Manual Coffee Machines

Buying Guide

 Coffee Machine Buying Guide to Help with Choosing the Best Home Coffee Machine.

It's Paul here again. If you have been dreaming about a professional manual coffee machine for your home you are at the right place.

I start every day with an espresso. I love the feeling of driving a manual 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 espresso.

I will bring this daily ritual to your home with the best Italian manual coffee machines, grinders and accessories along with Free Training.  

Whether you're after an intense espresso or a silky latte, you are just a step away from making exceptional coffee at home. Please start with this domestic manual Coffee Machine Buying Guide.


Choosing the Best Manual 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) Manual 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.

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

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

 heat exchanger coffee machine schematic

Dual Boiler (DB) Manual 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. 

 dual boiler coffee machine schematic


Best Manual Coffee Machines for Home

Over many years I worked my way through dozens of manual 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 manual 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 manual 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 really is the answer.  

  • If you can stretch further, take a look at the Profitec Pro 500 manual 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 thermal modifications 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 manual 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. 



Why is the Coffee Grinder Important?

With manual 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 a crazy amount of money here. Grinders with great performance start near the $400 mark.


Best Coffee Grinders for Home

As with manual 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 grinder range. The entry level Baratza Sette 30 will certainty do the job and the high end Baratza Sette 270Wi is there if you value dosing by weight. My recommendation is the Baratza Sette 270 with a separate set of scales. 
  • 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.
  • The solid and punchy Eureka Atom is a brilliant grinder. Highlights include large burrs, a powerful motor, quick grind speed, step-less adjustment, low/no mess grinding. It's also the quietest grinder I know of and it's my own choice for home. 
  • The Profitec Pro T64 is built for home from the ground up. Elegant, compact and powerful. Highlights include micro-adjustment, 450W motor, quick grind speed, low grind retention and low/no mess grinding. 



Manual Coffee Machine & Grinder FAQs

  • Can anyone make great coffee at home with an Italian coffee machine?
  • Are HX Italian 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 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?


Manual Coffee Machines - Why K Bean? 

K Bean is run by me, Paul, a coffee forum veteran with over 3000 forum posts. 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 Italian manual coffee machines are my hobby and my passion you can be assured of advice with a smile, along with:

  • Free Training, 1-on-1, at my Melbourne coffee machines showroom
  • Free Shipping of manual 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
  • Unmatched machine package specials
  • Leading Italian coffee machine brands including ECM and Profitec

If you are local you can visit my Bayside Melbourne coffee machine showroom. Drop in and enjoy a coffee with me, and have a play with my range of manual coffee machines. If you're interstate don't worry as when it comes to Italian espresso 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.