Why Are Espresso Machines So Expensive? |Plus 3 Cheap Ways To Make Espresso

Picture this: you wake up one morning, the kids are still sleeping, and you walk into your kitchen to make yourself an espresso drink. The smell of the freshly ground coffee wakes up the rest of the house, but that’s okay because you’re perfectly caffeinated. 

Who wouldn’t want to make their own espresso at home? While this is a dream for many, especially tired parents, it isn’t easy to achieve. I have years of experience in the coffee industry and I hesitate to invest in an espresso machine due to the cost.

At home espresso machines are very expensive, sometimes they can cost thousands of dollars. All of the choices available can be overwhelming, but there’s a lot of information to help you make the right choice. Keep reading to find out why espresso machines are so expensive, how they’re made, and if they’re worth it!  

Simply put, espresso machines are very expensive to produce, much more so than traditional coffee makers. The materials alone can cost $100 or more per piece, and a lot of parts go into each machine. 

The parts that make up an espresso machine also have to work together to consistently produce quality espresso. Because of all the parts that make up a single espresso machine, they can’t be produced in high numbers like basic coffee makers. 

Not to mention that the outside of the espresso machine is expected to look good, especially if they cost more money. Overall, what’s on the inside and the outside contribute to the high cost. 

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Why Are they Expensive?

The biggest reason espresso machines are more expensive than your typical coffee maker is because of the cost to build them. Every new espresso machine has to go through a development and testing phase through each piece of equipment. 

There is a science behind coffee that most people don’t realize, and espresso is one of the most difficult beverages to understand. Those who build espresso machines put a lot of work into making them right. 

The cost of each piece of the machine, from the pressure gauge to the boiler, is what causes the price to go up. When you add additional items, like milk steamers or internal grinders, the price will climb even higher. 

The outside of the machine is usually made from stainless steel or chrome, which will add to the cost. And people will pay a lot of money for a great machine that looks beautiful on their kitchen counter. espresso

Price Range

The cost of espresso machines can vary based on what you’re looking for. La marzocco’s Linea Mini is one of the best machines you can get, and it will cost you around $5,400. 

Whereas if you just want something simple and small, you can pick up a Mr. Coffee 4 shot espresso maker for $54.99. 

Check out the list below to see what makes each of these machines unique for the home barista.

La Marzocco Linea Mini

La Marzocco is one of the world’s best espresso machine producers and this title doesn’t fall flat with their Linea Mini. Made with you in mind, you can control the inner workings of your machine through an app on your phone.

The inside of each machine is similar to the larger scale machines found at your favorite coffee shop, just more compact. The inside and outside of the Linea Mini is made completely of stainless steel and BPA-free plastic. You can find a full list of details and specs here.

Breville Barista Touch

The Breville Barista Touch is one of the most intuitive machines on the market. Featuring a state-of-the-art touch screen, you’re able to quickly select whatever drink you’d like to create. 

You’re able to control everything from the temperature of your milk, to the type of foam you’d like with the touch of a button! Aside from the touch screen, the Breville Barista Touch features a brushed stainless steel exterior with a mix of plastic and steel insides. You can find a full description here.

Nespresso Creatista

The Nespresso Creatistsa is a compact home espresso machine that will easily fit into your life. You can easily create the perfect espresso drink every time with their customizable options.

It also has an auto-clean feature which helps maintain your machine’s performance. The Nespresso Creatista is also made of stainless steel, which adds to the sleek design.

De’Longhi Manual Espresso Machine

If you’d like to try your hand with a manual espresso machine, the De’Longhi machine may be perfect for you. With a bit of skill, you can create the perfect shot of espresso every time in the comfort of your own home.

The downside to this machine is that there is no auto-clean feature, so you will have to manually clean your machine every time. This manual espresso machine also features a plastic exterior with stainless steel inner parts. More details can be found here.

Mr. Coffee 4 Shot Espresso Maker 

The Mr. Coffee 4 Shot Espresso Maker is one of the more basic machines on the market. This is reflected in the price and the performance. 

While you’ll be able to get espresso and lattes on this machine, you may find that the results are lacking. It is also made completely of plastic, with some stainless steel accents. 

La Marzocco Linea Mini $5,400
Breville Barista Touch $999.99
Nespresso Creatista $649.99
De’Longhi Manual Espresso Machine $159.95
Mr. Coffee 4 Shot Espresso Maker $54.99

What Is Espresso?

So what is espresso? You may think of a large copper contraption that sits on a restaurant’s counter and produces foamy beverages. Espresso is actually much more than that. 

Espresso isn’t a specific type of coffee or even a type of roast. Most coffee shops use a darker roast for their espresso because it helps bring out the chocolate and caramel notes when the espresso is brewed. 

In reality, any coffee can be considered an espresso. This is because espresso is actually the way it’s ground and brewed.

Espresso is typically a finely ground coffee that is tamped down in a portafilter. The portafilter is then placed into an espresso machine where water is pushed into it at a high pressure. This causes a thicker, concentrated coffee to be brewed. 

Normally, all espresso is brewed between 19-25 seconds and yields 2-4 ounces of coffee. It takes a lot of work to get a single shot of espresso tasting just right.

What Goes Into Making Espresso Machines?

The main thing that sets espresso machines apart from your typical coffee brewer is that they are more complicated to make. Each one has a boiler and pressure stat made to the highest quality standards to ensure consistent temperature and pressure control. 

Espresso machines work by forcing hot water through compressed coffee grounds in just a few seconds at high pressure. One difference in temperature or pressure will lead to poor quality espresso. 

Most espresso machines are produced on a smaller scale with a team of people who understand all the ins and outs of each machine. Because they’re produced on a smaller scale, they’re more expensive. 

Take the La Marzocco Linea Mini for example – La Marzocco is one of the most popular espresso machine producers in the world. Chances are, you’ve had a latte made on a La Marzocco. They took their knowledge of commercial espresso machines and scaled it down for home use, but that time and knowledge still comes at a high price. 

Espresso is an art form, and those who produce espresso machines understand this in their core. It would be hard to find a good machine that isn’t produced with this passion in mind. 

Parts Inside Of Espresso Machines

Each espresso machine is equipped with a boiler system as well as an electric pump. Traditionally, boiler systems are made out of copper because it is so reliable when it comes to conducting and retaining heat. 

In recent years, espresso machines have more commonly been made out of stainless steel, brass, or aluminum. This has allowed the prices to drop significantly, although they’re still rather high. 

Any espresso machine you use will only function with a strong pump. This is because you need at least 9-15 bars of pressure to produce a good quality shot of espresso. This pressure allows the water to push through the fine coffee in order to brew. 

The outside parts are important as well, such as the group head and portafilter. You may find that over time your group head needs to be replaced because the seal around it isn’t as strong, this will be an additional cost. 

Not all portafilters are created equal and you must make sure you’re using one meant for your specific machine. Using the wrong portafilter can lead to irreparable damage to your espresso machine. Espresso Machine

Why The Parts Matter?

Now that you know what goes into espresso machines, let’s talk about why it matters. Using a good quality material to create any of the parts inside of your machine is automatically going to extend its life. 

Once you’ve decided on what espresso machine you’d like, there are some features you should look out for. Every quality machine should be able to reach 9-15 bars of pressure and have a temperature range of 194-201 degrees F. This will ensure that your espresso is brewed at the ideal temperature and pressure. 

Most at-home machines only have one boiler, which means that it’s difficult to pull a shot and steam the milk at the same time. Most of the time this isn’t an issue for the home barista, but if you’d like you can always look into a separate steaming option. 

It’s important to understand the differences in espresso machines in order to make your decision. You wouldn’t buy a sports car without knowing how to drive it, buying an espresso machine is a similar process. 

Different Types Of Espresso Machines

Espresso machines are an investment and should be looked into thoroughly before purchasing for home use. They’re much like cars in that there are two main kinds – manual and automatic. 

Manual machines aren’t as common, even in coffee shops. This is because they are harder to operate and require a lot of practice to get it right.

If you have the time to put into practicing on a manual machine, it does offer some pros. You have complete control over the brewing process, which will make the end result worth it. 

Automatic espresso machines will take out the guesswork that comes with pulling the perfect shot of espresso. While they’re more expensive than manual machines, there are more people using them, which means they’re easier to maintain. 

There is a learning curve associated with automatic machines, but for the most part, they function with the press of a button. It’s almost like having a personal barista at home with you! 

Additional Costs With Espresso Machines

One of the biggest factors that will affect the taste of your espresso is the quality of water. You may find that hooking up your machine to your tap doesn’t produce the clean and crisp flavor you’re looking for. 

Depending on the type of espresso machine you go with, you may look into a water filtration system that can feed directly into your machine. This comes with additional costs as well, but it will be worth it if you’re looking for the highest quality of the espresso.

Most people buy espresso machines to make lattes, which take a lot of milk. Whether you’re using traditional dairy or plant-based milk, you’re looking at more costs over time. 

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Machine?

If you’re worried about how long your espresso machine will last, it’s actually all up to you. If you treat your espresso machine well and maintain it, it could last you a lifetime. 

Espresso machines are an investment, and luckily there are many resources to ensure you get the most out of your machine. 

Everything from the portafilters to the quality of water will affect the lifespan of your espresso machine. It’s important to keep your machine as clean as possible and run a cleaning cycle every day. 

Keeping the inside of the machine through a cleaning cycle will keep all of the parts working, and keeping your espresso tasting delicious. 

Are Cheaper Machines Any Good?

While a cheaper espresso machine may be more appealing to your budget, chances are the quality won’t be as good. You definitely won’t get the same taste as your favorite coffee shop. 

Furthermore, spending less money on a lower quality machine could mean it could break down within a year or two of use. More expensive machines are built to last, which has been proven again and again. 

The skill that comes with crafting a good shot of espresso will also be easier on the higher-priced machines. These machines are built with the barista – even the home barista – in mind. 

If the goal of espresso at home is to have the same quality as your local shop, then you can expect to pay at least $400. Our advice is to either keep saving for a nicer machine or just stick with a simple coffee maker. Espresso

Top 3 Alternative Ways To Make Espresso

If you’re not ready to drop thousands of dollars on an espresso machine, don’t worry. There are many great ways to get a similar result.

1.Aeropress

The Aeropress is one of the most popular alternatives to espresso due to the similarities in processes. Using manual pressure, you’re able to get a concentrated cup. Another selling point for the Aeropress is that it’s made of plastic, which makes it perfect for travel!

2.Moka Pot

You’ve probably seen a Moka Pot in movies or at a friend’s house, it’s one of the most common ways to brew coffee. This tiny kettle produces an espresso-like brew that is sure to wake you up and get your day started. 

3.French Press

If you’ve ever tried brewing coffee at home, chances are you’ve used a French Press. This versatile brewer is perfect for extracting the most out of your beans for a stronger cup

Aeropress $29.99
Moka Pot $30.00
French Press $15.00

Whenever you’re making espresso or any sort of specialty homebrew, it’s important to make sure you have some great equipment. You will need a good electric kettle, a burr grinder, and a good kitchen scale to get the most out of your beans. french press

Final Thoughts

Having great coffee at home is an investment and a skill that takes a lot of time to perfect. If you work hard, you can get some great coffee in the comfort of your own home. 

If you do your research and learn how to make delicious espresso at home, then investing in a great machine is completely worth it. The best part is that you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars for a great latte, you can find something to fit your budget. 

While the upfront cost is rather high, you’ll save money in the long run by not spending $5 or more on your daily coffee run.

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