Espresso is the mixture that you get when you push hot and pressurized water through finely ground coffee.
This combination of hot and pressurized water requires the use of a specially designed machine.
This post will show you a number of reasons why espresso machines cost so much, low-cost espresso machines that you might want to consider and alternative ways to make espresso.
So, why are espresso machines so expensive? Espresso machines need to control the temperature and pressure of water very finely which requires expensive materials. Additionally, target customers that are willing to pay a lot, low production quantities, and needing to be made by hand all drive the cost of espresso machines up.
There are actually a number of reasons that espresso machines are expensive. However, espresso machines have actually been falling in price by a large amount in recent years and there are now options available at the $200 range that will do a good job.
Additionally, if you just want to be able to make a reasonably good espresso then there are a number of alternatives for you to consider in place of an espresso machine.
Why espresso machines are so expensive
Below, I will show you a number of reasons that espresso machines are expensive, some low-cost options that you might want to consider and alternative ways to make espresso instead of using an espresso machine.
Espresso machines need to be able to regulate the temperature of the water very precisely
Unlike with regular coffee, the temperature of the water will actually have a large impact on the way that the espresso tastes.
As a result of this espresso machines need to be able to keep the temperature high and in a specific range reliably.
To keep the temperature of the water in this range the more high-quality espresso machines will make use of a PID controller which is a device that can keep the temperature in a specified range very precisely. However, PID controllers can be expensive which drives the price of the machine up.
You can see the video below to see more about what PID controllers are and why they are an important feature in high-quality espresso machines.
Espresso machines need to use expensive materials
Another reason that espresso machines tend to cost a lot is that they need to use expensive materials.
Keeping water at a high temperature while also being pressurized puts a lot of stress on the machine. This means that the materials used to make the machine need to be resistant enough to be able to reliably maintain a hot and high pressure without becoming a hazard.
The materials used to make espresso machines tend to be things such as stainless steel as opposed to things such as aluminum and copper.
Additionally, the boiler and pump that are used to maintain the high and hot water pressure need to be reliable. If they are not reliable then it can cause the machine to become dangerous so the boiler and pump need to be quality tested to high standards.
The target customers are willing to spend a lot of money on them
Another reason that the cost of espresso machines are high is simply that the people that buy them are willing to spend a lot of money on them.
Many of the customers that buy espresso machines are coffee shops or cafes which need the machines to be able to make money which means that they are willing to pay more to have them. It also means that they care a lot more about the reliability of the machine and whether or not it can pull thousands of shots than the price of the machine.
They don’t get made in large quantities
Espresso machines require that you get the beans, grind them, press them into a portafilter, put the portafilter into the machine and then to turn it on.
Additionally, espresso machines can have a steep learning curve since the type of beans used, their grind, the amount that gets used, the roast of the beans, the temperature of the water and the origin of the beans can all impact the taste of the espresso.
Since espresso machines require a lot more effort to use than things such as pod machines it means that the demand for them amongst the general public is not very high.
This means espresso machine manufacturers don’t get to benefit from economies of scale which is where they are able to reduce their average costs by producing things in bulk. This means that they have to charge a higher price for their machines.
They are hand made
Espresso machines need to be designed to be repaired easily since the heat, pressure and water will damage the machine over time. This makes it more difficult to automate the manufacturing process so many of the machines are actually hand made.
There are some cheaper options available
Despite the numerous factors that drive the cost of espresso machines up, they have been falling in price.
If you want to get espresso that is of a very high quality then it will still be necessary for you to spend around $500 at least. However, if you just want a machine that will reliably give you good tasting espresso then you can get some machines at around the $200 mark.
The espresso machine that I would recommend the most would be this one on Amazon.
However, if you are unsure of how much use you will get out of the espresso machine then you might want to consider getting a combined coffee and espresso maker. That way you will be able to ensure that you get full use out of it. The combined espresso and coffee machine that I would recommend the most would be this one on Amazon.
Alternatives to espresso machines
If you don’t want to pay the price for espresso machines or you don’t want to have to put the effort into making the espresso and to learn how to use them then there are some alternatives for you to consider.
However, be aware that the espresso that the alternatives will make will not be as good of a quality as what you would get from a traditional espresso machine.
To make espresso with a pod machine it is just necessary for you to put water and a pod into the machine and to turn it on.
Pod machines do not give you as much control over the taste of the espresso and the espresso will not be of the same quality.
However, they do still make very good tasting espresso, they come with a number of different pod flavors that you can choose from and they require much less time and effort in making the espresso, cleaning the machine and in maintaining the machine.
The pod machine that I would recommend the most would be this one on Amazon.
Stovetop espresso makers
To make espresso using a stovetop espresso maker it is just necessary for you to put water into the bottom of the pot and then to put ground coffee above it and to heat the pot up. Steam will then be created, it will mix with the ground coffee and then the espresso will come out of a filter at the top of the machine.
Stovetop espresso makers are a very cheap option. If you are not sure whether or not you would be able to get full use out of an espresso machine then they can also be good to trial with to see how much you would use an espresso machine.
However, the espresso that they make won’t be to the same standard with espresso machines but they still require you to put in most of the work.
The stovetop espresso maker that I would recommend would be this one on Amazon.
You can watch the video below to see how to use a stovetop espresso maker.
An Aeropress is a device that is actually designed to make coffee. However, it can also be used to make very strong coffee that is similar to espresso.
If you like strong coffee but you don’t like the slightly bitter taste of espresso then you might like the strong coffee made by an Aeropress.
The most recommended Aeropress would be this one on Amazon.
However, if you are looking to make proper espresso or espresso-based drinks then an Aeropress wouldn’t be what I would recommend.
You can watch the video below to see how to make espresso using an Aeropress.