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Why Are Espresso Machines So Expensive? The Ultimate Guide

Why Are Espresso Machines So Expensive? Take a journey through the expertly crafted world of espresso machines and discover what steams up their cost.

Why Are Espresso Machines So Expensive

Expert Consulted: Carl. Utilizing my 6 years of experience in the coffee industry, I’m able to provide accurate and concise information, helping you make informed choices about beans, brewing methods, and equipment, thereby elevating your coffee experience. In this article, I’ll share my knowledge and experience to help you understand the question: Why are espresso machines so expensive?

Espresso is the most popular form of coffee served in coffee shops and in general.

So, if it’s so popular; why are espresso machines so expensive?

An espresso machine has to be built to withstand heat cycles day in and day out under high pressure. They also have to be capable of producing 9 bars of pressure. Once you add the steam component to these machines, they become almost twice as complicated with twice as many moving parts and higher pressures and temperatures to deal with.

The answer to this question is so much more, so in the rest of this article I dive deeper into the topic of espresso machines and espresso itself.

How Much Should You Spend On An Espresso Machine?

Most people hear about espresso machines costing thousands upon thousands of dollars and think that you can’t achieve great coffee without spending that much, but that is simply not true.

You can get some great machines or even manual espresso makers for below $500!

I have made an article comparing two amazing budget espresso machines below $500 that you can check out here!

This is not to say that those expensive machines aren’t worth the extra money, because they definitely are.

Higher-end machines will usually come equipped with a super-powerful milk steamer capable of making cafe-quality milk.

These also tend to have the best heating elements as well, being able to steam your milk in 30 seconds or less and the ability to turn on the machine and be ready to brew in just a few seconds!

Another reason for having such a steep price point is the amount of extra features you get on these machines.

I’m not going to be listing every single feature as each machine is different and you would be reading for hours. A few examples though, may be things such as custom temperatures, custom pre-infusion, and automatic milk steaming.

As a general rule of thumb, I would recommend spending $400 – $1000 for the machine and a grinder if you are on a budget, just getting into brewing espresso, or you simply don’t want to spend thousands on a machine.

If you’re an aspiring home barista, or you have a big budget, I would suggest spending anywhere from $1000 – $3000. That price includes a grinder too.

$3000 is mostly for dedicated espresso lovers and experts, remember to be careful with your money.

What Are You Paying For?

What are you paying for: Why are espresso machines so expensive
What Are You Paying For? (1: Canva Pro)

1: Materials

High-end espresso machines are usually built with Aluminum, Stainless Steel, Brass, or Copper, which alone can bump the cost up significantly. The reason for using these materials is to ensure the machine will withstand extensive use over many years.

2: Brand

Not only are you paying for the machine itself, but you’re also paying for the brand.

Some brands have built a reputation for having high-quality espresso machines, meaning if you buy from them you will have the guarantee of getting a properly built piece of equipment.

3: Build Quality

Along with having the highest quality materials, the machines must be capable of producing 9 bars of pressure, they need to be able to steam milk fast and efficiently, and they must be able to heat up very quickly.

What Actually Is Espresso?

Espresso is the purest form of coffee, and it’s widely known as the strongest coffee as well.

Espresso is made by pushing water through a dense coffee puck at very high pressure, typically 9 bar, the result is a velvety smooth, and delicious espresso.

I mentioned that it’s the strongest coffee, however, that does not mean it will be bitter.

Quite the opposite actually, if brewed correctly, espresso can actually be very sweet, vibrant, bright, and even more. It all depends on the roast level and the skill of whoever is making it.

Is Espresso Always Bitter?

Bitter Coffee: Why Are Espresso Machines So Expensive
Bitter Coffee (2: Canva Pro/Getty Images)

No, unless you are brewing a very dark roast your espresso should not be bitter. If you are looking for some extra tips about bitterness in your espresso then see here.

If you’re someone who prefers a coffee to be sweeter, slightly acidic, and perhaps even fruitier, then I strongly suggest going with a light roast.

However, light roasts are usually harder to dial in and ultimately brew, but the effort is worth it.

Maybe you are looking for a sweet cup of coffee but you’re not a fan of acidity or fruity flavors?

Well then a medium roast is what you want, it has a perfect balance of sweetness and strength. You can’t go wrong with a medium roast.

But what if you like your espresso a little on the stronger side, having more of a slightly bitter taste with chocolaty and nutty undertones?

Then a dark roast is for you, they are known for being very easy to brew and possess that ‘espresso’ taste that most people associate with the thought of espresso.

For more information on beans and the importance of the roast date, see here.


So, let’s summarise everything I just said.

If you’re looking to buy an espresso machine, you do not need to spend thousands to be capable of brewing great espresso.

There are machines and manual espresso makers out there for under $500 that still produce cafe-quality espresso shots.

This is not me telling you that spending thousands isn’t worth it. I am simply pointing out that it’s not absolutely necessary.

However, spending the extra money will improve the overall experience, such as ease of use, speed, taste, and more.

What are you actually paying for?

Most of your money is going towards 3 things; Materials, Brand, and Build Quality.

To shorten this, the materials used are usually one of the 4 listed below.

Stainless Steel, Brass, Copper, Aluminum.

In terms of brand, you’re paying for the guarantee of a machine that is expertly built from reputable brands.

Build Quality means that the machine must be capable of producing 9 bars of pressure or more, steaming milk fast and efficiently, and heating up quickly.

Image Attribution and Licensing

Main Image: ‘Traditional professional Italian espresso machine and coffee grinders in the new kitchen’ by Kondor83. (Canva Pro/Getty Images)

1: Canva Pro

2: ‘bad coffee’ by stock_colors. (Canva Pro/Getty Images)