All-In-Ones Vs. Standalone Semi-Auto Espresso Machines
One thing a new espresso customer needs to consider is whether they want an all-in-one machine or one with a standalone grinder. All-in-one’s seem like the best bang for your buck, right? With a grinder built in it means you have less to buy. While we think all-in-ones are the perfect choice for many customers, there are some things to consider before making that decision.
First, let’s dig into the positives with an all-in-one machine. Of course, there’s the convenience. While you might need some accessories to get the most out of your new machine, getting the machine and grinder in one purchase can be very convenient and alleviate any headaches when trying to make a decision. Depending on the price, you may even get a great deal. It’s all important to consider while picking out your machine.
Another positive with an all-in-one is that you know the grinder will work well with the machine. When you are shopping for a standalone grinder you have to do your research to ensure you’re getting a good option. Since all-in-ones are designed with both parts in mind, you know you’ll be able to achieve a grind appropriate for the machine.
Finally, there’s an element that can be a pro or a con depending on your counter space: Machine size. Generally an all-in-one packs the machine and grinder into a more compact package than if you had standalone gear. However, the shape of an all-in-one might be tough to fit on your countertop. While the workflow of having both together is of course much better than separating machine and grinder, with standalone units you can be more flexible with how you space them. It’s not an issue that’ll affect every user, but it’s something to consider.
With all of that in mind, let’s look at some cons of the all-in-one.
The first thing that might make a standalone more attractive for you is upgradeability. With an all-in-one you’re locked in to either using the grinder as long as the machine, or having a large, clunky machine working with a standalone grinder. If you go the standalone route you can upgrade your grinder and machine independently. This means you can really work out your needs for your gear and adjust your setup to match them. We think this is enough of a reason to go with standalone setups, but if you’re really sure you aren’t going to want upgrade options available independently then this is less of an issue. This can also be a factor when it comes to reliability. If you want to use your all-in-one for many years you’ll want to be extra careful about maintaining both parts of the machine. If one fails and you’re out of warranty, it’s physically tied to the working half, which can be very frustrating!
The other con can be price and value depending on what you go for. All-in-ones tend to be a more expensive buy in for their performance than standalone machines and grinders. If you’re buying your first espresso machine you might want to start by using a brew grinder and a pressurized portafilter, then pick up an espresso grinder later to get the most out of your machine. This gives you greater price flexibility, which is very important to many users. In some cases, depending on pricing, you can even get an affordable, but more than adequate espresso grinder like the Eurekea Mignon Notte with your machine for less than the price of an all-in-one, and end up with better performance.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to whether you’re seeking convenience or flexibility. All-in-ones can be a great option, but make sure you know what to expect before you make the decision to buy one!