Home espresso machines have tended to be among the larger and pricier countertop appliances. But recently, appliance brands have brought out more powerful, budget-friendly machines. They’re higher pressure, come complete with frothing wands, and will allow you to make a very reasonable espresso or cappuccino at home.
Morphy Richards’ forthcoming launch is one such example: the 172020 Espresso Coffee Machine, a slim home espresso maker priced at £119.99.
The Morphy Richards espresso maker also has a steam wand and a dual spout, so you can make two coffees at once. Its reservoir is 1.1 litres, which will give you six espressos before you have to refill.
Cheaper home espresso makers have tended to be lower pressure appliances, which is a bit of a problem.
If your machine doesn’t have enough pressure, your espresso will be weak. (Too much pressure and it’ll be bitter – but that’s not really an issue that the less expensive espresso machines tend to face.)
If you go to a coffee shop, their machine will have 9-bar of pressure, and that’s ideal for espresso making. However, those are really powerful machines. Less powerful home appliances actually need more pressure at the pump to get at least 9-bar at the brew head.
So, for a home appliance 15-bar pressure is ideal, and that’s exactly what the Morphy Richards espresso machine has, which bodes well for the quality of its espresso.
ESE does it
The machine also takes both ground coffee and ESE pods. ESE stands for easy serve espresso, and they’re less like the metal or plastic pods you may be used to and more like teabags. Essentially, they’re a perforated bag filled with 7g of ground coffee beans. This amounts to a single shot of espresso.
If you’re a regular drinker of coffee shop coffee, you’ll know that it’s standard in most places now to use a double shot for cappuccinos, lattes and the like, so you’ll need to use two ESE pods to get a comparable drink at home. That means a strong espresso at home will cost you about 30p per cup. Not bad.
ESE pods are also biodegradable, which is a big plus for pod coffee.
But if you don’t want to use pods, buying beans and grinding them yourself could work out more cheaply, and will probably make a tastier brew overall. On the minus side it’s messier and a bit more hassle. You’ll also either need to buy pre-ground coffee or invest in a grinder. If you’re considering buying a coffee grinder, check out our buying guide.
But if you want to buy an espresso machine right now, the Swan Pump Espresso Coffee Machine is available from Amazon for between £85.99 and £100.67, depending on your colour preference (you can choose from black, grey, cream, blue and green).
Like the Morphy Richards machine, it has 15-bar pressure and takes both ESE pods and ground coffee. It has a water reservoir of 1.2 litres but can only make one coffee at a time. The specs on both machines are very similar but I have to say, I love the Swan’s retro styling.
For a simpler and cheaper home espresso method, you can buy a stovetop espresso maker, like Bialetti’s classic moka pot. These cost from just £20 and are a design classic.
If you like a well-made coffee that’s a little lighter than an espresso, an AeroPress could be a good option. You can buy one from Amazon for £22.50. To find out whether it’s right for you, read our buying guide to the AeroPress.
And if you’re after a more traditional coffee maker, read our round-up of the best coffee machines we’ve tested.