Best Coffee Makers 2019
I know a lot of people who like to have a cup of fine coffee, but they don’t do that often – they think they can get a good coffee only at a certain cafes. I say certain because coffee in most of the cafes is simply bad. The problem is most often in improper use of the appliance and the skill of the one who does it. The same equipment is rarely the reason for bad coffee; I see surprisingly expensive and high quality espresso machines and coffee makers in the cafes.
Cafés mainly have quality equipment. But it’s not all in hardware, so you get a worse espresso than you can make it at home.
In addition to the equipment, bad coffee should not be blamed on waiters, but their bosses, who are largely reluctant to send their staff to education or at least an accelerated course for the bartender. The reason for this is stinginess, but also the pretentious attitude that there is no great philosophy – you make coffee, put it in a portafilter (that is the “handle” that is fixed to the coffee machine), you press the button, you wash a few glasses and have a done coffee when you come back. In that acidic water with the aroma of coffee we usually pour some milk, and after that you will laugh at the fool who will drink it and then pay for it.
If we were to return bad coffee as we returned the soup with the hair – the quality of the average coffee would undoubtedly increase. But as I can not imagine the scenario in which it is happening, a fine cup of coffee, a coffee that is not acidic, bitter and has no taste of forest fire, it’s worth looking for the places where people know what they are doing.
Coffee bars with fine coffee are regularly carefully (in a hipster style, if you want) arranged.
Fine espresso – a lot more finer than the one in the average cafe, and especially finer then instant coffee and everything that comes in the form of powder – is quite possible to be made at home. And without some abnormal costs. I personally advice the use of a classic hand-held espresso machine and a coffee grinder in a grain. Aside from what I think is the best this is also the cheapest way to enjoy good home-made coffee. Some people claims that the best home-made espresso gets from so-called stovetop espresso maker.
I disagree with this. The coffee making process itself is different than in a classic espresso machine, so there is no taste, and neither the type of “beverage” obtained is the same. Which technique will someone like better – everyone will have to decide for themselves. Fine coffee can also be obtained in other ways (french press, aeropress, cooking in the pot), but it is far less interesting and appealing, though convenient to occasional breaks of coffee drinking routines.
The stovetop espresso maker is cheaper than the espresso machine (depending on the size, it can cost from 25$ to a 120$), and it is someone’s favorite for cooking “espresso” at home. Personally I disagree …
Here’s what’s needed for a very fine home espresso:
Disclaimer: This text is not sponsored by any of the manufacturers, companies or stores mentioned in it. I only transfer my own experiences and observations; nothing more or less than what I have been convinced of over the past few years to work, worthwhile and worth the recommendation.
1. Espresso Machine
When buying an espresso machine, especially the first, the man has no idea what he needs and what he should do to make sure he does not throw money on something that does not fulfill his basic purpose. When I was in that position, I read a lot of coffee machines reviews but that did not make me much smarter. Finally I decided to risk and buy the original Gaggia model (New Evolution). Today, it is no longer sold, nor can I find the price equivalent on the Amazon(about 200$ price).
DeLonghi Dedica EC 685M – According to many forums and reviews, one of the best cheap espresso machines on the market. It costs about 300 $ and I believe it will serve as an excellent entry into the world of “home” espresso. This is a convenient espresso machine that is regularly recommended on the forums. I did not have the opportunity to try it personally but too many times I saw him among the recommendations to doubt its quality. In USA it can be purchased for around 300 $ and in my opinion the best place to buy it is Amazon.
When looking for a coffee machine keep in mind that the specifications will not tell you much (or anything) about its real possibilities. Many people take the stated pump power as some quality measure and think that the 18-barpump will be better than the pump’s running at 15 bar. It’s a mistake. For espresso we need 9 bar pressure so in this case both hypothetical devices are “equally good”. More importantly, the stability of the pressure and temperature in all the components of the appliance is more important, and of course, no manufacturer states it.
If you ant a slight better option look for Gaggia Baby Model or the legendary Classic. Both are great with elemental maintenance and unusually reliable appliances. The price for the new machine should be 350 – 380 $.
If you are buying a Gaggia Classic be sure to buy the “old” generation of this appliance and not the “new one”. Newer versions of Classics have experienced a major downgrade in component quality and neatly install the same “hardware” that has the cheaper Gaggia Pure / Color. The old generation of Gaggia Classic you will recognize by the appearance of the front keys. If the orange lights on the lower half of the keys (as in the bottom photo), that’s the old Classic. If they are on the top, it’s a new, much worse Classic Model.
Buying used for less money can get a great appliance but should be careful about its condition (primarily pump functionality). But be careful. Espresso machines are constantly impacting water limescale, as well as fat and coffee acids, so it is not difficult to bump into a poorly maintained appliance. Failure in this case does not only mean that the appliance will not potentially work, but will also produce bad coffee. The amount of lime in the system and the purity of all the parts through which water and coffee pass through – these are factors that strongly affect the taste of your espresso.
With all that in mind, someone who just gets into the world of the home espresso I would nevertheless recommend to buy a new, unused device. I have mentioned Gaggia several times here but that does not mean that I think bad about other manufacturers. I recommend Gaggia exclusively because I have been convinced in recent years that this is a good choice.
2. Coffee Grinder
You can survive without a coffee grinder, but the finest espresso you will get if the coffee beans are grounded just before “putting” into the espresso machine
A coffee grinder is not obligatory as coffee grinders are available in shops, but if your goal is to have the finest possible coffee you will want to get it. Freshly ground coffee has a richer cream (so it is called the brightest, creamy layer of coffee that is “made” on top) and has a better taste. Besides, if you’re grind yourself, make sure you not grind it too fine for espresso, which can be the case with factory minced coffee. Pressurized water through very fine coffee goes too fast, which is why all the flavor and no cremation (I hate this word, but what will you do) is not extracted from coffee. The result is a watery and stale drink, tastes like drinking water from a poorly washed cup, from which someone drank coffee before. Last but not least, coffee in a grain is generally cheaper than ground coffee.
Some basic rule of good coffee grinding is that the mill must have so-called burr knives. These are not really blades, but two rough surfaces that rotate, and in that process crushes the coffee grains that goes through them. As the gap between the surface is smaller, we will get the finely ground coffee. This grinding technique provides more uniform results and produces less heat than is the case with grinding with rotary knives. Both are essential to the taste of coffee.
These are the main elements of a burr mechanism. As the gap between those two elements is smaller the coffee powder will be finer.
Coffee grinders with the described burr mechanism are more expensive than classic knives. Luckily not everyone. In my coffee researches I discovered Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder. These costs around 140 $ and have a burr mechanism.
Fine grinding can not be adjusted to the level needed for espresso but it is easy to modify and remove this limit. The modification consists of removing the plastic stopper that prevents excessive approaching of the grinding elements. This is conceived as a guard against the burr of the two rotating parts of the burr mechanism but even if they are a few seconds in direct contact (you will clearly hear the sound coming from the mill), nothing will happen to them.
The same modification is achievable in a ten minutes, even if you have not opened a device in life. With this procedure, you are left without a guarantee before turning on the power supply, which in itself is somewhat insane, but for the pound coin you get an excellent mill for espresso – the only one you will ever need.
If you are afraid to open the device, despite the fact that it is actually a trivial action, nothing prevents you from using it – or at least trying – without modification.
Capresso 565.05 Infinity – Another good coffee grinder with burr mechanism. Its price is 143 $ and it will be great for home espresso. This mill can be purchased, for example, on Amazon(see below).
Reviews and friends say it’s great.
Now we’re talking! Trying out different types of coffee is the best part of home espresso preparation. When you have a coffee machine and grinder, the best part is followed: coffee selection. Like beers, wines and everything else in life, coffee comes in countless different flavors. The flavor depends on the very type of coffee (the basic division is on arabic and robust, often mixed in different proportions), the length of the frying of the grain (the gradation is “light” – the shorter the fried beans are brighter and the longer the fried beans are dark) and a whole host of other factors, many of which are not known to you.
I will not go further with the theory. What interests me, let me explore where coffee is growing, how it’s grounded and how some of its features and the way of roasting affect the taste.
The Bean belt is the belt around the Earth in which all the world’s coffee grows. If you were wondering why coffee always come from the same countries, that’s the explanation. Neither in another part of the world the climate is not suitable for growing coffee.
Coffee, in the beans or grounded, can be bought anywhere in the world. If you are buying ground, make sure that it is marked on the packaging that it is for espresso, because only this is enough fine minced for use in the espresso machine. When you buy coffee beans you don’t have to worry – you will grind it yourself.
Coffee beans are generally cheaper than grounded coffee(who would say?). I know I happen to buy a very expensive coffee that I do not like at all. Also, among the cheaper coffees sometimes I find some surprisingly good.
My favorite is Superiore Espresso. Another great coffee is Pellini. It can be purchased in beans, it is available in many different types.
As a landmark, it can be calculated that a kilogram of fine coffee (beans) costs about 30 $. Everything that costs more than 40$ per kilogram I consider to be extremely expensive.
4. Basic Skills
Coffee making is a skill for which people are educated. But everyone will, with little practice, succeed in getting a fine home espresso.
In various forums (like the great Coffee Geek) and YouTube, you will find all that you might be interested in, from the process of making espresso at home to many other tricks coffee related.
If you don’t want to explore I will outline a few basic rules for you below. But before that, here are small tips with basic parts of a home espresso machine.
It’s only important that you know about what’s happening, not just because of understanding of my instructions, but also for easy reading on online forums, watching movies on YouTube and other aspects of research on this topic.
The smallest part of the espresso is called the heart. In the cup behind it the lighter, caramel body (body), and at the end of so-called cream, is a part of golden color, which contains the finest flavors. If it does not, there is something wrong with grain grinding, pump pressure, or temperature. The jet should not be slim and slow, but neither too fast nor too shallow.
The beans must be grounded very fine, but not so much that water can not pass through the portafilter (handle of the espresso machine). Find the finesse in which water is difficult to pass (the coffee is very slow to pour into the cup) and then set the mill to one or two degrees of rough grinding. Espresso has to flow into the cup uniformly, stably and without problems, but not too fast. You will recognize too fast leaking in the fact that the jet of the espresso will become watered after a few seconds. This means that you grained the grains too harsh.
The extraction duration (water release through grounded coffee) is extremely important for the taste of espresso and the aspect is most often mistaken, both at home and in cafes. Too fast extraction will result in acidic espresso. If it’s too long it will make espresso it watery and bitter. It is very hard to say how many seconds the whole process has to last, because it depends largely on the finery of grinding and the characteristics of coffee itself (they do not behave the same at extraction). This time may range from 15 to 40 seconds, which best illustrates there are no strict rules here.
Instead of a stopwatch, look at the jet of espresso and what’s going on with the espresso in the cup. Buy a couple of glass jars (they can be found for ten dollars), they are great for the initial learning period. When the jar becomes bright, and you have what you should have in a cup – on top of a creamy layer of golden brown cream, underneath it a caramel body, and at the bottom the dark brown heart, the extraction is over. It will take a while to find the best time to stop extraction, but don’t worry, you will find it.
One handy trick – when you achieve the fine grinding that gives you the required and uniform flow use the cup with you are most often doing espresso. Coffee should be put in a double espresso cart, which you will surely get with the appliance if you have not bought the cheapest model in the world. Turn on the appliance and start measuring the time on the stopwatch. When the shot glass is full, your espresso should be close to perfect. Time that shows the stopwatch should be your ideal time of extraction. Why are you putting a coffee cup next to a shotgun? Because now you can see how much coffee it has in it and the next time you know when you need to stop with extraction, without using a stopwatch. Keep in mind that the extraction time will change when you buy new coffee, so this procedure will need to be repeated.
Shredding coarsely ground coffee
Before putting the portafilter on the coffee machine it is necessary to tamper it. After tampering with accompanying tool supplied with the espresso machine put it in the holder. I do not know how things are with other manufacturers, but Gaggia has a weird and stupid habit to supply a tamper whose diameter is millimeter or two smaller than a coffee cup, so it’s harder and worse.
I replaced it with a tamper whose dimensions match the diameter of the cartridge (58 millimeters of most Gaggia appliances). I chose LuxHaus 58mm Calibrated Pressure Tamper and ordered it from the Amazon.
I can recommend it – it’s great. If you do not buy online, then you are strange, but still deserve to know that replacement tamperers can buy at all specialized stores. Let the dimensions match the basket of your portafilter and buy a stainless steel tamper if possible.
There are no great philosophies around the effects of the insertion itself – shake the portafilter so that the coarse coffee in the basket is roughly evenly distributed, and then press it in a decisive motion using a tamper. When you remove it, in the basket you should have a smoothly coated coffee of smooth and flat surface.
Preparation Of Milk
This is a problem that could be addressed without any problem by another major text. Home appliance for espresso, especially cheaper, comes with a rather bad addition to the so-called steaming and frothing of milk (that’s where it comes foam and silk texture). You can keep good people’s guidance from YouTube, but it will happen that neither the biggest effort nor the best achievement will yield the desired result. That just means you do not have the equipment good enough.
Steam wand with Gaggia’s cheaper appliances is bad. Better results will be achieved if you remove this long plastic bottom (Gaggia calls it Turbo Frother) and even better if you install a replacement steam wand.
If you have a Gaggia appliance the good news is that you can help by purchasing and installing a replacement steam wand (part from which water vapor is released, which is necessary to froth the milk). Most of the cheaper Gaggia models without any special modifications and adapters can be fitted with Rancilio Silvia V2 Steam Wand.
From the first hand I can say that the difference is drastic and that by using this substitute steam wand the milk froth is consistent and of excellent quality. Rancilio Silvia V2 is an excellent replacement steam wand that can be fitted to a large number of Gaggia’s cheaper espresso machines without any modification or opening of the appliance. It can be ordered at Amazon by a 40 $ price.
As the milk is colder the frothing and steaming results will be better, regardless of whether you have a factory or replacement steam wand. Your goal is to get the milk swirled in the jug (pitcher) when you froth it. If you do this in a metal jug, you should do it until pitcher become too hot to keep your fingers pressed against it. Otherwise, you will overheat the milk, after which you can throw it.
When you start with the wiping, hold the steam wand first on the surface of the milk so it looks like it “sucks” the bubbles. After surfacing on the surface for five, six or ten seconds, slide it immediately under the surface of the milk (which will expand, the foam will develop) and then push it even further and tilt the jug until the milk starts to swirl (which will begin to create silky microporous). The vapor capacity can usually be regulated on the coffee machine. One says you should start with a low steam pressure and gradually increase it. Others say that they immediately open the steam valve to the end. I say you do what gives you better results.
Cooking More Coffee
When making more espressos, first you have to do all the work around the coffee, and after make a milk froth.
If you make, for example, four espressos, always make the espresso first, and then process the milk. When using a home coffee machine the portafilter is heated by other appliance elements. If you pass the espresso through a hot appliance it will have burnt and unpleasant taste. This is the case with the vast majority of “neighborhood” cafes, where the temperature of the appliance (or parts of it) does not worry anyone.
In short – first coffee, then milk processing. Do not worry if your coffee machine can not produce enough steam to froth milk for five or seven coffee in a row. Home coffee machines are not made for such consecutive coffee making.
The occasional use of scaling liquids will ensure the correct operation of the espresso machine. Try using it at least once in two months.
In the ideal world, just pour filtered water (from Brite) in the espresso machine, or clean it with the anti-lime agent several times a month. In reality there is no theory that you will have such discipline. Nothing for that. The coffee machines are not so delicate that you have to treat them against limes more than once a month, or at least once in two months. It should not be exaggerated either because cleaning agents are aggressive and in excessive amounts can damage parts of the coffee machine. The moment of cleaning is when you notice the first traces of the lime scale in the water bowl.
A very solid anti-lime agent, in the form of powder and liquid, can be bought on Amazon.
The price is not high – about ten $ for packaging. Buy, follow the instructions, use it occasionally and your coffee machine will serve you for years without any hesitation.
What we need also clean is the fat that coffee eventually leaves on all the elements of the appliance with which it is in contact, that is, the portafilter (the “handle” with the coffee table in which you place the coffee) and the metal part to which it is fixed (the so called head of the handle). Coffee contains essential oils and as such it is self-greasy – to make sure, take the grain and rub it between your fingers.
The filter on the head of the group is a part that most do not clean and is in direct contact with water and coffee. Clean it together with the filter holder and the coffee cup.
I did not find a quality tool that can be solved (that is, I am, but it is not available in retail, so it makes no sense to recommend it). The good news is that the job will do well to soak these parts in the water with a little kitchen detergent.
Although the accumulation of fat here on the filter will not greatly affect the leakage of the espresso in the cup, the flavor certainly – will.
Remove the portafilter as well as a head screw filter (usually fixed by a single screw), and place both of the two parts, as well as the metal part of the handle, in warm water with a detergent. Leave it overnight, wipe the remaining fat in the morning, rinse well with water and return to the place. That is it – your coffee machine is clean and ready to store fine espresso.