresso Wild, brought by a French innovation house Nielsen Innovation SARL, in 2007. It is smaller and lighter than other espresso machines. These handheld and portable type coffeemakers being popular in recent years.
Common Features Of Espresso Machines
The features of a good espresso machine let us know the reason for its expense. Keep this information in your mind if you want to buy one recently.
- Generally, a good espresso machine is stainless steel-made. These materials keep the temperature in the right range. Also, the steel frame makes the coffeemaker strong
- The temperature controller lets you control the temperature during brewing and steaming. So, it is easy to keep track of your espresso temperature and keep temperature constancy
- Constant pressure is another vital feature of espresso. It handles thicker coffee with a creamy top. The high pressure helps to extract the highest from the coffee grounds
- A removable portafilter with one or more group heads distributes the pressurized water flow. So, the extraction gets more balanced than other brewing mechanisms
- A digital display panel always lets you know what is going on during your espresso process. It can also inform you during filter placement, equipment diagnostics, and cleaning periods
- Brewing temperature adjustment is a very important factor. You can adjust the temperature of your espresso by regulating the temperature of the boiler. It helps to control the water temperature variation
- A high-pressurized pump administers constant pressure due to brewing and steaming. Generally, espresso makers need 9 bars to 15 bars to produce high pressure
What Makes Espresso Machines Expensive?
Coffee lovers like to have a coffee maker of their own. As one of them, you may also intend to buy an espresso machine.
While learning about espresso coffee machines, you find some of those are high-priced. The first question that peeps into your mind that why espresso machines are so expensive.
Let us see some factors that play crucial roles in being expensive.
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Next Level Features
You Command, It Makes. Yes. You can make espresso you’re your command. This is a next-generation feature.
You can connect your espresso machine to your smartphone. Jura E6 is a standard example.
Some espresso machines are now working with Alexa, which takes the level one step further.
Multiple Coffee Recipe
Do you want a cappuccino? Or regular coffee? Or you might wanna play with milk foam.
No problem. Now espresso machines are capable of doing everything. From grinding to controlling milk, everything can be done with a good espresso machine.
Also, you can control the intensity levels.
Nowadays, every coffee espresso maker has a digital display section. It let you know the state of coffee making. It can show more updates as the equipment diagnostics options, and cleaning alerts.
In the display section, there is a water sign and a steam symbol. In some machines, you can also set temperatures as you need. You may find volumetric amounts, espresso types, and grinding options in some espresso makers.
You never buy any product if it does not work the next day. In the other sense, we purchase home appliances for using many years. Would it be okay if it lasts only 1 or 2 years? We will not like this short life too. Espresso machines have about 5-8 years of durability. Making a machine with long durability also makes it expensive.
High-quality materials make the best espresso makers. Most of the espresso machines are high-quality stainless steel made. Stainless steel is more expensive than copper, aluminum, or industrial plastic. These steel-made machines are firm.
Assume you bought a cheap espresso maker with low-quality material. After a few use, it broke down in the middle of the coffee-making process. Will you accept the situation?
Of course not. You do not need to worry while you are using a high-end device.
Also, the quality of the internal parts is very important.
Pressure And Temperature
High pressure and consistent temperature are essential for espresso. You can even adjust the temperature with 2 degrees change. Espresso needs a minimum of 9 bars and a maximum of 15 bars pressure. You have to pay much to get this standard.
There are many components in an espresso machine. Each part of the machine itself is valuable. The espresso machines have a thermo-block, pump, group head, and portafilter. The thermo-block maintains the heating temperature. The pump ensures the consistent pressure of water.
The group head is the heart of a coffee espresso machine. It resides in front of the device and holds the portafilter. The group head also consists of a few parts. Each part of the group head is permanently attached and metal made.
Portafilters are the removable segment of a coffee maker. It holds the filter basket. Diverse types of portafilters have various layers and divisions. It helps to balance the water force over the grounds.
Single and double basket refers to the number of shots. The design of the baskets is different so that you can easily recognize them. The diameter of the filter basket is 58mm.
Portafilter baskets have a screen at the bottom. Portafilter also has a dual-wall mechanism. In this case, there is another wall after the mesh with a hole. These categories increase the espresso price.
A Niche Market
By their very nature, espresso machines (especially high-quality ones) have a somewhat specialized consumer base. Restaurant and coffee shop owners along with some hardcore coffee enthusiasts do fall in the category. This is why manufacturers usually produce and sell in low numbers. And they can’t achieve economies of scale.
Thus, to cover their products’ high overhead costs and turn a bit of profit, the manufacturers have to set higher price points. However, these high price points pay for the research and development of the companies.
Research And Development
Many of us do not know the process of making an espresso machine. Each machine goes through much research and development. This process ensures the performance of espresso machines. After that, the espresso machines send to the market to sell.
A brand is the most significant matter for products. You will not buy any product if it is not from a well-known brand. Popular brands guarantee their products and materials, which makes the price high.
Expensive Espresso Machines: Worth The Money Or Not?
For espresso machines, anything beyond $1,000 is considered an “expensive” machine. When you consider the possible ceiling price, espresso machines for home kitchens can go as high as $5000. Even for a lot of coffee enthusiasts, this type of price bracket seems excessive. But for those who have professional coffee careers, are our taste testers, or are avid espresso-loving wizzes, acquiring an expensive espresso machine is part of their package.
On the flip side, good-quality espresso machines do not come cheap either. Because they operate with more complexity to provide more convenience. So whether you’re an aspiring home barista, a coffee hobbyist, or an espresso aficionado, to learn the coffee craft, you better not cut corners. Expensive espresso makers will be worth their big bucks at a certain point in your passion and career.
Espresso machines ranging from $800 to $2,000 usually give you very good-quality espresso regardless of your skill level. It’s also not much of a hassle to clean and maintain these machines either. The control and experience are what make these machines really worth it!
Machines ranging from $100 to $300 may give you a more difficult user experience and their shots of espresso will be inconsistent. But not all low to medium budgets are bad. In fact, there are some absolute gems in there too. You just have to look!
Most expensive machines use more metallic parts to ensure a longer lifespan, more robustness, and adaptability to continuous use. Expensive, no-gimmicky espresso machines can maintain a 9-bar threshold or 130 psi. This is the ideal pressure level for espresso extraction. Also, these espresso machines deliver a standard brewing temperature of around 200 °F with consistency, especially when you’re brewing shot after shot.
Just remember, being expensive is different from what’s worth buying. There are expensive espresso machines that are absolutely worth the money. It’s simply because those machines are absolute beasts of what they offer. Always remember that ease of use, low maintenance, customizations, and durability factors are all present in a proper, expensive espresso machine.
Alternatives – Affordable Espresso Machines
Now that we know espresso machines are expensive, should we not buy them?
Obviously, we would like to have one in our kitchen. It is clear because of the setup and configuration make them more expensive.
It is tough to afford some of those machines. But not all of them. You can easily choose espresso machines at $50-$500 if you are on a budget. Hamilton Beach Flexbrew costs only around $100.
These may not provide the same facilities as the expensive coffee machines. Still, it filled up your curve. Companies try to maintain the quality of espresso machines on a low budget. The purpose is brewing and making forth.
Here is some example among a bunch of alternative espresso machines,
- Wacaco Minipresso GR, a portable machine
- De’Longhi EC155 Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
- Capresso Cafe Pro Espresso Maker
- Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro
- Calphalon Temp IQ
- Gevi Espresso Machines
- Gaggia Brera Automatic Espresso Maker
- Capresso EC100 Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Machine
- Different Nespresso Machines
Espresso machines are not cheap at all. Some people may think that it is not wise to spend more money on home espresso machines. You can go for a pricing range of $50-$350 for a home espresso machine.
Coffee machines within this price can be fair for home purposes. You can get the crema of espresso with small frothing bubbles. You can even try the French press coffee makers, Moka pot, or the stovetop espresso for home use.
The stovetop espresso makers are small-sized simple devices. It has three chambers; the bottom for water, the middle portion holds the coffee grounds, and the top section is screwed with a metal filter. Moka pots use 1.5 bars of pressure and above 194°F (90°C) temperature for boiling water.
The Difference Between Home And Commercial Espresso Machines
It’s true that there are no strict definitions of both “home use” and “commercial” grade espresso machines. As a result, some key observable differences between these two types can be noted down to help you understand the subject at hand.
Size And Capacity
Commercial-grade machines, as opposed to home-grade machines, can produce a large number of drinks in a short period of time and with little maintenance. Machines have large hoppers, multiple spouts, cup trays, and cup warmers. Almost all commercial-grade espresso machines are fully “plumbed in” to have a continuous supply of water. Home-grade machines, at their best, can make two espresso shots at once and need manual refilling.
Some of the cheaper bean-to-cup home coffee machines make some basic drinks. Expensive home espresso machines, on the other hand, allow for far more customization! Commercial models mainly have two types: automatic and manual. Manual machines are ultra-complicated and require skillful baristas to work with them. Automatics, on the other hand, offers a huge range of options and barista skills don’t have to be superior to work with them. For this reason, automatics are more favorable, and they’re quicker to serve too!
The price range also varies massively. For $400–$550, you can pick a decent bean-to-cup home coffee machine that can do all the basics and some. A high-quality, commercial-grade espresso machine will offer high performance, high volume, and high convenience. Thus, these machines cost from $5,000 to $30,000.
Getting an integrated system for your home espresso machine is unusual but possible. Now, considering a commercial establishment, a coffee machine is one of the machines in a kitchen set, such as ovens and other appliances. So, an integrated setup is necessary and saves time as well as money. For a home kitchen, it would look great, but naturally, it’d be more difficult to repair and come at a cost.
Making An Espresso
The brewing method of the espresso is almost the same for every espresso coffee maker. All you need is fresh coffee bean ground and follow the steps.
- Put 7 grams of fresh ground coffee in the metal filter basket known as a portafilter. It is the amount for one serving. Always use quality coffee beans
- Maintain brewing temperature at 190°-194°F (88°-90°C) with 9-15 bars pressure to get the foam emulsion as crema
- Place your preheated cups to hold the extracted liquid from the coffee ground
- Make the foam of milk and add it to your coffee to make different types of espresso
- Now, your coffee cup is ready to drink
Have you ever thought of the research and development of espresso machines?
Espresso machines go through a lot of research and development. This process is for the betterment of devices. The companies run several tests to see the capacity, functionalities, accuracy of work, and more. If the product can perform well, then it could pass this period. After that, the product is ready to sell at the market.
So, every machine ensures that you could get the best performance in your every use. This process makes a high-quality espresso machine.
Does Buying An Espresso Machine Save Money?
Home espresso machines serve a terrific long-term value. Average café consumers can save thousands of dollars each year by switching to home espresso machines.
Does An Expensive Espresso Machine Really Make A Difference?
The answer is yes, but only for the most discerning palates. Investing in a quality espresso machine is an excellent long-term investment. These machines are mostly consistent, full of options, and easy to maintain.
How Much Should I Spend On An Espresso Machine?
If you’re a daily drinker and not snobbish, then $300-$700 range home espresso machines are perfect for you.
How Long Do Espresso Machines Last?
With proper care, machines in the middle price range can last up to 6 years, whereas expensive espresso machines can go beyond a decade.
Why Is Breville So Expensive?
For starters, their machines have steel exteriors and interior parts. Then they come with their own advanced patent features. Breville boilers and pressure stats are made of the highest quality to maintain a consistent temperature and pressure. Their machines deliver quality espresso shots consistently.
Why Are Espresso Machines So Loud?
Because of the vibrating pumps, the vibration spread all over the machine, and that’s what you hear.
How Much Does A Professional Espresso Machine Cost?
Professional espresso machines cost from $5,000 to $30,000.
We already know a lot of things about espresso machines. You can find both expensive and cheap espresso machines in the market. Though both of these produce espresso, quality matters yet. You also know the reasons for varying the price.
Cheap espresso makers cannot bring out the best taste of the drink always. High-priced machines have more facilities than cheap ones. So, the espresso maker takes care of the temperature and pressure of your espresso.
The long life of a coffee maker helps you as a friend. With your knowledge and accuracy, you can get a better taste of espresso. Have a perfect cup of your favorite espresso.
Enjoy Your Coffee!