Betta Buying Guide: Choosing the right coffee machine

A quality espresso machine is the best way to bring great coffee into your home. Being able to prepare a great cup at any time is a fun little luxury – though your local barista might not be too happy about it! Choosing an espresso machine can be complicated, so to help, we’ve laid out the main points for each machine below:  
Manual Espresso Machine
A manual espresso machine is perfect for those who are particular about their coffee, and who don’t mind a little extra effort to get it just right. Ground coffee is loaded into the chamber, and locked into place before the espresso shot is extracted with the touch of a button. It’s the same way that baristas in cafes everywhere do it!

What you need to know:

• Manual Espresso is the most time-consuming way to prepare coffee, but it gives you the greatest control over the cup produced.
• Most manual machines include steamers for milk, which will also need to be prepared manually to get the right texture and level of foam.
• You can use pre-ground coffee in the machine, or grind your own. The latter option will require a separate grinder, unless the machine has one built in.

Automatic Espresso Machine
The automatic espresso machine offers, as the name suggests, a more hands-off approach to a great cup of coffee. With a button press, coffee is ground, packed and extracted inside the machine, and dispensed into the cup at the same time milk is heated and poured on top. 

What you need to know:

• The machine proportions everything for the cup, so there’s no waste in either milk or coffee.
• Most automatic coffee machines feature more advanced settings than other machines, including self-cleaning programs and the ability to remember a specific cup size.
• An automatic machine is great for making many cups of coffee quickly.
• No coffee machine offers greater simplicity than an automatic espresso machine.

Capsule Espresso Machine

Capsule coffee machines forego the beans and grounds and instead extract espresso directly from single-use capsules. By taking out the need for measurements, capsule coffee machines boast consistent quality in a much more user friendly package. Some of the biggest names in coffee, like Nespresso and Lavazza, are at the front of the capsule coffee trend, with a huge range of blends for people to choose from. 

What you need to know:

• The cost of coffee capsules can vary, depending on when and where they’re purchased.
• Many capsule coffee machines will only work with a specific brand of capsule. Always check on what can be used in a machine before purchase.
• Each individual capsule is sealed until use, so they’ll last longer in the cupboard than a bag of coffee beans.

Coffee Beans

Coffee beans can be bought by the bag in both local supermarkets, and many local cafes. The best advice here is to simply try different blends to find what you like; cafes that roast their own blends can usually offer fantastic advice on taste and texture, so your local may be a good place to start.
What you need to know:
• Once a bag of beans has been opened, keep them in an airtight container until ready to grind.
• Don’t keep coffee in the fridge; store in the pantry instead.
• Coffee beans can be frozen, though beans will always make for a better coffee when they’re fresh.
• Grounds are at their very best when freshly ground, so it’s good practice to grind on demand for coffees, or in very small batches that will be used quickly.


The price range of coffee grinders is quite significant. For the casual coffee drinker, there are small and relatively cheap models which offer a great grind, but will only handle a small amount of beans at a time. These models also have fewer features for customising the grind.
For coffee savants, a more fully-featured grinder is a worthy investment. The coarseness of a grind has a lot to do with the kind of espresso it produces.  Because of this, being able to change up those settings and experiment with different grinds is what will help you find the perfect espresso. 

Barista Skills

As mentioned above, using a manual espresso machine has plenty of benefits, but does take some skill to work. Practice makes perfect, and there are plenty of simple barista courses on offer all around Australia, run by professionals teaching the tricks of the tradeto a great coffee. If you’re serious about great espresso, a small course like this is well worth looking into.

Click here to start shopping for coffee machines.

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