If you're thinking of purchasing an espresso machine but aren't sure which model to choose, espresso machine reviews and ratings are a great place to start. In addition to sharing performance, customer service, repair, and reliability issues, many reviewers also provide usage tips, identify key feature, and share horror stories about machines to avoid. Most reviewers agree that a "good" espresso machine should have the following features:
Pump-driven pressure. Home espresso machines are available with either pump or steam-powered pressure. Those with steam have trouble maintaining the correct temperature and struggle to produce adequate pressure.
Compliance with proper guidelines. Guidelines for espresso preparation include: heating water to 195 degrees Fahrenheit, producing 130 psi (9 atmospheres) of pressure, and releasing a shot within 20 to 25 seconds. If an espresso machine's performance is lacking in any of these criteria, look elsewhere.
Metal components rather than plastic. In general, machines crafted from metal can withstand heavy use, while those with a high concentration of plastics or flimsy materials tend to break easily. Look for a machine that ranks high for durability.
In addition, most reviewers find that a built-in grinder simply doesn't warrant the extra cost, and recommend purchasing a high-quality, stand-alone conical burr grinder instead.
The following features get mixed ratings from reviewers. While some consider them to be must-haves, others could do without them:
Hot Water Dispenser. Simple and handy, if you would like access to hot water for tea and hot chocolate without having to heat the kettle.
Pod Compatibility. While some users want to be able to use their machine for pods, others think this feature diminishes the purity of the machine.
When reading espresso machine reviews, pay special attention to safety, performance, and reliability issues, and look for the best-rated machine with the features and price point you desire.