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The Complete Guide to Espresso Machines

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Many people want to be their own barista. Being able to make an espresso for yourself allows you great flexibility in experimenting with different tasting coffee. Whether it is your home or office you can make coffee with the help of an espresso machine.

Many people like to start their day with a cup of coffee from their favorite coffee shops. But drinking regularly from coffee shops may be expensive and not feasible for everyone. With the help of espresso machines, you can be your own barista and make that perfect cup of coffee right from your home.

What is an Espresso machine?

An espresso machine helps brew coffee by forcing hot water through ground coffee using high pressure. The result we get using is a concentrated and thick shot of espresso. Espresso machines can be used for making many different espresso drinks such as espresso shots,  cappuccino, latte, mocha and many more.

Pump-Driven Espresso Machines

These machines have a large share in the espresso machines used today. They are called pump-driven as they use an electronic pump to force the hot water through the ground coffee. The reason for the popularity of pump-driven machines is that they can provide consistent high pressure.

Pump-driven espresso machines can be divided into three types:

Semi-automatic Machines

These machines are best for those who want an electric pump for the consistent high pressure to force water through the ground coffee but would like control over other parameters of the coffee-making process. With semi-automatic machines, you will have to grind, tamp and control the other variables.

While semi-automatic machines provide great flexibility they are not convenient for everyone. These machines provide a balance between the machine and human elements.

Fully Automatic Machines

These machines are similar to semi-automatic with the addition of being able to automatically stop the delivery of water. Controlling the volume of water in espresso shots can be difficult for many. Also having to always stand and stop the flow of water can be inconvenient. These machines solve those issues.

Super Automatic Machines

These machines control every process of coffee making. They make the coffee-making process as easy as pressing a button. They grind, tamp and measure automatically with no manual input required from you. 

Coffee shops avoid using these machines as it takes control away from them. Also, the espresso shots made using super-automatic machines are not going to be as good in comparison to semi-automatic or fully automatic machines. But if you want convenience then these machines are perfect for you as they handle everything.

Lever-Driven Machines

Not everyone is a fan of electronic components. In lever-driven machines, physical force is needed to extract the shot. There are two types of liver-driven machines; manual and spring. Liver machines allow better control and are famous among many baristas for it. Although you won’t find these machines in many places today.

Steam-Driven Machines

Steam-driven espresso machines were famous in the 1900s. Steam pressure and hot water are used to extract the espresso using these machines. The maximum pressure they use is 1.5 bar which is far below what pump-driven machines can utilize.

The coffee extracted using these machines is sour and has a burnt taste to them. If you are purchasing a cheap espresso machine then you could likely be purchasing a steam-driven machine.

Things to keep in mind before buying your espresso machine

  • Cost:

This is one of the most deciding factors when it comes to purchasing the espresso machine. Espresso machines have huge price differences. For high-end models, the expensive tag can be due to brand name, usage of quality materials in the machines or more features and control.

  • Ease of Use:

The machine must be easy and convenient to use. You can go with the fully automatic or super-automatic models for convenience or if you are new to coffee-making. You can even find machines that can make cappuccinos for you with the press of a button.

  • Maintenance:

The machine might be fancy with various features in it but it is important to understand beforehand the kind of maintenance it will require. While all machines will require some kind of maintenance you need to find one which is easy to clean and not high maintenance. 

  • Durability:

While some machines might be cheap but the low price is of no use if they won’t be long-lasting. It is important to buy a machine that is durable even if you have to shelve a few extra bucks. These extra bucks will save you money in the long run. Also, buy a machine that comes with a warranty. The warranty period should help you get a rough idea of how long the machine should last.

  • Adjustable settings:

If you are buying an automatic machine then it is important to go with a machine that lets you change various variables such as brewing temperature.

Some common espresso machine issues:

  • Water leakages:

If an espresso machine is not maintained properly or any seal is loose then it may lead to water leakages. You can fix it by maintaining your machine regularly and checking if the seals are fitted.

  • Espresso unable to come out:

Your portafilter might get blocked and prevent the espresso from coming out if the coffee is too finely ground. You can use a coarser grind and clean the showerheads to fix the issue.

In The End

When it comes to making that perfect shot of espresso every single process matters. The espresso machine plays an important role in how your final shot is going to taste. That’s why it is important to find a machine that meets your requirements. 

You can either look for convenience or control in a machine. If you want convenience then it is better to go with the fully automatic or super-automatic variations. Whereas if you want control over the final shot of espresso then semi-automatic machines are the best choice.

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