Which Type of Espresso Machine is Best for You?
There is a confusing assortment of espresso machines on the market these days, coming from a variety of manufacturers. This can make it somewhat difficult to decide what kind of machine is best for you. Let’s explore the different types of machines and what they are best suited for.
The types of machines that you will find today can be divided into three categories: the electric steam driven espresso machine, the manual lever/piston espresso machine, and the electric pump espresso machine.
These are the least expensive espresso machines available. These machines simply work by steam pressure. Water heats up in an airtight chamber until it becomes steam and is then rapidly forced through coffee grounds and into a carafe or cup. Electric steam machines are only able to get the water pressure up to about 1 bar which is really not enough pressure to extract and brew real espresso (the preferred pressure at which espresso is brewed is about 8 bar) and doesn’t produce a very good crema. These machines usually have a steam wand allowing you to froth milk to make a latte or cappuccino.
Pump espresso machines don’t require (or allow) the water to reach boiling temperature and become steam. The water is mechanically or electrically pumped through the coffee at a slightly cooler temperature. When done correctly, pump machines produce a significantly better shot of espresso than steam driven machines.
There are two types of pump espresso machines: the manual lever/piston espresso machine, and the electric pump espresso machine.
The manual “lever/piston” type of espresso machine gives you complete control over the entire brewing process including dosing, tamping, pulling the manual lever to pressure the water through the coffee, and timing each of these operations. Manual lever machines don’t use steam pressure, instead the pressure for brewing espresso is achieved by pulling on a hand lever which is attached to a piston. Moving the lever up moves the piston up which brings pre-heated water into the brew group. Pulling it down then forces hot water through the grounds. The phrase “pulling a shot” refers to this type of machine, since you actually have to “pull” a shot. These lever/piston machines are capable of producing a pressure of 8-9 bar, the benchmark pressure of a genuine espresso drink. Like the steam boiler model, the water reservoir heats up to the appropriate temperature for both milk frothing and steaming. You just need to open the steam valve and you can begin foaming your milk.
More home versions of electric pump espresso machines are coming to market every year. The electric pump machine uses a pump instead of a lever to move water through the system. The pump pulls water from a reservoir and returns it into a tank that heats the water. After the boiler heats the water to brewing temperature and you press the brew button the pump will first push water through the boiler, then through the ground coffee in the brew group. With these machines you can set the exact temperature you want the water to reach before the machine quickly pumps it through the coffee grounds. There are three types of electric pump espresso machines: The semi-automatic, the automatic, and the super-automatic espresso machine.
The semi-automatic espresso machine is one of the most popular machines available. It is called semi-automatic because after flipping a switch, the pump does the work that the lever and piston used to do. The pump continues pumping water through to the brew head. The brewing process starts with the simple flip of a switch; you then choose to end the extraction by moving the switch in the opposite direction. You have control over dosing and tamping, and the used grounds will need to be removed manually.
The fully automatic espresso machine is very similar to the semi-automatic machine with usually just one small difference. You flip the switch to begin the brewing process but then the machine will stop itself after a pre-defined amount of time.
These are the top of the line, and at the top of the price range. The super automatic machine was perfected by the Swiis company Jura-Capresso. Super automatic machines do everything for you. They will grind the beans, dose the ground coffee, tamp the coffee, pump the water through the system, and brew your espresso or coffee drink. All you have to do is fill the bean hopper with your favorite roasted beans, fill the water reservoir, and clean it every now and then. Manufacturers are adding new and more features to these machines every year. The super automatic machines may have other additional features like digital displays, strength settings, temperature settings, water volume settings, grind-size selections, and others. These machines also provide hot water and steam through a steam wand for heating and foaming milk for lattes and cappuccinos.
This Espresso Machine Gets an A+
There are quite a few different types of espresso machines including the steam driven machine, the lever/piston machine, the semi-automatic machine, the automatic machine, and then, at the very top of the list is the super automatic espresso machine, which is an electric pump espresso machine. And perhaps the very best machine within this classification of pump espresso makers is the Gaggia Platinum machine.
This machine is so cool, it does practically all you need to do to make a delicious shot of espresso, automatically, with the touch of a button. Making a perfect espresso drink has never been easier.
It gets started by automatically grinding you favorite espresso coffee beans. Next, the machine very carefully measures out exactly the required amount of ground coffee beans. Then the machine begins to heat the water, using two stainless steel boilers, bringing the water to the precise temperature that is best for extracting the perfect espresso. Next, based on which kind of drink you’re making, the machine will measure the exact volume of water that is required. And almost finally, it will pump water under pressure through the brew group, producing a shot of espresso that any Italian barista would be proud of. And finally, without being asked, the machine will move the used grounds to the used grounds dump box where you are able to toss them out later. Automatically. And you only pressed one button!
There is a movement taking place these days as more and more people are becoming mindful of the cost of spending money everyday on their daily fix of caffeine. But they’re not ever going to go back to drinking drip coffee – sorry Mr. Coffee – because they have become very attached to the flavor and quality of brewed espresso drinks. That’s why there are Starbucks on every other corner!
These cost-conscious latte lovers have discovered that they can, instead, make their own delicious espresso drinks, including lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos, right at home, and for a fraction of the cost, with their own automatic pump espresso machine.
Today’s modern, magnificently designed, beautifully engineered, and well-built European pump espresso machine provides the home espresso maker all the tools that they need to create espresso drinks at home, without sacrificing flavor or quality, and for a heck of a lot less than what they used to pay.
There are many, many different makes of the pump espresso machine available for purchase these days, coming from a number of producers, and the quality varies pretty significantly from manufacturer to manufacturer. This can make it a bit daunting when you’re trying to choose what type of machine is best for you.
After over twenty years of fancying myself as an espresso aficionado, and multiple thousands of espressos, lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos, I think that I have earned the right to make a recommendation of a extremely high quality, superbly engineered, and finely crafted automatic pump espresso machine: the Gaggia Platinum Vision.
The Italians were the first to create espresso as we know it today. They have been making and drinking espresso drinks longer than anyone. Based in part on that fact I’m inclined to believe that the Italians make the very best automatic pump espresso machine in the marketplace today. If you’ve ever been to Italy then you know that the Italians have perfected both the art and science of creating a superb shot of espresso.
Milan, Italy, is home to the production facilities of Gaggia S.p.A, where Italian craftsmen and craftswomen help to make and build these extraordinary machines. They are espresso lovers themselves. And consider this: this pump espresso machine comes from exactly the same country that produces Ferrari’s. Gaggia has created an espresso machine that is completely automatic – could it be the Ferrari of espresso machines?
At the push of a button your espresso will start brewing using freshly ground beans. Within minutes you’ll be enjoying an intricately complex flavored, rich espresso coffee topped with a thick crèma, just how the Italians enjoy it. Perfect each time. Just as in Italy.
How convenient it is to make your own latte at home, and then away to work (or play!) you go. You have your latte in hand, you’ve had to deal with absolutely no crowds, you’ve had no waiting in line, and no paper cups! Lattes just seem to taste so much better when you don’t have to deal with throngs of people and lines.
Before you pay $5 for another cappuccino, go ahead and order your own automatic pump espresso machine right now. Don’t you think you deserve to spoil yourself every now and then? Well, if you end up buying one, I hope you enjoy it and take as much pleasure in it as I have!