1. Adjustable Grinders
If you are looking for an espresso machine with a built-in grinder, then we recommend you to opt for one with an adjustable grinder.
These grinders allow you to adjust the grind to suit the bean size, which reduces the amount of coffee waste and improves your coffee’s flavor intensity.
Also, among different types of grinders in the market, the conical burr grinders are absolutely the best. As they grind the coffee cylindrically, which gives you more control over the grinding process and the powder’s consistency.
2. Dual Boiler Coffee Machines
As their name suggests, these espresso machines are manufactured with 2 separate boilers for milk and coffee, which allows you to boil coffee and froth milk simultaneously.
They cost a little more and take up more room space than heat exchange boilers, but they are unquestionably worth it, especially if you often make lattes and cappuccinos.
3. Thermoblock Heating System (Thermocoil Coffee Machines)
Generally, there are 2 ways for a coffee machine to heat water:
The first one is by using a boiler, which simply heats the full water tank, offering consistent water temperature.
A thermoblock heating system, on the other hand, only heats the exact amount of water needed for your coffee.
For instance, if you are making a 2-ounce espresso cup, then the heating system will only heat 2 ounces of water, which doesn’t only save a lot of time, but also save electricity.
4. Milk Frothing System
Manual Steam Wands
This frothing system uses the full machine’s pressure to foam the milk, giving you full control over the temperature and texture of your crema.
While manual wands can be pretty hard to use and need A LOT of practice, once you master the frothing art you will be able to create a coffee topping that will make your local barista proud.
Note: Some milk frothing wands come with a froth enhancer, which can make frothing much easier. However, these enhancers often produce large bubbles instead of a velvety foam, which isn’t suitable for making drinks like lattes and cappuccinos.
Therefore, it’s better to look for ones with removable enhancers, so you can still be able to create fine foam.
Automatic Steam Wands
This one is very similar to the manual wand, the only difference is that they don’t give you the same amount of control as manual wands.
Instead, the automatic wand foams the milk till it reaches the texture and temperature, which are previously determined by the machine settings.
Think of automatic wands as a bicycle with training wheels. They give you some control and prevent you from ruining your crema at the same time.
Automatic Milk Systems (Foaming Systems)
If you don’t want to play around with a milk wand, then coffee machines with foaming systems are the way to go.
IN these machines, steam is used to stretch the milk, then the milk is transferred from the carriage to the foaming system.
Finally, the frothing system will combine the stretched milk with air and dispense your favorite creme into your cup.
What is great about these automatic systems is that most of them have various dispensing settings that can dispense everything from flat to foam milk hassle-free.
5. Carafe Type
A coffee machine with an insulated mug or a thermal carafe can be very beneficial, especially if you tend to space your espresso drinking up throughout the day and want something to stop the coffee from cooling down too quickly and keeping it fresh for a few hours.
Generally, coffee machines with thermal carafes are pricier than their glass pot alternatives> However, it’s certainly a feature worth having.
6. Benchtop Footprint
Espresso coffee machines can take A LOT of your kitchen’s space, so this is something you definitely need to keep in mind before buying a coffee machine.
7. Digital Display
Digital displays are generally easier to understand than analog indicator lights.
This could be something worth looking into, especially if this is your first espresso machine and want more clear and simple controls.
8. Pre brew Feature
Some coffee machines are manufactured with perfusion pumps, which slowly saturate the coffee powder.
As a result, the flavor will develop before extracting the coffee, so you can sip your espresso right away.
9. Automatic Morning Brewing
If you can’t see straight in the morning, then a coffee machine with an automatic brewing mode is specially made for you.
These machines have programmable clocks that can automatically brew your favorite coffee cup each morning, so you can get your morning coffee fix without lifting a finger.
Most of these machines also have an automatic shutoff feature, which can be very handy if you always leave in a hurry and tend to forget to switch off your machine.
10. Double Shot
This feature allows you to make two espressos at once, so if you often find yourself making two cups of coffee, then this feature is worth having.
It’s important to mention that most models will only grind one dose of beans for the 2 cups, resulting in a weaker coffee.
So make sure to opt for the models that can make 2 espressos at a quick succession rather than at the same time, as these models will grind a fresh dose of coffee for each cup and won’t take much longer to prepare the second one.