Last Updated on February 20, 2022 by John Moretti
Espresso machines are a luxury, but for the coffee lover who cannot start the day without espresso, they are a necessity. There is a massive range of espresso machines on the market, but some are significantly more expensive than others, and others seem too affordable for their own good. How do cheap and expensive espresso machines compare?
Cheap espresso machines are not as good as expensive machines. Expensive espresso machines have better components and features than cheap espresso machines. This is a general truth, but a good barista can still make decent coffee with a cheap espresso machine.
Espresso machines are complicated devices that must be perfectly calibrated to produce good espresso. There are several variables that make an espresso machine good or bad, and the price of the machine often reflects its quality. Let us look more closely at cheap vs. expensive espresso machines to find out how they compare.
Cheap Espresso Machines Vs. Expensive Espresso Machines
Espresso machines are something special. These machines are capable of making coffee drinks that no other brew method can, and the coffee lover who enjoys espresso will not be satisfied with anything else.
Having an espresso machine at home is a challenging undertaking, but choosing the right espresso machine for you makes all the difference and improves the experience significantly.
One of the biggest factors when buying an espresso machine is the price. There are several very cheap espresso machines available on the market, but there are plenty of espresso machines that are very expensive as well.
Are expensive espresso machines really that much better than cheap espresso machines? Are cheap espresso machines so bad that they are not worth buying? Let’s identify the most important features of espresso machines and compare these features on expensive and cheap machines to see how they hold up against one another.
The Machine Features And Capabilities
Some of the most important aspects of an espresso machine are the features and the capabilities of the machine.
Expensive espresso machines are equipped with significantly more features than cheap machines and have a host of more functions and capabilities as well. Cheap espresso machines are usually very simple and do not have any unique features to speak of.
Cheap espresso machines are typically equipped with a basic steam wand, a simple pressure gauge, a water tank, a drip tray, a pressurized portafilter, and not much else. These are very bare-bones machines that can make espresso and steam milk, but their functionality ends there.
Expensive espresso machines often come equipped with several features that cheap machines do not. Screens, touch sensitivity, multiple read-outs and dials, automatic functionality, grinders, temperature control, feedback features, high-quality portafilters, and better build quality are all present on more expensive espresso machines.
However, with that being said, cheap espresso machines are capable of everything that an espresso machine needs to be. They can pull shots of espresso, and they can steam milk. This means that they can produce the coffee drinks that are expected of espresso machines.
The most critical differences between cheap and expensive machines are the quality of the components and the quality of the coffee that they can produce. Let’s look at these aspects of espresso machines next.
The Machine Build Quality
The build quality of an espresso machine includes the exterior of the device, the user interface on the machine, and the quality of the internal components and portafilter that the machine is equipped with.
This category is ultimately won by expensive machines. All of the components featured in expensive espresso machines are better than those in cheap espresso machines. The hardware in expensive machines is much better quality than those in cheaper machines and so function better to produce a better-quality shot of espresso.
The internal pumps, boilers, and plumbing within expensive machines are better than cheaper machines, which means that these machines last longer and function better for producing espresso and espresso-based drinks.
The portafilters of expensive machines are also better, and the baskets that they use are better for making espresso.
However, this is not to say that cheap espresso machines are not capable of producing good coffee. The machine is not the only component in the process of making espresso. The quality of beans used and the brewing techniques employed by the barista are major factors as well.
A skilled barista with good beans can produce better coffee from a cheaper machine than a poor barista with a very expensive machine.
The Coffee Produced
The final and most important aspect of the espresso machines to compare is the coffee that is produced from cheap vs. expensive espresso machines.
The ultimate deciding factors regarding the quality of the espresso produced are the quality of the beans used for making the coffee and the skill of the barista using the machine.
However, expensive espresso machines are easier to use and typically are capable of producing better coffee than cheaper machines.
This is usually due to the temperature control of the machines, the pressure and pressure consistency that the machine is capable of, the quality of the portafilter and brew basket, the water flow rate, and the water distribution that the machine uses.
Expensive machines typically have better components that do execute these brew functions better than cheaper machines do. This means that cheaper espresso machines cannot produce the quality of coffee that expensive machines are capable of.
However, this is not absolute. There are several inexpensive machines that are built with decent quality components and that come equipped with better quality portafilters and baskets than other cheap machines.
Cheap machines with good components will make better coffee than cheap machines with bad components. The coffee results depend entirely on the machine and its components, as well as the skills of the barista, and not on the price of the machine alone.
Cheap espresso machines are not all bad. Some of these models are equipped with decent features that allow for good quality espresso.
However, generally speaking, more expensive espresso machines have better quality components, which typically means that they are capable of producing better quality espresso and espresso-based drinks.
However, there are other aspects to consider, such as barista skill and coffee bean quality, that are also major factors in the quality of coffee that an espresso machine produces, so be sure to not base your espresso machine purchase based purely on price.