The Pros and Cons of Different Types of Espresso Machine

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There are many people for whom coffee is an addiction. A coffee machine is the only solution for such people. Sounds like you? There are plenty of options when it comes to buying an espresso/ coffee machine in the market place.

In fact, selecting the best espresso machine for you is a matter of an individual’s preference, price and brand. This means finding the right machine will require some careful consideration even before you shop for one.  The standard drip coffee maker has been the most popular amongst the different machines available, however there are other types of machines as well that one should consider before taking any decision.

Let’s understand the pros and cons of the different types of machines.

It is a fact that making great espresso coffee is an art that comes only with sufficient experience. However, to make good espresso coffee you also need good quality equipment. Espresso coffee machines are not just drip brewing coffee makers, there is more to these magical machines.

This means it is important that you understand how the different types of machines work so that you can make a decision on the machine that can meet all your requirements. Before going into the different types of espresso coffee machines, it is important to know what an espresso machine is, what are its features and how it works.

The major components of any espresso coffee machine comprise of:

  • water tank
  • boiler
  • pump
  • brew head

A lever or manual machine

It is the brew head that holds the portafilter. An espresso machine works by pushing boiling water through the coffee grounds.

In order to brew espresso coffee and get full extraction consistently, you require about 9 to 10 bars of pressure. However, most espresso machines with pumps generate 9 to 18 bars of pressure. A powerful pump does not mean that your espresso will taste better since all you need is only 9 to 10 bars of pressure.

There are many who believe that it is the pump that is responsible for producing pressure and steam. It is the boiler on the espresso machine that heats and maintains a proper water temperature for steaming and brewing milk.

A lot of steam is required for properly steaming a pitcher of milk. Steam is generated at a particular temperature by the boiler and if the temperature drops below the desired temperature, a light will signal that the temperature needs to build up.

One of the features that differentiate a top quality espresso machine from the rest is the recovery time it takes to build back the temperature.

In fact, there are many espresso machines that come fitted with high quality boilers that either speed up the heating process or completely eliminate the recovery time itself.  This is a very important feature that one should consider while planning to buy an espresso coffee machine.

Different Types of Espresso Machines

Today, you will find five different types of espresso machines in the market place. These include:

  • Steam Driven Espresso machines
  • Manual Espresso Machines
  • Semi Automatic
  • Automatic
  • Super Automatic Espresso machines
  • Steam Driven Espresso Machines

An automatic espresso machine

The cheapest of the espresso machines are the steam driven ones which sell for less than $70. These machines work by using the steam to push the water through the coffee grounds instead of pushing it through the pump, thereby generating only three layers of pressure.

Another downside to steam driven machines is that the water gets heated so much that it can actually scald your coffee. So, if you are looking for an espresso that tastes similar to what you get at your neighborhood coffee shop, then you should be looking at better espresso machines.

Manual Espresso Machines

Manual Espresso Machines were the first machines to be introduced in the market for making espresso. It is operated by using a lever instead of an electrical pump to force the water through the coffee grounds. A good example of this type of machine is the La Pavoni Europiccola.

Cons: These machines are not ideal for an average espresso user since it takes time to master the art of pulling the lever consistently. However, you can learn this and show off to your friends by pulling a great shot. A connoisseur’s machine.

Semi Automatic Espresso Machines

Semi automatic espresso machines are by far the most commonly used espresso machines in many homes. Designed for the coffee lover, these machines require certain skills to make a great espresso. What this means is you will have to add coffee to the portafilter manually. In a semi automatic espresso machine like the Delonghi EC702, the pump starts or stops only when you press the brew button. This gives you greater control over the quality of the coffee shots.

Cons: These machines require you to clean the portafilter after each brew. Since these machines do not come with a grinder, you may have to buy a good quality grinder for your coffee.

Automatic Espresso Machines

While a semi automatic espresso machine or a manual machine makes you learn the fine art of making an espresso, the automatic espresso machines are designed for sheer convenience.

These machines have more or less similar components to that of semi automatic machines. The only difference is that these machines come with electronic controls that are used to either start a brew cycle or stop it.

Most automatic espresso machines can be programmed to operate at preset levels.  While it requires a skilled barista to deliver a superior shot with a semi automatic or a manual espresso machine, a fully automatic espresso machine will deliver superior espresso even if you are not a skilled barista.

Super Automatic Espresso Machines

Super automatic espresso machines are ideal for those who do not have the time for learning the skill of making an espresso and do not mind spending good money for a quality machine.

For such people, super automatic espresso machines are a great option since they come with an in-built grinder. This means all that you need to do is add the coffee beans and allow the machine to take care of everything else.

The super automatic machine will grind the beans and tamp the grounds into the filter. At the same time it can brew the coffee to a preset level. This machine will also dump the used grounds into a built in waste box. All that you have to do is, sit back, relax and have a great cup of espresso.

Automatic and super automatic espresso machines are great for convenience and they are expensive. So if you want to gain a few more barista skills for your own pleasure and save a few pennies, you might prefer a semi-automatic or even a lever machine.

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