20th Anniversary


Everything You need to Know about Espresso Machines

Imagine yourself relaxing into your favorite chair, at your favorite table by the window, holding your warm co. You savor the aroma and admire the frothy, foamy peak your barista brought to life. It’s nice and peaceful. No noisy chatter. Just quiet. 

And here’s the best part: your car keys are sitting on your dresser, and you’re still in your pajamas. And that talented barista who has mastered the art of foam? That’s you! You’ve created your own quaint little cafe right here at home, with your very own coffee espresso machine.

Think this is impossible? Think again! There are many different types of espresso machines on the market that are made especially for home use, ranging from very basic and affordable, right up to the same machines used by professional baristas.

However, before you rush into investing in a coffee espresso machine, take some time to do your homework and consider your needs and preferences. How often do you plan to make espresso drinks at home? Do you also drink a lot of brewed coffee? (Some machines have dual brewing capabilities.) How important is the milk frothing capability to you? If you have preferences in any areas such as these, this will help you narrow down the possibilities.

Also consider any preferences you may have about how your espresso drinks are made. For instance, my favorite part of an espresso shot is the crema – that’s the caramel-colored, creamy foam that forms on a perfectly pulled shot. When you pour shots from a shot glass into the mug, most of the crema gets left behind, so I prefer a coffee espresso machine that is tall enough to fit the whole mug, so I can enjoy the entire shot in my drink.

Here are the basic types of coffee espresso machines on the market:

What is the Pump Coffee Espresso Machine?

This is the best but most expensive type of machine to buy. The pump coffee espresso machine is called this because they use a pump to keep the water pressure at the appropriate level, which produces the best and most consistent shot of espresso. These machines are primarily made for commercial use, and are usually very large, heavy, and noisy, but can be used at home.

About the Piston Coffee Espresso Machine

This type of machine uses a piston or lever system to manually maintain the optimum pressure required for a great shot of espresso. This type of coffee espresso machine requires little maintenance, and is much quieter than the pump machines. However, the lever may require a good deal of arm strength to keep the pressure at the right level, and it may take some practice to get the timing down. But if you’re willing to experiment and work out the process, you’ll be rewarded by a great shot, and a sense of accomplishment.

About the Steam Coffee Espresso Machine

This type of coffee espresso machine is typically smaller, easily accessible and relatively affordable, using heat to produce steam instead of a pump or piston to create the pressure. While the lower prices are definitely an advantage for steam machines, if you’re very particular about the quality of your espresso shots, you may find that the steam does not always produced the optimum pressure for the best tasting coffee. Also, maintaining enough steam to both pull shots and steam milk at the same time is sometimes difficult.

About Moka Pots

This type of machine costs the least of all the options, and requires only your stovetop. The moka pot is a two-part pot which uses boiling water and the steam to create pressure, which pushes the boiling water up through the espresso grounds rather than gravity simply pulling heated what down. The coffee tastes great, but since you cannot froth milk with a moka pot, it’s not for you if you really like your lattes and cappuccinos. But if you like a good espresso or a shot in the dark (brewed coffee with a shot of espresso added) and have a limited budget, give the moka pot a try.

Don’t be put off by the high prices on a coffee espresso machine. Take a few moments to consider what that daily latte is costing you. A latte can cost you as much as $4. If you’re like me, you average about five a week. That’s $975 a year! Over the course of time you may find that dropping the money once up front is worth the investment – especially when you consider the convenience of enjoying your favorite espresso beverage at home.

So take a little time to consider each of these options and how they fit with your preferences and needs. Whichever coffee espresso machine you choose to create your own cafe at home, you’ll be making your own espresso drinks for you and your friends and family – with or without the frothy foam peaks – in no time.

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