Updated for 2021. If you're in the market for a new espresso machine, chances are you've been staggered by the sheer volume of choices available to you. There's a lot to choose from out there and the path toward brewing great coffee at home can feel nothing short of labyrinthine. If you're serious about your espresso and you want to brew the best drinks with the best equipment available, that choice can be that much more difficult. So, with that, we wanted to take a moment and go over who a prosumer machine is for and why that is, in detail.
What is a Prosumer?
The word Prosumer is a portmanteau of "professional" and "consumer". It's an espresso machine that shares features and components with more expensive commercial espresso machines. More than that, these are the sports cars of coffee, all about performance as well as style. With that in mind, let's briefly discuss how Prosumer machines elevate themselves above the rest.
First, these machines will most often have heat exchange boilers or dual boilers which allow for back to back shots, as well as simultaneous brewing and steaming. This is a massive time-saver, but more than that, these are key features ideal for making lattes or cappuccinos.
By eliminating wait times between brewing and steaming, you can immediately deliver milk froth to your espresso, getting the most flavor out of your drink. When it comes to espresso, timing is imperative. To complement this, built-in pressure gauges monitor brew and steam pressure and add a certain expert look to a machine that's already looking smart.
The iconic E61 brew group aids in temperature stability, retaining heat before extraction thanks to its high thermal mass and a thermosyphon that circulates hot water through the group. The pre-infusion chamber also allows for a gentle infusion of water to soak the grounds in your portafilter for a more even extraction.
Just as well, PID controllers ensure temperature stability, essentially removing one of the many variables that go into making the perfect shot. For tinkerers and experimenters, adjusting the PID can better help extract some of the nuances from high-altitude or specialty coffees. Sometimes these PID controllers double as shot timers, handy for knowing when to ease off pump pressure and finish pulling your shot.
Rotary pumps allow for a much quieter brewing process when compared to vibration pumps, and ramp-up in pressure quicker. Plus, they often accompany machines with direct water-line connections, allowing the machine to bypass the water reservoir and draw directly from your home's water-line.
Espresso Shots on a Vibration Pump vs Rotary Pumps
Some Prosumers even sport full-color touch screen displays and light-up RGB side panels. Lesser machines can't quite get away with something so exotic.
What to Look for in A Prosumer Espresso Machine
There’s a wide range of Prosumer espresso machines with a plethora of valuable features for the home, office or commercial user. Narrowing down which features you should go for in a prosumer depends on how often you brew espresso and milk-based coffee drinks, if you’re in a high-volume or low-volume setting or if you simply love the art of making espresso and craft drinks as a hobby. To help you figure things out, we’ve listed the best prosumer espresso machines below by budget and the features that we know you’ll love.
Best Prosumer Espresso Machine Under $5000
The ECM Synchronika Dual Boiler Espresso Machine with Flow Control is an impressive machine, packed with adventurous features, and has been mentioned countless times as our favorite espresso machine for gifts, commercial, home and office, use and for the hobbyist.
What’s great about the Synchronika is that it’s a handmade dual boiler machine that can brew and steam espresso and milk-beverages with ease. The stainless steel boilers are durable and insulated, allowing you to change your brew temperature and get the best possible flavor out of your coffee. The PID controller provides even more control over your brewing experience with an integrated shot timer and adjustable boiler temperatures. The upgraded PID on the Synchronika is an unparalleled feature in other machines in its class and is sure to level up your barista skills.
The Flow Control knob is a newer device offered exclusively by Whole Latte Love that comes pre-installed on E61 machines. Flow control allows you to directly control the flow rate of water through your coffee puck to really bring out all of the flavors, aromas, and nuances in your coffee and to even achieve a drip-style coffee if needed. This device adds an extra layer of experimentation and innovation to the world of coffee and espresso and enhances the Sychronika’s capabilities to create true café-style beverages.
Best Prosumer Espresso Machine Under $3000
The Bezzera Matrix DE Dual Boiler Espresso Machine is a luxurious prosumer. Besides the impeccable designs and exterior housing, Bezzera is known for making high-quality and durable espresso machines made by real people, designed and assembled in-house. The Matrix DE shows Bezzera’s dedication to crafting uniquely designed machines with incredible performance. With four programmable volumetric brewing on the face of the machine and a touch of natural wood on the knobs, the Matrix DE is a step up for pro-baristas who are just as serious about the style of their machine as they are about their espresso.
We recently reviewed the Bezzera Matrix DE and highlighted many of its impressive features including programmable LED lights which are easily accessible through the Gicar touchscreen, the triple PID controllers, and the electrically heated group head for maximum temperature stability. It’s also worth noting that if you’re an early bird in your household, you’ll really appreciate the Matrix DE’s super quiet rotary pump: you can make your latte or cappuccino without having to worry about waking anyone up.
For more glowing reviews about Bezzera’s Matrix DE Dual Boiler Espresso Machine, read our full review below.
The Bezzera Matrix DE: A Review of This Luxurious Dual Boiler Machine
Best Prosumer Espresso Machine Under $2000
The Profitec Pro 500 PID Espresso Machine is a classic prosumer that’s been receiving tons of love from our customers. It’s a heat exchange prosumer with a powerful 1400 watt stainless steel boiler and PID controllers giving you the ability to control the boiler temperatures and tease out the elusive flavors of your coffee.
The Pro 500 PID also features an E61 that is constantly heated with water from the machine’s thermosyphon system. This keeps things nice and toasty when you’re ready to pull your shot, creating a warm and comforting cup of espresso. What many users love about the Pro 500 PID is that Profitec is a brand that’s dedicated to high-end construction and durability—baristas are sure to have a machine that can handle pulling shot after shot and steam simultaneously with no issues for years to come.
Product Review: Profitec Pro 500 PID Espresso Machine
Best Prosumer Espresso Machine Under $1500
At the low end of the budget for prosumer espresso machines is the ECM Classika PID. Just because the Classika PID is on the lower end of the budget tier does not mean it doesn’t come with some amazing features seen on higher-end machines. In fact, this machine still blows us away and we can’t believe that it comes at a great value.
The Classika PID is a perfect prosumer for home or office baristas who don’t have tons of kitchen space but still want a machine that can brew and steam like the big boys. It’s a single-boiler machine so you won’t be able to brew and steam at the same time, but with a little patience, the powerful 0.75-liter stainless steel boiler can heat this machine up to appropriate steam temperatures just under one minute!
Like the other prosumers listed above, the Classika PID also comes with integrated PID controllers to adjust the boiler temperatures for that extra bit of control over the result of your espresso. The Classika PID may not have heat exchanger boilers or other high-end features, but it says a lot that this compact prosumer still makes our top pick for best prosumers under $1500. It’s a great option for home and office baristas to save on counter space and pair it with a grinder for your coffee bar.
Is a Prosumer Machine for you?
To be certain, a Prosumer espresso machine is for anyone who wants superlative coffee, espresso, lattes, and cappuccinos. Even if some of the features are more technical and not quite within your reach, a respect for coffee and what you drink is the core value that a Prosumer machine represents. If this is a value you share, then you can be sure a Prosumer machine will be a worthwhile investment.
A Prosumer is great for users who not only want a coffee in the morning but multiple coffees at different times of the day. These machines bring the quality of the cafe to the kitchen. Baristas who use prosumers want all the craft, the allure, and the quality that's so intrinsic to the culture of coffee, on their counter. For them, espresso preparation is a relaxing and even fun morning ritual, and an exciting point of discussion with guests. After all, coffee is, more than anything, a social experience, and a quality espresso machine can speak volumes.
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With that said, if this sounds like you, and you’re really someone who appreciates the practicality, beauty, and capabilities of prosumer espresso machines, then a prosumer just might be for you.