Espresso Machines in the Global Market
All across America, the story is the same.
Someone enters a retail store, purchases an
appliance at what he or she thinks is a good
price point, takes it home, and tries to put
it to use. After the while, a time increment,
ranging from a week to a few month, the appliance
stops working and needs to be replaced. When
that someone goes about replacing the worn-out
appliance, one of two things happens.
That person had either learned his or her lesson
and spends more money to purchase a better appliance
or the same appliance again or one at the same
price point and develops the same problem down
The market for every appliance is different
but it's accurate to generalize and say that
frugality isn't the consumer's friend. This
is particularly true when it comes to our area
of interest, espresso machines.
When espresso machines first came onto the
market over a hundred years ago, they were most
likely status symbols. They weren't perfect,
but since there were half a handful of manufacturers,
a certain level of quality was maintained.
The prices of espresso machines were high and
they were machines built to last. Today, you'll
find that espresso machines are no longer a
status symbol. The consumer market is saturated
with cheap and low-quality espresso machines
just as the consumer market in general is saturated
with low quality appliances.
This form of market egalitarianism is great
for manufacturers and for China, where half
of the world's manufactured appliances are produced,
but not so great for consumers who have to wade
through a market littered with low quality appliances.
It might be said that if consumers choose to
remain ignorant about what they're purchasing
then what they get is their own fault.
I disagree. I don't think anyone should have
to deal with espresso machine lids that don't
close, faulty wiring and boilers that scald
. It's unclear,(meaning no one has come forward
to claim responsibility) went wrong here but
somewhere the message that factory workers are
producing items to help people, not hurt them
got lost. It's a really a sign of the times,
Products used to be made by made manufacturers
to help people...but now, it seems, many of
them are made mostly to meet earning expectations
of stockholders. (The irony is that customer
service has become a distinctive department
in all businesses in the last 25 years.)
Public outcry won't change the environment
that creates shoddy and sometimes dangerous
products and that's an unregulated environment
of intense economic competition. Work and supplies
are sub-contracted more than ever, making it
difficult to locate the original suppliers of
Due to these unchanging circumstances, the use
of lead paint used on name brands food poisoning
and the practice of using cheap and dangerous
substitute materials by isn't going to go away
completely. There are safety laws in China and
there have even been people put
to death to make amends. but it remains
dubious to whether China is willing or able
to enforce the safety laws that it has on the
books, because it will be, as they've put it,
Among the hundreds of items that are recalled
everyday, are espresso machines, all of which
are made in China.
Here are some of the worst offenders.
Black&Decker Spacemaker Coffeemaker
Manufacturer: Black& Decker
Made in: China
The main problem with this machine is that
its brew basket can become dislodged allowing
hot water to spill out. This presents a general
hazard for scalding. They can be returned to
the Black& Decker, if they were purchased recently,
for a new one.
That is, if someone wants another one.
Jura Impressa Automatic Coffee Center Espresso
Made in: Switzerland.
It's surprising that this product was made
in Europe which is known for its strong safety
laws. The problem with this machine is its faulty
circuitry. Electrical connectors erode which
creates a significant fire hazard. To give Switzerland
the benefit of the doubt, the creation of the
electrical connectors may have been outsourced
On Eugster/Frismag's website, they note that
they have moved "production" into a tax free
zone in Shen Zhen, China. This is great for
investors but precarious for consumers.
Located in Seattle, Washington.
Just to show you that shoddy products or services
aren't just limited to faceless strangers working
in other countries.
What they do: Sell obviously used coffeemakers
but list them as new.
The only thing more frustrating than a deficient
espresso or coffee machine is deficient customer
service. Apparently, they refuse to do refunds.
To their credit, they have an online presence
which they use primarily to control public image.
In other words, they're out there Googling their
company and actively replying to deny anything
they're accused of in online discussions.
There are a lot of other shoddy brands out
there. There are more than I can reasonably
address...but there are a few good brands out
These brands will be considerably more expensive
but you will, in most cases, get what you pay
One brand that sets the bar for excellence
is Lelit. Founded twenty years ago and located
in Brescia, Italy, an area known for high caliber
manufacturing, owes its excellence to a healthy
R&D department in addition to its highly skilled
It sounds cliche, but they're truly one of those
manufacturers "committed to excellence". I'd
recommend the Lelit PL51 model. It'll bring
you many years of great espresso.
There are a few other brands out there. New
products are introduced and disappear all the
time so it isn't easy to keep track of but there
is no other guidance that can be given than
to be other than to be informed. (Starting with
is a good start).
How much information is enough
appears uncertain. It's impossible to have all
the information needed so there needs to be
constant vigilance from everyone; industry,
government, independent consumer groups, and
notes: Because repair involves skilled labor interchangeable parts, and standardization it is avoided. Standardization would equal regulation of some sort. The silver lining of this cloud is if recent trends in product customization pick up pace, sooner or later, the appliance market will move in the direction of standardized parts and customization, the way cars computers, and other industrial goods have.
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