What to Expect from a Luxury Espresso Machine
Sometimes it’s hard to know what to expect from a high-end, luxury espresso machine. We talk about features like pressure profiling, no-burn steam wands, PID controllers, plumbing in, and more, so it can be hard to sort out what you can actually expect when you pay a high cost for an espresso maker. We’re hoping to help you get into the right mindset today!
The first thing is the aforementioned features. But rather than list out what each of these things are, we think it’s more valuable to talk generally about what you should expect in terms of features and value. This is really where we should pause and talk more about the actual price ranges you’re looking at.
We know that for many users, paying more than $1,000 is a huge expense for an espresso machine. We get it! In that range you can definitely expect to get prosumer-level performance, and for many users this price range will be plenty. Most of the time you can shoot for some kind of combination of PID controlled temps, heat exchanger boilers, and high quality builds. There are exceptions, but these are generally what we would call performance features, plus that long lasting construction.
At the $2,000 plus range you’ll start seeing more machines with options like plumbing-in, dual boilers, and other elements that may not improve the quality of your shots, but they can improve usability depending on your situation.
Finally, in the $3000 and up range you’ll start seeing things like pressure profiling, which is a niche, hobbyist feature.
From time to time we see confusion among new owners of high-end, luxury espresso machines about drink quality. They are sometimes disappointed that the new $2,500 espresso machine they’ve purchased doesn’t make better tasting drinks than their previous machine in the $1,000 range. In a lot of cases, this is true. Ultimately espresso machines push water through a tamped puck of coffee grounds at 9 BAR of pressure and ~200 degrees fahrenheit. Any machine that does this will be capable of brewing comparable shots. But that cost difference might make the difference between a machine that lasts 3-5 years, and one that lasts decades.
While there are certainly machines in the $1,000 range (such as offerings from Diletta, Rocket Espresso, and Rancilio) that are built to last many years, they may not combine advanced features like we mentioned above with that longevity. It’s worth keeping this combination of features and reliability in mind as you shop. It’s very possible that your $3,500 machine purchase will produce coffee that tastes like your $900 machine, but the former could be one that lasts a lifetime.
We hope this helps provide a bit of clarity for you as you look at higher end machines. The key thing to remember is that you should really set your expectations for reliability alongside what you want features wise, as the combination of these pieces of the puzzle are the thing that will lead to a higher machine cost.