So you are really getting into coffee and you want to recreate your favorite latte from your local specialty cafe with the pretty flower. Welcome to the world and its various espresso based drinks. This is where it gets expensive with the gear and while the owners of the expensive stuff swear they’re worth every penny (and I’m sure they are), there is still plenty of good espresso to be made on a relative budget. Let’s dive in.
So in Espresso the budget ranges wildly and the gear you can get/need to get also varies but in general there are two big things you need. A grinder and an espresso machine.
Best for most people probably
Before we dive into all of that if you just want something in the $500 ish range (the pricing can vary based on when you buy). Get this and don’t look back.
This thing comes with a grinder attached that’s dialed in for espresso ranges (Although I find myself in the 3~5 range all the time). Breville has a giant community and lots of owners. Giant conglomerate with a good distribution network for parts etc.
- Single Boiler
Slower at making milk based drinks because you have to wait for the single boiler to rise/lower temps as you pull the shot or steam milk.
- 54mm portafilter
A lot of accessories are designed for the commercial standard of 58mm. We will talk about this in the accesories section
- All-in-one solution
If you get nerdy with it and want to invest into espresso even more then you’re probably looking at getting rid of this entire setup. ie. If you get a better machine you can’t replace just the machine and keep using the grinder without having just two machines on you counter.
Conical burrs, quick grinding, easy attachments and great Baratza customer service
Rock solid Italian reputation, big community, plenty of parts. Still single boiler but steam pressure is strong enough to make anything
Most people’s endgame
This is my current setup – Everything here will be good enough for all drinks.
Same grinding quality as the Sette 30 but with stepless micro adjustments. Built-in scale (Acaia based!) to the tenth gram for preprogramed precise shots. Amazing value
Dual boiler, rotary pump, plumbable and has a water tank, PID for consistent temps and looks amazing on your counter. At this price range the machines are probably the least different across brands/setups.
You already know what you want if you’re looking to drop over 20k on a grinder + machine. Super jealous
I’ve found these small accessories to either really level up my game or just be huge improvements to quality of life.
- Leveler: 58mm Coffee Distributor. Makes tamping a cinch.
- Knockbox: Coffee Knock Box. Go cheap – doesn’t really matter. But it’s nice to have.
- Bottomless Portafilter. Rancilio Silvia Bottomless Portafilter. Easiest way to have a visual representation if you’re tamping or leveling not correctly and you can more directly see the flow of extraction