CoffeeLover Archive

Best espresso coffee machine

Espresso is a fragrant and concentrated coffee beverage, made by forcing hot water at high pressure through coffee beans which have been ground to a very fine or powder like consistency. The coffee is tightly compacted into a basket and the hot water is forced through for a very specific amount of time. To clear up a couple of misconceptions about what espresso is; it is not specific to any coffee bean as it can in fact be made from any type of bean. Espresso can also be any type of roast. This means everyone can experiment to get the exact flavor and strength they enjoy the most.

Espresso machines come in all shapes and sizes. Price differences are huge as they range in price from as low as $20, all the way up to a $1000 and beyond. It appears that there is an almost limitless range to choose from so to make it easier on yourself you simply have to ask a few questions about what you really want out of your espresso machine.

How often are you going to be enjoying an espresso? If you plan on getting your morning jolt from your espresso rather than the usual cup of instant joe, then you want something that is both convenient and sturdy. A 12 month or 2-year warranty also wouldn’t be a bad idea if you plan on making a sizable investment.

For the full espresso experience you really need to go for a pump driven unit to push that steam through at high pressure. Steam driven units just don’t have enough power to draw out the full flavor of the beans. If your budget is a concern, there are quite a few units for under $100 which will do the trick. This is the perfect price point for students who need a few shots of espresso to get through an all-nighter.

Many espresso machines use pre-made pods to create the beverage, meaning you are locked into that particular brand for the life of the machine. While these can be a little more expensive they are still cheaper than a visit to Starbucks and are incredibly convenient and quick; insert the pod, wait a few seconds, and then enjoy with no mess and no fuss. There’s a huge variety of flavors to choose from in whatever brand you settle on so you are sure to find the perfect flavor. One downside is that there is more wastage involved due to the extra packaging.

There are varying levels of automation you will need to consider when deciding on an espresso machine as they vary from old school fully manual like they used to do in the old country, to fully automatic which does everything except drink the espresso for you.

The more automation you want the higher the price goes, but those on a budget can easily settle for an acceptable compromise by foregoing a few of the fancier features and doing some of the steps themselves. For the full experience of making the espresso from go to whoa, and the advantage of spending only a few dollars, you can still get a fully manual espresso maker such as the Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine, which is even robust enough to use in the office.

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Best pod coffee machine

For coffee that comes with a push button convenience that rivals even that of instant coffee, pod based coffee machines certainly are an attractive option. Coffee pods, or capsules as they are otherwise known, are a conveniently packed form of coffee, with each pod containing a single serve of coffee.

It should be noted that the term coffee pod originally referred to the single serve of coffee contained in its own filter, much like a tea bag.  These pods are designed to be used in espresso machines, or regular coffee machines, and are in fact a better option than a coffee capsule if you want a full strength espresso. Coffee capsules on the other hand, are single serves of coffee contained in a plastic or aluminum capsule.

A ‘real’ coffee pod will contain 7g of coffee blend (the bare minimum for a full strength espresso), while capsules are sold in between 5 and 5.8 gram sizes. Needless to say, a capsule of this size will fail to produce a full flavored espresso. These days the term ‘pod’ has become interchangeable with the more popular ‘capsule.’

Coffee pods (or capsules) have been exploding in popularity of late due to their extreme convenience. Never before has such a wide range of flavors been available with the convenience of an almost instant cup of coffee, but when you’re on the hunt for the best coffee machine with pods you will still need to do a little research before settling on a model.

Many coffee pod machines are brand specific, meaning you may be locked into buying that brand of coffee, so you will want to make sure that there are plenty of flavors to choose from. Some brands have as little as 3 flavors, while Nespresso, the brand which kicked off the whole craze, has 16 flavors available at the time of writing. You should also be aware that what flavors are available will depend on the company’s bottom line. If a flavor isn’t performing in the marketplace, it’s highly like it may be dropped, never to be seen again.

As the war for coffee pod profits heats up a few manufacturers have entered the fray with their own versions of coffee pod machines. These often come with the ability to use pods from a number of different companies, thereby freeing you from being forced to use only one particular brand. This is a great option if you want to maximize the amount of flavors available to you. Due to the fact they are manufactured by third parties these off brand coffee pod machines are usually a little cheaper as well.

The best pod coffee machine that we have found on the market is the DeLonghi Silver Lattissima Plus Nespresso Capsule System pictured below.

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Best milk frother

A proper milk frothing can really add to your enjoyment of a good cup of coffee as foamed milk adds a little extra sweetness to the taste. Flat milk will taste dull by comparison so you won’t be winning any awards for the beverage. Short of having a professional barista on hand for when you want your milk frothed just so, your next best option is to acquire a machine which can do the job for you at a comparable level. You won’t be getting intricately designed foam art on your beverage with one of these machines, but at least you’ll be enjoying a decent cuppa with properly foamed milk.

Any coffee, from cappuccinos to lattes, should have well prepared milk if you are to experience the full flavor of the brew in all its glory. A cappuccino is best served with milk doubled in volume by foaming, while lattes typically require less foam at one third of the volume.

One option to go for when it comes to enjoying coffee with well froth milked is to purchase a separate milk frother like the Nespresso Aeroccino Plus Milk Frother pictured below. While using one of these in conjunction with your coffee machine may save you money, it does add to the time it takes to create the perfect cup of coffee, and they do take a little practice to get the right consistency every time.

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A good quality latte or cappuccino system will have a dedicated milk frother built in. While the machine is busy brewing coffee on one side, your milk is happily frothing away on the other and will be ready for you to pour when the brewing is complete. It all makes for a quick and easy solution with less clean up and no guess work as to how the milk will turn out.

A choice of frothing modes also creates a more versatile machine as sometimes you may be in the mood for a cappuccino, and at other times you might be in the mood for something a little stronger, such as a full flavored latte. A milk frother with easy settings for cappuccinos, lattes, or cold froths therefore, is a must.

While it is possible to froth your milk on the side – there are automatic standalone milk frothers – there’s nothing worse for a coffee lover than having a latte going cold while you wait for the milk to gets it froth on. The best coffee machine with milk frother will keep everything timed perfectly for a brew at the right temperature, and frothy milk ready to pour.

Best coffee machine for home

If you really enjoy your coffee and like to experiment with the wide variety of unique flavors which are available today, then your passion for this aromatic beverage will be better served by having your very own coffee machine at home. Having your own coffee machine allows you to try a wide range of flavors which all taste so much better than any of the instant varieties. Plus, just think about how much you will be saving by making your own quality brews at home, rather than sacrificing wads of your hard earned at the Starbucks counter every morning.

The coffee machine which eventually finds its home on your kitchen counter will ultimately depend on just how far your indulgence goes. The coffee industry is booming and it seems like there is a new flavor coming out every week. Add to that the sheer variety of coffees on offer and you have quite the job of deciding on a coffee machine that can earn its place in your kitchen.

You will have an easier time of it if your enjoyment of coffee focuses on a particular type and flavor of coffee such as a cappuccino or espresso, as machines which specialize are generally at the cheaper end of the price brackets. For those who really can’t settle on a favorite and need something different then there are plenty of coffee machines designed for the home which can make a wide variety of coffees. The more your taste varies the more cash you will probably have to cough up to indulge such a wide ranging fancy.

If you are just after a great coffee every morning and need the convenience of instant with the flavor of your local gourmet coffee shop, then a coffee machine which uses pods may be right up your alley. These machines vary in price but can be very affordable and are a great way to have a no mess no fuss cup of coffee every morning. You’re usually locked into a particular brand by going this route but the ease and convenience more than makes up for it.

There are nearly as many coffee machines on the market today as there are brands and flavors of coffee, but if you take the time to analyze the needs of your indulgence then the pay off in flavor and convenience will definitely be worth it.

We recommend the De’Longhi EC155 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker as being the best value for money for your everyday home coffee machine.

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Best coffee machine for your business office

Bland boring coffee is hardly the stuff to inspire you or your staff to greater heights of productivity during those tough stints at the office but most businesses are happy to have the obligatory 12 cup pot churning out stale lukewarm coffee day in and day out. A lot of businesses also buy instant coffee in the over sized containers as a cost cutting measure, but wouldn’t it be better to show your appreciation of your staff members by serving them coffee that is a little more upmarket. A decent sized coffee machine which provides good quality coffee actually has a couple of major advantages to any business.

Firstly, while instant may be instant, if you think about the time spent waiting for kettles to boil, then the time spent actually making the instant coffee, and then add all of that time up between all of your staff members, you’d probably be shocked at just how much time so called instant coffee sucks out of your employees’ busy schedule. And it’s not even good coffee! Secondly, a happy office is a productive office and there’s not much an employee loves more than a good cup of coffee they don’t have to pay for.

The amount you spend on purchasing the best coffee machine for a business or office will depend a lot on how many staff members the coffee machine will be serving each day. A bigger business will naturally need something larger and more robust, especially if it needs to serve a number of people at the same time. Don’t fall into the trap of buying a cheap machine as this will likely need replacing in 12 months time. Instead, opt for something that is going to last the distance.

Speed is also an important factor as you don’t want your employees milling around wasting time waiting for their brew. This probably means that most espresso machines are out as there are limits on how far a business should be expected to go in terms of coffee supply.

You also want to keep your coffee expenses to a minimum which negates the use of a pod machine. Using up pods day in day out will have a startling effect on the bottom line once you spread that cost out over a number of employees – especially with some of them drinking three and four cups a day or more. For a moderately large office, a good quality barista machine that is self-cleaning and largely automatic should make a good fit. Smaller offices may get away with one of the smaller automatic coffee machines and if you really want to get fancy an automatic coffee bean grinder on standby will keep even the biggest coffee snob employees happy.

We highly recommend DeLonghi’s ECAM22110SB compact automatic espresso and cappuccino machine.

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Best 12 cup coffee mahchine

When you’re not the only person in the room who needs coffee, and needs it now you need a large capacity coffee machine to keep it all fresh, hot, and on demand. A 12 cup coffee machine should do the trick but the choices are many, so which one is right for you? Fortunately, your choice is made a lot easier as there are only a handful of standout models worthy of your consideration. We’ve examined the top contenders and have compiled a few ideas on what you should look for in your next 12 cup coffee machine.

Programmable Timer

A programmable timer such as that found on the Cuisinart CHW-12 Coffee Plus will ensure you will have fresh coffee ready and waiting no matter what time you have to drag your coffee craving carcass out of bed. Whether it’s the crack of dawn, or you have scored the graveyard shift, you will always have a clean fresh brew read and waiting for you when you need it the most.

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Another feature we liked on this model is the ability to pause the brewing cycle. This feature allows you to quickly get a brew ready for the road without having to wait until the end of the brewing cycle. Fortunately, this is a popular feature on quite a few of the higher end models so you should have no trouble finding one.

Adjustable Temperature Control

Some of us like to sip our coffee while it’s scalding hot while others enjoy a larger mouthful at cooler temperatures. Opting for a 12 cup machine with this feature will mean you can always have a fresh cup at the perfect temperature.

Easy Filter Replacement

It’s no fun messing about with used filters so easy replacement and cleaning is a must.

Brew Strength Adjustment

We all like our coffee at different strengths and sometimes we just need a larger jolt then usual so being able to set the strength of your brew is a handy feature you might enjoy having.

Smaller Brew Settings

Sometimes you don’t need to have the full twelve cups brewing all the time so a neat feature to look for is the ability to set the machine for a smaller amount of coffee. While you can always make less coffee most cheaper brewers won’t have time to get the heater up to full speed and so the brew may be colder than you like. Having a specialty setting there means your coffee won’t be ready until it’s nice and hot.

We think the above are a few of the most important features when you’re on the lookout for a large capacity coffee machine, but attractiveness may also be important to you as well, so make sure whichever model you settle on is going to look good on the bench.