Just as any fashion-forward person would not forget matching shoes with their evening dress, so every well-designed home must have a beautiful espresso machine. The right machine can add not just flavor but aesthetic to a kitchen, the sparkle of polished metal standing at the ready to make a favorite beverage at any time of the day.
There is a lot to consider when on the market for a home espresso machine, not the least is size and price. Some come with an inordinate amount of bells and whistles; others are simpler, designed more with beauty and grace in mind. Here is a rundown of favorite home espresso machines, and their perks and drawbacks.
La Pavoni ‘Stradivari’
This Italian-made beauty is simplicity at its essence. Gleaming chrome and a choice of black or rosewood finishes make this a top pick for those who want a decorative, unique piece for their kitchen. With its manual leaver system, this is not the usual ‘box’ shaped machine, which is a pro, but still has the capabilities of a more traditional looking machine, like a steam wand and fairly large boiler. Con: can take some practice to get the hang of this setup.
For a pop of color this one really is the ‘dream’ machine. It’s available in 10 colors with a glossy, matte or hand-crafted finish, with retro toggle-style switches and thought-out design. Made in Barcelona by some serious coffee aficionados, this is a well-crafted machine that promises to produce the perfect cuppa every time and looks good doing it. Con: the basic ‘Dream’ model is light on options, upgrade for a better machine.
Rancilio set the standard for home machines, and they continue to be one of the best- selling on that market. The Silvia is on the boxy side, but its clean lines and simple interface will blend into any kitchen without taking up space or conflicting with present style and décor. It’s a beautiful machine built by a long-time player in the espresso machine world, so you can have your coffee and drink it too. Con: boiler is on the smaller side, so it needs a few minutes’ rest every two to three drinks.
Elektra ‘Micro Casa Leva’
A replica of the first espresso machine ever created, this is an eye-catching conversation piece if ever there was one. The unique, iconic shape makes this machine stand out, but it’s the finish options that really get it to sing: copper and brass, chrome and brass or simple chrome. It’s another lever-action machine, similar to its Italian neighbor La Pavoni. It is quieter than other machines and has a spring lever that gives constant pump pressure. Con: not for espresso beginners, also the brass tends to tarnish.
Breville ‘Barista Express’
The classic take on the home espresso machine, but with updated technology and strong reviews. With its bean bin and built-in burr grinder, this is the go-to machine for those who want consistently good coffee at the push of a button. Other pros are its user-friendliness and the fact that it comes with everything needed to make coffee right out of the box. Finish options are brushed stainless, black or candy-apple red. Con: looks busy, with lots of knobs, dials, and angles.
Jura ‘ENA Micro 1’
The Swiss design and engineering of this machine is oblivious in all the right ways. It has its own built-in, air-tight bean storage and grinder, as well as a place to add pre-ground coffee, and fresh water is heated for every cup in a matter of seconds. Also, it has the smallest footprint of all the machines listed here. Compact, elegant, and eco-friendly; what more is there to ask for? Con: no steam wand.
Home-espresso is a big wide world filled with gems. Now, get out there and find the perfect diamond.