Home Espresso Machines, think before you buy.
Home Espresso machines are now at an enticing price throughout the country at stores that sell kitchen appliances. Most of the home espresso machines being offered are very good at what they do. They don’t have the same power and robustness as a commercial machine, but they get the job done. Your steam milk might not be hot enough, and your espresso shot a little cooler than the shot you get at your favorite coffee shop, but on the whole, it is a fair cup of espresso.
What really makes home units a hit or miss with the public is the quality of the parts and the engineering that goes into the unit. Home units that are sold in chain stores, and most kitchen stores are not made the same as the ones offered on the commercial market. You don’t get a boiler to get the water hot enough to make steam on a constant demand and the group head has no valve to really push the water through the espresso grounds to make that top line espresso shot that every home barista is looking for. What you have is a heating block that runs water through and transfers heat from a heating coil. That is not bad, I have had a Saeco home unit for years that worked well for me.
Secondly there is no water pump, only a vibration pump. These pumps are used widely for home units and some of the commercial units. The pumps do create enough pressure to do espresso, but their shelf life can be unpredictable.
It’s important need to know that parts and service are usually not handy to you, as a customer, and to make matters worse, the local espresso repair shop cannot get parts either. Most of the machines sold for home units are proprietary, meaning nobody is going to get parts unless they are licensed by the manufacture.
You will have to contact a call center, and talk to someone that will provide a work order number, then send your unit to an address that is not even in your own state, and wait. It could take up to 6 months to get your machine fixed.
Now, I know this will make you not want a home espresso machine, but there are other recourses out there. Go ahead and call your local espresso repair people, they will know, and more likely sell home units by the big producers of espresso machines that will fit nicely in your home. Names like UNIC, Ranchillo, Pasquinni, Nova Somanilli and Astoria, all have home units. These machines are a bit pricier than the big shoebox stores, but what they offer is same power and quality as their commercial units. What is even better, they can be fixed by any espresso repair shop, because they can order the parts.
Yes, the up-front cost is high, but the back-end cost and wait time for a repair on your machine, is a lot less, and your repair guy is local. You won’t have to wait for six months to get your machine fixed.