Choose the right espresso machine

On this page, you can figure out the differences between the different coffee machines.

If you are unsure of the machines, make an appointment to test the machines and have a machine specialist assist you.
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Bezzera Comparison 2024


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BZ Thermal Efficient

Produces espressos with better clarity.
Less allowance for remnants to cling around, which can cause a “dirty” taste from stale and decaying coffee retained in the group head.
Faster startup and recovery time.
More reliable with fewer components to fail.
Affordable long-term repair as they are easier to repair.

The enhanced version could heat up and recover heat more efficiently.

Classic E61

Slightly easier extraction with a period of pre-infusion.
Easier for DIY repairs as repair instructions are easily found online.

Commercial Spring Piston

Dynamic pressure profile that releases a broader spectrum of aromatic notes.
A larger amount of preinfusion for smoother extraction.
Highest durability.
Affordable long-term repair.

Simplified E61

Lowest cost.
Less wearable components

The BZ grouphead can be seen as a redesign of the E61, invented almost 60 years ago. The main idea is to create a smaller, more serviceable, safer and more reliable machine. Particularly important when it comes to industrial usage. BZ may cost slightly more, but they usually pay themselves off in the long term as they are generally cheaper to service.

E61s are a little more forgiving and easy to pull a nice-looking shot mainly due to its inherent process of forming pre-infusion during extraction. Pre-infusion allows water to spread evenly above the coffee powder before pressurization for extraction takes place. This can reduce channelling issues happening during extraction. However, it does come with some shortcomings. Remnants are often retained in the compartments where pre-infusion builds up. Such retention of remnants can gradually accumulate, and what’s left there and ignored can eventually become rancid or mouldy. These remnants of decaying and stale coffee, mixing with your freshly made espresso, can cause a “dirty” taste to your coffee. As such, it is more critical that grouphead flushing is regularly done.

N.B: Spring lever machines won’t have the same issue despite their massive pre-infusion, as they will always force out most water and remnants during extraction.

The E61 grouphead circulates hot water from the boiler to stabilize its grouphead, known as a thermo-siphon system. The advantage of this is that it can stabilize the temperature to match closer to the temperature of the water in the boiler, especially for single or double boilers, which have a dedicated boiler for the extraction. It won’t have the same effect and precision as a heat exchanger. This feature does come with some disadvantages. The flip side is the continuous circulation of water flowing around the grouphead brings a much higher chance of metal leaching into the water. After all, the grouphead is made of brass which can contain lead.

Bezzera, a century-old brand, the founder of the first espresso machine, pays particular attention to the toxicity of the material used. One thing that consumers can’t observe just from looking at the specifications is they are using the most advance “no-lead” or extremely “low-lead” brass. Which are often additionally plated with a coating for extra protection. They are currently one of the best in this aspect among similar tiers of espresso machines, weighing massive emphasis on product safety. The reason why brass has remained to be the choice of metal used is because of its inherent strength, durability and thermal conductivity.

Despite the reputation of the E61’s thermal stability, this stable condition will only be valid if the machine idles for a long time. Else the displacement of water in the boiler or using the steam wand can lead to a drop in temperature in the boiler followed by the grouphead. This explains why some E61 users felt confused or frustrated with its temperamental stability. As such, E61s with heat exchanger boilers should use a much bigger boiler of at least 2 litres to reduce such displacement effects to strengthen its thermal stability. Since it always requires a larger boiler and the water to heat up, circulate to warm up the massive chunk of metal in the grouphead. The start-up time required is almost 70 per cent longer than the BZ. Both E61 and BZ are overall both considered reliable.

E61 grouphead break down
Exploded view of the E61 grouphead, invented in 1961.

One thing to note about the E61 is that the grouphead is solid with its huge mass of metal. Inside, it’s full of loose parts of gears, gaskets, springs and plungers to run the mechanism. There’s a lot of wear and tear as the gears rub against each other during usage. As well as a lot of gaskets and lubrication applied in it that can deteriorate or lose effect over time. There are, in total, about 25 such loose parts inside, and most will eventually go wrong. Usually, a few worn parts might not cause any alarming issues, but they must be replaced sooner or later. The good thing about the E61 is that it’s an open patent with many retailers selling it. There’s a high chance for one to find a service man to repair the grouphead. There are plenty of online materials to help users to repair on their own. As such, if you are a user staying far from a repair centre, the E61 may be ideal in this aspect.

BZ grouphead breakdown e1577871026594
Exploded view of the BZ Grouphead

As you can see, the BZ is a much simpler design using two electrical components to replace dozens of loose parts to control the flow of water and heating of the grouphead. The amount of parts that can be worn is now reduced to about 5 pieces. That’s almost an 80% reduction. Although it sounds like there are more electronics, from our records, these two electronic components are reliable and rarely fail. Also, almost the entire grouphead(Parts 38 to 43) can be removed for thorough cleaning. There is also very little space for remnants to retain possibly. That is how it gets its “clean” taste with good clarity from all the coffee notes.

From our service records, the cost to service the E61 is higher as it requires much more time and a higher chance of the components needing replacement.

E61s do have their advantages. As mentioned, the pre-infusion reduces the likelihood of channelling issues in the extraction. They are a little less picky on the grind setting. The user can mitigate these two issues by calibrating the grinder. In terms of user-friendliness, we still think that the E61 might have a slight win over the BZ. For users who love to fix their machines, the E61 has a lot of technical material found online for reference. It is also easier to find a technician to fix an E61. Although in reality, it is easier to fix a BZ grouphead.

As for which grouphead can produce a better-tasting coffee. It depends on what type of coffee you are using. In general, the BZ should reduce the chance of astringent release and have better clarity, partly due to the grouphead being cleaner. This may be ideal for darker roast coffee, which most people prefer.

Boiler Start-Up Time

This refers to how long it takes the water in the boiler to get to the right temperature or pressure.
Once this is ready, steam for frothing is available. You can get hot water for making your espressos, but the temperature will not be as stable or hot enough to bring out the best from your coffee.

Do note that the grouphead, particularly for the E61 may not be warm enough and is recommended that it warms up for another 15 minutes for better thermal stability.

Bezzera has its factory to fabricate most parts of the machines. They craft their boilers. As such, they have complete control over the type of material used.

They are known to be the most forward regarding food material safety and have been using eco brass with no lead or low lead. Brass is preferred for many machine parts due to its excellent heat conductivity, strength, corrosion resistance and natural anti-microbial properties. However, brass is usually added with lead. Else the material is very brittle, making them hard to fabricate. Bezzera only uses the highest quality brass with an insignificant amount of lead, almost considered no lead in the fittings and groupheads. All groupheads and most fittings are plated for extra protection. This means contact with lead is kept to a minimum. The newer models even have their solenoid switches, valves and pump all made with the new material.

Most importantly, the boiler is copper, constantly interacting with hot pressurized water. Copper is an essential nutrient for the human body, and the material has excellent anti-microbial properties and one of the best thermal conductivity. Welding of parts is done with silver, which has no toxicity.

No toxic materials, such as aluminium, are used in the machine. Most coffee machines sold at the Electro marts use aluminium heating elements.

There’s a more detailed article comparing heat exchangers versus double boilers.

Single Boiler

Smaller boiler for low usage.
Unable to froth milk and brew at the same time.
They are not recommended for drinkers who prefer mostly milk recipes like lattes or cappuccinos.
Lesser safeties can be installed as pressure safety valves, and water probes can’t be installed, interrupting the operation.
More affordable for repairs.

Heat Exchanger 

A boiler in a boiler system.
Able to froth milk and brew at the same time
Strong steam power due to the single larger boiler.
Water used for espresso is always fresh.
Better clarity in espresso.
Suitable for making any recipes.
More affordable for repairs.

Double Boiler

Two boilers, one for brewing and one for frothing milk.
Able to froth milk and brew at the same time.
More consistent temperature profile.
Suitable for any recipe.
More costly long-term repairs.


The heat exchangers should be the ideal choice for most users.  A heat exchanger can froth milk and extract coffee simultaneously and is much more reliable than a double boiler. Double Boilers have a more extended water network and require many more electronic and mechanical components to handle two boilers. Heat exchangers only have one boiler, and it has an inner compartment to form another “boiler” in it. The cost to service the machine for a heat exchanger should cost closer to a single boiler, with even better reliability.

Technically, the more complicated the machine, the more parts it has, the less reliable or durable it becomes.

How the temperature descends as heat exchanger extracts can be positive, especially for dark roasts. It can reduce the astringents pulled at the end of the extraction. In any case, there’s no clear evidence of which boiler system can produce a better espresso, but reliability and serviceability is something that everyone has to deal with.

To know how to use the machines, please refer to the New Starter’s Guide or make an appointment to visit the Experimental room.

There’s no particular training required, but do note that spring-piston espresso machines, like the Bezzera Strega, will require some strength, height and physical capability to pull the lever down. It has to be handled prudence to avoid injury and is unsuitable for petite users. Please follow the video guides closely on the Bezzera Strega product page before usage, particularly how the handle can spring back without a loaded portafilter filled with sufficient coffee at the correct grind size to retain water in the chamber.

If you are going for a commercial or high-traffic environment, you will require machines with rotary pumps rated for heavy-duty usage. One exception is the Bezzera Strega TOP which doesn’t depend on the pump for extraction. One can adopt having a couple of units and add on modularly if needed.

PID stands for Proportional, Integral, and Derivative. It’s a digital component to control heat for coffee machines.

Imagine your boiler heats up. How can the machine detects that the machine is hot enough and control the heat?

In most cases, a pressure sensor known as the Pressurestat controls the boiler’s temperature by detecting the amount of pressure. When it’s too high or too low, it will signal the heating element to react accordingly.

A PID is a digital temperature controller that replaces the Pressurestat. It measures the temperature of the water in the boiler directly and switches on and off as needed.

A PID has two additional features over the Pressurestat.

  1. Full control of the temperature
  2. Narrows the deadband of temperature fluctuation

The user can have more accurate control over the temperature and tune it to his preference. This might be useful for exploring different flavours of the same coffee at different temperatures and controlling the intensity of its bitterness and sourness. It might be more noticeable if the user tunes by at least 2°C.

The Pressurestat will create a temperature fluctuation in the boiler as it switches on and off according to the measured pressure. The PID is more reactive and will keep the deadband smaller, making the temperature more stable.

Here is an example of PID versus Pressurestat.

PID Versus Pressurestat

If 90°C is the set temperature, a PID may sway around 0.2°C up and down, and a Pressurestat may fluctuate approximately 2°C or more.

Which is more durable?

Pressurestats should last many years depending on the water condition, power stability and ambient temperature. Some models come with a version with heavy-duty pressurestat of higher resistance, with longer expected longevity. We usually see pressurestats failing from limescale blockage rather than the component malfunction. As such, it’s essential to have the water adequately softened to last longer.

Pressurestat does not work alone. It works with a power relay which cycles power to the heating element. The relay also has a lifespan as it constantly switches on and off to regulate the machine’s temperature. Over time, the relay’s contact points can be corroded, making them no longer effective. The lifespan of the relay largely depends on the ambient temperature, the usage duration and power stability. It is good to replace it regularly if you want to be more assured. They are not that expensive. Having them switched on all the time is also not a good idea.

PID, like the pressurestat, does not work alone. It usually works with a solid static relay, a display, a water probe and a regulator.

Some may deem that having more electronics increases the risk of failure. Its significant advantage is that the solid-state relay can last much longer. The regulator and display may be more susceptible to damage from moisture or power surge, and the water probe can malfunction from limescale buildup. Overall, we still think that PID is a safer choice which should last longer, especially if the user intends to switch the machine on for a prolonged period.

For PID espresso machines, you must not set the temperature above the boiling point of 100 degrees Celsius. It may trigger the safety control to trip and shut off the power completely, and you will have a problem. You must remove the hood to rest the safety or return it to the service centres.

Vibration pumps

They are used in places where the consumption level isn’t heavy.  They are about the size of your palm. They push the water with a piston that moves very quickly using electromagnetism. Vibration pumps can’t tune the flowing water pressure by themselves. They always work at maximum efficiency, producing 15-19 bars of pressure, which is too high for proper espresso extraction.

For prosumer machines like the Bezzera, vibration pumps work with an over-pressure valve known as OPV. The valve can be tuned to limit the pressure to flow at lower pressure. Bezzera machines are usually tuned to work at around 12 bars. The other purpose of the OPV is to dampen the pressure pulses from the vibration pump, so the flow will be smoother and create fewer channelling issues.

Rotary pumps

They are used in places where the usage level is high. They weigh several kilograms, slightly larger. They are split into two parts, the pump and the motor. 

A rotary pump moves water by rotating the vanes in the pump, similar to how a fan moves air. They can transfer a larger volume of water very quickly and are set to work at lower pressure of about 10 bars. If you need to adjust the pressure, normally there’s a control which you can access externally from the machine that tunes the pump directly. The user should not tune the pressure above 12 bars

There is still an over-pressure valve for the rotary pump, which should not be tuned. It is not for controlling the pressure but as a safety to vent off excess pressure and regulate water flow. 

What is the difference in extraction?

There shouldn’t be much difference in the extraction or the taste. If we want to pinpoint something. The vibration pump has a slower ramp-up of building pressure. This can increase a bit of pre-infusion, which can be good or bad depending on the type of coffee used.

The difference in durability?

Vibration pumps have a duty cycle. That is how long they can work before you turn them off and let them cool down. For prosumer machines sold by us, it’s 2/1. For every 2 minutes of work, it has to rest for a minute. The typical lifespan for vibration pumps is usually 5 to 10 years. They are typically damaged by users who let the pump work too long for various reasons. They are not recommended for use in environments with high usage or with many untrained users who may abuse the machine. One significant advantage of vibration pumps is they are much cheaper to replace, so they won’t pinch as hard when you decide to renew the machines.

Rotary pumps have almost no duty cycle, and they can last much better with lesser issues, partly because they are not as dependent on the over-pressure valve to regulate pressure. They are the best choice if you intend to use them in an environment with heavy usage. This does not mean that the pump is indestructible, a rotary pump can overheat and burn itself out if the water supply is cut and it runs empty-loaded. Rotary pumps cost at least 3x more than vibration pumps when needed for replacement.

Both types of pumps can be damaged by limescale, so using an efficient water softener is always the most critical step.

Using harsh chemicals to descale the machine can sometimes cause erosion and permanent damage. This is especially so with vibration pumps. That’s why we see a higher tendency of machine failure after descaling.

It depends on usage and maintenance. Bezzera machines are made with mainly copper and brass which last very well over time.
Usually, machines fail from limescale build-up or are damaged by unstable power supplies. These are environmental issues.

A user can keep the machine lasting considerably longer by using water softeners.
It’s not uncommon that machines last for over a decade before the users send the machine for restoration.

The more functions a machine has, the more likely for component failure and less reliability. Also, the more costly it will be during restoration.
The machines can be maintained as long as spare parts are available, and Bezzera uses commercial-class spare parts, which are usually always available.

Bezzera has been operating since 1901 and is still operated by the Bezzera family, who first invented the modern espresso machine.

Bezzera is one of the few brands that can present a factory where they can produce their parts from scratch. 80% of the components, mainly boiler, copper tubing, and fittings, are produced by them. The parts they produce are of the highest standard, using the most premium food-grade material. According to service records, the number of machine failures related to components produced by Bezzera is less than 2%. For the electronic components, they use the same brands or professional parts used for their commercial-class cafe machines.

They are also the OEM maker for other brands. They are the tier 1 producers and can provide the highest quality components at a great value. You can tell when you feel the thickness of the metal used, the weight of the machine and the finishing.

They have rich production experience and a sophisticated R&D department that has introduced many new systems that Bezzera are famous for. For example, the BZ thermal efficient grouphead heats up quickly, is easy to service and is cleaner to use. And the Spring Piston Lever groupheads, are very lasting and allow users to produce exceptional espressos by pressure profiling.

Compared with companies doing E61 solely, this is of a different class. These companies usually purchase the components from wholesalers, assemble them and sell them as their brand of machine. These are considered assemblers or designers.

Bezzera is known as the Rolls Royce of espresso machines, with quality and safety as their main concern.

Even the baseline heat exchanger models from Bezzera were heavily researched to produce the most optimal temperature and pressure for extraction based on the science of coffee. That means that users can produce cafe-quality coffee with minimal effort.

Bezzera machines are designed to be as serviceable with lesser points of failure.

You add additional components with every extra function added to the espresso machine. In most cases, these are electronic components, and such components have a duty cycle or lifespan. So it’s always a weightage between having more features or improving reliability. Adding more components increases the cost of owning the machine and the cost of maintenance or repairs in the long term. These factors will have a guaranteed impact on the end user.

With a very capable espresso machine, the most significant influence on the outcome of your extraction is always your coffee and your grind setting. It’s rarely the tamping, the little bit of temperature control, pre-infusion, etc. Controlling the grind setting is enough to change the coffee’s expression significantly. Additional controls may not provide much assistance but could add more confusion to the user.

Many users do not understand the effects of certain features fully. Some features like excessive pre-infusion can be beneficial in reducing channelling issues by a little, but they also prolong the extraction time and increase the risk of over-extraction. So it’s always a double-edged sword, and one should always ask if that feature is really necessary or understands how to harness it.

For Bezzera, they decide for you to help you get a machine that works and is easy to maintain. They pay attention to things like using better materials that are more food-safe or last better, which consumers can’t see from their angle.

Please refer to this guide which describes the main differences between the different types of coffee machines

Expert’s Guide to buying Coffee Machines

Automatic machines can’t produce cafe quality. Automatic machines are designed for convenience, not quality. The temperature, brew pressure and how frothing is done on automatic machines are often not in the correct range. Even the highest-end commercial-grade machines rarely reach basic expectations.

Aluminium is a common metal used as a heater in automatic machines. The aluminium usually is uncoated and has a degree of toxicity, especially when exposed to acid, which coffee is.

Besides, a mid-range Jura, Saeco or Delonghi machine could easily cost as much as a professional machine from Bezzera. This explains why the trend for professional espresso machines is constantly increasing.

It’s also a misconception that cleaning professional machines is difficult. People are often confused and think that the cleaning process done in cafes is the same as in homes or offices. In reality, cleaning the brew chamber usually takes less than a minute. On the contrary, cleaning the milk frothers in automatic machines is often tedious, which could be quickly and cleaner done in seconds on professional machines.

The coffee produced from capsule machines is similar to automatic or vending machines, are typically not genuine espressos. As the extraction is too fast, extracted at incorrect temperature or pressure, or the coffee used is too little. As a result, most of the aromatic flavours are burned off. That’s why, despite so many blends, most taste similar with very flat notes.

Like automatic espresso machines, aluminium is often used in the internal components where water passes or the capsules. This can be a concern for users who worry about toxicity. The coffee machine’s temperature is too low, and the pressure is too high. Like vending machines, the coffee produced looks like an espresso, but it’s not authentic or considered a poorly made espresso by professional standards.

They have a high running cost charging S$0.76 to S$1.85 a coffee, which will add up even more in the long run. A cup of coffee from a professional machine can be less than 20 cents for a single shot, and the shot is likely thicker, more flavourful, and of much higher quality.

The hardest part is the initial grinder calibration.

The grinder’s calibration may require you to waste a lot of coffee, but once the setting is correct, you don’t need to make as many adjustments later. We have a service to tune the purchased grinder before sending it to you. This should reduce a lot of work and wastage. Even if you mess up making a coffee from a Bezzera professional machine, it’s likely better than a shot from an automatic machine.

Coffee tamping, or pressing the coffee, is often blamed for poor extraction. The main thing the user has to remember is to press the coffee evenly, which is not a challenging task.

Warming the milk is easy. If you need to include latte art, you will need some practice.

No. Many confused the cleaning routines used in big cafes with homes and offices.

To give you a clue, we have 4 machines used in the experimental room. The time taken for 1 staff to clean all 4 machines in the daily cleaning is less than 4 minutes.

Sometimes the machines may need a deeper cleaning with a special cleaner, then maybe another minute of work. A cafe may require more cleaning but one should not mix up the cleaning schedule for a cafe and one for home. As cleaning too much can stripe the grouphead lubrication or stress the pump, causing more damages instead.

You should never leave a pressurized machine unsupervised.

Some models have parts that can endure a longer period of operation time but all components have a lifespan and don’t last forever. Leaving the machines switched on continuously could subject the components to unnecessary thermal or electrical stress. That can be a problem if your power supply is unstable or ventilation is bad, which would greatly reduce the longevity of any components.

There are many safety precautions in place. In fact, Bezzera is one of the few companies that choose to install a full range of safety controls, like a mechanical pressure release valve, a thermostat that cuts off when too hot, low water sensors, water probes, etc. But it’s still possible that limescale formation or electrical conditions could render some sensors ineffective.

Water softening, applies to any coffee machine. Clean water from the taps don’t mean soft water. Limescale is the cancer to coffee machines, they can spread and cause extensive damages.

Descaling will not work on all types of coffee machines, it’s also a corrosive process that cause toxic metal to start leaching and components to fail.

Read this Water Softening article and save yourself a lot of money maintaining the machine.

Any coffee that is fresh enough should produce decent espressos. The coffee should not be mixed with any fillers or material. With a Bezzera machine, it is always possible to turn poorer quality coffee beans into something decent enough.

It will be best to purchase certified coffee of specialty grade. As they are examined and processed with better care. This includes destoning of coffee, which is the detection and removal of foreign objects hidden within coffee which could damage your grinder. Certification is particularly important as counterfeit or adulterated coffee is rampant in the coffee industry with everyone claiming to be providing specialty coffee.

You may want first to check out our collection Fine Coffee Singapore.

We supply speciality and Italian coffee to restaurants, restaurants and cafes at wholesale prices. All our coffees are roasted and imported from Italy.

Most of our coffees are certified specialty coffee grade, and Forbes Italy featured Le Piantagioni in Italy’s top 100 produce. They are the only recipient for the specialty coffee category. The owner is an international juror for the Cup of Excellence, often called the Oscars in Coffee. He is also the president of the CSC certification, Italy’s most demanding coffee certification standard. With his connections with prized winners of the Cup of Excellence, the founder could access exceptionally high-quality specialty coffee at a fair value.

We have two other brands Arcaffe and Bezzera.

Arcaffe is the parent company of Le Piantagioni, founded in 1893. It’s Italian coffee at its finest, and their coffee are designed for the upper market in Italy, for those who want higher specialty grade.

Bezzera, on the other hand, engages one of the best specialty roasters you can find in Italy to produce two blends that best express the Northern and Southern Italian coffee culture.

They can be used on any coffee machine without damaging the grinder.

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