Making the perfect home espresso does not only require a lot of practice, it also involves the best equipment. Unlike traditional coffee makers, an espresso coffee machine has additional features and functions that will give you the best variety of coffee or espresso.
Before you go out and buy a coffee machine, you must first determine several factors such as your budget, variety of coffee needs, and others. In this article, I will be giving a detailed analysis on the different types of espresso coffee machines, plus a discussion on the features and functions of each, especially when it comes to making the ideal coffe or espresso.
The major components of a typical espresso maker include the pump, water tank, brew head, and the boiler. Usually, you satisfy the craving for espresso by going to coffee shops or bars. But the problem is that you’ll likely spend more than what you’re getting. In order to enjoy good coffee without going to a bar, buying an espresso coffee maker is the practical choice.
Talking about how it works, an espresso machine enables boiling water to infiltrate packed coffee grounds. For the perfectly brewed type, what’s needed is complete extraction done with consistency. This means that there’s a need of at least nine or ten bars of pressure to brew the best espresso possible. Majority of espresso machines these days can produce up to eighteen pressure bars.
However, choosing a powerful pump doesn’t mean you get a tastier or finer espresso. The fact is only ten bars of pressure is required to attain the best tasting espresso. Meanwhile, the boiler functions as the water heater. After water is heated, it is also responsible for maintaining a certain temperature both for steaming and brewing.
A lot of people need to make a couple of espressos at a time. If you are one of them, you have to choose an espresso coffee machine that has high quality boilers. This type of coffee maker has very small recovery time (period of heating up), thus, allowing you to make several cups simultaneously.
Types of Espresso Machines
Espresso coffee machines vary greatly. Each type differs with regards to functions, built, features, and price.
Steam Espresso Machines
Perhaps the cheapest espresso maker out there is the steam-powered variety. This type utilizes steam in forcing water to the coffee grounds. Unlike the pump version, steam coffee machines can only produce up to three bars of pressure. Every machine of this type has an airtight chamber that locks in steam the moment the water starts to heat up. As this happens, the steam is then pushed through the coffee grounds right down the cup.
Sometimes called as stovetop units, steam-powered espresso makers don’t actually have mechanical or moving components. There is however a water reservoir usually seen on top of the stove or heater. The coffee meanwhile is placed on top with a screen both on the bottom and top areas. As ideal temperature is achieved, the water boils and the steam produced will pass through the screen, to the coffee, and then goes out through the upper screen. The steam then passes through a pipe where it is trapped in the upper chamber.
Manual Espresso Machines
The main distinction of the manual espresso machine is the lack of a pump that drives water. Instead, it uses a lever that’s quite tricky to operate, much more to master. Because of the absence of the pump, a manual espresso maker doesn’t utilize steam pressure. What it does instead is waiting for water to be properly heated and the user (barista) will manually squeeze the hot water into the coffee using a handle called a lever.
This is the reason why baristas who still opt for the manual type are called to “pull” a shot since they really are pulling a shot when operating the machine through the handle or lever. What makes the manual espresso coffee machine ideal for experts is the fact that they get to customize and personalize according to texture, taste, and volume more than they can when using automatic versions.
Majority of the espresso machines you see in stores these days belong to the semi-automatic type. It is highly popular to many consumers because it is relatively cheaper, user-friendly, and very convenient to master.
For a coffee fan, this machine is perfect for making a cup of espresso while at the same time enjoying making it with a bit of skill and mastery.
In general, it allows you to manually put coffee in the port-a-filter. You can then start the pump and stop it by pressing the button for brewing. And since it is semi-automatic, you still have the task of cleaning the port-a-filter after every brewing session. The best thing about such espresso coffee machines is that you have lots of control over the type of espresso you’re making, though the price is stiffer compared to the previous type.
If you’re the kind of person who wants it fast, easy, and no hassle, the automatic version is your ideal option. Most of the functions are practically the same to the of the semi-automatic. The major difference lies in the electronic controls in starting and stopping the brewing cycle.
This type is best for the finest quality of espresso while giving the user the convenience of automatic brewing control, serving of the coffee, and disposal of the used coffee grounds.
The only manual task for this machine is the placing of coffee beans and determining the water level. After that, everything is done by the machine. There are even some models that come with a built-in grinder. But of course, convenience always comes with a heftier price tag so don’t expect it to cost lesser compared to the manual and semi-automatic type.
Do you want to make a pretty decent espresso without really exerting even a slight effort in doing it? If you do, the super automatic espresso machine is your ideal partner. If you think you can spend that much for an espresso coffee machine, go for this complete package where all you have to do is put the whole coffee beans inside and watch the machine do its job.
The most salient feature of the super automatic is that it can produce several types of drinks. It is by far the most expensive variety in stores nowadays. Setting aside the price, it is remarkably the most complete machine you’ll get your hands on.
The functions include grinding of the beans, packing the grounds to the filter, brewing, and finally placing the used grounds to the waste box or compartment.
In general, while espresso coffee machines differ in a lot of ways, there’s one thing that binds them all, the convenience of making the best cups of espresso. Just remember though that it is perfectly normal to make your very first shot a lousy one. These machines are not like simple toys you can master in an instant. In fact, it takes lots of passion and practice to enjoy the best cup of coffee you always fancy. Therefore you need a perfect one.
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