If you are in the market for a new coffee machine, it may seem a little confusing or overwhelming to choose between all the different types on the market. To keep the buying decision relatively simple we have broken this down to three main types of coffee machines to look at – manual, capsule, and automatic/semi-automatic.
The type of machine you choose is really dependent on the following:
- The quality and strength of the brew
- How much coffee you will be producing or how many people will be using it
- Whether it will be a home coffee machine or an office coffee machine
- And whether you want a coffee maker that is easy to use and clean.
So first things first – coffee machine or coffee maker? They are essentially the same thing; coffee maker covers anything that makes a coffee while a coffee machine usually covers those that need power to run. As an example, a coffee machine would include manual, capsule, auto, semi-auto electric drip or electric percolators. Coffee makers expands further to include just about any other coffee items that produce or brew the coffee such as drip filters, percolators, Turkish ibriks, French press, moka pots and more.
At home you could have almost any coffee machine or coffee maker on the market – capsule machines such as the K Cup coffee machines are great for those who don’t want to spend a lot of time of making a cup of coffee and want to be able to access the benefits of having so many different flavor options without buying a lot of different products.
If you enjoy a coffee that tastes like the one from your favorite coffee shop, you would be more likely to consider a semi-automatic or automatic espresso machines. But if you are a purest and after a traditional coffee that gives you the full experience you need to look at a manual espresso machine as anything else will only leave you disappointed!
For the office you need to look at a coffee maker that is easy to use and easy to clean. Capsule type machines are becoming more popular in an office setting now due to the ease of cleaning, use and the option for so many different flavors.
If your budget stretches a bit further, you could install a semi-automatic or automatic machine but this will likely involve training staff members on how to use, fill and clean the machine at the end of the day. However, the semi-auto and fully automatic machines are perfect if you receive a lot of business visitors and wish to serve them a stylish coffee.
What to Look Out For when Buying a Coffee Machine?
There are some factors you should look out for when purchasing your coffee machine. The first is whether they use single or twin thermoblocks. A thermoblock is the device in the coffee machine that heats the water to the best temperature, meaning the coffee beans won’t be scalded.
If the coffee machines you are considering have twin thermoblocks then you know your water should be heated at a quicker pace meaning your coffee will be ready to go not long after turning the unit on.
Having the twin thermoblocks also means that the machine is capable of creating enough steam required for milk frothing; all at the same time.
The pump pressure of the machine is important, especially for making a good crema on your coffee. The pressure is what forces hot water through the ground coffee and is measured in a “bar”. The best coffee machines will be capable of 15 bar or more.
The quality of the filter holder is also important when buying a manual or automatic espresso machine. The filter is what holds the ground coffee and should retain the heat from the machine. The basic models on the market often have filter holders made of aluminum while the more expensive ones are made from brass which retain the heat for longer.
Whether you need a milk frother or not depends on the type of machine you are buying and whether you enjoy coffee with milk. The frother is what makes that lovely creamy sweet milk you get in your coffee from the café. It allows you to make anything from a Cappuccino, Latte and Macchiatos.
Capsule coffee makers, semi-automatic and fully automatic machines often come with an inbuilt milk frother so you shouldn’t need to worry about whether the machine has one for these types of machines. But for those who are all about producing quality, taste, and being able to produce this art form then your manual coffee machines will need a milk frothing or steam wand.
The capacity of a coffee machine refers to the volume it can hold of coffee beans, used grinds, water and milk. If you are only ever making coffee for yourself you can likely get away with an espresso machine that has a small capacity or a single cup coffee maker but if you are buying a machine for the office, you will need a machine that has enough capacity for it not to need refilling every time someone uses the machine.
Finally, there are the accessories to consider. If you are choosing between two machines that have the same capacity and the same quality build but one comes with accessories while the other doesn’t, go for the machine with the accessories. These coffee accessories can and often do include a milk frothing jug, chocolate shaker, a tamper (for packing down the ground coffee into the filter), a spatula (used when pouring the milk) and a grinder brush (for cleaning the grinder if there is one in the machine).
So now we know the basics and the functions to look out for when buying a machine, next is to understand the different types of coffee espresso makers on the market.
Manual Coffee Machines
A manual coffee machine is for those who want complete control over their brew – you manually load the coffee into the filter, put it into the machine, press the right button and away you go. If you want milk you can then manually heat the milk using the milk wand. These are the types of coffee machines you will see in coffee shops and are the best type of machine to look for if you are serious about your coffee; are after a machine that should stand the test of time and (and have the space in your kitchen).
If this resonates with you then you should consider buying something from the range of Delonghi coffee makers – specifically the Delonghi Pump Espresso machines or the Saeco manual espresso machine.
The price of Home Espresso Machines can vary wildly from a couple of hundred dollars for a small single cup coffee maker through to thousands of dollars for a machine that can hold two or three (or more) filters and produce multiple cups of coffee at once. If you are after your first manual one cup coffee maker, a product such as the Krupps espresso maker may be a great option. For your first machine you want something in the lower price range but still produce a good quality espresso. This machine is perfect for getting a taste for the art form and practicing the craft on.
If you are after a commercial coffee maker for your café, restaurant or the like, a manual coffee machine is your best bet. While they are more expensive, they also produce a better coffee on a commercial stage; and are capable of making mass quantities day after day.
Automatic Coffee Machines
Automatic and semi-automatic coffee machines are the middle ground between a manual machine and a capsule machine. Some models have an option to push one button and everything is done (including the cleaning of the machine) while others offer pre-set options for one or more shots, the style of coffee, the number of cups and more. When choosing an automatic coffee machine you want a machine that can grind the beans just prior to use. This will ensure that you still get the same great flavor from using fresh coffee beans without the need to pre-grind them; a great convenient feature built into these machines.
The automatic Jura coffee machine is a perfect example of the type of automatic machine to look for – it grinds fresh coffee beans as you need them, there is a simple one touch option for the type of coffee you would like and it has an integrated maintenance program which rinses, cleans and descales the machine while cleaning and rinsing the milk section.
Another option would be the fully automatic Delonghi coffee machines which has some models with silent grinders, the ability to adjust the coffee and water output, one touch auto system or the option to personalize your coffee to cup size, shot amount and temperature.
If you run a small business or are after a good coffee machine for home, the automatic and semi-automatic coffee machines are a great option for easy use and easy clean.
Automatic and semi-automatic coffee machines are in the mid-range price bracket starting at around $1000 for single cup coffee makers up to $4000 for the top of the range options.
Capsule Coffee Machines
Capsule coffee machines have been taking off in homes and offices over the past couple of years and it is easy to see why. Machines such as the K cup coffee makers are great for use at home when everyone wants something different or for when you have guests drop by and they are so easy to use and clean that they are perfect in a small office or small business environment.
The capsules that are used in these machines come in many different flavors and strengths, so are great for those who just want a basic coffee; they aren’t so great if you prefer full control over your coffee.
While a K cup coffee machine or a capsule based Delonghi coffee maker fits into a home or office environment easily, they are also a great option if you run a motel or a small hotel where you would like to have a coffee machine in each room available for guests.
These types of machines are also great if you are only starting out in the world of coffee machines. They aren’t expensive (usually no more than $500) and are great for dipping your toes into the world of coffee.
Choosing the best coffee maker can be difficult, with so many options on the market from manual to capsule, a single cup coffee maker through to a multi-cup coffee machine, and from different functions to differing styles it is no wonder people get confused.
Once you have chosen your coffee machine make sure you give yourself time to learn how to use it correctly. For those buying a capsule based machine you should be up and running pretty quickly but for those buying an automatic or manual machine it is worth checking out all the different functions until you find what suits you best.
The best recommendation we can give is to choose a machine that has the most possible functions with the best possible quality in the price bracket you can afford – and never think that you can’t afford some of the higher end brands such as Delonghi, Jura or Saeco coffee machines; these brands make some great machines in a range of prices.
And the good news is with coffee being one of the most consumed beverages on the planet; the price of coffee machines have gotten ridiculously affordable; meaning no matter where you are in the world and no matter what your budget we could all access a machine that will easily please our needs; even if you are the fussiest of coffee drinkers!