You’ve made the decision to purchase an espresso machine, that’s the easy part.  Deciding on the right machine, that’s a little harder.  Once you start researching all the makes, models and costs, your head might be spinning like you’ve already consumed too much caffeine.  But don’t give up.  Finding the best espresso machine for the home just requires a little research on your part.  You’ll be rewarded with enjoying that luscious taste of espresso right from your own kitchen whenever you want.

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Getting into the whole “making your own espresso” thing can be an expensive venture.  True aficionados are quick to point out that you need to consider costs other than just that of the machine.  You should be buying a high quality grinder, which can cost as much or more than the machine itself.  You cannot bypass this step if you want to end up with a great finished product. 

Read any article about making espresso and they’ll all basically tell you the same thing.  The grinder is more important than the espresso machine.  Taking the time to learn the lingo and ins and outs of grinders will make sure your investment is not wasted.

What to Look for In a Grinder

Stepped or stepless?  Doser or doserless?  Conical or flat burrs?  It sounds overwhelming but let’s try to make sense of all these choices.

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Stepped and stepless refers to the ability to adjust the fineness of the grind.  Stepped grinders limit your choices but it depends on the quality of the grinder, with some high end models offering as many as 80 steps.  Stepless equipment will cost more, but with it you can easily adjust the grind until you find your perfect option.

Doser and doserless basically refers to how the ground coffee is handled.  Once the coffee beans are ground, you pull a level and the doser dispenses the coffee in measured amounts.  If a machine is doserless, you’ll need to catch the ground coffee in some kind of container.  The doser is more advantageous if your grinding large quantities, but has to be cleaned out so you don’t end up using coffee that isn’t fresh.

Conical and flat burrs describe the blades in the grinder.  Conical burrs are considered to spin a little slower, protecting the beans from getting too heated in the grinding process.  Flat burrs are preferred by some because of their perceived ability to product a more consistent grind.

When it comes to purchasing the top coffee grinder for espresso, a standard rule of thumb is to spend at least as much on your grinder as you plan on spending on your espresso machine.  Remember, this is considered the most important piece of equipment in the entire espresso making process.

What Kind of Barista Do You Want to Be?

Learning how to brew the perfect shot takes time and practice.  Are you hoping to impress your friends and family with your abilities or do you just want to be able to enjoy a nice beverage in the privacy of your own home?  Your comfort level and desire to learn will help determine what model will be best for you. 

If you want a great cup of coffee without a steep learning curve or hassle, a fully automatic model might be the right choice.  You’ll have to spend a little more for the convenience, but you’ll be able to show off for others without actually having to acquire much skill.  With the completely automatic models you don’t have to get the additional grinder, they ground the beans too.  If you’re too busy to go through a whole routine every morning, you can get machines with timers to have your favorite brew ready to grab and walk out the door.

If, on the other hand, you’d love to become the resident expert on brewing, you might opt for a semi-automatic machine.  You can learn, adjust, practice, adjust more and end up with an expertly brewed beverage.  These semi-automatic machines are the most popular choices for home espresso making.  You’ll find a wide range of brands and price levels to choose from. 

Learning about pulling shots at home can get every bit as involved as any other hobby.  There are endless accessories available, including the kind of cups you serve your brews in.  You can quickly end up spending a lot of money before you’ve even brewed your first cup.  Do your homework, read reviews and talk to others to help you make the right decision. 

I find that CoffeeCritter.com has some amazing reviews on all coffee related topics and definitely help me in choosing my setup.