Ask the Experts: Best Coffee Machines According to Baristas
Best Under $100ManualSuper affordable
Best Under $2003 filtersControl shot volume
Best NespressoEasy to useLarge capsule variety
Best Dual BoilerExtract & steamBarista favourite
Best Filter CoffeeCan use quality beansEasy brewimg
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:
Credits: ASCA and LexUX
1. Meet Tony, National Barista Champion
The Expert: Tony Xie, Owner & Head Barista
“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.”
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
2. Meet Herman, Head Roaster
The Expert: Herman Chiu, Head Roaster & Director
The Budget Espresso Drinker
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.
Pro Tip #1: Get a Hand Grinder
The Ultimate Espresso Drinker
Breville 840: The Infuser – $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.
Pro Tip #2: Extraction Rate
Best Dual Boiler Coffee Machine
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).
Pro Tip #3: Why you need a dual boiler
3. Meet Beam & Sara, Cavalier Specialty Coffee
The Experts: Beam, Head Barista and Sara Kolotas, Owner
Most Recommended for Filter Coffee
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 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.”
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