Ah, coffee. If you’re an Australian who works from home, you probably consider it fuel. I know I do. But I don’t always have the time – or the desire – to grab a long black from the local cafe before my 8 am team Zoom meeting.
As an ex-professional barista, I refuse to drink rubbish coffee, so I searched for Australia’s best home coffee machine. Which one did I choose for November 2023? Here are my conclusions:
- Do not buy the Breville Oracle or Barista Express.
- Do not buy a home coffee machine with an integrated grinder.
- Do not spend less than $500 on your home coffee setup.
Controversial, I know. Most reviews of home coffee machines in Australia instruct you to do the exact opposite.
But it’s also true that most of those reviews are written by “content writers” who know nothing about coffee.
- I’m different.
I’m not a content writer or a “professional reviewer”.
I’m an entrepreneur who works (and drinks a lot of coffee) from home – and who, back in the day, became one of the top baristas around Sydney to pay my way through uni.
But first, I present you with the best home coffee machines in Australia. Drum roll, please.
The best 7 Coffee Machines In Australia Are:
- Breville Bambino Plus – best overall
- Breville Dual Boiler – best for amateur home baristas
- Lelit Bianca V3 – best if you’re obsessed about coffee
- La Marzocco GS3 – best if money is no object
- Rancilio Silvia V6 PID – best for old traditional Italians
- Lelit Mara X – best all-rounder
- Gaggia Classic – cheaper alternative to the Rancilio Silvia V6
Best overall home coffee machine.
Above: the Bambino Plus in brushed stainless steel. Cute and compact.
The Breville Bambino Plus has taken the #1 spot in my review of the best home coffee machines in Australia because it crushes the competition from a features perspective.
- It is the smallest home coffee machine in this review, but packs a surprising punch.
The machine’s tiny footprint will appeal to people with limited bench space. That being said, it’s a full-featured machine – and will allow you to play around with pre-infusion and shot volume.
A PID is included (and is almost unheard of at this price point). Nice work, Breville. Consider my eyebrow raised – for all the right reasons.
What Does A PID Controller Do?
PID is an instrument used in coffee machines to regulate temperature. It improves the consistency of your coffee by helping you dial in precise brew temperature.
The milk frother is easy to use and performs very well.
A total of 4 holes in the steam wand provide plenty of violence to stir your milk into silky perfection. You can stretch milk, roll it around, and not be intimidated by the process. It’s a great machine to learn frothing with.
Above: the Breville Bambino Plus in my favourite Black Sesame colour. Very smart.
If you don’t have the time or the desire to learn how to froth milk, the Bambino Plus has an automatic frothing function. Just stick the milk jug in and press play. It will do everything and cut steam off before the milk gets too hot.
Even though the machine doesn’t have two boilers, the Bambino Plus switches between brewing and frothing modes very quickly – and surprisingly, more quickly than the more expensive Breville Barista Express.
The water tank is easily removed and contains a handy built-in handle.
Because of the machine’s diminutive size, it’s on the smaller size at 1.9 litres, but that’s enough to make a few coffees back-to-back without a refill.
Above: the Breville Bambino Plus in Sea Salt colour.
The Bambino does not have a built-in grinder, which makes it relatively inexpensive.
Just ask the coffee shop where you buy your beans to grind them for you (but remember that ground coffee loses flavour after 1-2 weeks, so buy it in small batches).
The Breville Bambino Plus is quite lightweight. It may move around when you’re working with the portafilter – and you may have to practice your technique before you lock the handle in without pushing the machine.
Speaking of the portafilter handle, it is cheap and plasticky. Breville was looking for areas to save costs, and they zeroed in on this part.
Above: the portafilter is your main point of interaction with the machine. Bambino’s leaves a lot to be desired.
In fact, this is the main Achilles heel of this home coffee machine. It’s not at all the “commercial-style 54mm portafilter” that Breville promises in its marketing. There’s nothing commercial about it.
It is poorly made, doesn’t feel nice to touch and comes included only with Breville’s pressurised baskets.
If you buy this machine, I recommend upgrading to non-pressurised baskets immediately (buy here directly from Breville fo r about $10). Or upgrade the entire portafilter assembly (see below).
While I understand that the pressurised baskets exist for people who want an easier life and are happy to sacrifice coffee quality to get it, this review is not for those people.
If you’d like to enjoy your coffee, consider pressurised baskets worthless. ‘Nuff said.
But I haven’t finished hammering the Bambino’s portafilter yet. When you pull out the basket, you’ll notice a black plastic insert in the assembly’s base.
Above: black plastic portafilter insert. WTF, Breville.
I don’t like the idea of ingesting water that’s been poured over plastic at near-boiling temperatures.
Thankfully, you can remove the insert in 2 minutes – and it won’t affect your brew. Just unscrew the spouts and stick a screwdriver into the hole from the other side to push out the plastic.
It will add about $60-70 to your total bill, but will improve your coffee by 30%. Thank me later.
Above: the upgrade to the naked-style, stylish portafilter with unpressurised baskets is well worth the $60-70 investment.
The Breville Bambino Plus’ final weak point Bambino Plus is the absence of a dedicated hot water tap. If you’re a heavy drinker of long blacks, you’ll need to boil your water either separately or fill it via the steam wand. Not the smoothest experience.
The Breville Bambino Plus is my #1 recommended home coffee machine package because it destroys everything else on the market.
You won’t see so many essential features packed into a coffee machine at this price point.
The machine punches well above its entry-level price point.
It’s not a perfect machine – mainly because of the portafilter issue I described above. All things considered, this is a small frustration, and one you can easily fix.
Above: the Bambino Plus has a lot of potential. It needs a different portafilter to realise it in full.
To get the most out of the Bambino Plus, you’ll need to either buy ground coffee from your local coffee shop or grind beans at home using one of my recommended coffee grinders.
Overall, the Breville Bambino Plus packs a tonne of features in a budget package and is best for a person who wants good short blacks, great milk drinks and who doesn’t want to become a hobbyist barista.
It’s a perfect home coffee machine for someone who wants an enjoyable coffee-making experience but doesn’t want to invest too much of their own time or funds into the affair.
A strong frothing wand and the absence of a dedicated hot water spout makes this machine ideal for lovers of milky drinks or short blacks.
Lovers of long blacks will be better served by Breville’s Dual Boiler machine.
The Bambino Plus’ small size limits the amount of onboard water storage. It’s plenty for one or two people, but larger families will benefit from an upgrade to the Breville Dual Boiler (below), as well.
Essential Features Checklist:
✔ 4 holes in the steam wand
✔ Programmable shot volume (not temperature)
✘ Dual boilers
✘ Pressurised and unpressurised baskets included
✘ Dedicated hot water spout
✘ 58mm portafilter
✘ Overpressure valve
✘ Rotary pump
✘ E61 group head
The Breville Bambino Plus is not expensive, with prices ranging between $550-650. Check the current lowest prices here.
If you eventually decide to invest in a good grinder, you’ll need to set aside another $300-600 (see my review of grinders below).
➤ Water Tank Capacity: 1.9 L
➤ Construction Materials: Brushed Stainless Steel
➤ Dimensions: 19.5 x 32 x 31 cm
➤ Power: 1600 Watts
➤ Portafilter: 54mm
Best for amateur Australian home baristas.
Above: Breville Dual Boiler home coffee machine, pictured with a Breville grinder. The machine is also available in black sesame (below).
The Breville Dual Boiler does something that very few home coffee machines do: it omits the built-in grinder.
Because of this feature (trust me, it is a feature), it can do the same things that prosumer-grade coffee machines can, without their $3,000+ price tag – and without intimidating you.
It’s also the only machine on the Australian market that fully caters to two types of coffee drinkers. Which one are you?
- Type 1: coffee lover who wants consistently good coffee at home, but doesn’t want to make it into a hobby
- Type 2: amateur hobbyist barista who wants to experiment and chase that perfect shot every time
If you are Type 1, the machine’s PID temperature controls and dual boilers will provide you with an invisible, but ever-present safety net, preventing you from ruining your morning shot by automatically keeping temperatures and pressures in the optimal range.
If you are Type 2, the machine will patiently allow you to experiment with shot volumes, shot temperatures, grind settings and pressures – without biting your head off if you make a mistake.
Above: the coffee machine is also available in the very smart-looking colour that Breville calls ‘black sesame’.
You may start your home coffee journey as Type 1, then at some point develop more passion for coffee-making and become a Type 2. The Dual Boiler coffee machine will grow with you.
If you stay as Type 1 forever, that’s perfectly fine, too – you’ll have a polite, stylish, high-performance coffee machine and grinder that will serve you great morning coffee at home for years to come.
You may be Type 1, but your partner may be Type 2.
This is a very common scenario – and with this coffee machine bundle, it’s not a problem.
The Breville’s personality works not unlike that of a Porsche 911, which can switch from a friendly, stylish Sunday town cruiser into a purebred racetrack weapon at the push of a button.
Above: Breville Dual Boiler home coffee machine is as stylish as it is understated.
The machine’s auto-on / auto-off feature allows you to pre-heat your coffee machine on a timer, so it is ready to rock by the time you’ve finished brushing your teeth in the morning.
- The water filler is cleverly located at the front of the machine, so you don’t have to wrestle it every time you fill it up.
Let’s return to the missing grinder.
Its absence, in fact, is the machine’s most important feature.
If you remember anything from my review, remember this.
Your choice of coffee grinder will have a far greater impact on your coffee than the choice of your coffee machine.
Above: A lot of people buy Breville’s Smart Grinder Pro. It’s OK, but not outstanding.
You cannot escape the GIGO principle. Garbage in, garbage out.
Breville’s Smart Grinder Pro, the default choice of most home baristas is so-so. Mechanically, it’s almost identical to the grinder the company permanently builds into its Express and Oracle machines.
It’s not a bad starting point considering its sub $300 price point, but you’ll outgrow its capabilites quickly if you get obsessed with coffee.
I suggest you buy skip this stage altogether and pair your Breville Dual Boiler home coffee machine with one of the excellent grinders in the Baratza Sette line-up. I recommend the Sette 270 (expect to pay about $600.
You’re highly unlikely to outgrow the capabilities of the Breville Dual Boiler coffee machine itself.
The cup warmer on the machine isn’t as hot as I would like it to be. If you leave your cups there, they will warm up but won’t be toasty.
You can solve this by draping a clean kitchen towel over the top of your coffee cups to trap the heat (as many baristas do, even in commercial cafes), but still, it’d be nice not to have to do this.
Above: Breville’s controls are stylish – and made from hardened plastic.
This is very much a consumer appliance, and it looks like one.
While this is expected in a consumer-grade appliance at this price point, I would have loved to be surprised by the tactile feel that only metal can offer.
Above: Breville’s stylish controls are made from hard plastic.
Size-wise, be mindful of the machine’s decent (64.6 x 46.1 x 47.6 cm) footprint. If you’re very tight on bench space, it may not be for you, as you’ll also need to set aside space for a freestanding coffee grinder.
The Breville Dual Boiler home coffee machine has prosumer-grade features, but it looks decidedly consumer.
A friendly interface and a great price point seal the deal.
Its dual boilers provide you with a fast, efficient workflow, which becomes even more important if you regularly make long blacks, or milky drinks for more than 2 people.
It’s a wolf that’s been taught house manners and dressed in a dinner suit.
Above: Breville’s button layout is logical, easy to understand and modern in appearance.
Most importantly, the dual boiler configuration ensures that your brew temperature doesn’t get affected by your steaming activities.
This machine won my “best home coffee machine” trophy because it caters to beginners and experienced baristas alike.
Get it if you’re a Type 1 barista who wants the best home coffee machine or if you’re a Type 2 home barista who is ready for a challenge.
While I wish it had a rotary pump and a commercial-grade E61 portafilter, I also realise that it’s an unreasonable, boyish request. This is an excellent coffee machine for the home, not a professional-grade tool.
It’s already a lot of coffee machine for the money.
While it’s not the cheapest home coffee machine on the market, ‘classic’ Italian machines with the exact same specs sell for 3X of the price – and no one blinks an eyelid.
Essential Features Checklist:
✔ Dual boilers
✔ Pressurised and unpressurised baskets included
✔ Dedicated hot water spout
✔ 3 holes in the steam wand
✔ Programmable shot volume & temperature
✔ 58mm portafilter
✔ Overpressure valve
✘ No rotary pump
✘ No E61 portafilter
The best price for the Breville Dual Boiler is currently on The Good Guys – you’ll save about $500 off normal retail prices. Check prices now.
➤ Water Tank Capacity: 2.5 L
➤ Construction Materials: Brushed Stainless Steel
➤ Dimensions: 64.6 x 46.1 x 47.6 cm
➤ Power: 2200 Watts
➤ Portafilter: 54mm
➤ Max Pump Pressure: 15 bar (with overpressure valve)
➤ Weight: 15.8 kg
3. Lelit Bianca V3.
Best if you want the best money can buy.
Above: The Lelit Bianca V3 is a gorgeous premium dual boiler home coffee machine that borders on kitchen art.
A conversation about the best home coffee machines in Australia isn’t complete without a mention of the Lelit Bianca V3.
Say goodbye to weak, watered-down coffee and say hello to a real cup of joe. The machine gives your coffee an opulent, chocolaty, creamy flavour at the push of a (very precisely engineered) lever.
First impressions are important – and Bianca makes a great one.
Everything about this home coffee machine exudes quality.
Walnut accents add warmth and style to parts of the machine that you’ll be working with, and looking at, the most.
The machine’s outer case is made from curved polished stainless steel, accentuating the mechanical beauty of the E61 group head.
Both of its boilers are temperature-controlled by a PID, which is controlled from a display on the face of the machine. This gives you precise control over brew temperature, allowing you to experiment with extraction and to dial in any roast level.
Above: the dream team. Lelit Bianca V3, the best prosumer home coffee machine in Australia – paired with the best home coffee grinder for Type 2 home baristas, the Baratza Sette 270.
Bianca’s most interesting feature, however, is flow profiling. (What is flow profiling?)
Until now, flow profiling has been available only on a select few, very high-end, $7,000+ home coffee machines.
The Lelit Bianca V3 has changed that.
- Built with the passionate home barista in mind, it brings this technology to the kitchen benches of mere mortals.
Turn the stylish hardwood paddle to the left, and you’ll get the slowest flow; push it to the right, and you’ll see extraction at max speed. With a readout of pressure at the puck, this feature gives you a surgical level of control over-extraction.
Despite Bianca’s prestige, the stock Lelit portafilter baskets are substandard. You’ll need to set aside another $50 or so to buy a good 20g VST basket.
It’s not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, but is also not something you expect when shelling out a few grand on a home coffee machine.
Speaking of quality, even though the build quality of the Bianca V3 is superb – especially when compared with consumer-grade home coffee machines like the Breville Dual Boiler – it’s a little behind rivals like the German-made Profitec Pro 6000.
Above: a very hipster home coffee setup, featuring the Lelit Bianca V3 and a Niche grinder.
The latter has a tank-like, logical, precise quality that screams “German engineering”, while the Bianca V3 is unmistakably Italian in character.
Yet, I do not care about it – because the machine looks and feels like an instrument designed to elicit an emotional response, rather than be precisely robotic.
Whether this is an issue for you is a matter of personal preference.
Again, compared to cars, it’s the difference between a Porsche 911 GT2 and a Ferrari 812. Both are fast, both incredible, but their cultural differences are easily noticed behind the wheel.
The Lelit Bianca V3 is a stunner. As a PID-controller, dual-boiler home coffee machine with an E61 group head and a rotary pump, it’s hard not to love.
However, this is not a home coffee machine for someone with zero interest in coffee. While the Bianca V3 will not demand weeks of study before you can pour a drinkable shot, it will present you with a learning curve you’ll need to overcome.
It’s not a “set and forget” type of kitchen appliance. If that’s what you’re after, you’ll be much better served by the more forgiving and automated Breville Dual Boiler option I recommended above – or the Breville Bambino Plus + Sette Grinder.
The Bianca is perfect for someone who makes a few morning coffees, likes to entertain guests in the evening and steams lots of milk drinks while also making amazing black coffee.
It can be your first – and last – home coffee machine.
You can reasonably expect 15+ years of service from it, with only minimal maintenance costs and fixes. Because it’s built for prosumer space, it’s heavy-duty and built with commercial-grade parts designed to be serviced or replaced.
In the short term, it’s expensive. In the long term, it’s also your most cost-effective option.
Essential Features Checklist:
✔ 4 holes in the steam wand
✔ Programmable shot volume and temperature
✔ Dual boilers
✔ Pressurised baskets included
✔ Dedicated hot water spout
✔ 58mm portafilter
✔ Overpressure valve
✔ Rotary pump
✔ E61 group head
The Lilet Bianca V3 is not cheap but does represent offer a huge amount of value for your investment. Check prices here.
➤ Water Tank Capacity: 2.5 L
➤ Construction Materials: Solid Stainless Steel
➤ Dimensions: 129 x 50 x 38 cm
➤ Power: 2200 Watts
➤ Portafilter: 58mm in E61 Group
➤ Weight: 26.5kg
4. La Marzocco GS3 Manual Paddle.
Above: hipster chic meets industrial pizzaz. Visuall, the GS3 is a show-stopper.
This is a professional-grade espresso machine for your home. We’re talking coffee chain-worthy. In fact, it’s a chopped-down version of La Marzocco’s $27,000 Strada commercial coffee machine.
- This baby includes a preheating system, a digital PID controller, a saturated group, a dual-boiler system, and a digital display.
It has quick touch keys that set the temperature in the brew and steam boiler to .3ºC. These features do most of the heavy lifting, so all you have to do is grind, dose, and tamp, oh my!
Cost? You’ll get very little change from $10,000. Yep, oh my.
This is why I love the Lilet Bianca V3 – it does everything that the GS3 does, at 40% of the price.
5. Rancilio Silvia V6 PID.
Above: the Silvia’s design is a bit plain and its boxyness is not for everyone.
This classic Silvia is a legend in home espresso, and the Rancilio company is a household name in commercial-grade coffee machines.
Silvia’s build is great.
It’s heavy and solid, which means it won’t move when you’re pulling shots. The machine is very well-made. The design, however, is pretty plain. It’s not a home coffee machine that guests will fawn over.
- This is a single-boiler home coffee machine, so you will be waiting between steaming and extracting if you’re making coffees back to back.
Be sure to spec yours with the PID and pre-infusion. They’re optional – and will add a few hundred dollars to your bill – but are well worth it.
The Silvia is an iconic, reliable single-boiler home coffee machine packed with commercial-grade features. It’s available in stainless steel and now in black, which used to be a limited edition only. I really like the latter.
The lack of a dedicated water dispenser is a deal-breaker for me, as I mostly drink long blacks. If you’re the same, the Breville Dual Boiler does a lot more for far less money.
6. Lelit Mara X.
Above: very pretty and compact, the Lelit Mara X is unmistakably Italian.
The Bianca V3’s smaller cousin, the Mara X is an oddball.
- This home coffee machine is really quite good, but it sits at an uncomfortable price point – at about $2,400 it’s not cheap, but not expensive either.
To give you (yet another) car analogy, it’s a bit like a BMW 3 Series with an “M” performance pack. It’s not an M3, but it’s not a capable, but somewhat pedestrian 325i, either.
Some people call it the “best of both worlds”.
I feel that you either need to decide to spend more, and get a Bianca V3, or save some cash and get the Dual Boiler.
7. Gaggia Classic.
Above: the Gaggia looks like a coffee machine that Al Pacino would use in his home.
While other home coffee machines in this review are modern high-performance instruments, the Gaggia prefers to embody classic Italian traditionalism.
Its design is old-school and largely unchanged for over 20 years – and that’s the point.
I personally disagree with this school of thought, but Gaggia’s persistent popularity demonstrates that there’s a market for their way of thinking.
- There’s a fine line between being stuck in the past and being a smart traditionalist.
The Gaggia Classic is a fully manual home coffee machine. You don’t get a touchscreen nor a temperature gauge to tell you when to stop steaming your milk.
But you can easily see Al Pacino using one in his home. And that’s something we can all agree on.
Breville Bambino Plus vs Breville Dual Boiler.
These are two very different home coffee machines for two different types of users.
- Choose the Bambino Plus if you don’t care about the mechanics of coffee making. You want a brew that resembles one that you can get at a local cafe, and you want it to be as cheap and fuss-free as possible.
- The Breville Dual Boiler, in contrast, should be your #1 pick if you want to fiddle with grind sizes, extraction times, tamp strengths and water temperatures.
The Dual Boiler is also the better choice if you make coffee for more than 2 people and/or drink a lot of milky coffees (e.g. flat whites and cappuccinos).
Breville Dual Boiler vs Lelit Bianca V3.
This isn’t a fair comparison, but an interesting one. While the Lelit Bianca is a lot more expensive and beautiful, it’s not that different to the Dual Boiler on a technological level.
- Yes, it’s more thermally stable. Yes, it has the pro-grade 58mm portafilter with the E61 group.
But beyond that, technological differences begin to enter the realm of diminishing returns. Both home coffee machines feature dual boilers and PIDs.
The most notable difference – and the explanation for the huge price gap between the two coffee machines – is the design and user experience. The Bianca is simply gorgeous, while the Dual Boiler is nice, but functional.
Breville Bambino Plus vs Breville Express.
There is some overlap between these two home coffee machines. You can think of Bambino Plus as a Breville Express without the built-in grinder.
- This is why I chose the Bambino Plus as the best home coffee machine in Australia.
You get the essential features at a low price and in a compact package without locking yourself into a sub-par grinder forever.
Breville Dual Boiler vs Breville Oracle.
Breville Oracle is just a Dual Boiler with a built-in Breville Smart Grinder Pro and a slightly more fancy interface.
- I don’t recommend the Oracle for exactly this reason – it’s overpriced and you get stuck with Breville’s grinder forever.
You’re much better off buying a grinder and coffee machine separately.
Breville Bambino Plus vs Pod Machines.
Pod coffee machines fill a very distinct need. They offer ultimate convenience while, unfortunately, sacrificing the quality of your coffee.
- There are no beans to grind.
- There are no coffee grounds to clean off the kitchen bench.
- The pod coffee machine doesn’t require any cleaning.
You just stick a pod into the coffee machine, push a button and get fresh coffee. Well, somewhat fresh.
The taste you get from a pod coffee machine is far from ideal because – let’s face it – anything that has been stuck inside an aluminium pod for months will not taste fresh.
Breville Barista Express vs DeLonghi La Specialista.
I looked closely at the Delonghi La Specialista as an alternative to Breville, and was left disappointed.
There’s something about DeLonghi home coffee machines in general that feels cheap. Buttons are plasticky, levers wobble and the plastic itself feels … plasticky, but not in a nice way.
- If I’m going to pay $600-1000 for a coffee machine and leave it on display on my kitchen bench, I want it to not look like a kids toy.
This is unfortunate because La Specialista’s specifications look pretty good on paper.
11 Essential Features Of A Great Home Coffee Machine.
Now that you’ve chosen your coffee grinder, I’d like to equip you with the knowledge you’ll need to choose the best home coffee machine for you.
Rule #1 – don’t buy into the propaganda peddled by coffee machine manufacturers.
They love seducing you with cheesy marketing hyperbole “premium barista experience for coffee connoisseurs” and (I’m looking at you, Delonghi) – “coffee symphony crafted in science” while propping up their claims with buzzwords such as “scientifically engineered”.
Ignore all of their claims – and pay attention only to the 11 features below.
These features are critical because they have a direct, tangible on the taste of your brew and your home coffee-making experience. A few things to keep in mind:
- They are listed in their order of priority (a rotary pump, although nice to have, isn’t as important as a PID).
- The price of the home coffee machine to go up with each additional feature.
This list of features enables you to assess the machine’s value for money.
For example, only the $4,000-ish Lelit Bianca V3 ticks 11/11 of the boxes on this list. However, the $499-ish Breville Bambino Plus ticks 4/11 of the boxes, and the most important ones at that!
1. Unpressurised Baskets.
Pressurised baskets are a crutch. They allow you to build pressure in your portafilter even when your grind is not fine enough or your tamp is terrible.
However, they will also prevent you from ever achieving a good to great coffee.
- For optimal results, get a coffee machine with unpressurised baskets, and practice your grinding + tamping until you get it right.
If your coffee machine doesn’t include unpressurised baskets, you can buy them online for less than $20. It will be the best $20 you’ll spend on your coffee machine.
Consumer-oriented manufacturers like Breville typically include both types of baskets with their home coffee machines (Bambino Plus notwithstanding, which – sadly – includes only pressurised baskets).
Prosumer-oriented machines always include unpressurised baskets only.
2. Dual Boilers.
Espresso is very exacting: your brew temperature has to be nearly perfect. If you’re off by a few degrees, your drink will be acceptable, but not great.
- Separate boilers ensure thermal stability by separating brewing and steam production.
You get strong steam pressure for silky froth and consistent brew temperature for top-notch espresso.
3. PID Temperature Control.
Built-in digital temperature controller that provides better coffee, more consistently.
Works just like cruise control in your car – you set the desired temperature, and the controller gets to work monitoring and adjusting dozens of other parameters to ensure constant output.
4. Overpressure Valve.
Your coffee needs to be extracted at 9 bars of pressure. Not more, not less.
This is more difficult to achieve than you think, as steam is an imprecise instrument that can be affected by environmental and mechanical variables.
- Unfortunately, most coffee machines – including expensive Italian models – are notorious for running excessive pressures.
The solution is a simple overpressure valve that bleeds off excessive pressure as soon as it is detected, keeping your brew pressure within the desired range and your coffee without sour overtones.
A feature that soaks the coffee grounds before the extraction begins.
Then, it gradually increases the water pressure to achieve even extraction, resulting in less water channelling through the coffee puck. If your tamping isn’t on point, it will provide you with a safety net.
6. 3+ Holes In The Steam Wand.
Cheaper coffee machines – especially those with single boilers – typically offer 1 hole, which is far from ideal. They don’t offer enough violence to stretch the milk.
7. Hot Water Spout.
First, a separate hot water spout is very convenient when making teas, long blacks and rinsing portafilters between shots.
Second, it helps you make better-tasting coffee because it is plumbed to the second (steam) boiler, which means the temperature of your brew important boiler doesn’t fluctuate when you use hot water. Thermal stability and all that.
8. Programmable Shot Volume & Temperature.
You’ll need this feature if you’re a Type 2 home barista who wants to experiment and get the most out of your shots.
9. 58mm Portafilter.
Compared with the cheaper 54mm portafilter, the larger 58mm model allows you to dose more coffee into each shot, providing a richer flavour.
Also, its larger size provides a higher level of thermal stability, which ensures greater coffee consistency.
10. E61 Brew Group.
First of all, it’s very stylish. I just love how it looks.
Second, it always circulates hot water through itself to sync its temperature with that of the water inside the boiler, ultimately leading to – you guessed it – better thermal stability.
This feature is typically only found on top prosumer coffee machines.
11. Rotary Pump.
A rotary pump is much quieter. It also has a more refined sound – more of a smooth “whirr”, rather than a rackety “brrrr”.
Unfortunately, vibration pumps that sound like old, rackety, cheap diesel engines and the industry standard and are found in just about every coffee machine that cost less than $3,000.
How Much Should You Spend On A Home Coffee Machine?
The Australian market is saturated with home coffee machines. The ones worth considering start at $500 and top out at above $6,000.
You could spend less, but the quality of your home coffee brew will be nothing to write home about.
You could spend a lot more, but most of your funds will be spent on social signalling, rather than the taste of coffee in your cup.
- You will get the most bang for your buck by spending between $500 and $2,500 on your home brew setup.
Why Should You Listen To Me?
I’m a heavy coffee drinker, but more importantly, at some point, I was one of the better baristas around Sydney. Like many young people, I became a barista to pay bills while at uni.
Not satisfied with being another guy who ‘makes coffee’, I set out to learn from the best. I did stints at Allpress Espresso roastery in Rosebery and a few other notable coffee institutions of that time.
I approached coffee with the same mindset that I tend to approach everything – if I do something, I tend to take it to the extreme (case in point, this article is now over 6000 words long).
In addition to leveraging my professional barista experience, I joined several home barista Facebook groups, including the Breville Dual Boiler group (there is such a thing!) and the Lilet Bianca group.
I wanted to talk directly to the owners of these home coffee machines and understand what they loved and disliked about their choices.
Finally, I spend over 2 days watching home coffee machine reviews on YouTube.
I hope you enjoy the fruits of my labour.