Espresso Machine : What is it?
Espresso machines produce homemade espresso by forcing near-boiling water through finely ground coffee beans. They usually consist of a water tank, boiler, brew head, and pump. The tank contains the hot water, while the boiler keeps it at the right temperature. The brew head contains the portafilter, where the coffee is pressed or “tamped” into a puck before brewing. The pump is used to extract the shot, usually into a preheated demitasse or shot glass. Most espresso machines produce 30-mL and 60-mL servings, known as single and double shots respectively.
Kinds of Espresso Machines include the following:
Steam-powered espresso machines
- Steam-powered espresso machines use steam to force the water through the ground coffee beans.
- They produce a dark, strong, and slightly sour coffee, but they usually lack the pressure needed to create foam.
- They are available in electric and stovetop models. Stovetop machines are often called coffee percolators or “moka pots.”
Manual lever espresso machines
- Manual espresso machines have hand levers that the user pulls to push the water through the beans.
- They require more skill to use properly, but they eliminate the sour taste produced by steam-powered models.
- In most models, the boiler also serves as the water reservoir.
- They are available in spring and non-spring operated types. Spring-operated machines are pressed downwards to push the water, while non-spring ones are pulled up.
Semi-automatic espresso machines
- Semi-automatic espresso machines use electric pumps to force the hot water through the beans.
- The user has to add the beans manually and regularly clean out the portafilter, but the tamping and brewing are all automated.
- They offer more control over the water flow and allow the boiler reservoir to be refilled.
Full automatic espresso machines
- Full automatic espresso machines are similar to semi-automatics, but they have an additional controls that start or stop the brewing process according to preset times.
- They can be programmed to stop short for a ristretto brew, or long for an espresso lungo.
- The amount of water can be programmed onto the machine according to the user’s preference.
- They are ideal for users who prefer speed and convenience over high-quality brews.
Super-automatic espresso machines
- Super-automatic espresso machines automate the entire process, including the grinding, tamping, brewing, and pulling.
- Most models also come with a waste box that collects the used beans for disposal.
- They are the fastest type of espresso machine, but they usually produce inferior brews compared to manual and semi-automatic types.
|Boiler material: Boilers are available in aluminum, brass, copper, and stainless steel. Choose an aluminum boiler if you want fast heating for one or two cups at a time. If you brew several cups over the day, choose a copper or steel boiler because they retain heat better.|
Bar pressure: Choose an espresso machine with nine pressure bars – the exact pressure required for a standard espresso. There are models with 15 to 18 bars, but these are mostly useless unless you want to make highly specialized brews.
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