Dual boiler espresso machines are the Tesla of coffee machines. Period.
To an espresso purist, a dual boiler makes a world of difference. Dual boiler espresso machines can brew and steam simultaneously which means there’s virtually no waiting time.
Most importantly, it helps you make flawless milk-based espresso beverages without leaving anything to guesswork. With single-boiler units, you will have to patiently wait after pulling a shot to generate steam.
Keeping the espresso sitting for too long could cause it to oxidize and taste kind of funky. With a dual boiler, such problems won’t exist.
To help you pick the right model for your specific needs, I present to you a selection of the finest dual boiler espresso machines to exist today.
Reviews of the Best Dual Boiler Espresso Machines
In case you’re in rush or lack the patience to read the thorough explanation, here’s the gist you’re looking for:
- Best Value for Money: Breville BES920XL
- Cheapest Dual Boiler Espresso Machine: De’Longhi La Specialista EC9335M
- Best Fully Automatic Dual Boiler Machine: Breville BES990BSS Oracle
- Most Feature-rich Bean-to-cup Dual Boiler Machine: Gaggia Babila Espresso Machine
- Best Budget Semi-commercial Espresso Machine: La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi II
1. Breville BES920XL Dual Boiler Espresso Machine
Under the hood of BES920XL, there are two boilers – one for making espressos which is PID control, allowing you to adjust the brewing temperature precisely to your liking.
The other steam generates enough heat to let you steam the milk and pull perfect espresso shots at the same time. No need to worry about temperature swings.
The built-in overpressure valve limits the brew pressure to 11 bars, even though I would have preferred a 9 bar cap on it. If you know your way around espresso machines and care too much about the minor details, I guess you could fix it yourself.
For those who love to monitor brewing time, temperature, and pressure, there’s an LCD display and a pressure gauge on this small dual boiler espresso machine. When used properly, the machine produces great tasting, heavy-bodied espresso with a heady aroma and rich crema.
I loved the inclusion of the auto-purge function which occurs within a few seconds after every brew cycle. The machine is also endowed with a timer, allowing you to program BES920XL to start brewing at your desired time every single day.
The box also includes a standard size frothing pitcher and a fairly decent tamper, although I’d highly recommend getting a heavier, calibrated tamper for more consistent results. Other accessories include doser trimmer along with two pressurized and two non-pressurized filter baskets.
Mind you that this is not a plumbable machine, which doesn’t come as a surprise given the price point. You can easily access the reservoir from the back. It’s removable too for easier refilling.
2. De’Longhi La Specialista Espresso Machine with Sensor Grinder
The La Specialista EC9335M, despite being one of the cheapest dual boiler espresso machines on this list, doesn’t compromise on essential features and build quality. It’s an ideal piece of equipment for complete beginners who don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty of dialing in their shots.
It uses Thermoblock heating system for brewing and another independent boiler for instant, on-demand steam for the milk. Since is a dual-boiler machine, the heat-up time is next to nothing.
The steaming wand gets the job done well. After a couple of trials and errors, you should be able to make cafe-style cortados, lattes, and cappuccinos in no time.
The shots are strong, full of flavors, and have enough aroma to jolt you out of your drowsiness. It also has a hot water spout right beside the portafilter, allowing you to make get hot water for your Americano with one push of a button.
The built-in grinder is not the best in class, though. There’s a big dial with clearly marked images of different drinks to help you set the grinding size, amount of coffee to grind as well as the amount of water needed for brewing according to the selection of beverage.
The tamper is set right into the machine, so you don’t have to worry about tamping pressure.
The entire process, starting from grinding, dosing, tamping and finally brewing is done very quickly. It’s also one of the easiest to clean dual boiler machines in this range, especially the steaming wand.
3. Breville Fully Automatic Espresso Machine
If money is no object and you’re mentally prepared to get into the elite world of prosumer level super-automatic espresso machines, Breville Oracle should be very high up on your list.
The only non-automatic thing about this machine is that you’ll have to buy the beans yourself and choose the grind setting. It will take it from there.
Like all the high-end dual boiler espresso machines, this one uses PID control for precise brew temperature adjustments. As for the steaming temperature, although the default temperature works just fine, you can ramp it up to max 170 degrees if you prefer your coffee piping hot.
An Over Pressure Valve makes sure the brewing pressure remains optimal and consistent throughout multiple back to back extractions. The integrated conical burr grinder is top-notch and has several grind settings – from very fine to coarse.
You will have to play with the grind size for a while initially to find what suits you the best. The dosing and tamping is a fully automatic process. You can select your choice of beverage from the display and the device to prepare your drink accordingly.
The frother on this machine is a force to be reckoned with. It creates rich, velvety micro-foam for cappuccinos and flat whites. I daresay the quality is on par with commercial-grade espresso machines.
4. Gaggia Babila Stainless Steel Espresso Machine
The next entry on this combines the best features of automatic and semi-automatic espresso machines. It offers tons of adjustments and settings to let you customize your coffee drinks.
Using a knob on the side, you can control how much water is forced through the beans. This will adjust the strength and volume of your coffee and reduce the risk of over-extraction.
There are 8 preset drink options on the display. Select your preference, push one button, and voila! Your drink will be ready in minutes.
It comes with a carafe that you need to lock into place when the auto-foaming setting is on. I loved the auto-cleaning function of the carafe. It makes life a lot easier when you have a lot of guests to attend to.
If you want more control over the texture and temperature of the milk, switch to the wand. Moreover, you can individually control the variables for each drink preset to suit your taste. You even can save all the chosen settings at the touch of a button.
The ceramic grinder on this device further justifies the steep price tag. It has 15 grind settings to help you customize your shots as much as needed until you find the sweet spot.
The only legit downside to this machine is that you’ll have to fill the tank, empty the water tray and filter basket frequently if you make multiple cups throughout the day.
5. La Spaziale Mini Vivaldi II BLACK Espresso Machine – Best Budget Semi Commercial Espresso Machine
Sleek and sophisticatedly crafted – this powerful dual boiler espresso machine is the only plumbable machine on this list. This feature is only found in top-of-the-line prosumer coffee machines and has amazing benefits.
When you plumb in your espresso machine to the water source, it eliminates the need to refill the reservoir from time to time. Since it’s a semi-commercial machine, the ability to self-fill the tank is absolutely necessary.
If you own a bakery where you will be serving small amounts of coffee every day, this would be a great option to consider. It is powered by a vibratory pump and offers line pressure preinfusion.
In simple words, it uses the line pressure of the water source to pre-infuse the grounds, i.e., bloom the coffee grounds before brewing to ensure more uniform extraction.
Another standout feature of the machine is volumetric dosing. There are multiple volumetric shot buttons on the equipment that lets you pre-program the exact amount of water to be used in a shot pull.
So when you push the brew button, the shot will be pulled until the programmed amount of water is dispensed. With the right grind size, it can give you superior results every single time.
How to Select the Best Dual Boiler Espresso Machine to Suit Your Brewing Needs
Buying an espresso machine is no walk in the park, especially if you are after a prosumer espresso machine. It’s not just the extra boiler that makes it the most revered coffee brewing machine of all time.
Extra thermal stability, precise temperature, and pressure control of dual boiler units are unparalleled. So when you set out to buy one for home brewing or to use in your cafe, you need to keep the following things in mind –
Vibration vs Rotary Pumps
Rotary pumps are most commonly seen in commercial-grade dual boiler machines. Only a few prosumer level home brewing machines use rotary pumps. Rotary pump-powered machines can be plumbed into the water line for constant water supply to the tank.
Vibration pumps reach the brewing temperature more slowly, compared to rotary pumps, which is why their application is mostly limited to home brewing machines. Some higher-end vibration pump-driven machines are plumbable, though.
In short, both pumps have their distinct advantages. If you are buying the espresso machine for brewing 7-10 cups at a time, a vibration pump dual boiler machine will perfectly meet your needs. For commercial use, though, a rotary pump machine is your safest bet.
Automatic vs Semi-automatic vs Super-automatic
Automatic machines allow volumetric dosing, meaning the barista can control the exact amount of water used for pulling a shot.
The machine stops automatically once it detects that the programmed amount of water is dispensed. This ensures great consistency by preventing over or under-extraction.
Semi-automatic machines combine the right amount of automation with manual controls. In this case, the machine automatically adjusts the brewing pressure and temperature.
The user can control dosing, tamping pressure, and shot pulling time to obtain great tasting, thick crema-topped cups of espresso without too much guesswork.
Super-automatic espresso machines live up to their name. They basically automate the entire process, starting from grinding the beans to foaming the milk.
One push of a button is all it takes to make the perfect cup of your preferred beverage. These machines are incredibly fast and completely idiot-proof The only two drawbacks are the high cost and very little room for creativity.
Kitchen Counterspace Availability
Dual boiler espresso machines aren’t small, by any means. The extra boiler needs other extra materials to make the entire thing work. This inevitably results in a bigger, bulkier frame. If you dig deep, you can find machines suitable for tight counters.
But in general, you will have to make sure there’s at least 20″ of gap between the top of the hood and the bottom of your kitchen cabinet. Bigger machines will need more clearance for the steam to escape.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How does a dual boiler espresso machine work?
Dual boiler espresso machines have two separate boilers – one for brewing and another for steaming. Since both operate independently, you can brew your shot and steam milk simultaneously.
Most dual boiler units allow you to control the temperature of both boilers individually which ensures great consistency and taste.
2. What is better – dual boiler or heat exchanger?
Heat Exchanger or HX espresso machines are generally pressurestat controlled. To control the temperature of the brew, you will have to adjust the pressure within the boiler which always doesn’t produce accurate temperature.
As dual boiler machines are mostly integrated with PID control, you are in full control of the temperature without having to flush before and after each extraction.
3. Do you need a dual boiler espresso machine?
If you make multiple cups of espresso throughout the day and want every cup to taste exactly the same – a dual boiler espresso machine would be worth investing in.
These machines completely eliminate the waiting time between pulling a shot and steaming milk. You can perform both tasks simultaneously due to the presence of two independent boilers for brewing and steaming.
We have come to the very end of this detailed discussion. Single boiler vs dual boiler vs heat exchanger espresso machines has always been a topic of hot debate among coffee aficionados.
Dual boiler machines cost a pretty penny but the convenience and quality of espresso it delivers will make it pay for itself in the long run. You can’t go wrong with any of the machines featured above.
All you have to do is pick a model that fits your pocket and brewing needs and you’re all set!