Italian Coffee Machine Buying Guide
Hi, it's Paul here again. Have you bean dreaming about an Italian coffee machine for your own home? If not it's time to start :)
I start every day with an espresso. I love the feeling of driving a manual Italian coffee machine. I enjoy the "logic" of the science, the "magic" of the art, and the feeling that I get when I pour a perfect shot.
My goal is to bring this daily ritual to your home with the best Italian espresso coffee machines, grinders and accessories along with Free Training.
Whether you seek an intense espresso or a silky latte, you are just one step away from making exceptional coffee at home. Please start with this domestic Italian Coffee Machine Buying Guide.
Choosing the Best Italian Coffee Machine for Home
Some appliance machines look good on the surface, but very few can make a decent espresso. Also, appliances are "designed-to-fail" and expensive to fix, to ensure that it's not too long before you are back at the store for a replacement. Simply environmental abuse for profit.
My advice is to skip the appliance step - buy once and buy well. So If you are chasing thick syrupy espresso and silky smooth milk, from a simple, easy to maintain coffee machine that will last you 20+ years, heed the advice of this Italian Coffee Machine Buying Guide and choose a quality manual Italian coffee machine for your home.
If you are new to making coffee at home, another great resource is my Understanding Espresso guide.
Type of Manual Italian Coffee Machines
Single Boiler (SB) Coffee Machines. These have one small boiler that is set to brew temperature for pulling shots, then with a flick of the switch they are ready to steam milk. I don't recommend traditional SB coffee machines but I do recommend the new and innovative Lelit Victoria - This one is packed with great new tech which makes it very simple to use and very effective at delivering quality brews.
Heat Exchanger (HX) Coffee Machines. These have one large boiler that is set to steam temperature. For brewing, water is pumped through a tube in the boiler to pick up heat on-the-run. Most HX machines come with the legendary 5kg brass E61 group with has the benefits of high thermal stability as well as gentle brew pressure build up. These coffee machines are the dream of most home baristas.
Dual Boiler (DB) Coffee Machines. These have a small brew boiler and a large steam boiler. The main benefit of a DB coffee machine is the ability to adjust brew temperature - a functionality that is rarely used. I prefer a quality HX machine as these are just as thermally stable and just as effective at brewing coffee and steaming milk. HX coffee machines are also cheaper to buy and easier to maintain to for me it's HX all the way.
Best Italian Coffee Machines for Home
Over many years I worked my way through dozens of Italian espresso coffee machines and I know many like the back of my hand. When recommending machines in this Coffee Machine Buying Guide I ask myself "What would I buy if my budget was x?"
- The Lelit Victoria coffee machine is brilliant. It's just so well built, designed and most importantly, clever, with a PID to control brew temperature, a shot timer and programmed preinfusion. This is my choice out of all coffee machines available under $2k, so it's really great value at it's price point.
In the low $2ks the Lelit Mara coffee machine takes the prize. The Lelit Mara is a high end HX coffee machine in a tiny body, with great tech including electronic temperature control, sprung valves and a stainless steel chassis. Even if bench space isn't an issue you should consider the Lelit Mara. Of course, if you are looking for a compact coffee machine this is the one you have been looking for.
If you can stretch further, take a look at the Profitec Pro 500 coffee machine. With German engineering and Italian build, this one sets the benchmark for HX espresso machines in terms of build quality and performance. It has a first class reputation worldwide and the Aus Spec machine takes it up a notch. This is my best selling machine and it is my choice for my home.
- If you feel the need for a DB coffee machine the class leading Profitec Pro 700 is the"all the bells and whistles" Italian coffee machine that you have been looking for. Watch the 2 video reviews here and you will understand just why the Profitec Pro 700 is #1. However, as mentioned above, I prefer HX coffee machines so consider saving $1k and choosing a Profitec Pro 500 coffee machine instead.
Coffee Grinder Buying Guide
Why is the Coffee Grinder Important?
With Italian coffee machines the extraction speed is determined by back pressure from the coffee puck. Adjustment of the coffee particle size is the “lever” used to control the back pressure. It follows that a grinder with consistent particle size from shot to shot is essential. The good news is that you don't have to spend an obscene amount of money to get at great grinder. There are many great grinders in the $350-$700 range.
Choosing the Best Coffee Grinder for Home
High end domestic grinders are designed for home, from the ground up, so they are well suited to a home Italian coffee machine. Small commercial grinders are also great as they are compact, durable, simple and reliable. I don't recommend large commercial grinders as they are they are generally overkill for the home.
Best Coffee Grinders for Home
As with coffee machines, when making coffee grinder recommendations I ask myself "What would I buy if my budget was y?"
- I'm a huge fan of the Baratza Sette coffee grinder range. The entry level Baratza Sette 30 is a fantastic espresso grinder and all you really need, but the Baratza Sette 270 is there if you seek macro adjustment and the Baratza Sette 270W is there if you value dosing by weight.
- The Quamar Q50S is my most popular grinder and the new version (V3) has stepped it up a notch with an improved design as well as a timer function. The funnel on the front is brilliant as it directs the grind into a nice neat pile without an mess at all. This has been my recommended grinder under $1k for 3 years now, and it still is.
- At the high end there's the solid and punchy Eureka Atom. This is one of the best coffee grinders for home - quick, powerful and packed with great features including innovative noise suppression technology.
- The Profitec Pro T64 is another fantastic grinder, built for home from the ground up. Elegant, compact and powerful. Highlights include micro-adjustment, a powerful motor, quick grind speed and low/no mess grinding.
Italian Coffee Machine and Grinder FAQs
- Can anyone make great coffee at home with an Italian coffee machine?
- How much do I need to spend to get great coffee at home?
- How long does it take to heat up a manual coffee machine?
- Should I choose a vibration pump or a rotary pump?
- Why don't these espresso machines have buttons?
- Are manual lever machines better than traditional coffee machines?
- Are Italian coffee machines difficult to maintain?
- Do I need an expensive coffee grinder?
- Should I get a step-less coffee grinder?
- What espresso accessories should I get?
Domestic Italian Coffee Machines - Why K Bean?
K Bean is run by me, Paul, a seasoned forum veteran with over 3000 posts on The Coffee Forum and Coffee Snobs. Melbourne is my base, but I serve coffee enthusiasts Australia wide and 100+ 5 Star Google Reviews are telling of my commitment to service excellence. With K Bean you will always deal with me directly, and because coffee machines are my hobby and my passion you can be assured of honest advice with a smile, along with:
- Free Training, 1-on-1, at my Melbourne Italian domestic coffee machine showroom
- Free Shipping of Italian coffee machines, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth & Australia wide
- A price match guarantee and 30 day returns policy
- Online guides, unmatched support and an on-the-ground service network
- Leading Italian brands including the premium Profitec Coffee Machines
If you are local you can visit my Bayside Melbourne coffee machine shop. Drop in and enjoy a coffee with me, and have a play with my Italian espresso machines and grinders. If you're interstate don't worry as when it comes to Italian espresso coffee machines, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and customers from all over Australia can take advantage of Free Shipping and unmatched support, so you can shop right here and checkout online with confidence.