How Much Does an Espresso Machine Cost? (Home and commercial espresso machines)
An espresso machine is the key piece of equipment for a perfectly brewed cup of coffee. A quality machine allows you to nail just the right temperature, pressure, and brewing time for each cup you make. But how much is an espresso machine?
It might be better to rephrase this question to – how much are you ready to spend? Top-of-the-line commercial-grade espresso machines can cost more than a family Sedan. And if you want a good machine for home use, it will set you back at least a few hundred dollars.
Either way, it’s an investment worth taking. This article provides a detailed guide for the best home and commercial espresso machines in different price ranges and with different features.
A Note on What Constitutes a True Espresso
According to the Italian Espresso National Institute, the rules and regulations on what is a true espresso are very clear. The institute clearly defines the colour, bitterness, acidity, texture, and a few other features that make true espresso. Plus, a bar/coffee shop needs to have a qualifying grinder/dispenser and machine to get certified (1).
But with the right machine, you can get a real cup of espresso without any certificates. The machine needs to run an exact amount of water at almost boiling temperature and 9-bar pressure. This way, you get a thick and creamy espresso with a higher amount of caffeine, which is close to – if not the same as – the one described by the institute.
It is worth pointing out that it is crucial to get the right pressure. For example, a basic stovetop espresso machine cannot reach 9 bar, so experts believe it provides inferior espresso.
Espresso, on the other hand, is a system that uses pressure. 20-30 second extraction, what you get is a shorter drink, stronger, with more dissolved solids…
How Much Is an Espresso Machine for Home Baristas?
A good espresso machine for home use, will set you back between $500 and $700, and they work very well at brewing great espresso without fuss. The price differences in the machines are often due to added features (like a PID controller), better heating elements, or the built of the machine. That said, there are the so-called espresso brewers that usually don’t cost more than $100. However, most experts and connoisseurs would agree that they don’t produce espresso.
With a cheap brewer, you actually get a Moka pot which yields coffee similar to the one that comes from a stovetop brewer. Just one sip and you’ll realize that the coffee doesn’t taste the same as it does in your favourite coffee shop. To make things clear, this coffee is not bad, but it cannot be called espresso (2).
In 1927, La Pavoni at Reggio’s (NY) was the first coffee machine installed in the U.S. (3). For a true home barista experience, the machine needs to feature four key components. They are drip tray, stainless steel base, steam milk frother, and water reservoir.
These machines can be automatic and semi-automatic, the latter of which give you more control over the brewing process.
On the lower end of the price spectrum, you can get a decent automatic machine for between $200 and $300. But then, you’ll be able to notice the difference in the coffee taste compared to an $800 machine like the Breville Barista Express, for example.
Now, if you’re looking for our recommendations per price point, this might help:
Best Espresso Machine Under $500: Expert Picks for 2023
How Much Is an Espresso Machine for Commercial Use?
Professional espresso machines are expensive. Good commercial-grade coffee machines, like the ones we featured here, start at just under $3,000 and go all the way up to $40,000. For example, you can get a nice commercial De-Longhi for about $2,500. However, you should know that these De-Longhis are smaller and primarily designed for offices rather than coffee shops.
As for the medium range, it is really hard to put a finger on one price. For example, a nice semi-automatic machine can set you back anywhere between $3,000 and $10,000. Jura and Unic offer excellent models in this price range. In general, these machines feature two hoppers, two steam milk frothers, and they may have a built-in grinder/dispenser.
It is important to note that they are usually low-volume machines. It means that their output is about 50 cups a day or 5 kilos of coffee (beans/ground) per week. Medium-output machines deliver up to 200 cups a day and high-volume models cap at around 500 cups a day.
Espresso-based beverages make up about a third of total sales at independent coffee shops.
If you want a machine for your independent coffee shop, it would be best to go for a high-volume one. Given the fact that most drive-through venues sell about 250 cups a day, you can expect the sales volume in the same ballpark. Regardless of the brand, quality machines that are capable of at least such output fall in the $13,000 to $30,000 range.
Related: Thermoblock vs thermocoil systems
Commercial or home use, there are a few things to consider before buying a machine. Calculate how many cups you need to make and if you need other necessary tools such as a grinder. The machine cleaning time is also important, seeing as some models run a maintenance cycle for a whole hour.
And if you want to buy an espresso machine for home use, it pays to spend extra to get superior built and coffee quality. This way, you ensure the most pleasurable experience and get a machine that will serve you well for many years to come.
Yes, you can rent an espresso machine. The rental price depends on the brand, size, and type of the machine. In general, the lease starts at around $20 a week for low-volume machines. On the other hand, it can go well over $200 for automatic commercial models.
Starbucks uses Mastrena, a special automatic model designed by Thermoplan AG. The machine’s price is undisclosed, but the company makes models that cost more than $17,000. At the factory, it takes eight hours to assemble the machine and each one needs to test brew 100 cups of perfect espresso before it ventures out into the world.
And if you are wondering – no, you cannot buy the Mastrena, as it is exclusive to Starbucks.
If you’re buying an espresso machine for home use, you won’t go wrong with the Breville BES870XL Barista Express. This machine has all the features of a professional unit, plus you get a built-in grinder/dispenser and a bunch of other accessories. At the time of this writing, the machine retails between $500 and $600 and is one of the most popular models on shopping websites.
- The Certified Italian Espresso and Cappuccino. (December 2016). Istituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano Retrieved June 30, 2019, from http://www.espressoitaliano.org/files/File/istituzionale_inei_hq_en.pdf
- History of Espresso Coffee. (n.d.). Retrieved June 30, 2019, from https://www.historyofcoffee.net/coffee-history/history-of-espresso/
- An Espresso Timeline. (n.d.) Retrieved June 30, 2019, from https://www.it.usyd.edu.au/~bob/Coffee/timeline.html