10 Beginner Espresso Machine Questions Answered

By Evelina •  Updated: 07/25/21 •  6 min read

Espresso machines are often seen as a luxury item or something only for coffee shop owners. In reality, espresso machines can be very affordable and perfect for anyone who loves their morning brew.

This post will answer some of the most common questions about buying an espresso machine and help you decide if it’s right for you!

1. What Is An Espresso Machine and How Does It Work

beginner espresso machines questions answered

Espresso machines are brewing machines used to create a concentrated coffee drink. The machine forces hot water through the grounds, extracting the flavor from the bean and producing an intense, richly flavored coffee drink known as espresso.

Related Read: Espresso Machine Ultimate Brewing Guide

2. How Much Does An Espresso Machine Cost?

beginner espresso machines questions answered

The cost of an espresso machine can vary, with machines for more than $10.000 and ones as low as $50 available. The more you spend, the better materials you will find. For the average home user, a mid-range espresso machine should be just fine.

If you want to start your own coffee shop, you may want to look into a higher-end machine. Commercial machines can be more expensive, but they are perfect for large volume production.

How much do you want to spend?

As mentioned above, espresso machines can vary widely in price. If you only drink a few cups per day and aren’t planning on opening your own coffee shop, then an inexpensive machine should work great! For the best quality, you may want to invest in a more expensive espresso machine.

3. How Long Do Espresso Machines Last?

Espresso machines, like most other coffee brewing equipment, can last for years with proper maintenance. If the machine is cleaned regularly and kept clean after each use, then there’s no reason why it shouldn’t last for a long time.

You may be wondering what the difference between cleaning and maintenance is. Maintenance is taking care of tasks like descaling the machine. Cleaning means doing a deeper clean to remove all coffee residue and grime from the exterior or the interior of the machine.

Related Read: How Long Do Espresso Machines Last?

4. Can You Use Any Coffee With An Espresso Machine?

Generally, yes. Espresso machines can be used on a wide range of coffee beans and grounds. Not all espresso machines are created equally, so you may need to spend some time experimenting with different beans until you find one that meets your needs.

You will want to use high-quality arabica coffee beans or espresso beans. These are usually a little more expensive, but they produce a stronger, smoother flavor that is preferred by most coffee drinkers.

Related Read: Can You Make Espresso With Regular Coffee?

5. Should I Buy A New Or Used Espresso Machine?

espresso machine questions

As long as you are buying from a reputable seller, either option should work fine for you. While used machines can save you money upfront, they have an unknown history and may not last as long.

New machines will generally come with a warranty that covers any issues caused by machine malfunction; this can save you money in the long run.

You should also consider how much time and effort it will take to use and maintain a used machine. While they are cheaper, some espresso machines require regular maintenance, which can be very time-consuming.

Read Also: Used Espresso Machines: Should You Buy One?

6. How Many Times Do You Tamp Espresso?

When making espresso, you “tamp” the grounds to help extract flavor from them. Tamping is a pretty straightforward process; you use a tool called a tamper to compress the grounds in order to release more flavor into the water.

The number of times that you tamp can vary depending on the force you put on the tamper or the beans you use. Generally, you want to tamp until the coffee feels compressed.

Related Read: Why Do You Tamp Espresso? Everything About Tamping

7. How Much Coffee Do You Put In An Espresso Basket?

The number of coffee grounds you use will vary depending on how strong you want your final product to be. For most espressos, you should stick with a 1:1 coffee to water ratio. For an extra-strong espresso, you can try using a 2:1 or 3:1 coffee to water ratio. So to make an espresso shot use around 17-20 grams of finely ground coffee.

Read Also: Single vs Double Espresso Shots: All The Differences

8. Do You Need Filters For The Espresso Machine?

No, you don’t need paper filters. Most espresso machines come with a mesh basket that is used to hold the coffee grounds as they steep in the hot water. If you are using a drip machine you need to use paper filters to avoid any sediment from leaking into your cup.

9. What Is The Ideal Pressure For Making Espresso?

The ideal pressure for espresso is 9 bars or about 130.533 psi. The exact amount of force will vary from machine to machine, but the general rule is that more pressure results in a stronger flavor.

If you have an older machine that can’t make enough force for high-pressure brewing, it may be time to upgrade.

Related Read: How Many Bars Of Pressure Are Good For Espresso?

10. How Do You Use An Espresso Grinder?

espresso grinder

There are lots of different types of espresso grinders out there. They range in looks, price, and complexity. Generally, you want to choose a grinder that has an adjustable grinding wheel to suit your needs.

Some machines will come with built-in grinders; these usually have preset settings that you can choose from. If not, you can spend a little more money on a grinder suitable for espresso.

To use a grinder, you simply put your beans into the hopper, turn it on, and choose how finely you want to grind them.

Generally, espresso beans should be ground very finely. You can try grinding it in a few different ways to find out what works best for you.

If you can’t afford a grinder read our article to learn how to grind coffee beans without a grinder.

Last Thoughts

When you have a question about your espresso machine, the last thing you want to do is spend hours of research.

Fortunately for you, we’ve broken down 10 common questions that are asked by beginners and compiled them in one place so that they’re easy to find.

We hope that this article helped you to find the answers to your questions!

If you have any other coffee-related questions, please leave a comment down below! We’d love to hear from you.

More About Espresso


Evelina’s passion for coffee could never been hidden. Having worked as a barista, she learned the true value of the coffee bean and its secrets. As she continued to evolve as a barista, so did her knowledge, techniques on making different coffee blends and most importantly how to operate every kind of gear when it comes to coffee. Having a degree in biomedicine and being a barista, allows her to provide our community with in-depth knowledge surrounding the topics of coffee.