Espresso has been one of the most desired hot beverages in the world for over a century when it was said to be first discovered in Italy. Espresso actually means "quick coffee" or "coffee served quickly", thus the small cups that can be swallowed in three-four gulps. Italy is known for having amazing cafes as well as espresso machines.
The trend toward fancier espresso drinks came along later and, in the U.S., was made popular by Starbuck's, Pete's Coffee and similar coffee chains. Ironically, these chains have made their way into other countries, although the European countries seem to still prefer their most traditional cafes. It's now been a generation of Starbuck's customers, so it's likely the espresso and it's fancy counterparts are here to stay.
Espresso (often incorrectly called expresso) is actually not the type of bean, but is the specific roast of the bean and the process in which it is made. Most coffee beans can be roasted as espresso beans and roasting preferences are generally in light, medium or heavy, with most cafes using the medium. The roasted beans are ground fine and packed into the espresso basket and a specific pressure (135 psi) to push the steaming hot water (200 degrees) through the grounds. The whole process takes about 30 seconds and produces about 1-2 oz. of liquid. Italians often add a sugar cube, but you'll rarely see milk or cream being added.
Espresso machines come in all different sizes, from individual to multiple shower heads for brewing many shots at the same time. Some of today's most popular espresso specialty drinks are: cappuccinos, lattes and mochaccinos, which all start with shots of espresso. These machines are used in private homes as well as coffee houses. We've put together a list of the most expensive machines available, for you espresso aficionados out there. Some are fully automatic, while others are manual; both are said to produce outstanding java. The sign of a good cup of espresso is the presence of crema, the foam on your espresso.
Welcome to the world of espresso machines that many claim would love to own. You can always consider checking out your local used restaurant supply store if a new one is out of financial reach.
10 The Oracle: $2,000
Breville's Oracle is considered to be the first automated espresso makers made. With it's modest price and quality parts, it makes espresso that is smooth, robust and consistent. It's almost as good as having a barista in your own home. It grinds, measures and goes through its steps effortlessly. You simply need to keep the parts clean and it will make demi-tasse cup-after-cup for years to come.
9 Jura's Impressa J9.3 One Touch TFT: $3,300
This automatic espresso model is chic and sleek. It uses a one-touch system for both the espresso and foam, if you wish to make a cappuccino or latte. It can make two shots at a time, both will come out at the perfect temperature and brew level. Unlike most of the others, it doesn't take up a lot of counter space and adds a contemporary cafe feel to the kitchen. It is one of the easiest machines to use and extremely affordable for those willing to put down a few thousand on a purchase. For a two-person household, it's not a bad deal, considering that might be the annual expenditure on purchasing coffee from an outside cafe.
8 Kees van der Westen Mirage: $6,700
This premium espresso machine has the classic espresso parts showcased into a stunning design. It has the old-fashioned lever system, which is still considered to make some of the richest coffee possible. Finished in a highly reflective, polished chrome, the Mirage is made to maintain its sleek appearance through thick and thin.
7 La Marzocco International's GS/3: $7,000
La Marzocco is an excellent size for making that triple-shot espresso for two all at one time. It's got three espresso baskets and six spouts that can be used in any number of combinations. This model is also great to have at the beach house, or in the master bedroom suite's breakfast nook.
6 Astra 2000 Fully Automated: $12,500
The Astra 2000 is a fully automated model that includes a convenient bean grinder. It is capable of making all the favorites automatically; cappuccino, latte, cafe au lait and other favorites. It's got the magic steam wand so you can control whether your foam is creamy or more frothy. The beauty of this machine is that it can turn into a traditional espresso maker. So your espresso drinks can be perfectly suited to your taste buds.
5 Synesso Cyncra: $12,500
Handmade in the United States, this Cyncra model has been popular since 2004. A barista favorite with three espresso shower heads, two steam wands, hot water button and beautiful design. It was designed nearly ten years ago and is still a favorite of upscale cafes everywhere. It's a great size for a formal dining room or breakfast nook in your master suite. We love the multi-spout design as it saves time and everyone has hot espresso at the same time. The smaller machines that brew enough for one or two at a time, make the process take quite a bit longer.
4 Rancilio Espresso: $18,500
The Rancilio manufacturing company was started in 1927 in Parabiago, Milan, Italy. Robert Rancilio, founder, developed these impressive machines with stainless steel casing and a commercial-grade steam wand. Although not one of the most expensive machines, it is one of the most popular and definitely one of the most legendary. Like most multiple shower head machines, you can store demitasse cups on the top so they can stay warm, making this an ideal machine for ski chalets and cabins. Italians even drink their espresso on the beach, as the beverage stands always include the beverage.
3 Slayer Espresso: $18,500
This sleek machine is the product of the Slayer group in Seattle, Washington. It seems that Seattle has become the home of the United States coffee industry, so it makes sense one of the finest espresso manufacturers would be located there. The founders are said to love the art of coffee-making and design their machines to maximize flavor and simple functionality. The appearance of this Slayer is classy, modern and professional.
2 Elektra Belle Epoque: $20,000
The design of the Belle Epoque is reminiscent of espresso makers of yesteryear and is as extravagant as one could want. The elegance of this model is perfect for serving guests for a high-class event or tea. It is as functional as it is unique. It's splendid appearance doesn't take up as much counter space is it might look. The Italian brand, Elektra, is known for its originality and copper and brass designs. Hand-crafted, lever controls and capable of making six shots at a time.
1 van der Westen Speedster: $20,000
An amazing high-polished chrome machine that is popular among the espresso elite. The Speedster is one of the most high-end coffee makers around. There are only about 400 made each year and they are assembled in Westen's small workshop in the town of Waalre, in the Netherlands. Although the machines take up quite a bit of counter space, the discerning millionaire will want one for each of their homes, the yacht, the submarine and definitely, the houseboat. This espresso maker is one of the most expensive available anywhere in the world.