There are a few good things that came out of society grinding to a harsh stop during the 2020 pandemic lockdowns and restrictions. Quality family time, forced rest and relaxation and my New Years Resolution to get a good coffee maker for my home coffee consumption. After realizing how much I saved by not being able to go through the Starbucks drive through, and also how poorly my $10 coffee pot made coffee, I began to research some better at home options.
Because of all of the endless at-home coffee options, I enlisted the expert advice of owner of Toccoa Coffee Roasters, Jeff Whitlow. After he got over his initial horror of some of the cheaper options I was considering. He spent a considerable amount of time showing me pricier options and explaining why this is not a purchase you want to cheap out on. Read on to see Jeff’s recommendations and tips for machines capable of making an amazing latte at home.
There are two types of home espresso machines. They are pressurized and non-pressurized portafilter machines. A professional machine is non-pressurized, so you produce the pressure by tamping the espresso puck with a tamper. pressurized machines have a cheap plastic/rubber valve that holds back pressure and then releases to produce “espresso” with fake crema. If you use a non-pressured model, you must have a good grinder to get the coffee fine enough. This is where the expense comes in.
With the more expensive model, you really need be into coffee and espresso. You must turn on the machine ahead of time to allow it to get up to temperature. You must practice getting the shot to taste right, you must maintain the machine, and you would need to make a lot of drinks to make it worth spending that kind of money. Below are the good, better and best recommendations for at home espresso machines:


Breville BES870XL Express Espresso Machine.
This machine does not have all the fancy bells and whistles of some of the others, but it is a great machine for a beginner at home barista. It is not digital but that also can be a positive thing because it has less things to short out or break.
Watch the videos. They are excellent for understanding the machines. This is a minimum for a beginner:


This is more money but has more upgrades. With the $800 machine, it will be more compact, it will turn on in the morning for you and be ready when you want to make espresso, and it will be more forgiving when making shots. With that said, it won’t make the best shots, but instead very good shots


Now I’m going to take you to something that doesn’t have a built-in grinder and the espresso machine has a traditional size 58mm portafilter. You are talking about $1,600 for the grinder and machine combo. This is for the serious at home coffee maker.


If you want an at home brewing system that rivals your favorite local coffee shop this is the option for you. This is a Rocket machine that is all about the drink and does not have all the electronics. More like a pro model. It has a professional E-61 brew head and a 58MM portafilter. You will still need a grinder which will put this set around $2,500 and will go to show you why lattes from a café can be $6-$8 Good coffee equipment is not cheap. 

After reading through Jeff’s recommendations and watching the tutorial videos. As someone with no previous coffee making experience besides brewing a pot at the push of a button. I decided on the Breville Express Espresso Machine and I have not been disappointed. Nine months into owning an espresso machine I don’t have a single regret. The machine was easy to learn to use and creates amazing drinks including americanos. Lattes, cappuccinos and hot chocolate.

I also experimented in the beginning with different espresso beans and let me tell you, I was blown away by Toccoa Coffee Roasters Bardstown Whole Espresso Beans (You can purchase a bage of coffee HERE)
The crème created when you pull a shot with these beans are amazing. If you’re not local to the Michiana area you’re in luck because Jeff can ship freshly roasted beans all over the country.

Here’s to hoping things start to look up for everyone, and if not, at least we can have good coffee!