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Espresso Machine vs. Bean to cup

Updated 02-04-2021 – Dan Alvazrez

So you’ve decided to get an espresso machine for your home/office/shop/café/magical school. But you are torn between espresso machines vs. bean to cup machines. I would be too because what are those? Aren’t they both making espresso? What are the differences? And how do some people go to magical schools? I will answer all those questions in this article, and yes, we will talk about magical schools too sometime (no promises).

Here’s the biggest difference in just one line: Espresso machines only make espressos, bean to cup coffee machines grind the coffee, make espresso, and even froth milk for you.

That was an overly simplified answer to the age-old question of the espresso machine and bean to cup coffee machine. However, just like anything else, there are a lot of extra factors that come into play when you go deeper. And deeper we shall go.


What is Espresso?

Espresso is the base of pretty much all coffees. It is usually highly concentrated, sharp in taste, and short. It can only be produced by packing coffee grounds tight, usually under a pressure of 9 bars and above, and passing water through it. Espresso can be drunk as it is or if you are like me, mixed with a variety of other ingredients to make a wonderfully sweet drink. Cappuccinos, lattes, Americanos, and all other such drinks are made from espresso.

So in short, espresso is a really important component of coffee-based drinks.


The Espresso Machine

A usual espresso machine is operated by a barista and is only capable of producing one thing and that’s espresso. It won’t be able to make coffee for you automatically, it will just give you a base espresso, and you’ll have to do the rest of the work.

This means you will need a dedicated coffee bean grinder, tamp the coffee beans and extract the shot with the espresso machine yourself.

If your drink requires milk to be frothed, you need to have a separate milk frother as well.

We have written about some good quality espresso machines as well as cheap espresso machines. Some of them are bean to cup coffee machine too.


The Bean to Cup Machine

A bean to cup coffee machine, as the name implies, takes care of the whole drink. It takes the coffee beans and gives you the desired drink you want without much input from you. The machine usually comes with a dedicated and integrated bean grinder. Most machines also have a milk frother, so you can make creamy drinks and latte art right there.

Espresso Machine vs. Bean to cup Banner Image

There are several types of bean to cup machines as well. A semi-automatic machine is capable of producing a variety of different coffee-based drinks as it comes with a steam wand.

If you are looking to get a coffee machine that does everything for you there are several amazing one-touch fully automatic machines available as well. There are several benefits of owning a bean to cup coffee machine in this busy day and age.

There is a misconception that all bean to cup machines produce low-quality espresso, but there are some compelling options available that produce amazing quality espresso. The price is usually high for semi-automatic bean to cup coffee machines but at the end of the day, you are going to get quality beverages and that’s what we all want.


Advantages of Espresso Machine

  • Trained baristas can make amazing quality coffee
  • Works great in a commercial setting and can be used throughout the day
  • Allows for some amazing customizations, any drink can be made according to demands
  • A simple machine that is easy to clean
  • The machines are usually designed really well and can further enhance the look of your kitchen or shop
  • A separate grinder can make your shop look professional or your home a home of a coffee lover


Advantages of a bean to cup Machine

  • Bean to cup coffee machine doesn’t need any trained staff, you can operate it yourself which saves you time and money
  • If you have a bean to cup coffee machine in a shop or office, everyone can use it themselves
  • No spilling accidents can happen as everything happens inside the machine itself. No more runaway beans
  • Only need to take care of the bean to cup coffee machine, and it can produce good quality espresso
  • The machines are automatic, you don’t even need to stand near them while coffee is being made
  • The process is done really fast and results in good quality coffee


Disadvantages of Espresso Machines

  • You need to grind the coffee yourself and that can severely impact the taste
  • Tamping needs to be done just the right way. Too tight and the coffee will be bitter, too loose, and you are just tasting coffee-flavoured water
  • You need to steam the milk manually as well with an espresso coffee machine
  • The quality is dependent on the user, more experience means better coffee
  • Not too great when it comes to being self-serving machines in a commercial setting. That’s just inviting lawsuits
  • Coffee can be wasted with the espresso machines
  • A separate grinder can irk some customers or office workers
Espresso Machine vs. Bean to cup Image 1

Disadvantages of bean to cup Machine

  • The milk system demands cleaning every day. Most bean to cup coffee machines do come with self-cleaning features though
  • The bean to cup coffee machines have a limit to how many coffee drinks they can make in a day before requiring cleaning
  • You need to clean the whole bean to cup machine including the hopper, tamps, and filters


Why Espresso Machines Are For You?

You like tradition and espresso machines are as traditional as they come. They are great if you have some experience making coffee yourself and want to treat your friends and family with a wonderfully customized drink.

Or you own a coffee shop and coffee is the main focus of the establishment. Then you need a trained barista to operate the machine as well. Generally speaking, an espresso machine is loved by coffee aficionados simply because of its customization potential and the ability to bring out the richest taste.


Why bean to cup Machines Are For You?

You love the convenience and don’t want to make the whole coffee yourself. You can sacrifice a bit of customization for a lot of conveniences. Furthermore, you don’t need a trained barista to operate the machine as well, so it is perfect for a home or office setting. Then yes a bean to cup coffee machine

If you have a shop, but coffee is not the main focus or attraction, a bean to cup coffee machine can do a great job. You don’t need to staff a trained barista for it either, and depending on the shop, you can make it self-serving as well.


Parting Words

Now that you know all the differences and ins and outs of the machines, you can make a well-judged decision about the machines you need. Both are amazing at what they do and provide so if you have the funds, buy one of each, at least this is what I’d do if someone just gave me money randomly.

Whatever you decide on, here’s to a lot of great cups of coffee.

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