The morning trauma of being stuck between instant coffee at home and overpriced barista joe on the way to the office should be a distant memory by now. The financially literate coffee lovers amongst us have long invested in a good, long-lasting coffee machine to save money, cut time, and pump out consistent, satisfying brews so the working day starts off on the right foot. Problem is, the market is stacked right now, with coffee machines for just about every budget, taste, and preference, whether its bean to cup, espresso, capsule, pour-over, or filter coffee fused with the glory-giving grace of technology. To cut through the noise, we’ve rounded up the best coffee machines you can buy in Australia right now, from brands like DeLonghi, Breville, Rocket, Sunbeam, and Gaggia.
To make true Italian espresso at home that rivals what you’d get in a coffee shop, you need an espresso machine. These range from manual machines (where you tamp and brew everything yourself) to automatic and capsule machines (where you press a button and the machine does the rest). While coffee experts generally prefer manual machines for the level of control they grant them over their espresso, we found in testing that automatic, super-automatic and capsule machines like the Nespresso VertuoPlus and Breville Barista Pro are the easiest to use for beginners and give consistent results.
If you’re not working with capsules or a machine with a built-in grinder, here’s what you’ll need:
A good coffee grinder to get a fine espresso grind. We like the Breville Smart Grinder Pro for espresso because the finest setting produces fine, even results that don’t clump together. Make sure to use quality, dark roast coffee. A milk frother, if you want to make a latte or other specialty drink with milk. A kitchen scale. You'll want to consider having one on hand to weigh your grounds if you’re serious about learning to dial in the perfect shot of espresso.
How to make espresso with an espresso machine
Grind and measure your beans. Using dark roast coffee beans and a quality grinder, grind enough beans to make one or two espresso shots. An average single espresso shot will require between 6 and 8 grams of coffee grounds, although this can be adjusted up or down. For a double shot, about 15 grams. Your grounds should be powdery and fine, so go ahead and use the finest setting on your grinder. If you want to be sure you measured correctly, you can weigh your grounds on a kitchen scale — just make sure to tare out the portafilter first. Distribute and tamp down your shot. Once you have an amount of grounds in your portafilter that you’re happy with, distribute the grounds evenly with a finger, place the portafilter on the countertop or other flat surface, and then use the tamper to tamp down on the grounds. You’ll then have a compact disk of espresso in the portafilter. Pull your shot. Before you start, run the machine briefly without a portafilter in place to clear the ground head. Then, lock the portafilter into the machine, position your demitasse glass or other vessel underneath, and start your shot. The espresso should be ready after 25 to 30 seconds, but it will take practice with your specific machine and lots of taste tests to achieve shots to your liking. (Some machines require you to time it manually, while others offer different settings.) The final product shouldn’t be too light or dark in color, shouldn’t taste too acidic or too bitter, and should have a fine layer of caramel-colored crema on top. Prepare milk if using and enjoy your espresso. If you’re trying to make a latte or other drink with milk, you’ll then need to steam your milk (we’ve included step-by-step milk steaming instructions in our latte how-to). If not, enjoy your espresso as is! Make sure to clean and dry the portafilter, as well as purge and wipe down the milk frothing wand, when you’re done.