Favorite Espressos 2014
In the site's early years, the reviews focused on espresso machines and grinders.
Recognizing that coffee is the most important contributor to exceptional espresso,
HB has expanded the popular Second Look review format to include peer evaluations of
espresso blends. This year's theme is favorites nominated by the site membership.
Mazzer Mini / Mini E, Macap M4, Cimbali Junior
One of the most important selections of your equipment ensemble
is the coffee grinder. It's tempting to overlook the grinder and focus
on the espresso machine. Don't fall into this trap. This review covers six
popular espresso grinders among aficionados: Mazzer Mini, Mazzer Mini Electronic
Doserless - Type A & B, Cimbali Junior, Macap M4, and Macap M4
|Espresso Machine Reviews
Profitec Pro 700
The E61 group may have been invented in the early 60s, but double boiler espresso machines based upon this design
for home use are relatively recent. The popularity of the E61 / double boiler combination has really taken off the last few years
with the introduction of models from several manufacturers.
This review will summarize the strengths and weaknesses in ergonomics, construction, and features of Profitec's latest model, the Pro 700.
"Which espresso machine should I buy?", "What's the best coffee grinder?",
"I have a budget of $500, what is the best espresso machine?"
"There are so many choices of espresso equipment! What general advice to you offer?"
Visitors to this site ask these types of questions
every day. The article How to choose an espresso machine and grinder at the right price
offers the community wisdom gleaned from hands-on experience, presented in question/answer format.
ECM Technika IV Profi
For those who are new to the types of espresso machines available for the home, the heat exchanger boiler design may be confusing.
The article Espresso Machines 101 explains the most popular boiler designs: Single boiler (sometimes called "single boiler, dual use"), heat exchanger (HX),
and double boiler. Over the course of this review of the ECM Technika IV Profi, I will compare and contrast the practical implications of
its HX design with other espresso machines.
Bezzera Strega Review
The Bezzara Strega is a commercial lever group espresso machine in a small, pourover package designed for home use.
Its design goal was to enable owners to produce shots far superior to any capsule or superauto with only a minimal
learning curve. But the application of this design philosophy to a lever espresso machine had an unintended and entirely spectacular consequence:
they produced a lever-pump hybrid that, with a few simple operating tricks, can make some of the world's best espresso,
especially when using lighter roasted coffees.
La Marzocco GS/3 MP Review
Although the Marzocco GS/3 MP is a fully commercial espresso machine with enough capacity to cater a small wedding, it's nicely sized for the home.
This iteration of the GS line was introduced in 2005 with the latest temperature control hardware and innovative design changes that delivered state-of-the-art consistency.
This review will summarize the updates to the GS/3 since its introduction and add the home barista's perspective.
Izzo Alex Duetto V3 Review
The popularity of the E61 group among home barista's is well established; Izzo's rendition of the group brings lots of other popular features
like electronically controlled brew temperature (often called a "PID"), rotary pump, and the flexiblity to switch between water drawn
from an inboard reservoir or directly plumbed. This review will summarize the Duetto's brew temperature consistency, steaming performance,
and offer tips on producing the best espresso.
Quickmill Silvano Review
Along the continuum of espresso machine choices, the Quick Mill Silvano is not easily categorized. It's priced less than other espresso machines capable of brewing and steaming at the same time, thanks to its innovative design. For the first-time buyer,
it may well solve the dilemma for those who want to prepare espresso and cappuccinos back-to-back, but aren't willing to stretch their budget to a semi-commercial choice. More...
Rancilio Silvia Review
Over the last 10+ years, Silvia is unquestionably the most heavily documented home espresso machine on the Internet.
Perhaps counter-intuitively, that's precisely why skipping it would seem like an error of omission.
This review isn't a rehash the already formidable collection of information on the Internet, but instead it highlights the best tips, especially those tips geared towards the Rancilio Silvia's target demographic, first-time buyers.
|Espresso Machine Detailed Reviews
Buyer's Guide to the Expobar Brewtus III
If you were looking for a double boiler espresso machine for
home use a few years ago, there would have been pretty slim pickings.
In late 2004, WholeLatteLove introduced the Expobar Brewtus and the
double boiler espresso machine home market took off.
Ian Stewart updates the original buyer's guide to include the upgrades
and options that have been introduced since the Brewtus' original introduction,
including a new plumb-in rotary pump model. More...
FAQs and Favorites Digest
Before investing time in reading reviews, it helps to know the basic
terminology of espresso making and espresso equipment.
This article has a few must-read introductions and how-tos are also recommended.
To help you navigate to topics that interest you, it also contains links to the best topics all in one place, categorized by forum and subject area.
Buyer's Guide to the Ponte Vecchio Lusso
Lever espresso machines as a class are frequently labeled as finicky beasts that demand months of focused attention to master.
The Ponte Vecchio Lusso, in sharp contrast, is exceptionally forgiving, making it an ideal candidate for an "espresso newbie" shortlist.
Ponte Vecchio Lusso has remarkable temperature predictability and represents an espresso machine that grows with the skills of the barista.
Buyer's Guide to the La Spaziale Vivaldi II
Over the years, Chris' Coffee Service has worked closely with La Spaziale to refine the
product line based on feedback from consumers. These incremental changes in conjunction with
the recent additions of programmable preinfusion and programmable temperature offset differential prompted us to
update the buyer's guide with a fresh look at the La Spaziale Vivaldi II. More...
Buyer's Guide to the Vibiemme Domobar Super
Beginning with the specifications, the standout features of the
Vibiemme Domobar Super include original E61 grouphead, choice of
semi-automatic and electronic (automatic) volumetric dosing, three
position power switch, and 2.7 liter boiler and a huge 3.8 liter water
reservoir. That's a lot of steaming power! This review will look
closely at the characteristics that separate the E61-based competitors
to help you decide if the Vibiemme Domobor Super is right for you. More...
Buyer's Guide to the Quickmill Alexia
Based on the time-tested design of the E61 brew group, the
Alexia is forgiving of minor errors in barista technique. As a single
boiler espresso machine, it also offers simple brew temperature
management. With an optional electronic brew
temperature control, it can reliably and easily pinpoint
the desired brew temperature over a range. Is it the choice for the espresso purist? A beginner? Or latte lover? Let's find out. More...
Buyer's Guide to the Quick Mill Vetrano
Shhh-h! Did you hear that?
Yes, that is the sound of greater tranquility in the
morning—the sound of the new whisper-quiet rotary pump E61
espresso machine by Quick Mill (alas, if only grinders could be so
quiet). In addition to accepting a water hookup, its driptray
optionally converts to direct-drain with minimum hassle. Once you've
become accustom to the convenience and quiet of a plumbed-in espresso
machine, you'll never go back to filling water reservoirs again! More...
Buyer's Guide to the Elektra Microcasa Semiautomatica
Over twenty years after its introduction, the Semiautomatica
has remained unique. As the market for home espresso matured, other
companies also produced home heat exchanger machines, but these were
derived from small catering machines and looked far more conventional
than the Elektra. If one imagines espresso machines as cars, they
would range from subcompact little home machines to Mack truck four
groupers. The Elektra Semiautomatica doesn't fit anywhere along this
continuum, because it's the motorcycle of espresso machines. More...
Buyer's Guide to the Elektra A3
Functionally, the model A3 is a no-nonsense heat exchanger
espresso machine destined for small cafés. But the Elektra
Sixties model A3 espresso machine's distinct styling is an attention
magnet to anyone who enters the room. Is this machine a little over
the top for your average espresso lover? You bet! For that reason
alone, the idea of reviewing Elektra's one-group offering was enticing
and nicely consistent with the site's motto, "Your Guide to
Exceptional Espresso." So began the Elektra A3 espresso machine's
intensive review process. More...
Fiorenzato Bricoletta - A Pro's Perspective
This is an "old school" espresso machine;
stylistically, it is modeled on the classic Art Deco Faema and Gaggia
machines of the late '40s and early '50s. The enormous exposed E61
group dominates its front profile. The Bricoletta also features a
rotary vane pump and direct plumbing option.
Chris Tacy takes it through the paces in his second Pro's
Perspective review, commenting that he continues to be impressed by
the state of the home espresso market, and in particular the
Fiorenzato Bricoletta. More...
Buyer's Guide to the Andreja Premium
Buyer's Guide to La Valentina
Buyer's Guide to the LaCimbali Junior DT1
Isomac Amica / Zaffiro Flash Review
Rancilio Silvia Flash Review
La Marzocco GS/3 Prototype - Pro's Perspective
Buyer's Guide to the Expobar Brewtus
Buyer's Guide to the La Spaziale S1
Buyer's Guide to the Gaggia Achille
Grimac Mia - A Pro's Perspective