The ultimate, especially for the aficionado, is the high-quality manual machine. Typically built from the highest quality components (eg copper boiler) they are the closest many of us will get to the commercial machine we see in our favourite café. Why? Because they have the oomph to pump water through coffee beans ground finely enough to make a truly great espresso. But remember these machines must be warmed up properly to make the most of their high quality componentry – you can’t just flick the switch to make a quick coffee before you rush out the door to work. By the way, once you’ve browsed through this list of great machines, don’t forget to check out the couple of extra important notes in the paragraphs below!
The Splendor features an E61 type group with lever action. It has a 1.3 litre copper boiler and a 3 litre water reservoir but can also be connected to mains supply. The Splendor has a 90 degree swiveling, commercial size steam arm with a 2 hole angled steam tip, which gives excellent steaming control. Both the body and chassis are stainless steel and build quality and standard of finish are excellent. With its 50′s/early 60′s retro styling (with coloured plexiglass side panels) this is a beautiful machine. RRP: $2,550.00. For more information call Cosmorex Coffee Tel: (02) 6280 7511.
The Domobar Super from Vibiemme is a stunning prestige machine. Vibiemme was founded over 25 years ago by Carlo Earnesto Valente, the founder of Faema and the E61 group head. With these exceptional credentials, the Domobar Super offers excellent heat characteristics resulting in superb coffee with every pour and the superior boiler capacity enables the high volume of steam required for optimum texturising of milk for detailed latte art. Available in gloss black or stainless steel finish. RRP from $2,399 for the Domobar Super and from $2,999 for the Domobar Super Electronica. For more information call ECA on 1300 326 326 or visit www.espressocompany.com.au.
Featuring professional quality components, this is a beautiful unit. Thermal stability is the key to making an excellent espresso, and the Giotto has a nickel-plated copper boiler giving excellent heat retention and stable heat transfer to the heat exchanger. The Giotto produces an excellent crema with great steaming ability, and would be a credit to any barista’s kitchen. RRP $2,550. For more information call ECA on 1300 326 326 or visit www.espressocompany.com.au.
Manufactured in Milan, the ‘Italia’ is certainly stunning with it’s retro styling. It has a full stainless steel chassis but with chromed, heat resistant plastic side panels. It features a 1.8ltr copper boiler, anti-burn steam wand, professional E61 group head and removable 3ltr water tank and drip tray. RRP: $2,400.00. For more information call Diamond Services on 1300 302 522 or visit www.myitalia.com.au.
Based in Milan, the Isomac is another well-established line of semi-commercial units. With its complete stainless steel construction, 2 litre tank and a 2.2 litre boiler, it is designed to deliver the perfect espresso every time. The funky Mondiale is the latest in a line of excellent domestic machines with an impeccable pedigree. RRP: $2,650.00.
Also known as the ‘Brewtus’ this machine has been extremely popular in the United States. Made in Spain, the Barista Minore uses the ever-popular E61 group-head and has a dual boiler system (both with auto refill) with powerful heating elements. It’s a simple-enough looking machine, but it’s the double boilers which stand out. Along with digital temperature control of the coffee group, they give excellent temperature stability. Combined with a slightly lower entry-price, this makes the Expobar a machine that’s definitely worth looking at. RRP: $2,300.00.
Following on the famous La Marzocco name for commercial espresso machines, comes the single group GS/3. This quasi manual/automatic machine, combines the power of a commercial machine with the ease of multi-function touch-pad controls and is certainly a beautiful looking piece of equipment. However, it is a step up in price, retailing for around $7,000 putting it out of the league for many ‘prosumers’ – and most would say it is simply not necessary to pay that much. For more information contact Espresso Equipment Specialists Australia Pty Ltd.
Remember, for machines at this level you’re going to have to buy a grinder as well – a good one will set you back at least $500 – but the reason these machines make such great quality espresso is that they allow you to grind the coffee finely enough to get the most out of the freshly ground espresso – to extract the oils and aromatics to the fullest degree. It does take time and some degree of expertise to get the best out of them, although, the end result is worth it.
Freshness is a key pre-requisite for great coffee. It’s when you actually grind your own beans and make the coffee immediately afterwards, that you get the best of the tastes and aromas that a well-roasted bean can reveal. When it comes to beans, generally a week, to a maximum of 10 days is seen as their shelf life, once roasted. Most roasters recommend keeping your coffee beans in a sealed pack, in a cool environment.
Note: This listing is by no means complete, there are many more machines on the market and we will be amending these reviews and adding new ones as information comes to hand. Prices are indicative only, there may be price variations between distributors.