5 Best Espresso Machine with Water Line Direct Connections

Looking for the best espresso machine with a water line connection? This is the guide that's going to help you find the perfect match. Whether it's for your home, office, or coffee shop, we'll help you figure out what you need.

best espresso machine with water line

Here's what we're covering in detail:

  • Top reasons to invest in a direct-connect espresso machine. 
  • What you should consider before you buy one of these models.
  • Who will benefit from owning a direct-connect machine.
  • Our top picks for direct-connect espresso machines in 2019.

Best Water Line Connect Espresso Machines

We've handpicked five plumbed espresso machines that represent some of the best home, office, and cafe models.

Our criteria include:

  • Machine quality
  • Espresso quality
  • Advanced features
  • Budget

Without further ado, let's get into the machines...

Rocket Dual Boiler R58 Espresso Machine

The Rocket R58 is a powerful dual boiler espresso machine for your home, but it can even perform like a champ in an office or small restaurant.

With a single group and an average output capacity of 20 espressos per hour, it's perfect for low-volume locations.

As a convertible pour-over/direct-connect machine, it's portable. This is good news for caterers, coffee carts, and other mobile coffee units.

  • Machine Type: Semiautomatic (manual dosing)
  • Majesty Coffee Price: $3,000
  • Plumbing: Convertible pour-over to direct-connect
  • Boiler: Dual boiler
  • E-61 Commercial Group: Provides automatic pre-infusion and brew temperature stability with thermosiphon water circulation between the boiler and group.
  • PID Temperature Controller: An external PID control box lets you adjust the group and steam boiler temperatures for maximum precision.
  • Rotary Pump: Super quiet and long-lasting.
  • Low Water Sensor: This will tell you when to refill the reservoir if you're using the machine as a pour-over model.
  • Boiler and Group Pressure Gauges: With a little training, these guide you in operating brewing and steaming.
  • No Burn Hot Water and Steam Arms: Never get burned again accidentally touching the hot water and steam wands.
La Spaziale S1 Dream S1-DREAM

This is another incredibly robust home or small business machine. With a single brew group and a dual boiler, it's a powerful engine in a small package, and it's low-cost to boot.

The volumetric and manual controls make the S1 Dream perfect for beginners, experts, and everyone in between.

  • Machine Type: Automatic (volumetric dosing)
  • Majesty Coffee Price: $2,395 to $2,645 (depending on color choice)
  • Plumbing: Direct-connect
  • Boiler: Dual boiler
  • Manual Dosing Button: Switch from the programmable water dosing to manual dosing to pull longer or shorter espresso shots whenever you want.
  • PID Temperature Controller: Choose your group and boiler temperature settings in one-degree increments for greater control.
  • Programmable Passive Pre-Infusion: Determine your pre-infusion settings for customized extraction.
  • Dual Pressure Gauge: See the boiler and brew pressure side by side.
  • Adjustable Programmable Hot Water Spigot: Program the hot water spigot to pour the perfect amount for Americanos and teas.
  • SD Card Reader: Read and write various coffee profiles and programs and easily update your software.
la pavoni bar-star 2v

Available in configurations with two, three, and four groups, the La Pavoni Bar-Star is equipped with huge heat exchange boilers in 14, 22, and 27 liter capacities.

In other words, these machines are built for making drink after drink in the busiest of busy coffee shops.

The Bar-Star also boasts some serious thermal stability and convenience factors that everyone will love.

  • Machine Type: Automatic (volumetric dosing)
  • Majesty Coffee Price: $6,500 to $9,300 (depending on the number of groups)
  • Plumbing: Direct-connect
  • Boiler: Heat exchange boiler
  • Independent Radiator Hydraulic System: Installed on each group head, this system circulates water throughout the boiler to create perfect thermal stability. 
  • Manual Dosing Button: Between the volumetric and manual buttons, baristas of all skill levels can pull a perfect shot.
  • Multiple Brewing Options: There are four convenient cup size selections, continuous brewing, and instant stop buttons for a wider selection.
  • Pre-Infusion: Enjoy the nuanced flavors of the coffee with pre-infusion settings.
  • Anti-Vacuum Valve: This will keep milk from traveling up into the steam wands and causing blockages.
  • Pump and Boiler Pressure Gauges: The pump pressure gauge will help you with your brew ratio while the boiler pressure gauge will indicate when you can brew and steam.
  • Telescopic Side Handles: Transport the Bar-Star with ease thanks to the telescopic handles.
Nuova Simonelli Aurelia II Digit NS-Aurelia-II-Digit-Model-234

Nuova Simonelli is a brand baristas trust. The Aurelia II Digit garners rave reviews for its power and easy operation.

Available in models with two, three, and four groups with 14, 17, and 20 liter copper boilers respectively, it's a machine for high-volume cafes.

Make back-to-back lattes of outstanding quality and consistency without breaking a sweat.

  • Machine Type: Automatic (volumetric dosing)
  • Majesty Coffee Price: $12,870 to $17,730 (depending on the number of groups)
  • Plumbing: Direct-connect
  • Boiler: Heat exchange boiler
  • Advanced LCD Screen: The 4.25 inch LCD display lets baristas program doses, boiler pressure, pre-infusion, and energy-saving settings at the push of a button.
  • Soft Infusion System: Nuova Simonelli's pre-infusion system that eliminates issues related to tamping errors while enhancing espresso flavor through even extraction.
  • Raised Group Heads: You can brew espresso into tall cups that fit right under the group heads.
  • Manual Dosing Button: Use the manual dosing button any time you need to customize an espresso shot.
  • Reverse Mirror: See the espresso from every angle as it extracts to better monitor quality.
  • Cool Touch Wands: The steam wands will remain cool to the touch, reducing burn incidents and deterring milk from sticking.
nuova simonelli musica

Style and high performance are what the Nuova Simonelli Musica delivers. 

Ideal for the home, office, or small shop environments, the Musica will look stunning in any setting, especially in dual-purpose LED lights (on the Lux model).

  • Machine Type: Automatic (volumetric dosing)
  • Majesty Coffee Price: $2,929 (in Black) or $3,240 (Lux version with LED edges)
  • Plumbing: Direct-connect
  • Boiler: Heat exchange boiler
  • Programmed Pre-Infusion: Control pre-infusion for different coffee profiles.
  • Manual Dosing Button: Knowledgeable baristas can customize espresso shots on demand with the manual dosing button.
  • Push-Pull Steam: An ergonomic steam trigger that takes it easy on your wrists.
  • Programmable Hot Water Spigot: Pick your water volume settings so that the hot water spigot delivers the exact amount of water you need every time.
  • Reverse Mirror: Improve your visual access to the extraction process with the back plate mirror.
  • Optional LED Edges: The Lux version of the Musica comes with eye-catching LED trim to light up your work area.

Why Buy an Espresso Machine That Connects to a Water Line?

There are plenty of reasons to buy an espresso machine you can plug into a water line.

In case you're not already aware, here are some of the advantages:

  • Reduced maintenance
  • User-friendliness
  • Easily improved water quality
  • Advanced pre-infusion options

First up: maintenance.

Buying a plumb-in espresso machine, otherwise known as a direct-connect machine, is going to save you a lot of maintenance work.

You won't be dealing with continuously refilling a water tank. No halts in the espresso line in cafes due to an empty reservoir. No fiddling with a cumbersome water tank. No half-pulled espresso shots when the tank suddenly runs dry.

Secondly, this type of machine is just an all-around user-friendly choice. Not everyone knows when or how to refill a water tank. It's also an extra step that can be a bit burdensome for employees who just want to make a quick latte for themselves or a customer.

Thirdly, direct-connect machines make installing a water filter or softener easy. 

Why are these important?

For one thing, water quality impacts the flavor of the espresso. Some people prefer a filtered water taste, or simply the knowledge that they're using filtered instead of tap water.

A water softener is going to take calcium, magnesium, and other metals out of the water. This is going to minimize scale buildup, which can easily damage your espresso machine.

Lastly, pre-infusion as a programmable feature typically requires installation on a plumbed-in machine.

You may find pour-over machines (those with manually refillable reservoirs instead of direct connections to water lines) with E-61 groups that provide automatic pre-infusion, which is a quick immersion of the coffee bed in water to improve extraction.

But to be able to tweak pre-infusion times and extraction methods usually takes a direct-connect setup.

Espresso experts and Americano drinkers especially seek out pre-infusion, but anyone can appreciate the well-developed flavors of an espresso drink made with pre-infusion technology.

What to Consider When Buying a Direct-Connect Machine

Buying one of these espresso machines isn't a one-step process.

It's important to take certain things into consideration that apply specifically to a plumbed espresso machine.

With a little planning, this convenient option will meet your every need.

Location

When it comes to buying a direct-connect espresso machine, the old real estate adage comes to mind:

Location, location, location.

For a direct-connect machine, where you set up is a crucial element of planning.

If you're mapping out your cafe, make sure that all appropriate measurements and accommodations are made for your machine to be placed near a water supply.

Consider that you may be cutting into the countertop to set up your direct-connect machine. If it's for your business, you may need to think about work flow and reconfigure your work area to maximize efficiency.

Thinking about location ahead of time will help you avert any logistical issues that could otherwise arise.

Water Softener or Filter

We always recommend a water softener or filter for a direct-connect machine.

It will cut down on maintenance tasks like descaling and provide excellent water quality for the espresso.

Sometimes you need a water softener to comply with your machine's warranty. Check with each individual model to see if this is the case.

It may not be that you can install any water softener, but that you need the company's own water softener to stay within the parameters of the warranty.

Direct-Connect to Pour-Over Convertibility

Sometimes, a machine that can convert from a pour-over to a direct-connect is ideal.

We usually prefer direct-connect machines for their unparalleled convenience and efficiency, but a machine that can also be used via a reservoir might have certain advantages for some individuals.

If there are times that you won't be using the machine near a water line, a convertible machine will come to your aid. 

Caterers, farmers market vendors, and mobile coffee trucks won't be able to use a direct-connect machine that doesn't convert to pour-over use.

Of course, if you're buying a machine for a cafe or restaurant, there's probably no need for the pour-over option.

Decide based on your personal or professional requirements whether a convertible espresso machine is a better fit for you.

Cost

One thing to keep in mind is that direct-connect machines cost more than their pour-over counterparts.

For a model that comes in plumbed and pour-over versions, the plumbed version is pretty much invariably going to have a higher price tag.

This is because of the unique benefits that it offers. 

The majority of the time, the higher price is worth it. It's also worth mentioning that the direct-connect feature does not drastically change the overall machine price in most cases.

It's true that not everyone needs a direct-connect machine. But espresso machine buyers tend to gravitate toward them for all the reasons mentioned above.

If you think about the price increase in terms of all the time and energy a direct-connect machine will save you, it tends to make sense as a long-term investment.

Who Needs a Direct-Connect Espresso Machine?

Businesses

For commercial applications, plumbed models are standard.

It's very unlikely that you'll visit a coffee shop with a pour-over espresso machine. A busy cafe simply can't keep stopping to refill a reservoir every hour (or less), or it would crush business.

Similarly, restaurants, hotels, and other businesses generally opt for plumbed machines. Employees who aren't expert (or even intermediate) baristas are in a particular position to benefit from eliminating detailed steps of machine operation.

Even shops like spas and boutiques that offer their clientele complementary cappuccinos often opt for plumbed espresso machines.

The list goes on—but suffice it to say, machines used in commercial settings are almost always plumbed.

Homes

The reason that so many home espresso machines are offered in direct-connect models is that prosumers are seeking them out.

It may be easy to jump to the conclusion that plumbed machines are only for businesses, but this is far from the case.

A plumbed espresso machine offers the same conveniences to home owners that it does to business owners: breezy maintenance, easy water quality improvement, and advanced functions and features.

Between business and home owners, it could be said that business owners don't really have the luxury of choosing a pour-over machine.

But if you're a fan of what a direct-connect machine brings to the table, don't hesitate to get exactly what you want and go for a plumbed model.

Offices

Just like restaurant and hotel employees, office employees aren't usually trained baristas.

This is why so many offices choose espresso machines with minimal maintenance requirements—like direct-connect machines.

Now, if you wanted a machine for a tiny office with one or two employees, you may be able to get away with a pour-over machine without much hassle.

But any time you have a larger staff and a steadier line of drinks to be made, a pour-over machine can become less practical.

When weighing pour-over and direct-connect options for an office, think about what type of office the machine is for, who will be making the drinks, and how big the staff is for starters.

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