You might know that I obsess over good coffee — specifically espresso. A dear friend recently asked about my recommendations on a home barista setup. I emailed him the following:
This is the best machine you can buy for less than $2k: Breville Espresso Dual Boiler
It is not cheap but easily outperforms anything in that price bracket on the market — superb temperature and pressure stability, commercial build quality (this thing stays with you for decades) and overall easy to operate (i.e. you will get great shots out of it). Plus it is a dual boiler which means that you have two boilers — one for pulling espresso shots and another one for steaming, with both boilers operate and heat at the same time, i.e. you can go from pulling shots to steaming without waiting for the boiler to heat up to steam temperature.
Equally as important as the machine is your grinder. Do yourself a favor and buy something great and don’t skimp on this — you will regret it and end up buying the high(er) end grinder anyway.
Not all that expensive and hands-down one of the best grinders you can buy is the Sette 270.
Quite frankly the only negative is the plastic look (which is only looks – the grind mechanism is solid as rock) and the noise (it is quite noisy when you grind – but then: You only grind for a few sec at a time).
If you want to spend a little more, get a Niche Zero — this is what I have. It beats the crap out of $3k+ grinders and is a lovely appliance. All the pro-baristas I know, have this thing at home now.
Lastly you will need a few accessories. Get a good steam pitcher for making milk – buy a Motta and call it a day. Splurge on your tamper and buy the Force Tamper – it creates insane consistency from shot to shot. Get a simple frothing thermometer to get consistency for your milk steaming. And get yourself a small, precise kitchen scale to weigh your shots (one of the best things you can do to get to great, repeatable results – you weigh the beans going into your shot and the shot itself; depending on the bean you aim for a 1:1.5 or 1:2 ratio at an extraction time of about 30-50 sec; depending on the bean again).
Good places to buy all this stuff: