The Best Espresso Machines 2024

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Top Picks & Reviews

Here's a meticulously curated espresso connoisseur's collection of ' créme de la créme ' of espresso machines, thoroughly reviewed with diligent attention to every detail. Begin your espresso journey with us, and we promise to guide you to true shot perfection. Within these pages you will find the world's finest home espresso machines - reviewed with the discerning eye of a seasoned barista and the honesty of a friend who truly wants you to achieve espresso nirvana in your own kitchen. We have tested and re-tested, meticulously plotted features against price points, weighed ease-of-use against nuanced control, so that by the end of your journey through our recommendations you will find your soulmate coffee machine - the one capable of producing the finest crema and richest flavors from your precious coffee beans with precision tailor-made just for you. So, pull up an espresso, and let's start together on a path that ends with the divine aroma of perfectly extracted morning coffee - all it takes is the right espresso machine to elevate your beans to art.

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Breville Barista Touch Espresso Machine 

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Best Coffee Grinders -2024 

The most common types are burr grinders and blade grinders. Burr grinders use ... Read More

Best Coffee Beans For Espresso

For exceptional espresso, the type of coffee bean used is extremely important. Espresso brewing method relies on finely ground coffee beans, so the bean variety and roast level ... Read More

Product Info:

  • Water Reservoir Capacity 2 Litres
  • Color Brushed Stainless Steel
  • Product Dimensions 12"D x 11"W x 13.5"H
  • Wattage 1600 watts
  • Voltage 120
  • Model Name BES870XL
  • Item Weight 2.09 pounds
  • Manufacturer Breville

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  1. Integrated conical burr grinder with dose control for precise grinding
  2. Digital temperature control (PID) delivers water at the right temperature for optimal espresso extraction
  3. Dose control grinding: Integrated precision conical burr grinder grinds on demand to deliver the right amount of freshly ground coffee directly into the portafilter
  4. Optimal water pressure: Low pressure pre-infusion gradually increases pressure at the start and helps ensure all the flavors are drawn out evenly during the extraction
  5. 67 fl. oz. (2L) removable water tank with handle
  6. Purge function automatically adjusts water temperature after steam for optimal espresso extraction
  7. Stainless steel 360-degree swivel-action steam wand
  8. Removable drip tray with Empty Me! tray full indicator
  9. 54mm tamper and trimming tool
  10. Stainless steel conical burr grinder with 1/2 lb. sealed bean hopper
  11. Warranty: 1 Year Limited Product Warranty

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Best Drip Coffee Machines

When it comes to choosing a drip coffee maker, there are many options to consider. Look for a machine with a programmable timer, so you can wake up to a freshly brewed pot of coffee. Also, consider the size of the machine and the carafe. ... Read More

Best Coffee Pod Machines

The coffee pod machine - the lazy person's dream come true. It's like having a personal coffee genie in your kitchen. That's why These machines have become increasingly popular in recent years, due to its convenience factor. It's a quick and easy way to ... Read More

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Espresso, Cappuccino, Coffee, Ristretto, Latte Macchiato, Café au Lait, Americano, Café crema.

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Elevate your espresso experience with our fine and luxurious selection of shot glass cups. Sure to be crafted with precision and elegance, these cups are designed to enhance the sensory pleasure of every sip. Made with the finest materials, they exude sophistication and are a must-have for any coffee connoisseur. Click here.

ceramic coffee cups

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Gaggia Velasca Espresso Machine

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The Espresso Machine Quest

 An Irreverent Guide to Choosing Your Coffee Companion  


By: James Butler        Revised by: Mark Cambell    Last updated: Jan 16, 2024


Searching for an espresso machine is a lot like going on an awkward first date. You think you know what you want, but confronted by a barrage of options and fluttering eyelashes (or in this case, stainless steel and programmable buttons), you start to question your tastes and whether you'll find “the one.” Like dating, choosing an espresso machine is a quest that requires self-reflection, an assessment of what you can offer (i.e. afford and handle), and an ability to see through the superficial charms to find a companion with depth and longevity.  

If I haven’t lost you in this analogy just yet, let’s continue. I’m here to help you navigate the wild world of home espresso machines to find a perfect match for your lifestyle. The most important step is being honest with yourself. Are you attracted to high-maintenance Italian beauties (semi-automatic) that require skill and patience but craft a heavenly espresso cup? Do you prefer the clean-cut reliability of automatic or super-automatic espresso machines that may lack passion but get the job done? Or maybe you're drawn to exotic temptresses (lever-operated espresso machines) that rely totally on your manual touch?  

There are three main varieties of espresso coffee machines to choose from: semi-automatic, automatic and super-automatic. A semi-automatic home espresso machine requires you to manually control certain functions like operating the portafilter, starting and stopping the shot of espresso, and steaming/frothing milk. However, the machine does handle critical functions like controlling water pressure and temperature. If you enjoy meticulously crafting barista-quality espresso and milk-based drinks, a semi-automatic can be deeply satisfying. However, it does require practice and patience to master.  

In contrast, automatic and super-automatic espresso machines handle most or all of the brewing process for you but sacrifice some amount of control and customization. An automatic espresso coffee maker automates the entire process but may allow some control over milk frothing and shot volume. A super-automatic espresso machine requires you simply add coffee beans, fill the tank, and press a button to produce an espresso or espresso-based drink with nearly no skill required. These machines are convenient but won't fulfill espresso perfectionists' desires. 

The choice comes down to how much effort you want to put into your daily brew. Are you willing to manually craft each drink with a semi-automatic or do you prefer to press a button and walk away? Be honest with yourself about your needs for control versus convenience. 

Next, consider your available counter space and budget. Home Espresso coffee machines come in a variety of sizes from compact single-boiler models to large dual-boiler machines with built-in grinders and lots of extra features. The size of machine you need depends on available space, how many espresso drinks you want to produce at once, and your budget. Smaller single-boiler machines can make one high-quality drink at a time for a few hundred dollars. Larger dual-boiler models with additional boilers for steaming and programmable volumetric controls can produce drinks faster but at a cost of $1000 or more.

Other key features to look for include:

Boilers: The boiler controls water temperature and steam pressure. Single-boiler is more compact but limits you to either espresso extraction or milk steaming at one time. Dual or triple boilers allow you to pull shots and steam milk simultaneously.

Portafilters: Choose between pressurized portafilters (more forgiving, produces crema), non-pressurized portafilters (for ground coffee, allows more control) or pod-compatible machines for pre-packaged pods.  

Grinder: A built-in burr grinder gives you freshly ground beans for the best espresso but at an added cost. Without a grinder, you'll need to buy pre-ground espresso or a separate grinder.

Additional features: Consider programmable cup size, water filter, cup warmer, frothing wand, color touchscreen display, etc. Extra features can make your espresso-making more customizable and convenient but also could be a bit more expensive.

Now that we've gone through all points that need to be mentioned, it's time to make a decision. With self-reflection and the right mindset, you'll find an espresso coffee maker as perfectly suited to you as a soulmate. And remember, as with dating, compromise is key - there's no such thing as a “perfect” espresso machine, so find one with quirks you can live with! The quest nears its end. Your lifelong coffee companion awaits.


Espresso Alchemy

 Using Heat, Pressure and Patience to Brew Brilliance

By: James Butler        Revised by: Mark Cambell    Last updated: Jan 16, 2024

Espresso machines are wonderful devices that allow you to brew delicious and aromatic espresso at home. But how do espresso machines work? What are the different types and features of espresso machines? How do you choose the best espresso machine for your needs and preferences? And how do you make the perfect espresso with your machine?

In this article, we will introduce you to some of the most famous brands and models of espresso machines, such as Breville, De'Longhi, Gaggia, Nespresso and more. We will also explain the concept of espresso yield and how it affects the taste and quality of your espresso. And we will share some tips and tricks on how to dial in your espresso, how to use different types of coffee beans and grinds, how to froth milk and how to clean and maintain your machine.

What Is an Espresso Machine?

An espresso machine is a device that uses pressure to force or express almost-boiling water through finely-ground coffee in less than 30 seconds. It produces a small "shot" of full-bodied, intensely flavored coffee that has a frothy golden layer on top called crema.

The word "espresso" comes from the Italian word for "pressed out". It also means "fast" or "quick", which reflects the speed of the brewing process.

Espresso machines were invented in Italy in the late 19th century by Angelo Moriondo, who patented a steam-driven device that could make coffee in large quantities. However, it was Luigi Bezzera who improved the design and added a portafilter (a metal filter holder with a handle) that could hold a single serving of coffee grounds. He also introduced the term "espresso" for his coffee.

In 1905, Desiderio Pavoni bought Bezzera's patent and started producing espresso machines commercially under the name "La Pavoni". He also developed the pressure release valve that allowed the water to stop flowing after the extraction was complete.

In 1938, Achille Gaggia invented the first modern espresso machine that used a spring-piston lever to create high pressure (around 9 bars) instead of steam. This resulted in a richer and creamier espresso with more crema. He also coined the term "caffè crema" for his coffee.

In 1961, Ernesto Valente created the first pump-driven espresso machine that used an electric motor to generate pressure instead of a manual lever. This made espresso machines more convenient and consistent.

In 1976, Nestlé launched the first capsule-based espresso machine under the brand name "Nespresso". This system used pre-packaged single-use pods of coffee grounds that were inserted into the machine and pierced by a needle. The water was then forced through the pod at high pressure, creating a fresh and consistent espresso.

Today, there are many types and models of espresso machines available on the market, ranging from manual to automatic, from stovetop to countertop, from single-serve to multi-group. They vary in size, shape, design, features, functionality, price and performance.

What Are the Different Types of Espresso Machines?

There are four basic types of espresso machines that suit different types of coffee drinkers. Before you decide which kind to buy, it's a good idea to figure out which category will suit your needs.

Manual

These hand-operated machines make quite a statement on your countertop. To operate them, you pull a lever, which is how the term pull came to be used for making a cup of espresso. If you put some time into mastering how to use one, you'll be rewarded with complete control over the size and strength of your shot of espresso.

However, because they require a steep learning curve and cost a pretty penny, they're primarily used by professionals or serious (and wealthy) coffee connoisseurs. And these beauties are strictly for espresso. If you want to make milk-based drinks, you'll need a separate milk frother.

Some examples of manual espresso machines are:

- La Pavoni Europiccola

- Elektra Microcasa a Leva

- Flair Espresso Maker

Semi-Automatic

These are the most common and popular type of espresso machines among home users. They have an electric pump that creates the pressure needed for extraction, but they still require you to grind, dose and tamp the coffee, as well as start and stop the water flow manually.

This gives you some control over the brewing process, but also some room for error. You'll need to practice and experiment to find the right combination of grind size, dose, tamp and extraction time to get the best results.

Semi-automatic machines usually have a steam wand that allows you to froth milk for cappuccinos and lattes. They also have a water reservoir that needs to be filled regularly.

Some examples of semi-automatic espresso machines are:

- Breville Barista Express

- DeLonghi Dedica

- Gaggia Classic Pro

Automatic

These machines are similar to semi-automatic ones, except that they have a pre-programmed water volume that stops the extraction automatically when the desired amount of espresso is reached. This eliminates the need for you to time the shot manually and ensures consistency.

However, you still need to grind, dose and tamp the coffee yourself, and adjust the settings according to your preference. You also need to froth the milk manually if you want to make milk-based drinks.

Some examples of automatic espresso machines are:

- Breville Barista Pro

- DeLonghi Magnifica

- Jura ENA 4

Super-Automatic

These machines are the ultimate in convenience and ease of use. They do everything for you with just a touch of a button: they grind the beans, dose and tamp the coffee, brew the espresso and froth the milk (if applicable). They also have self-cleaning features that keep them in good shape.

All you need to do is fill the water tank and the bean hopper, select your drink from the menu and enjoy your coffee in minutes. You can also customize your drink by adjusting the grind size, coffee strength, water temperature, milk volume and foam level.

However, these machines are also the most expensive and complex ones on the market. They require regular maintenance and descaling to prevent clogging and malfunctioning. They also offer less control over the brewing process and may not produce the same quality of espresso as manual or semi-automatic machines.

Some examples of super-automatic espresso machines are:

- Nespresso Essenza Mini

- Philips 3200 Series LatteGo

- Breville Oracle Touch

What Are the Features of Espresso Machines?

Espresso machines have different features that affect their performance, functionality and convenience. Some of the most important features are:

1.Boiler: This is the part of the machine that heats up the water for brewing and steaming. There are three types of boilers: single boiler, heat exchanger and dual boiler.

  - Single boiler: This type of boiler can only do one thing at a time: either brew or steam. You have to wait for it to heat up or cool down between tasks. This can be time-consuming and inconvenient if you want to make multiple drinks or milk-based drinks.

  - Heat exchanger: This type of boiler has a tube inside that carries cold water from the reservoir to the brew head. The tube passes through the hot water in the boiler, which heats it up quickly for brewing. This allows you to brew and steam at the same time, without waiting for temperature changes. However, you have to flush some water out of the brew head before brewing to avoid overheating your coffee.

  - Dual boiler: This type of boiler has two separate boilers: one for brewing and one for steaming. This gives you precise and independent control over the temperature and pressure of each task. You can brew and steam simultaneously, without compromising on quality or consistency. However, this type of boiler is also more expensive and complex than the other types.

2.Portafilter: This is the metal filter holder with a handle that holds the coffee grounds. It attaches to the brew head of the machine, where hot water is forced through it at high pressure. There are two types of portafilters: pressurized and non-pressurized.

  - Pressurized portafilter: This type of portafilter has a valve or a basket with tiny holes that create artificial pressure inside. This helps to extract more flavor and crema from the coffee, even if the grind size or tamp is not optimal. This type of portafilter is more forgiving and easier to use, especially for beginners or pre-ground coffee users.

  - Non-pressurized portafilter: This type of portafilter has no valve or basket with tiny holes. It relies on the natural pressure created by the finely-ground coffee and the tamp. This allows you to have more control over the extraction process, but also requires more skill and precision. You need to use fresh and evenly-ground coffee, as well as a consistent tamp, to get a good shot of espresso.

3.Group head: This is the part of the machine that connects the portafilter to the boiler. It delivers hot water to the portafilter at high pressure. There are two types of group heads: E61 and thermoblock.

  - E61 group head: This is a classic and iconic design that was invented in 1961 by Faema. It has a brass body that maintains a stable temperature throughout the brewing process. It also has a pre-infusion feature that wets the coffee grounds before extraction, which enhances flavor and aroma.

  - Thermoblock group head: This is a modern and compact design that uses an electric coil to heat up water on demand. It heats up faster than an E61 group head, but it may not be as consistent or durable.

4.Pump: This is the part of the machine that creates the pressure needed for extraction. There are two types of pumps: vibratory and rotary.

  - Vibratory pump: This type of pump uses an electromagnet to vibrate a piston back and forth, which pushes water through the machine. It is cheaper and quieter than a rotary pump, but it may not be as powerful or reliable.

  - Rotary pump: This type of pump uses a motor to spin a rotor, which draws water into the machine. It is more expensive and louder than a vibratory pump, but it also more consistent and durable.

5.Steam wand: This is the part of the machine that allows you to froth milk for cappuccinos, lattes and other milk-based drinks. It consists of a metal tube that releases pressurized steam from the boiler. There are two types of steam wands: manual and automatic.

  - Manual steam wand: This type of steam wand requires you to hold a pitcher of milk under the wand and control the angle, depth and movement of the wand to create the desired amount and texture of foam. You also need to wipe and purge the wand after each use to prevent clogging and contamination. This type of steam wand gives you more flexibility and creativity, but also more responsibility and skill.

  - Automatic steam wand: This type of steam wand has a sensor or a button that regulates the temperature and pressure of the steam automatically. It also has a frothing aid or a panarello that injects air into the milk to create foam. You just need to place a pitcher of milk under the wand and let it do its magic. You still need to wipe and purge the wand after each use, though. This type of steam wand is more convenient and consistent, but also more limited and boring.

6.Water reservoir: This is the part of the machine that holds the water for brewing and steaming. It can be either removable or built-in, depending on the model. A removable water reservoir is easier to fill and clean, while a built-in water reservoir may have a larger capacity and a water filter. You should always use fresh and filtered water for your espresso machine, as hard or impure water can affect the taste and quality of your coffee, as well as damage your machine over time.

7.Drip tray: This is the part of the machine that catches any excess water or coffee that drips from the portafilter or the steam wand. It can be either removable or fixed, depending on the model. A removable drip tray is easier to empty and clean, while a fixed drip tray may have a larger capacity and a drain hose. You should always keep your drip tray clean and dry, as a dirty or wet drip tray can attract bacteria and mold, as well as cause unpleasant odors.

8.Display: This is the part of the machine that shows you information such as temperature, pressure, time, settings, modes, etc. It can be either analog or digital, depending on the model. An analog display uses dials, gauges, lights and switches to indicate the status of the machine, while a digital display uses LCD screens, touchscreens, buttons and menus to interact with the user. A digital display may offer more features and feedback, but also more complexity and maintenance.

What Are Some Famous Brands and Models of Espresso Machines?

There are many brands and models of espresso machines on the market, each with its own history, reputation, style and quality. Here are some of the most famous ones:

- Breville:

 This is an Australian brand that specializes in kitchen appliances, especially espresso machines. It was founded in 1932 by Bill O'Brien and Harry Norville (hence Breville). It is known for its innovative and user-friendly designs, such as the Breville Barista Express, which has an integrated grinder and tamper; the Breville Barista Pro, which has a faster heat-up time and a digital display; and the Breville Oracle Touch, which has a touch screen interface and an automatic steam wand.

- DeLonghi:

This is an Italian brand that produces various household appliances, including espresso machines. It was founded in 1902 by Giuseppe De' Longhi as a small workshop in Treviso. It is known for its elegant and durable designs, such as the DeLonghi Dedica, which has a slim and sleek profile; the DeLonghi Magnifica, which has a built-in grinder and an automatic milk frother; and the DeLonghi La Specialista, which has a smart tamping station and an advanced latte system.

- Gaggia: 

This is another Italian brand that focuses on espresso machines. It was founded in 1948 by Achille Gaggia, who invented the modern lever-operated espresso machine. It is known for its classic and reliable designs, such as the Gaggia Classic Pro, which has an updated boiler and pump; the Gaggia Brera, which has a ceramic grinder and a rapid steam technology; and the Gaggia Anima Prestige, which has a one-touch brewing system and an integrated milk carafe.

- Nespresso:

This is a Swiss brand that pioneered the capsule-based espresso system. It was launched in 1986 by Nestlé as a subsidiary company. It is known for its convenience and variety, as it offers different types of pods with different flavors, intensities and origins. Some of its popular models are: the Nespresso Essenza Mini, which is compact and simple; the Nespresso Vertuo Plus, which can brew both espresso and coffee; and the Nespresso Creatista Plus, which has a steam wand and a milk jug.

- La Marzocco:

This is yet another Italian brand that specializes in professional and high-end espresso machines. It was founded in 1927 by Giuseppe and Bruno Bambi in Florence. It is known for its quality and performance, as it uses advanced technology and features, such as dual boilers, PID controllers, saturated group heads and pre-heating systems. Some of its renowned models are: the La Marzocco Linea Mini, which is a home version of the iconic Linea Classic; the La Marzocco GS3, which is a compact and powerful machine with a paddle or a button interface; and the La Marzocco Strada, which is a state-of-the-art machine with a pressure profiling system and a digital display.

What Is Espresso Yield and How Does It Affect Your Coffee?

Espresso yield is the amount of liquid coffee that you get from your espresso machine after extraction. It is usually measured in grams or milliliters, and it depends on several factors, such as:

- Dose: This is the amount of coffee grounds that you use for your espresso. It is usually measured in grams, and it can range from 14 to 22 grams, depending on your preference and your machine. A higher dose will result in a higher yield, but also a stronger and more bitter taste.

- Grind size: This is the fineness or coarseness of your coffee grounds. It affects the flow rate and the extraction time of your espresso. A finer grind will result in a slower flow rate and a longer extraction time, which will increase the yield, but also the bitterness and acidity. A coarser grind will result in a faster flow rate and a shorter extraction time, which will decrease the yield, but also the flavor and body.

- Tamp: This is the pressure that you apply to your coffee grounds with a tamper (a metal or wooden tool with a flat base) to compact them into a puck. It affects the resistance and the evenness of your espresso. A harder tamp will result in more resistance and less channeling (water flowing through cracks or holes in the puck), which will increase the yield, but also the bitterness and sourness. A softer tamp will result in less resistance and more channeling, which will decrease the yield, but also the crema and sweetness.

- Extraction time: This is the duration of your espresso shot, from the moment you start the water flow to the moment you stop it. It is usually measured in seconds, and it can range from 20 to 40 seconds, depending on your preference and your machine. A longer extraction time will result in a higher yield, but also a more diluted and over-extracted taste. A shorter extraction time will result in a lower yield, but also a more concentrated and under-extracted taste.

Espresso yield affects your coffee in terms of its strength, flavor, aroma, body, crema and balance. There is no one right or wrong yield for espresso, as different people have different tastes and preferences. However, there are some general guidelines that can help you achieve a good espresso:

- The ideal ratio of dose to yield is between 1:1.5 to 1:2.5. For example, if you use 18 grams of coffee grounds, you should aim for 27 to 45 grams of liquid coffee.

- The ideal extraction time for espresso is between 25 to 35 seconds. If your shot is too fast or too slow, you may need to adjust your grind size or your tamp accordingly.

- The ideal color of espresso is a dark brown with reddish hues and a thick layer of golden crema on top. If your shot is too light or too dark, you may need to adjust your dose or your extraction time accordingly.

To measure your espresso yield accurately, you will need a scale that can weigh both your dose and your output. You can also use a measuring glass or a shot glass that has markings for milliliters or ounces.


How to Make the Perfect Espresso with Your Machine?

Now that you know the different types, features, brands and models of espresso machines, as well as the concept of espresso yield, you may be wondering how to make the perfect espresso with your machine. Well, there is no definitive answer to that question, as different machines may require different techniques and settings. However, there are some general steps that you can follow to get a good shot of espresso:

- Preheat your machine: Turn on your machine and let it warm up for at least 15 minutes. This will ensure that the water temperature and pressure are stable and consistent. You can also run some water through the group head and the portafilter to heat them up and remove any residue or dust.

- Grind your beans: Use fresh and high-quality coffee beans that are roasted for espresso. Grind them right before brewing, using a burr grinder that can produce fine and even grounds. Adjust the grind size according to your machine and your preference. A finer grind will result in more resistance and extraction, while a coarser grind will result in less resistance and extraction. You can use the "dialing in" method to find the optimal grind size for your machine: start with a medium-fine grind and pull a shot. If it is too fast or too weak, make the grind finer. If it is too slow or too strong, make the grind coarser. Repeat until you get a balanced and tasty shot.

- Dose your coffee: Use a scale or a measuring spoon to weigh or measure the amount of coffee grounds that you use for your espresso. The ideal dose depends on your machine and your preference, but it usually ranges from 14 to 22 grams. You can use the "dosing by volume" method to find the optimal dose for your portafilter: fill it with coffee grounds until it is slightly heaping, then level it off with your finger or a knife. The coffee grounds should be flush with the rim of the portafilter.

- Tamp your coffee: Use a tamper that fits snugly into your portafilter to press down on the coffee grounds with even and firm pressure. The ideal pressure depends on your machine and your preference, but it usually ranges from 15 to 30 pounds. You can use the "tamping by feel" method to find the optimal pressure for your coffee: hold the tamper in your hand and press down on a bathroom scale until you feel a slight resistance. Note the weight on the scale and use it as a reference for tamping your coffee. The surface of the coffee puck should be smooth and level, with no cracks or gaps.

- Brew your espresso: Attach the portafilter to the group head of your machine and place a preheated cup or glass under it. Start the water flow by pressing a button or pulling a lever, depending on your machine type. The ideal extraction time depends on your machine and your preference, but it usually ranges from 25 to 35 seconds. You can use the "brewing by sight" method to find the optimal extraction time for your coffee: watch the color and texture of the espresso as it flows out of the portafilter. It should start as a dark brown stream with reddish hues, then gradually become lighter and thinner, forming a golden layer of crema on top. Stop the water flow when you see blonding or whitening, which indicates over-extraction.

- Enjoy your espresso : Remove the cup or glass from under the portafilter and admire your espresso. It should have a dark brown color with reddish hues, a thick layer of golden crema on top, a full-bodied texture, a rich flavor and a pleasant aroma. You can drink it as it is, or add sugar, milk or water to suit your taste. You can also use it as a base for other coffee drinks, such as cappuccino, latte, macchiato or mocha. For more information about the best espresso machines, check this site that we trust.