Ask the Experts: Best Coffee Machines According to Baristas

You don't need to leave the house to brew the perfect coffee. Here's how.
  • Kmart

    Best Under $100

    Manual
    Super affordable
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  • Breville

    Best Under $200

    3 filters
    Control shot volume
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  • Nespresso

    Best Nespresso

    Easy to use
    Large capsule variety
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  • Breville

    Best Dual Boiler

    Extract & steam
    Barista favourite
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  • Hario

    Best Filter Coffee

    Can use quality beans
    Easy brewimg
    Get Now

What’s the best coffee machine you can get for your home brewing and how do you choose from the myriad of coffee machine types, brands and models out there?

To help you make a confident choice, for this month’s Ask the Experts feature, we asked three great baristas across Sydney for their tips, recommendations and personal go-tos.

Whether you’re the biggest coffee geek or a no-fuss everyday coffee drinker, with their help, here’s our roundup of the best picks ¬†so you can find the right fit for your budget, taste buds and experience level.¬†And if you’re keen to finally jump on the filter coffee bandwagon or just learn how to step up your home barista game, we’ve thrown in a special mention to the coffee accessories and alternative brewing methods you need to know about to take your appreciation of coffee ¬†to the next level.

Let’s meet our experts (and their awesome cafes) from the neighbourhoods of Waterloo, St Leonards and Darling Square:

Headshot Tony

Tony, Plus Two Coffee

Headshot Herman

Herman, Haven

Headshot Beam

Beam, Cavalier 2.0

Credits: ASCA and LexUX

1. Meet Tony, National Barista Champion

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The Expert: Tony Xie, Owner & Head Barista

‚ÄúIf you like this coffee, then that‚Äôs the perfect cup of coffee for you.‚ÄĚ

Most Popular Coffee Machine

Breville 870: the Barista Express - $950

“The Breville 870 is one of the most popular coffee machines because it’s under $1000, comes with a grinder and is great for black coffee drinkers.”

However, the downside is it doesn’t have great temperature or pressure control, so steaming milk properly is difficult if you aren’t an expert. The $500 to $1000 coffee machine range can be awkward, so think twice about whether you’re cool with the quality you can expect on this budget.

The Ultimate Coffee Geek

Nuova Simonelli Oscar II – $1390

“If you’re looking for a ‘proper’ coffee, pick a mid-tier machine over $1000.”

Alternatively, Tony also recommends the Breville 920, a firm barista favourite for the home. Its crucial feature is its dual boiler heating system, so you can simultaneously extract your espresso shot at the correct temperature and steam milk at the same time.

See below why Hermann from Haven Specialty Cafe also recommends the Breville 920.

The Everyday Coffee Drinker

Breville 600: Nespresso Creatista – $699

“If you’re just looking for something simple, go for¬†Nespresso¬†capsules or filter coffee.”

There are heaps of Nespresso coffee machines and capsule flavours to choose from. These are super easy to use, all you have to do is chuck it in to your machine.

Otherwise, if you enjoy pour over coffee, Tony suggests the Hario V60 dripper and filter paper set. Find out below why Beam, Barista from Cavalier Speciality Coffee, thinks so too.

Tony’s most important considerations for picking the right coffee machine:

1. Dual Boiler
2. Stable temperature control
3. Professional grinder

Bonus pick

Simply want the best? Tony’s personal go-to is the La Marzocco Linea Mini, a professional coffee machine he uses at home to practise for barista comps.¬†

2. Meet Herman, Head Roaster

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The Expert: Herman Chiu, Head Roaster & Director

“If you ask me what is the most important thing to be a great barista or even roaster, it’s the attention to detail.”

The Budget Espresso Drinker

Sunbeam coffee machine

Sunbeam EM4300: Mini Barista – $239

“If you’re a black coffee¬†drinker, a single boiler will do. All you really¬†need is a¬†simple¬†espresso machine and a good hand grinder.

If you drink your coffee with milk, a dual boiler coffee machine is want you want.

But if you just want an espresso, this is good enough for you.

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Pro Tip #1: Get a Hand Grinder

If there’s one piece of coffee equipment you should invest in at home, it’s a decent hand grinder. You want to grind your beans fresh so you can retain the full quality and prevent oxidation of your beans.

The Ultimate Espresso Drinker

Breville 840: The Infuser Р $529

“If you’re looking for a great espresso, a program-controllable single-boiler is ideal.”

For black coffee drinkers, a single-boiler machine will do the trick. As well as  getting a good hand grinder, ensure  your espresso machine lets you control the extraction rate of your beans.

This will allow you to preserve and maximise the coffee beans’ ¬†flavour and let you tailor the espresso style to your own preferences.

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Pro Tip #2: Extraction Rate

Aim for a  pre-infusion rate around 2.5 bar. Once the beans are ready, push the whole extraction up to 9 bar. Finally, at the end, during post-infusion, bring it back down to 2.5 bar.

Best Dual Boiler Coffee Machine

Breville 920

Breville 920: the Dual Boiler – $1699

“Milk coffee drinkers, if you can afford it, this is the¬†coffee machine you need.”

Breville’s 920 comes with a dual boiler, so you can control the rate of extraction and control the steam at the same time to create a cafe-quality coffee.

While this one might not be in your price range, you aren’t going to find a dual boiler model any cheaper than this entry-level barista option. Other models ¬†can go all the way up to $8000 (and more for commercial models like Haven’s Slayer Steam LP).

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Pro Tip #3: Why you need a dual boiler

If you extract your coffee first and then steam the milk, by the time your milk is ready after 1-2 minutes, your espresso would have oxidised and the crema would be gone. If you steam the milk first and extract after, you’ll find that the milk would have begun to separate, meaning you can’t produce proper micro-foam.

Herman’s most important considerations for¬†home¬†brewing:

1. Quality hand grinder
2. Temp  control kettle w/ goose neck (from Hario or Brewista)
3. Digital scales for weighing beans  (from Rhino or Acaia)
4. Filter (for pour over style)

Bonus pick

Simply want the best? Herman’s number one go-to is the Comandante C40 MK3 Nitro Blade Grinder, a professional manual hand grinder he uses at home for great filter and espresso-based coffee.¬†Otherwise, consider Hario’s entry-level grinders.

3. Meet Beam & Sara, Cavalier Specialty Coffee

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The Experts: Beam, Head Barista and Sara Kolotas, Owner

“We love food, we love coffee and we love friends, and not necessarily in that order.”

Most Recommended for Filter Coffee

Hario-v60

Hario V60 Coffee Dripper + Filter Paper Set – $49.95

“A lot of baristas will say this: if you don’t want to blow your budget, but you want¬†quality coffee, stick with filter coffee.”

It takes a lot of effort, time and $$$ to invest in a decent espressos machine at home. Making one cup of coffee alone from scratch will take about ten minutes and you’ll have to spend time cleaning up after everyday too.

AeroPress Coffee Maker

AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker – $43.85

“That’s why if you’d prefer a simple go-to, and you’ve got the time to slowly enjoy brewing your coffee and sipping it throughout the morning, check out the¬†Hario V60 coffee dripper and filter paper set.”

Alternatively, if you’re on a budget, Beam also suggests getting an AeroPress or Chemex coffee filter, which you can get for under $45.

The Kmart Espresso Machine

Kmart Anko Espresso Machine – $89

“If you’re looking for a budget espresso machine, pick a manual one.”

While the $89 Kmart espresso machine might not be the best espresso machine out there, if you’re on a budget, this ain’t a bad choice at all.

If you invest in some good coffee beans (such as from Grinders Coffee or Pablo & Rusty’s) and get a quality ¬†grinder, while you won’t get the best version of that particular coffee, you can come pretty close.

The Budget Manual Coffee Machine

Breville 250: the Compact Cafe – $199

“If you’re looking for a decent manual espresso machine, this simple one from Breville might¬†be what you need.”

While it doesn’t have a dual boiler, if you drink your coffee black, this is for you.

The model comes with three stainless steel filters for extracting a single shot, double shot or pod. Manual settings also let you control the espresso shot volume.

Beam’s most important considerations for home brewing:

1. Quality grinder
2. Dual boiler
3. Stable temperature  control (PID)
4. Goose neck kettle

Bonus pick

Simply want the best? Beam recommends a temperature control kettle with a goose neck such as from Hario or Brewista so that he can control the flow rate when making his pour over.