Are you looking for Espresso Nirvana? Click this for some history.
Hey you can even train to go in the World Barista Championship.
There are four factors
- Miscela (blend)
- Macinadosatore (grinder-doser)
- Macchina espresso (espresso machine)
- Mano dell’operatore (hand of the operator)
We had a Rancilio Audrey which seems to be an OK machine, but as reading the web sites shows, technique is critical to the extent that you need to be anal. Here is a review of a different model the Silvia. And you can even seriously modify it with a PID controller.
Is it worth getting a home machine. Personal home time and doing it as an “art form” or hobby as there is the time to brew plus the time to clean and maintain the machine.. Here is a buying guide on coffeegeek.com.
Here is a good comment on an Engadget thread. In the next few months, the best “home” espresso machine on the planet will be out, and it will be the La Marzocco consumer espresso machine. But at $4,500 MSRP, it’s a bit out of the league of most common folk.
I won’t recommend a best machine, but I’ll give some advice on what to avoid if you want stellar espresso in the home that is still fairly quick and easy:
- Don’t skimp on the grinder.
- Avoid any kind of pod only machine – proprietary (nespresso. sigh), or “open source” (illy pod systems)
- Avoid machines with aluminum boilers (sorry Gaggia)
- Avoid super automatics. You get an even-steven trade of convenience vs. quality.
- Look for something with a decent sized boiler – if it’s a single boiler machine, look for 300mls minimum. If it’s a heat exchanging machine, make damned sure that the thing is tuned for North American specs, and not euro power and specs (a big problem)
- don’t skimp on the grinder
- Don’t take looks over functionality. Francis! Francis machines look great, but you can get a better performer at half the price.
Here is a site selling them: Andreja Premium by Quick Mill
I think a handle type may be the best for the following reasons:
- Less parts to fail, not dependent on a pump
- If travelling to different countries with 50 Hz and 60 Hz the pump speed is not an issue
- Possibly less moving parts needing maintenance.
The better pump machines have rotary pumps which should be plumbed directly as the pumps can be damaged if run dry (reference).
Grinders are also important. Read this.
All six of the grinders featured here are commercial quality; some argue they are “overkill” for home use. I concede that may be true for capacity and durability, but in terms of grind quality, serious espresso fans emphatically agree on one point: The grinder is a key factor separating ordinary espresso from the extraordinary.
Resist the temptation to economize on the grinder in deference to your espresso machine selection. Smart shoppers decide on the grinder first and then choose an espresso machine. Each time the day’s cloud of worries cluttering your thoughts is whisked away in a wave of enjoyment of fine espresso, you’ll complement yourself on a wise decision.
Really, it’s true.
Some sites are also recommending the Rancilia Rocky doserless grinder.