Italian Coffee Machine Buying Guide

Hello, it's Paul here again. I have designed this guide to help you with choosing the best Italian coffee machine, grinder and accessories for your home.

I start every day with an espresso and just love that daily manual coffee machine experience. I enjoy the "logic" of the science as well as the "magic" of the art. I will bring this ritual to your home with the very best Italian coffee espresso machines, grinders and accessories along with Free Training at my Melbourne coffee machine showroom.  

Whether you're after a syrupy espresso or a silky latte, you are now just a step away from making exceptional coffee at home.

 

Choosing the Best 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. If you are chasing syrupy espresso and silky milk from a simple, easy to maintain coffee machine that will last 20+ years, read through this guide and choose a quality manual Italian coffee machine for your home. 

 

Types of Italian Coffee Machines

Single Boiler (SB) These coffee machines 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 espresso 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.

 
 single boiler coffee machine schematic for espresso coffee machine buyers buying guide and choosing a coffee machine
 

Heat Exchanger (HX) These coffee machines 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 espresso machines come with an E61 group to deliver high thermal stability as well as gentle brew pressure build up. But beware as many HX coffee machines run hot so it's really important to buy an Aus Spec machine. Read more about Aus Spec by clicking here.  

 
 heat exchanger coffee machine schematic
 

Dual Boiler (DB) These coffee machines 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 espresso machine as these are just as thermally stable and just as effective at brewing and steaming. HX coffee machines are also cheaper to buy and easier to maintain. 

 
 dual boiler coffee machine schematic
 

  

Coffee Machines for Home

Over many years I have experienced dozens of manual Italian coffee machines. When recommending coffee machines in this Coffee Machine Buying Guide I ask myself "What would I buy if my budget was x?"

  • The Lelit Victoria is brilliant. It's just so well built, designed and most importantly, clever, with a PID to control brew temperature, a shot timer and preinfusion technology. This is my choice out of all coffee machines under $2k.
  • In the low $2ks the Lelit Mara S takes the prize. This is a compact HX coffee machine with great features including electronic temp control, sprung valves and a stainless steel chassis. This one is the class-leader for compact HX coffee machines but it is not only space savers that chose this machine. For features and quality this one beats all other machines I know at this price point.   

  • If you can stretch further, take a look at the Profitec Pro 500. With German engineering and Italian build, this one sets the benchmark for HX coffee machines in terms of build quality and performance. It has a first class reputation worldwide and YouTube is packed with glowing reviews. This is also my best selling coffee machine and it is my choice for home, and for barista training.

  • If you feel the need for a DB coffee machine the Profitec Pro 700 is the "all the bells and whistles" machine that you have been looking for. Watch the 2 video reviews on my Profitec Pro 700 product page and you will understand why.   

 

 

Why is the Coffee Grinder Important?

With manual Italian espresso machines the coffee 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 coffee grinder with consistent particle size from shot to shot is essential. The good news is that you don't have to spend a crazy amount of money here. Domestic coffee grinders with great performance start near the $400 mark.

 

Best Domestic Coffee Grinders

As with Italian espresso machines, when making coffee grinder recommendations I ask myself "What would I buy if my budget was y?"

  • The Baratza Sette 30 coffee grinder really stands out for exceptional value. The Baratza Sette 30 won't last 20 years like a commercial grinder but it stands up against grinders at 3 times it's price in terms of grind quality and grind speed.    
  • 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 any mess at all. 
  • The ECM S64 and Profitec Pro T64 are both fantastic domestic coffee grinders. They are designed for home professionals from the ground up and made in Germany (in the same factory). Build quality is 2nd-to-none. Highlights include a powerful motor (450W), large burrs (64mm), low grind retention and no mess grinding.      

 

    

Coffee Machine & Grinder FAQs

  • Are manual coffee machines easy to use and maintain?
  • Are HX coffee machines a good choice?
  • 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 coffee machines have buttons? 
  • Are manual lever machines better than traditional coffee machines? 
  • Are Italian espresso machines difficult to maintain? 
  • Do I need an expensive coffee grinder? 
  • Should I get a step-less coffee grinder? 
  • Which espresso machine accessories should I get?

        

Italian Manual Coffee Machines - Why K Bean? 

K Bean is run by me, Paul, a 3000 post coffee forum veteran. You will always deal with me directly, and because coffee machines are my obsession you can be assured of great advice. Have confidence in buying from a company with 100+ 5 Star Google Reviews from over 3000 happy customers. 

Melbourne locals who visit the K Bean Coffee Machines Melbourne Showroom can expect an espresso machine buying experience unlike any other. When you visit you I will have 2 hours set aside just for you. Every visit is different but a typical visit looks something like this:

  • Enjoy a few coffees with me and talk coffee machines, grinders and accessories. 
  • If I have what you are after and you are ready to go ahead I'll put together a great package for you.
  • After we get the package sorted out we will move straight into an hour of Free Training.  
  • Finally, it's time to head off home with your new gear and your new home barista skills. 

It's surprisingly easy to make great coffee at home with an Italian espresso machine. I have trained well over 500 people with a 100% success rate at taking anyone from "pod novice" to home barista.

If you're not local that's not a problem as customers including Perth, Brisbane and Sydney coffee machine enthusiasts get Free Shipping, service network support and online guides to show you the way. With my online support and phone support you will soon be making fantastic coffee at your own home.