Many people who first start considering getting their own espresso machine are blown away by their sheer cost. Whereas an excellent auto-drip coffee maker costs around $40, a cheap espresso machine is around $300. To get something a bit more substantial, you can expect to pay $1,000 easily.
So, why are espresso machines so expensive? What makes them so different from a regular coffee machine that they are substantially more expensive? Let’s take a look and find out.
Espresso: What Is It?
Before getting into the technicalities of why espresso machines are so expensive, we need to talk about espresso first, how it is made, and what is required of the machines.
Espresso is a type of coffee that is thicker and more concentrated than the average cup of Joe. You typically will only drink one ounce of espresso, but you will drink 8 ounces of coffee. That’s because espresso has a much bolder taste and higher caffeine content.
Espressos’ bolder taste comes from its preparation method. Whereas regular coffee gets its flavor while slow filtering through hot water, espresso is made by pressurizing and shooting near-boiling water through coffee beans.
These coffee beans are finely ground, resulting in a cake-like look when the water shoots through them. This creates a much more complex and caffeine high-drink than regular coffee in a much shorter period.
The Espresso Machine
For espresso to be made, it needs a very specific machine. The machine must create enough pressurized water that it can create a complex and caffeine-dense drink in a short period of time. Most coffee machines cannot offer any high pressure suitable for espresso.
You don’t technically need a machine to make espresso. You can technically learn how to make this drink without a machine, but it is a whole lot of extra work and requires a very accurate eye and hand. Most people would prefer spending the extra money on a machine for its convenience and ease of use.
Cost of an Espresso Machine
If you are reading this piece, you probably already know that espresso machines are generally expensive. Still, you might not realize exactly how expensive they can be. To date, the most expensive espresso machine is around $20,000. Whew! Luckily, nobody needs a coffee machine that expensive.
Still, a good home espresso machine can be a good expense. Expect to pay around $500 for a pretty substantial and high-quality espresso machine for your home. If you anticipate using an espresso machine in a restaurant or for some other commercial purpose, you will likely need to spend $1000 or more.
Why Are Espresso Machines So Expensive?
We have finally gotten to the central question of the article: why are espresso machines so expensive? There are typically three main reasons why espresso machines are so expensive: the high cost for materials, low demand, and high amounts of research and branding. Let’s take a more critical look at all three factors.
As we mentioned above, espresso machines require particular components and parts. Unlike a drip coffee machine, espresso doesn’t depend on gravity to create the drink. Instead, specialized parts are required to pressurize and projectile the water for the bold, caffeine-high drink.
The internal parts, such as the brew group and thermoblock, are the most expensive parts on the espresso machine. On top of the internal parts, external components, such as finishing, make the price go up even more.
The better quality of the materials, the more expensive the espresso machine is going to be. Commercial machines tend to be more expensive because they are made from very durable materials that can withstand a lot of usages.
Although espresso machines for home don’t need to be as durable, you certainly don’t want to opt for something that is cheap. There’s no point in buying an espresso machine if the parts are going to break in a couple of months anyway.
Espresso machines aren’t exactly the most sought-after machine. Most people will not spend more than $100 for a kitchen appliance, other than refrigerators, ovens, and other large appliances. The low demand means that there aren’t as many options to choose from, creating less competition and higher prices.
This is especially true for high-quality espresso machines, such as those used for commercial purposes. There really aren’t that many options. So, you are forced to pay the higher price out of need and limited options.
Branding and Research
All companies have to pay for branding and research. This is something that goes into the price of every single product you buy. Espresso machines also require branding and research to create safe and desirable models.
Certain espresso machines are way more expensive than others purely for the brand. For example, certain brands pride themselves on high-quality materials, meaning that the price goes up both because of the materials and the brand name. Certain brands will even go so far as to hand-make espresso machines. As you probably suspected, these are some of the more expensive options.
What Price Is Best?
When it comes down to it, you get what you pay for. Espresso machines require a lot of research and parts to make. That is why they are so expensive; it isn’t because the manufacturers are ripping you off. Espresso machines really do take a lot of money to produce.
Still, you don’t need to buy the most expensive espresso machine. Some options are overly expensive for the average owner, or anyone for that matter. You should be able to find a really good espresso machine for around $500 or less. These machines will make great espresso and last you a long time. If you need the machine for substantial use, you might want to look for slightly more expensive models.
In other words, don’t buy the cheapest model you find, but don’t buy the most expensive either. There’s no point in buying a cheap espresso machine because it likely will break and won’t produce great coffee. Super fancy machines, on the other hand, won’t produce that much better espresso, and they will come with unnecessary features you likely won’t use.
Even though it may hurt your soul a bit to pocket out money for an espresso machine, the high price is fair given the quality of materials, low demand, and researching and branding that goes into making them.
Just remember that you don’t have to get the most expensive machine on the market. Shooting for around or just under $500 will get you a great espresso machine that produces beautiful coffee and lasts a long time.
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Featured image credit: fotoblend, Pixabay