Espresso Machines for Beginners, Coffee Nerds and Everyone in Between


It’s easy to become overwhelmed by coffee jargon – especially when it comes to espresso machines. Grind, dose, and tamp – these are some of the core components that the pros refer to when talking about “dialling in your espresso”. And that’s before we’ve even considered the elements like brew time and boiler temperature.


The espresso machine journey – especially at the entry level – can be daunting for those who have developed a taste for good espresso and are looking to build some barista skills with a home setup. These people may have learned a certain amount about espresso by frequenting specialty coffee shops and reading a few coffee blogs, and now feel ready to start looking for that perfect, entry-level espresso machine that will brew the beverage of their dreams while delivering a user-friendly experience.


For beginner baristas, it’s important to purchase a highly approachable machine that comes with intuitive ease of use. Now let’s consider the 3 categories of espresso machines (not including capsule-based machines which merely mimic espresso). Manual espresso machines – as the name implies – require the user to create pressure by pulling a lever (hence the term “pulling a shot”). These machines can be challenging to use even for the most accomplished baristas, and a manual espresso machine wouldn’t be considered a good candidate at the entry level. Its not-so-distant cousins, however, the semiautomatic and the super-automatic espresso machines, will offer some great options for novices.


The semiautomatic styles use a pump to create the correct amount of pressure but leave many of the brewing options up to the user without involving too much arduous trial and error. The super-automatic machines, on the other hand, do the entire job: measure and grind the beans, pull the shot, and froth the milk. Can you say convenience? That said, for those who are truly interested in the art and craftsmanship that goes into brewing a great espresso, these machines might not be the best fit. In addition, the super-automatic version will always come with a higher price tag due to its advanced features.


At the end of the day, the best entry-level espresso machine should provide consistent extraction with a minimum of hiccups, allow the user to easily override the pre-sets, transition seamlessly from extraction to milk-steaming, and provide that wow factor in the aesthetic department. And although that sounds like a tall order to fill, there are many brands that can tick those boxes and then some.


Established in 1998, Quality Coffee Systems – a family-run business – has grown right along with the booming Canadian coffee culture. We specialize in high-end commercial and residential coffee systems – hence, the “quality” in our name. Making the decision to become your own barista doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process. Here at QCS, our team specialists live, breathe and drink coffee, with a high degree of product knowledge across all the brands that we represent. If you’re looking for the perfect entry-level espresso machine, we will be able to consider your every need – along with your budget – and match you up with a coffee system that will see you through many years of brewing. And our relationship doesn’t end the day you bring home your baby. While our portfolio only represents brands with meticulous European craftsmanship, should the need arise for service or repair, QCS after-sales support is the backbone of our business.


Check out the QCS showroom or reach out for more info.


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