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Did you know that at least 7 out of 10 Americans drink coffee weekly, and 62% can’t go a day without it? According to the NCA, most coffee lovers prefer it in the form of espresso. Espressos are a bit more complicated to make than other coffees. That said, you need to invest in the right equipment, especially if you like to get a serious kick out of your first cup. A prosumer espresso machine, although expensive, is the best investment you can make for the best-flavored espresso.
In this article, we have rounded up the top 7 best prosumer espresso machines to help you make the best-informed choice. Our in-depth reviews are based on a few critical features, including capacity, design and materials, operations, and controls, among others. These features are the basis of the machine’s longevity, ease of use, and efficiency.
Other features: PID temperature control, E61 grouphead, multi-directional steam wand, and hot water wand
This Bezzera machine tops our list for all the right reasons. First off, Bezzera is a renowned brand that has been on the market for over 100 years. This speaks volumes about the quality of their products, and this Magica 1 beast is a true reflection of their prowess. It is a fantastic fusion of traditional and modern technology with a highly functional design that would look great on any kitchen counter.
The machine sets itself apart with its heat exchange copper boiler that can make coffee, steam, and hot water simultaneously. Its PID temperature controller is another distinguishing feature. It ensures you have the most accurate and stable temperature to make the best-flavored espresso.
The Bezzera Magica 1 Group Espresso Machine is ideal for anyone looking for a highly functional mid-priced prosumer espresso machine that is easy to operate.
What are its best features?
The Bezzera Magica is likable in all dimensions. It is reasonably priced, yet it comes with various cool features that give it unmatched aesthetic and functional value. We also liked that the machine is pretty simple to operate thanks to its straightforward lever system and fully articulated steam and water wands.
What could be improved?
Everything good has a flip side, and the Bezzera Magica is not an exception. The first thing we didn't like about the machine is its noisy vibratory pump. It is not uncomfortably noisy, but it is not as quiet as the rotary type. Another thing we didn't like is that you have to keep monitoring the water tanks because the pump is not compatible with direct plumbing.
Other features: PID and dual pressure gauge, E61 grouphead, quick portafilter removal, OPV
Lelit Bianca is not the most popular espresso machine out there, but it is a pretty solid rival when it comes to functionality. It is a premium quality prosumer machine, and it comes with a matching price tag. Besides its classy aesthetic build that features woody accents and a shiny stainless casing, it has other myriad features that justify its price point.
What sets the Lelit Bianca apart from its premium peers is its flow control feature. It allows you to control the water flow through the E61 group head with a manual paddle. The paddle gives you more control over the brewing pressure, which is a huge bonus for creative and adventurous baristas. Very few machines offer this feature, and the ones that have it come at heftier price points. Plus, it comes with a programmable pre-infusion.
The Lelit Bianca is the ultimate prosumer espresso machine for the coffee aficionado who is willing to all out for top quality espresso. Besides its flow control, it has multiple impressive features like a configurable water reservoir and no-burn hot-water and steam wands.
Why did it make our list?
The first thing that made us fall in love with Lelit Bianca is its classy but warm design that looks like it means business but belongs in a home. We also liked that it is a dual-boiler machine with quiet operation thanks to the rotary vane pump. As if that's enough, the machine comes with a bottomless portafilter which would help you hone your espresso-making skills.
What is not ideal about it?
Other than its high price point, there aren't as many downsides to the Lelit Bianca espresso machine. We realized that the machine is a bit complex, and its learning curve can be steep for anyone who’s upgraded from a cheaper and simpler coffee machine with a single boiler. If you take your time to work out its nice profile techniques, you will never regret buying it.
Other features: 8-cup capacity, internal thermostat and reset fuse, steam wand, additional cappuccino automatic frother
La Pavoni is a world-famous Italian brand long renowned as the best producers of Lever espresso machines. La Pavoni PCW-16 is a professional model introduced by the brand as an upmarket follow-up of the famous Europiccola. The machine hosts a plethora of cool features that make it one of the best manual espresso machines.
La Pavoni PCW-16 compares favorably to its preceding model Europiccola. It comes with an added pressure gauge and a larger capacity. If you have a large household, you will appreciate the double capacity. The pressure gauge makes the machine enjoyable to use. You can use it to dial extraction and get creative with pressure profiling.
This machine is a perfect option for any espresso lover who loves the control and satisfaction that only a manual machine can offer. It heats up pretty fast. In less than 5 minutes, you’ll be good to go. Moreover, you get 2 options for steaming milk, and you can swap between them whenever you want. There’s the traditional steam wand with a 3-hole tip and an auto-frothing attachment that’s great for cappuccinos.
Why did it make our list?
Just like everyone would, we instantly fell in love with La Pavoni PCW-16’s design. It is much a work of art as it is an appliance. The machine boasts a cool steampunk aesthetic that can work with any kind of kitchen décor. We also loved that the machine heats up quickly and has a large capacity despite a single boiler model.
What is not ideal about it?
La Pavoni PCW-16 is a single boiler machine, meaning you have to wait between the processes of steaming milk and pulling espresso. The only downside to this design is that the machine needs extra height to accommodate the operation of its lever. Also, although it comes with double-shot baskets, we didn't like that they are smaller than the standard 52mm wide ones.
Imagine getting a prosumer espresso machine at the price point of a standard entry-level espresso machine. Despite its fair price point, the Rancilio Silvia holds its own in the prosumer espresso machines showdown quite well. It is a single boiler machine with the impressive build quality. The inside of its boiler is made with corrosion-resistant and lead-free brass that has been thermally wrapped for even heating and ideal temperature stability.
Rancilio Silvia stands out for its ability to make high-quality microfoam. It is popular for offering unmatched steam power at a relatively lower cost. It is hard to come across an under 1000 dollars machine with such capabilities.
If you are looking to get the best kick from your coffee cup every morning without taking money from your child’s college fund, then this is your best shot. The machine is fairly priced like an entry-level machine and is relatively easy to use. All you have got to do is dial a few switches to power it on/off, brew, water, or steam.
What do we love it for?
We found this machine’s design pretty impressive for its price point. Rancilio went out of their way to fit is with nearly all the components they use on their commercial models. Its stainless steel exterior and steel frame construction is incredibly durable and easy to maintain. We also liked its chrome-plated brass saturated grouphead that offers ideal temperature stability.
What were we disappointed with?
There are a few downers on the Rancilio Silvia that you may want to consider. The first thing we didn’t like was the vibratory pump. Besides being noisy, it prevents the plumbing of the machine to a water line. What’s more, the machine is a single boiler model meaning not everyone will appreciate waiting between pulling the espresso and steaming the milk.
Other features: sensor grinding technology, smart tamping station, advanced latte system
If versatility is your top priority, then this is your prime option. The De’Longhi EC9335M La Specialista is more than an espresso machine. You can use it to make tea and a couple of other beverages. The machine boasts a rugged build and robust functionality thanks to its unparalleled features. It is a top preference for many coffee experts and enthusiasts because of its advanced latte system that produces milk with great texture for lattes and cappuccinos.
The De’Longhi EC9335M La Specialista is the ultimate machine for the optimal coffee dose. It distinguishes itself from its peers with its integrated grinder. The grinder features a unique sensory technology that produces fresh coffee with easy grinding. It also has a smart tamping station that enhances its precision, thus reducing waste.
The machine is ideal for anyone who values versatility and ease of use. Unlike most machines, you don’t have to wait so long for your coffee, thanks to its 1-second start button. Plus, the machine can fit a variety of mugs.
Why are we impressed?
What stood out for us the most is the machine's froth style options. It allows you to pick your preferred froth style, be it micro-foam or rich foam. We also liked how easy it is to set up and use. Plus, besides being one of the best espresso machines, it makes the best lattes and cappuccinos. As if that's enough, the machine has a dual heating system which means no waiting between brewing espresso and frothing milk.
What negatives must you be aware of?
The De'Longhi EC9335M La Specialista has a few cons, fewer than its pros, but they are downsides you ought to know before making a final decision. It has some design flaws, like the inability to take the hopper off. It is also not ESE compatible. We also experienced a few difficulties in fine-tuning the machine's settings.
If making coffee for you starts with grinding freshly roasted coffee beans, then this is the machine you deserve. The Breville BES870XL Barista Express can transform your coffee beans into rich flavored espresso in no time. It has a built-in grinder that offers dose-control grinding. It also features interchangeable filters that give you an easier time achieving the desired results.
The most outstanding thing about the Breville BES870XL Barista Express is its super-automatic operation. This makes it a prime option for anyone who thinks making coffee is a chore. What’s more, it has the PID feature that allows you to control temperature and get water to the level you like.
All considered, this is a machine best suited for coffee lovers who prefer to grind their coffee beans themselves. Its hands-free operation is even more appealing to coffee enthusiasts who hate the idea of doing too much to get their daily dose.
What do we love it for?
What we liked the most about this prosumer espresso machine is its quiet operation. Its grinder operates silently. It also allows you to choose the amount of coffee grounds you need to achieve your desired flavor. We also liked the numerous accessories the unit comes with. They offer excellent value for money.
What were we disappointed with?
Although the Breville BES870XL Barista Express offers rich and balanced flavors with its incredible features, it has a few cons. The first one is its slow operation. The machine can be pretty slow, especially when it comes to frothing. Second, the machine’s water tank has to be refilled often. Another thing that may be a bother to other people is that the top and bottom sides of the machine are plastic.
Gaggia is a popular brand, and the RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine is an upgrade to one of their renowned models. The machine packs a punch with incredible features in higher-end models, thus offering excellent value for money. Its overall quality is unparalleled as its build has commercial components. The machine’s design is both aesthetic and functional. It will undoubtedly be a centerpiece in your kitchen.
The machine stands out with its quick semi-automatic operation. It will only take you 30 seconds or less to steam. You will have your brew ready in 5 minutes or less. Can it get any faster? Plus, it is incredibly easy to use. The control panel with 3 switches is pretty straightforward so, you can breeze through the process of making yourself a cup of coffee.
The Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine is ideal for anyone who hates to wait ages for their coffee. It is also a fantastic choice for anyone looking for a portable unit with exceptional overall quality at a reasonable price point.
What are our favorite features?
It's hard to ignore the machine's excellent build quality and aesthetic value. It can look good in any kitchen. We also loved the extra features that it comes with, like the 58mm portafilter, and the double and single shot baskets. We found the 3 –way solenoid valve on the machine unique for its price point; plus, it works very well with ESE pods.
What could be better?
The RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine would get a 5-star review from us, but we found it lacking in a few areas. For instance, you can’t place any sort of cup that is less than 3.5 inches directly under the portafilter. Also, it is hard to see the water level in the tank because it is encased by the machine’s back and sides.
Once you catch the espresso bug, it becomes hard to think straight until you have the best prosumer espresso machine for the best quality espresso treats in the comfort of your home. Choosing the best prosumer espresso machine from the endless options available is such a big decision. After all, you will be dropping a lot of cash. They don’t come cheap. This buying guide has all the crucial information you need to avoid being disappointed.
What is a Prosumer Espresso Machine?
Prosumer espresso machines are professional grade coffee-making machines designed for home espresso aficionados
These are professional coffee-making machines made for home use by coffee aficionados. They are made of the same components a commercial espresso machine has. Simply put, a prosumer espresso machine is the best investment you can make if you want to have high-quality espresso with rich and balanced flavors at home.
How to Choose the Best Prosumer Espresso Machine
Here are some of the features you must consider when choosing a prosumer espresso machine:
There are 3 main types of prosumer espresso machines based on operation; manual, semi-automatic, and automatic.
Manual- this kind of machine allows you to be in charge of the entire process of making coffee. It also requires you to generate the water pressure yourself with the lever or pump. Most people like a manual espresso machine for the control and satisfaction that it offers.
Semi-automatic- A semi-auto also allows you some level of control. The only thing the machine does automatically is generate the necessary bars of pressure to pull an espresso shot. You are left in charge of everything else to make yourself a delicious cup of coffee, from dosing weight and coffee ground size to tamping pressure and shot timing.
Automatic – these are also popularly known as volumetric machines. You cannot control shot timing, and the pressure stops on its own when a certain amount of water has flowed through the coffee puck.
Materials and Design
The design and materials used to make the machine determine not only its longevity but also its functionality. The grouphead design is the most crucial aspect to consider when it comes to the machine’s design. A proper grouphead design is critical for maintaining the ideal water temperature while pulling the espresso shot, which is the most important part of the coffee-making process.
There are 2 main group designs: E61 grouphead and saturated grouphead. The E61 group head design is the most popular home setting design. It can be found on the machines like Bezzera Magica 1. There are slight variations of it across different brands, but it remains the most widely used design because it constantly circulates hot water through pipes between the boiler and the grouphead.
The saturated grouphead isn’t as popular, but research shows that it offers the best temperature stability. A machine with this design has its grouphead bolted directly to the boiler and hot water flowing continuously from the boiler to the grouphead.
An electric grouphead, though a rarity in the home market, is another excellent solution. It is more expensive than the E61 and saturated grouphead designs, but they offer the most control. It is perfect for adventurous and creative baristas.
Once you have chosen the design and style of the machine, you should also consider the quality of materials used to make its components. For instance, a boiler made with Aluminum will not last as long as one made with stainless steel.
Heating System and Boilers
The heating system is one of the most critical parts of an espresso machine. It is the one that heats your water and milk for your coffee. Its design and wattage are the main determinants of how fast it can get the job done. This is why some espresso machines will take less than a minute to prepare a cup of coffee while others will take even more than 5 minutes. What’s more, the heating system determines the consistency.
When it comes to choosing a boiler, you must consider both the design and materials used to make it. Nearly all prosumer espresso machines allow you to pull an espresso shot and steam milk at the same time. Only the cheap models don’t have this capability. A machine will only have this capability if it has 2 boilers or one boiler with a heat exchange system.
Dual boiler machines like Lelit Bianca PID V2 are costlier than heat exchange models. The latter have a smaller footprint, and the materials used to make them are more affordable. The tradeoff between the two is less consistency in high volume situations and less precise temperature control.
If you get a cheaper prosumer espresso machine, usually below 1000 dollars, you are likely to end up with one boiler without a heating exchange, and this means you would have to wait for the boiler to adjust its temperature between brewing coffee and steaming milk.
There 2 main types of pumps that prosumer espresso machines come with: a vibrating pump and a rotary pump. Virtually all high-end models come with the rotary pump. There are some benefits to it, and they include: it is commercially built and unlikely to fail like a vibrating pump. Also, it allows you to plumb your machine with little hassle. Another benefit of the rotary pump is that it is much quieter and operating it feels nicer. A vibrating pump is noisy. However, some espresso machines feature a padding to the pump to reduce its noise level.
A vibrating pump, like the one that can be found in Rancilio Silvia M V6 is much easier to replace if it fails as it is widely available and affordable. According to the latest research, there isn’t any clear evidence that either of the pumps affects the quality of coffee a machine makes. So, at the end of the day, it is a personal call.
If you have a large family of coffee lovers, consider buying a machine with a large water reservoir to avoid refilling it every often. The water reservoir is the container that holds water and generates steam. Most units have a reservoir with a capacity as large as 12 ounces.
You can select the amount of milk, water, coffee, and the temperature with a single button
When it comes to controls, look for the one-touch feature. Any machine with the feature is the easiest to use with a small learning curve. It allows you to program the machine to make your coffee the way you like it without having to enter details every time you need a cup. The single button option also allows you to select the amount of milk, water, coffee, and the temperature.
Unlike many entry-level espresso machines that have tons of frothing options, prosumer espresso machines come with commercial-style wands. They may need a little getting used to and some level of expertise, but you can count on them for the best silky-smooth microfoam.
Since almost all the prosumer espresso machines have a similar steam wand, there are a couple of factors you should consider when choosing one, like its range of motion, how cool it stays when in use, the size of the steam boiler, and whether a steam wand for hot water is provided separately.
The importance of factors mentioned above will depend on your needs. For instance, if you love latte art, then you should be on the look for an articulated steam wand and a large steam boiler, even if it means getting a bigger espresso machine. A larger steam boiler produces steam power and temperature stability, which is perfect for making milky drinks. If you love an Americano more than a latte, then make the hot water wand your main priority.
Dimension and Weight
Prosumer machines tend to be larger in their build compared to the standard espresso machines. Ensure you measure your space correctly before getting the model you’ve been eyeing. If you find that you are short on space, consider going for a machine with a heat exchange boiler. Dual boilers are much bigger.
Another thing to consider in the size factor is the clearance between the drip tray and the group head. It is especially a crucial factor if you love large coffee drinks. If you only take espresso shots, then you can overlook it.
This is the tool that holds the filter basket in place before you pull a shot. Portafilters come in different sizes, with the maximum size being 60mm. The size of the portafilter is a factor worth considering if you will be getting spare filter baskets or a tamper.
The espresso machine features a removable drip tray for easy cleaning and maintenance
This is a tray that collects all the drips of any liquid when you remove the carafe or cup. The removable tray makes cleaning and maintenance of the machine a breeze. You wouldn’t need to transfer the machine to the sink. You can easily remove the tray, clean it, and then put it back. Plus, you can remove it to create space when you have bigger utensils to fit.
Ease of Cleaning
When choosing a prosumer espresso machine, consider the ease of cleaning and maintenance. Go for easy-to-clean materials like stainless steel, then look for features that make work easier, like a drip tray.
Prosumer espresso machines are not cheap. The very cheap models, which are usually less than 1000 dollars, are not usually the best quality as they aren’t commercially built like their pricier counterparts. Some do perform averagely well, thus offering excellent value for money, like the Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro. The machines’ prices vary. You can get one for as low as 400 dollars and the very high-end ones for as high as 3000 dollars.
Warranty varies across brands. Since you are digging deep into your pockets for a prosumer espresso machine, it only makes sense to get yourself the best warranty deal. Some manufacturers offer lifetime warranty while others offer 1 or 2-year part and labor warranty covers.
Most commercial espresso machines are built to run as 220V units because their boilers run more efficiently at 220V. If you get yours configured to run as a 110v unit, then you can use it at home because your kitchen at home is not wired like a professional kitchen that can accommodate appliances that run at 220v.
If you love great quality coffee and you have the change, why not invest in the best equipment for an unmatched café quality coffee drinking experience? Prosumer espresso machines are robust machines with lots of similarities with commercial espresso machines; only they are meant to be used at home. With all the confusing options in the market, it can be hard to pick one that offers great value for your money.
Our list has the best options that cater to nearly everyone’s needs. For example, our best overall choice, the Bezzera Magica 1, is one of the few machines that balance affordability, aesthetics, and superior functionality. Our premium option, the Lelit Bianca PID V2 is a bit pricey but has everything the adventurous barista would need from PID to a double boiler.
Our third option, La Pavoni PCW-16, is the best manual prosumer espresso machine on the market. It packs a punch with incredible features like a reset fuse and an internal thermostat. Plus, it comes with an additional cappuccino frother.