The best coffee making equipment for the homeby Ben Sibley
Making barista-quality coffee at home is achievable, here's how you'll do it.
The next time you're waiting for your flat white in your local coffee shop, pay attention to the process (though, don't make it obvious). You'll see that, one - they are highly skilled, and two - they're using some serious equipment.
Now, you're wondering what it takes to replicate the final product without getting dressed. Either you drag your sorry sack of bones down the road in your bathrobe and sliders to get the expert to do it again, or you invest in some kit and clear a space on your counter.
There’s no ignoring the fact that expert coffee costs time and money. Luckily for you, we got together in the roastery to critique the top three options for making barista-quality coffee at home.
1 - Sage Barista Express Impress - £729
You’re not an expert but want to make your own good quality espresso? The reality is that you won't achieve the results you desire without spending the right amount of money. You need to invest in a machine that does much of the heavy lifting for you, and this does come at a price.
At £725, the Barista Express Impress is one of Sage’s entry-level machines. And It gives you control… But not too much. And that’s a good thing for anyone buying their first espresso machine. By design, it removes the potential for any human errors that could negatively impact the flavour of your coffee.
Dry coffee dosing? Automated. Tamping? Automated. Calibration? Automated. It does the majority of the legwork for you and because of that, it’s more difficult to make a bad coffee than to make a good one.
It’s also got numerous settings and burr calibrations for its built-in grinder, an automated descale cycle, and it’s been designed to fit the EU’s average kitchen counter space. One year you’re making a flat white in Berlin, the next year a cappuccino in Copenhagen and in both locales you’re golden.
For these reasons, the Sage Barista Express Impress is one hell of an attractive option for making expert coffee at home. This is the machine you need to drink excellent espresso, stress-free, without leaving the house.
2 - Victoria Arduino Prima One - £4,690
To truly replicate your local coffee shop's cortado, you’ll need the kit they’re using. In many cases, that'll be a two or three-group Victoria Arduino Eagle One - a top tier commercial machine not designed nor positioned price-wise for domestic use. You won't be getting much change from ten thousand pounds. For that money you could pick up a vintage VW Campervan and travel Europe. Or rent a flat in London for a month.
If your budget (nor your kitchen) doesn’t allow for such a behemoth, how about one half of it? On paper, and to the naked eye, the Prima One is an Eagle One chopped in half. And what it loses in footprint, it gains in technology.
Once you're dialing in water pressure on your machine via your smartphone, it’s fair to say you’re serious about making coffee. Connect over WiFi to the Prima One’s app and:
- Adjust water pressure, temperature and dose
- Adjust the time and timing of pre-infusion
- Adjust the time and timing of grouphead auto-purge
- Set two separate volumetric pre-programmed recipes – one per button
- Access thousands of recipes uploaded by other users.
Once you're dialled in and ready to go, the electronic steam-by-wire system gives you unrivalled control over the steam wand, with up to 2.5 bars of pressure when heating milk - 25% more than other machines in this category.
Alongside the revolutionary software, the Prima One is insulated to within an inch of its life for minimal heat dispersion (good for extraction consistency) and to minimise heat loss (good for energy efficiency).
There's no built-in grinder, so that's next on your shopping list. And if you're spending this amount of money on the espresso machine, its wise to invest in similarly refined equipment for grinding your coffee.
All told, the qualities of this machine are unique and unrivalled at this price point. For the home coffee expert who wants the world’s best equipment with no compromise, this is the only investment you should make.
3 - Orea Brewer V3 - £34
If you want your own expert coffee setup but your budget can’t stretch to the Victoria Arduino Prima One, nor the Sage Barista Express Impress, there is a solution. The Orea Brewer V3 – in our opinion, the world’s most efficient, consistent pour over coffee brewer.
The V3 is the latest and most advanced brewer in the Orea range. This third-generation model features the same flat base and ring design drainage that made earlier versions so efficient, paired with a new material (TROGAMID®) that vastly reduces thermal conductivity.
This means that while brewing, heat remains in the coffee bed instead of transferring to the brewer. When the coffee retains heat, extraction is optimised and the result is a more developed, flavoursome cup.
This does mean espresso is off the menu, we’re sorry. But in its place is an arguably more nuanced, delicate flavour experience. If you know what you’re doing. As with espresso making, pour over brewing does take time and patience to learn and perfect.
To get set up you’ll be spending £40 on the Orea, £50-£100 on a gooseneck kettle and £20 on a pair of digital scales. Work smart and you can get the lot for £100. There's no more cost-effective way of brewing expert coffee.
If an entry-level espresso machine is within your financial reach, Sage's Barista Express Impress is a no-brainer. If you're in a position to spend a few thousand pounds on a mini commercial machine, Victoria Arduino's Prima One is untouchable as the best solution.
And if neither are feasible for you, leave the espresso-based stuff to the pros down the road and invest in an Orea Brewer V3.