6 Things To Know Before Buying Coffee Equipment, As Per Experts

Committing to coffee equipment for home feels daunting, especially when you’re used to sipping perfect cuppas at cafes. Buying a bigger machine doesn’t guarantee a brew that will taste exactly like a professionally-made one; not to mention it may be pricier than you imagine and will need cleaning occasionally.  

However, there are all kinds of coffee lovers; you may be a fan of a clean, delicate filter coffee brew that can be made in a steel dawara set. Or you may be a coffee snob who's always looking for the perfect crema in their espresso shot. You could also be an impulsive coffee drinker, switching between different manual brews.

The point is, if you’re investing in equipment for making coffee at home, it merits some thinking because even the pros can get it wrong every now and then. Chaitanya Bhamidipaty, who founded the beverage brand Roastea, was inspired by the coffee at his own cafes and decided to buy an espresso machine at home, and eventually realised he may have bought the wrong one.

“I purchased a small espresso machine for home but never got the same taste as it was at the cafe. Later when I had a word with the Head Barista there, I understood that the commercial machine has a brewing pressure of 7-9 bar which well balances the brewing of espresso," he shares.

"The home espresso machines have a pressure of 14 and more. An eye-opener. I couldn’t find a home espresso machine at that pressure, So I moved to manual brewing which hardly needs any electricity and moreover, the brewing is faster than espresso,” says Bhamidipaty.

Ravi Saxena, Founder and CEO of Wonderchef points out that the kind of equipment you need should be about the kind of brew you want. “Espresso machines are for those who love a rich shot with crema. Brew machines cater to classic coffee drinkers, bean-to-cup machines grind and brew in one go, offering freshness with convenience. Capsule machines are user-friendly and perfect for quick, no-mess coffee. Automatic machines provide versatility and ease, with espresso, cappuccino, and latte options at a button press. Your choice should match the kind of coffee you love and how you like to make it,” he says. 

If you’re still on the fence about the kind of coffee equipment you need, hear out the experts before you make up your mind.

‘The AeroPress comes closest to espresso’

Owning an espresso machine may sound dreamy, but they don’t come cheap. It may take you a while to learn how to use it right, cleaning them is a chore and not to mention, they’re quite sizeable. You may think a rich shot of steaming espresso is worth all the trouble; however, there are a few ways around it. 

Manual espresso equipment is one option, the catch is they don't have temperature sensors, automated pressure or features to ensure consistent water temperature or brewing type. The strength of your shot of coffee depends on the level of pressure you apply.

Divya Jayashankar, who founded the Chennai roastery Beachville Coffee Roasters is partial towards South Indian filter coffee and sticks to non-electronic equipment for home use. “My cup of coffee in the morning is an everyday ritual for me, and I enjoy making my filter coffee the most,” she says.

“I use non-electronic brewing devices like the pour-over V60 and the South Indian filter. The beauty of non-mechanical devices like this is their versatility. They can be used anywhere, anytime, without the need for electricity. This extends their lifespan and makes them a perfect starting point for coffee enthusiasts. Moreover, these non-electronic brewers add a sense of ritual to our daily coffee routine, making it more enjoyable and meaningful,” ventures Jayashankar. 

If you’re a stickler for espresso but don’t want the commitment of owning a full-sized coffee machine, opt for the Aero-Press. The AeroPress uses finely ground beans and has a shorter brewing time (around 30 seconds) than a French press. It also uses a better, more refined grind than a French press. “The AeroPress is very versatile, and you can get very close to the espresso and a thinner black coffee. The Moka Pot is also an excellent equivalent for the South Indian filter,” Jayashankar points out.

‘French Press is simple, affordable and offers more control over brewing,’

French press is ideal for coffee minimalists, who like fresh, simple brewed coffee, go for the French Press. A large segment of coffee lovers tend to drink their coffee while they are working or when they’re out of their house. If you don’t drink coffee at home every day or don’t see the use for a fussy, 10-cup espresso machine, just go for the French Press, which offers more control over water temperature, grind size, and steeping time.

It comes in several sizes, including single-serving options, making them suitable for small households where brewing larger quantities of coffee may not be necessary. French press brewing also produces minimal waste compared to other brewing methods that require disposable filters or pods, so it’s more environmentally friendly.

Pallavii Gupta who founded Bengaluru’s The Kind Roastery & Brewroom broke down the mechanics of a regular French press. “This method involves steeping coarsely ground coffee in hot water for a few minutes before pressing down a plunger to separate the grounds from the brewed coffee. It delivers a rich and full-bodied flavour and makes a great cup,” she shares.

She further adds, “For home use, I believe that methods like the French press or pour-over are excellent options. They offer simplicity, affordability, and the ability to customize your coffee to your liking without expensive machinery.  prefer the French press because it allows for control over the brewing process.”

‘Drip coffee makers offer consistency’

“A drip coffee maker delivers consistent taste every time, which is perfect for those who want a reliable cup of coffee without surprises,” Dr. Manu Nanda, Chief Marketing Officer, Stovekraft, the company that makes the Pigeon Brewster Drip Coffee Maker.

Drip coffee is made by a method where hot water drips or flows through coffee grounds, extracting flavour as it passes, and then drips or flows through a filter into a container below. Drip coffee makers, also known as drip brewers have a water reservoir where you pour cold water. This water is then heated to the optimal brewing temperature. The hot water extracts flavour from the coffee grounds as it passes through, absorbing the soluble compounds responsible for the coffee's taste and aroma.

Nanda further shares, “Drip coffee maker has many USPs. It’s budget-friendly, you can simply add water and coffee grounds, and the machine does the rest. The anti-drip mechanism helps your coffee-making experience safer and cleaner and it comes with advanced brewing technology with a mesh filter.”

‘15 bar is the ideal pressure level for espresso machines at home’

If you’re a perfectionist, and can’t make do without an espresso machine, look out for the key features. Ravi Saxena, Founder and CEO of Wonderchef, points out that besides size, there are a few other factors that matter.

“Water Temperature Control (precise temperature settings are crucial for extracting espresso without bitterness), an integrated grinder, frothing capability, ease of cleaning and features like removable water tanks and drip trays etc are features you should look out for,” he shares. Saxena also breaks down that if you want a fast and stable extraction, a 15-bar pump pressure for home use. 

“The ideal bar pressure for home espresso machines is often around 15 bars. This pressure level is seen as optimal because it ensures that the espresso machine can consistently extract the rich flavours and essential oils necessary for a perfect shot of espresso, complete with a rich crema on top. Higher pressure levels tend to result in more intense flavours. When water is forced through the coffee grounds at a higher pressure, it extracts more soluble compounds, including oils, leading to a fuller-bodied, stronger-tasting coffee” he says.

‘V60 allows the flavours to shine through’

The V60, named after its distinctive V-shaped dripper cone, has spiral ridges along the inner walls and a large opening at the bottom. These ridges and the large opening promote even extraction by encouraging water to flow through the coffee grounds evenly. The paper filters that they need help remove sediment and oils from the coffee, resulting in a cleaner and crisper cup.

“The V60 or pour-over is good for black coffee with lighter flavour profiles. The V60 is perfect for those who want to savour coffee in its purest form, allowing them to truly understand the roast's flavours and quality,” says Jayashankar.

Bhamidipaty also swears by the V60 for full-flavoured brews. “For my evenings I use Aeropress and V60 the most because I need a mild and flavourful coffee, it’s a perfect stress relief after work,” he says.