Best Prosumer Espresso Machines – High-End Espresso Machines For Home

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An entry-level machine will likely suffice if you’re beginning your domestic espresso-brewing journey. But what if you’re ready to move to the next level and dial in gorgeous espresso shots while simultaneously steaming milk for perfect cappuccinos, lattes, and other milk-based espresso drinks?

If that describes you, it may be time to consider a prosumer espresso machine – a machine combining the capabilities of a commercial machine with the practicality of domestic use. But which is the best prosumer espresso machine to buy, and what do they really offer that an entry-level machine doesn’t?

This article takes an in-depth look at prosumer espresso machines, what you can expect from them, and the best eight on the market, so you’ll be in no doubt which is the best one for you.

What Is A Prosumer Espresso Machine?

The world “prosumer” is an amalgamation of “professional” and “consumer.” In short, it means that while the semi-automatic machines are aimed at the domestic market, they benefit from many of the features and designs of commercial espresso machines that you’d expect to find in coffee shops. The result is a top-quality machine that produces gorgeous espresso and unbeatable steaming performance.

Regarding prosumer espresso machines, people usually refer to dual boiler espresso machines or heat exchanger machines. Each boiler type’s main benefit is allowing the user to brew espresso and steam milk simultaneously.

Most espresso machines at a lower price use Thermoblocks or a single boiler. However, if you have a single boiler espresso machine, it won’t allow you to pull espresso and steam milk simultaneously, and you can’t pull shots back to back like you can with a commercial machine. This is where prosumer espresso machines come in. They have the components you’d find in a commercial espresso machine but for the domestic market.

Therefore, you can expect more consistent pump pressure and temperature stability, which helps improve both espresso extraction and steaming power.

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Lelit Bianca (Dual Boiler, Rotary pump, 58mm portafilter) Vs Breville Barista Pro (Thermoblock, Vibe pump, 54mm portafilter)

Unsurprisingly, given how superior they are to other espresso machines, prosumer espresso machines are expensive, often costing several times more than some entry-level machines. You’ll also need a premium-quality espresso grinder to dial in for the perfect shot. This means that you’ll need to pay a significant amount of money for the best equipment. If you are using pre-ground coffee, you can opt for inexpensive espresso machines.

Because of this, it’s important to make the right decision, which this guide will help you with.

How To Choose The Best High-End Espresso Machine For Home Use

Heat Exchanger vs Dual Boiler

Heat exchanger espresso machines allow you to brew coffee and steam milk simultaneously through one large boiler. A pipe-like isolated brew chamber within the boiler helps maintain the perfect temperature. Approximately 3/4 of the boiler is filled with water and heated. Then, when the water is hot enough for milk steaming, it appears in the remaining 1/4 of the boiler. Back in the tube, the cooler water is ready for brewing. The result is the ability to pull an espresso shot at the optimal temperature and have the required steam power for creating milk-based drinks.

However, there are some disadvantages, and they’re largely to do with convenience. For example, because the brewing temperature is intrinsically linked to the steam power, the brewing temperature will increase if the machine stands idle for too long, meaning you may need to do a cooling flush to reduce it.

On the other hand, dual boilers, as their name suggests, have dedicated boilers for brewing and steaming. This allows the user to control the temperature of each. So, you can use a lower brewing temperature and a higher steaming temperature if necessary, and the two aren’t dependent on one another. Not only that, but the double boilers have a larger capacity, which is excellent if you want to make beverages back to back with high consistency and efficiency.

On the downside, dual boiler machines are normally more expensive than heat exchanger alternatives.

Vibration Pump vs Rotary Pump

The pump is an integral part of an espresso machine as it creates the necessary brew pressure to push hot water through the puck and extract the optimal flavor quickly. When you’re in the market for a prosumer espresso machine, there are typically two pump options – vibration and rotary. Here is the full comparison of these two pumps in espresso machines.

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The vibration pump is the most common of the two. It is also smaller, cheaper, and louder. Vibration pumps are mainly plastic, meaning they’re not as durable as their brass counterparts. Nor are they as consistent. Another disadvantage is you can’t plumb machines with vibration pumps directly, so you’ll have to refill the water tank between uses.

However, they are easier to replace than rotary pumps and will do a perfectly good job for years with the correct maintenance, but overall, they’re not considered as high-quality as rotary pumps and are often found in less expensive prosumer espresso machines.

In contrast, rotary pumps are larger, more expensive, and quieter. You can also plumb them directly from a water pipe for added convenience. They are considerably more hard-wearing than vibration pumps and should last for many years. However, they’re more complex to replace and not as easy to find. You’ll normally find rotary pumps in very high-end prosumer espresso machines.

Group Head Type – E61 Or Others?

The E61 group head is usually in heat exchanger and dual boiler espresso machines. It is known for its exquisite design and has been a mainstay of high-end espresso machines since its launch in 1961. The E61 is a chrome-plated brass group head where you tamp the grounds into the machine’s portafilter, attach it to the E61 group head, and pull a lever for your espresso shots.

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Because of its design, the pressure gradually increases during the extraction process, creating a preinfusion. Meanwhile, the temperature remains stable because there is a constant water flow between the group head and heat exchanger or boiler. There are other advantages, including the need to pull a lever rather than press a button – a far more satisfying way to pull your espresso shot. You can also find replacement parts easily.

On the downside, preheating takes between 20 and 30 minutes, while regular descaling is important.

You can also opt for a prosumer espresso machine with a saturated group head. They are surrounded by water from the boiler, and the group head is an extension of the boiler. This means the water travels between the boiler and group head with less heat loss, so it should maintain a more consistent temperature than the E61.

Another advantages are a faster preheat and a lighter weight. Therefore, the water moves between the boiler and group head with less heat loss, for a consistent water temperature. On the downside, they’re difficult to fix if there’s a problem as it’s held within the boiler.

PID Or Pressurestat

PID, or Proportional-Integral-Derivative, controllers help maintain temperature stability. They do this by using an algorithm, allowing the user to control the temperature via buttons. This is important as different brewing temperatures may be necessary depending on elements, including the type of beans you’re using. While PIDs are more accurate than traditional thermostats, they are more expensive.

A thermostat – or pressurestat – will turn off the heating element once it has reached the desired temperature. Once the temperature drops below the temperature, it’ll kick the temperature back on. This causes the temperature to be less consistent, which can adversely affect the espresso quality.

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Other Things To Consider

Preheat Time

As we mentioned earlier, double boiler machines with an E61 group head need at least 20 minutes to preheat. However, coffee machines with a saturated group head or other electrical heating elements can preheat in around 10 minutes. 

Design

Many prosumer espresso machines with the E61 group head look similar at first glance. However, closer inspection will reveal differences between the layouts, details, color options, and dimensions.

On the other hand, machines using a saturated group head may keep the overall design features of their consumer-level alternatives, like Breville’s dual boiler and the Rancilio Silvia.

Budget

Ultimately, your decision will likely come down to your budget, but you have to be prepared to pay over $1,000.

In fact, mid-range machines with PID, dual boilers, and a rotary pump typically cost more than $3,000, but for the money, you’ll have almost everything you need to make the best possible espresso at home.

If you have the budget, higher-end home espresso machines from the most renowned brands can cost over $5,000.

How Many Functions Do You Need?

Manufacturers are always upgrading their machines with more practical and user-friendly features. For example, some have a flow control paddle on the group head, while others have a built-in shot timer in the PID control display. Some also offer more programmability, allowing you to set the preinfusion time, energy-saving mode, auto start, and more.

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8 Best Prosumer Espresso Machines In 2022

1.Lelit Bianca – Best Overall

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  • Boiler Type: Dual Boiler (coffee boiler:0.8L, steam boiler: 1.5L )
  • Water Reservoir: 2.5L
  • Pump Type: Rotary Pump
  • PID: Yes
  • Group Head: E61

If you compiled a tick list featuring dream features for prosumer machines, the Lelit Bianca would have all of them.

This gorgeous Italian machine has a classic E61 group head, a robust rotary pump, a built-in PID for temperature stability, and dual boilers for steaming and brewing simultaneously. But that’s not all. It has a flow control paddle that allows unlimited control over the flow rate of the water to bring out all the complexity of your coffee during preinfusion and extraction. Meanwhile, an LCC (Lelit Control Center) computer system offers unparalleled control over your drinks.

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We bought and tested Lelit Bianca

In short, if you want to control every step of your espresso-making, this is the prosumer-level home espresso machine for you. It’ll probably be the ultimate conversation starter in any kitchen, too, as it’s beautiful. The machine has a classy shiny steel casing reminiscent of the best commercial machines, but there are nice touches throughout, including walnut wood finishes. It’s also compact enough to sit comfortably on most countertops.

It offers value for money, too, selling at a mid-range price but consistently delivering high-end results. It produces gorgeous espresso and silky smooth milk for latte art quickly and easily. If you have the budget and desire to create the best espresso and milk-based drinks outside of a coffee shop, the Lelit Bianca should rank highly on your list of possibilities. If you want to learn more about this, check out our Lelit Bianca review.

2.Rocket Espresso Appartamento – Best For Small Kitchens

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  • Boiler Type: Heat Exchange (1.8L brass boiler)
  • Water Reservoir: 2.3L
  • Pump Type: Vibration Pump
  • PID: No
  • Group Head: E61

The Appartamento is one of the most popular espresso machines, and it’s not just the stylish, high-end aesthetic that attracts domestic brewers. This heat exchanger espresso machine is ideal for anyone with limited countertop space who doesn’t want to compromise on quality. Indeed, with dimensions of just 10.5in (27cm) wide x 16.5in (42cm) deep x 14in (36cm) tall, it’s one of the most compact prosumer machines around.

A durable E61 brew group offers stable water temperature and an automatic preinfusion. There’s also a high-quality, hard-wearing 1.8L copper boiler, while the stainless steel exterior is handsome and elegant.

The fact it’s a heat exchanger means you can brew and steam simultaneously – a big deal if you want to make multiple milk-based espresso drinks. It doesn’t offer as much control as a dual boiler, but it’s the next best thing.

The machine lacks functionality, including PID, so temperature control isn’t as prominent as more expensive machines. Still, there are enough standout elements to make the Appartamento a worthy consideration. Take ease of use, for example. This machine is so straightforward to use you’ll be up and running almost straight out of the box. It has convenience at the forefront, too, with sensors alerting the user to low boiler and water reservoir levels. In addition, if you don’t refill it, the machine will shut down to avoid damage.

Overall, from the moment you unbox the Appartamento, you get the sense that – correctly – much thought has gone into its manufacture, right down to the solid metal tamper provided. But it also offers the kind of high-level aesthetics and quality that prove the adage that good – even beautiful – things can come in small packages.

3.Rocket Espresso R58

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  • Boiler Type: Dual Boiler (coffee boiler:0.58 L, steam boiler: 1.8L )
  • Water Reservoir: 2.5L
  • Pump Type: Rotary Pump
  • PID: Yes
  • Group Head: E61

The Rocket Espresso R58 is another beautiful prosumer machine. However, unlike the Appartamento, this has a dual boiler, meaning you’ll have complete control over the brewing and steaming temperatures while simultaneously getting both.

Of course, dual boilers make for bulkier machines, and that’s the case here too, but if you have the countertop space for it, you’ll be wowed by its gorgeous looks. Like all the Rocket machines, the shiny and classy stainless steel exterior lends the R58 a high-end aesthetic.

Each boiler has a PID temperature controller, while there’s also a superb removable touchscreen that lets you turn off the steam boiler, set timers, turn on the power-saving ECO mode, and alternate between using the water reservoir and a plumbed water connection (which you can opt for courtesy of the extremely durable, reliable and quiet rotary pump).

Thanks to its 0.58l brew boiler and 1.8l steam boiler, you can make back-to-back batches of whatever espresso-based drinks you like, and with remarkable consistency. Meanwhile, there’s also an innovative dual preinfusion mechanism for beautiful extraction.

Overall, if an astounding level of control (thanks to the touchscreen), beauty, and exquisite results are what you’re looking for, and you have the countertop space and budget, the R58 is a superb option.

4.Rancilio Silvia Pro X

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  • Boiler Type: Dual Boiler (coffee boiler:0.3 L, steam boiler: 1L )
  • Water Reservoir: 2L
  • Pump Type: Rotary Pump
  • PID: Yes
  • Group Head: Saturated Brew Group

If reaching the nuanced flavor profiles of espresso has always seemed tantalizingly out of reach, the Rancilio Silvia Pro X could be the answer, thanks to its variable soft infusion, which customizes the brewing experience.

The result is the ability to tweak elements, including acidity and body, until you arrive at the perfect cup for you. It does this by slowly releasing water without pressure to gently soak the coffee puck, then increasing the brew head pressure to allow customization. The soft infusion stage smooths out imperfections in the coffee puck to enable a better extraction.

While this is undoubtedly an innovative and cool function, there is far more to this stainless steel prosumer machine, including insulated dual boilers (with dual PID) for perfect customization of the brewing and steaming temperatures.

There’s also a high-end multi-directional steam wand, a hot water tap, an adjustable cup tray, and a durable brass brewing unit, accentuating the impression that this machine is well thought out and enjoys many of the benefits of a larger commercial machine. Not bad for a compact machine that’s just 15.3in (39cm) tall x 9.8in (25cm) wide x 16.5in (42cm) deep.

For all its functionality, though, it’s the soft infusion that makes this machine stand out and is the most significant upgrade from the Silvia Pro and the Rancilio Silvia single boiler machine.

5.Breville Dual Boiler BES920

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  • Boiler Type: Dual Boiler (coffee boiler:0.3 L, steam boiler: 0.95L )
  • Water Reservoir: 2.5 L
  • Pump Type: Vibration Pump
  • PID: Yes
  • Group Head: Saturated Brew Group

Breville takes its prosumer machines so seriously that the BES920 goes beyond the gold standard for brewing top-quality espresso. The brew boiler has a PID control for precise temperature control, while another PID control is dedicated to the group head for the optimal flavor.

To further highlight that the manufacturers understand the importance of temperature control, the steam boiler uses a thermistor to produce its silky smooth milk-based espresso drinks with the complex flavors fully present and correct. You can also tweak the steaming pressure with temperature control over its boiler between 265°F and 285°F.

The dual boiler machine has two pumps – one that delivers water at the ideal 9 bars of pressure and another dedicated to the steam boiler, which alleviates any potential pressure issues at the group head if the auto-fill kicks in for the heat exchanger boiler while pulling a shot.

There’s even an element of the beginner-friendly about this machine, thanks to the pressure gauge for honing your technique and programmable preinfusion time and power with manual override. Similarly, the semi-automatic espresso machine is also made easier to use thanks to its 58mm twist blade to perfectly level off your portafilter. Finally, maintenance shouldn’t be an issue, thanks to the assisted descaling and descale alert.

6.ECM Synchronika

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  • Boiler Type: Dual Boiler (coffee boiler:0.7 L, steam boiler: 2L )
  • Water Reservoir: 3 L
  • Pump Type: Rotary Pump
  • PID: Yes
  • Group Head: E61

The ECM Synchronika is dedicated to helping you extract the subtlest flavors from your coffee.

It has dual boilers and PID for the perfect temperature of the water and steam. Meanwhile, the flow control allows you to tweak the flow of water in the brew group for the best extractions. The machine has low-pressure preinfusion, too, which further assists the flavor, while 2 bars of steam power help produce gorgeous milk-based espresso drinks.

It’s not just via direct means that the Synchronika excels at coaxing flavor from your coffee. It also uses an E61 brew head with stainless steel interior. This leads to far less calcium build-up, which is easier to clean and maintain and ultimately improves the flavor of the coffee.

Of course, you will need some technique and expertise to tease the best espresso from the machine. However, if you get your levels, grind size, and beans correct, there’s no reason why the Synchronika won’t produce espresso as exquisite as the ones you enjoy from your favorite coffee shop.

It looks the part, too, with a gorgeous stainless steel exterior that wouldn’t seen out of place in even the most contemporary kitchen.

7.Diletta Bello

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  • Boiler Type: Heat Exchange (1.8L stainless steal boiler)
  • Water Reservoir: 3L
  • Pump Type: Vibration Pump
  • PID: No
  • Group Head: E61

The Diletta Bello is a stylish heat exchanger available in three finishes – stainless steel, powder-coated white, and powder-coated black. The latter looks particularly striking and contemporary with its shiny metal E61 group head against the matt black finish of the machine. While they all look good, if you’d rather avoid the more common polished metal stainless steel design, it will grab your attention.

The closest competitor is the Rocket Espresso Appartamento, which shares many of its main attributes. So, as well as the E61 group head, you’ll find a 1.8l stainless steel boiler and a huge 3l water reservoir, so there is no need to worry about refilling between batches too often. Meanwhile, it’s only slightly bulkier at 11in (28cm) wide x 17.7in (45cm) deep x and 14.5in (36cm) tall.

The Diletta Bello heats in around 15 minutes, a little faster than other heat exchanger machines. One of the nicest elements of the machine is its dual pressure water gauge, which measures both water pressure and pump pressure for increased accuracy while pulling your shots.

The Bello is equipped with a vibration pump which, while louder than a rotary pump, is still quieter than vibration pumps in rival machines thanks to its positioning on rubber mounts. As for the coffee, the machine’s factory setting is 9 bars, which is ideal and means you won’t need to make any complex adjustments before using it. On the downside, there’s no PID control, so that a little temperature surfing will be necessary, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a little purging before brewing.

Steaming power is strong and easily adjusted, thanks to the pressure knob. Also, it can produce beautiful espresso, meaning this is a serious consideration for anyone looking for a stylish prosumer machine who wants coffee-shop quality espresso and milk-based drinks.

8.La Marzocco Linea Mini

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  • Boiler Type: Dual Boiler (coffee boiler:0.17 L, steam boiler: 3.5L )
  • Water Reservoir: 2 L
  • Pump Type: Rotary Pump
  • PID: Yes
  • Group Head: Saturated Brew Group

La Marzocco’s Linea espresso machines have long been a mainstay of coffee shops, and now you can bring a similar quality home thanks to the Mini. This prosumer machine is in the higher price category, but if you have the budget and manual adjustments are your nemesis, it will likely be the answer to your prayers.

The handmade espresso maker uses identical components to its commercial-level big brother. That includes two sturdy stainless steel boilers – one for steaming, and one for brewing, meaning you can have both coffee and milk steam simultaneously.

As for the steaming, there’s no better option around, and if you love latte art or want to learn it, the steam power and silky milk foam produced by this machine have all you need to produce microfoam as good as any you’ll find in a specialty coffee shop.

There’s also an integrated brew group that mimics the excellent temperature stability of a saturated brew group but without the bulkiness. Normally, a machine that doesn’t have a PID controller would be a disadvantage, but that’s not the case with the Linea Mini, which has a stepped wheel to offer even greater temperature control.

There’s very little manual work involved with the machine, which extends further with the latest model with its app connectivity, meaning most settings can be controlled from your phone.

The machine is also compact and comes in seven colors. Therefore, there’s highly likely to be an ideal fit for your kitchen. With that, its wonderful steaming performance and its ability to produce simply gorgeous espresso easily, what’s not to love?

Our Verdict

There are several factors in selecting a prosumer machine, including your budget, countertop space, time, batch sizes, and taste preferences.

The best espresso machines we have covered have plenty of qualities. So, the Rocket Espresso Appartamento is best espresso machine for anyone with limited space. Elsewhere, the Rocket Espresso R58 offers all the control you could wish for as you perfect your drinks. At the same time, the ECM Synchronika is a dream for anyone determined to coax the subtlest nuances of flavor from their coffee.

However, one machine that stands out is the Lelit Bianca, which offers just about everything. Want top-quality craftsmanship? The Italian-made semi-automatic machine has it in abundance. Require control over the brewing process? The LCC computer system and flow control paddle see to that. It also looks gorgeous, offers excellent value for money, and produces beautiful drinks.

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For those reasons, while all the premium espresso makers we have looked at are outstanding, the Lelit Bianco has many of the best elements and is our pick of the eight.