Seven types of Espresso Machine

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.

Electric Steam Driven Espresso Machines 

type-of-espresso-machine-steam-drivenThese 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

Pump Espresso MachinesPump 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.

Manual Lever Espresso Machines

Manual Lever Espresso MachinesThe 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.

Electric Pump Espresso Machines

Electric Steam Driven Espresso MachinesMore 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.

Semi Automatic Espresso Machines

Semi Automatic Espresso MachinesThe 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.

Automatic Espresso Machines

Automatic Espresso MachinesThe 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.

Super Automatic Espresso Machines

DeLonghi-ESAM6700-Gran-Dama-Avant-Touch-Screen-Super-Automatic-Espresso-MachineThese 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.

[thrive_posts_list category=’6′ title=”” no_posts=”5″ filter=”recent” thumbnails=”on”]

Review: The Gaggia Titanium Super Automatic Espresso Machine

(Be sure to read through to the end of the article where I reveal to you where to get the Gaggia Titanium super automatic espresso machine for the best price on the Internet)

Add together its elegant looks, an impressively long features list, push-button ease-of-operation, low maintenance, and the excellent “I must be in Italy…” quality of espresso that this machine produces, and you end up with a brilliantly awesome espresso machine.
Simplicity By Design

The menus are easy to navigate thanks to a an electric blue LCD display. Push-button simplicity begins with seven programmable buttons which operate many of the features on the machine including five temperature settings, three coffee volume settings, pre-infusion, a pre-grinding feature, and an on/off timer and clock. A sleek stainless steel front panel and steel outer shell house the Titanium’s stainless steel-lined brewing boiler and additional steaming boiler. This double-boiler system is designed to create steam for heating and frothing milk without the typical wait time after you have finished brewing your coffee. And the Gaggia Titanium gives you the option of using either the stainless steel Gaggia Turbo Frother or the auto-frother (which is included) to make supremely delicious cappuccinos and lattes.

Your Espresso Drink the Way You Like It

Customizing your espresso or coffee drinks is absolute simplicity. Firstly you can select from three brewing button options to dispense the exact amount of coffee that you’d like. If you want to adjust the grind of the beans, somewhere between very fine and somewhat coarse, then all you have to do is open the Titanium’s 8.5 oz bean hopper to and choose between 18 individual grind settings. While you’re there in the bean hopper (did I mention that the hopper holds up to 8.5 ounces of your favorite coffee beans?) you’ll see where you can make the adjustment to deliver between 6 and 9 grams of coffee for each shot. And since it seems that everybody likes their coffee just a little different you can easily change any of these settings whenever you need to, and then change back again! And if for some reason you find yourself in the mood for something a little different than the whole bean coffee you keep in the machine, like decaf (really?), you can easily add pre-ground coffee to the Titanium’s bypass doser and brew away!

Easy to Love

Whenever the espresso machine needs more water or beans, or even when it needs to be cleaned, a helpful message appears on the LCD display, alerting you to do so. And a feature that you will love is the Titanium’s swivel base, giving you easy access to the 60 ounce removable water reservoir, the used grounds dump box, the drip tray, and internal brew group for the simplest cleaning and maintenance possible, without having to lift and move the machine! A menu button in the control panel offers one touch access that makes it easy to program auto turn-on and shut-off, set pre-grinding and pre-brewing options, and change the display language among several other options.

Let Me Count the Ways…

Here is a summary of some of the features and benefits that you will absolutely love in your Gaggia Titanium Espresso Machine:

  • The RapidSteam technology allows you to instantly go from brewing to steaming, and back again, without the re-heat wait time associated with single boiler systems. You’ll be making cappuccinos and lattes faster than any drip machine could ever make a simple cup of coffee.
  • The push button technology allows you to simply press the brew button and the machine will automatically grind and extract the coffee to your desired taste. And when the coffee is finished brewing it will place the coffee grounds into the internal dump box for later disposal.
  • The LCD display will tell you when to add beans, add water, if the brew group is out of place and even when to de-calcify the machine. You will also use the LCD display technology for system programming that includes temperature control, auto shut-off, pre-infusion, pre-grinding, and cup warmer.
  • You have total control over coffee strength and flavor at the push of a button with the Gaggia Titanium’s adjustable doser, which controls the amount of ground coffee used for each drink (between 6 and 9 grams for a single shot).
  • Have your coffee at the temperature you prefer. The Titanium features five different temperature settings for maximum control.
  • Coffee pre-infusion is the first step to a great espresso coffee drink. As part of the brewing process the Titanium first moistens and conditions the ground coffee in a two second process. Another two second pause allows the ground coffee’s aromatic oils to leach from the interior of the coffee before brewing begins.
  • The professional conical burr grinder has 18 settings allowing you to grind from fine to coarse to accommodate light, medium or dark, espresso or regular coffee beans.
  • Preheating your coffee cups is important so the Titanium features a cup warmer that will hold up to six espresso cups and is actively heated. When the machine is on, the cup warmer will be on.
  • The Titanium comes equipped with a new stainless steel Turbo-Frother frothing wand. It also comes with an automatic frothing attachment which will drop pre-frothed milk directly into your cup.
  • The large removable reservoir holds 60 ounces of water which is enough for approximately 30 espressos or 10 cups of coffee.
  • The Gaggia brew group, which is the internal part that brews the coffee is easy to remove and clean. Just open the front panel and remove with the thumb release lever. Simple maintenance would include a quick rinse and dry.
  • The bean hopper holds 8.5 oz of fresh whole bean coffee which is enough for approximately 30 espressos before refilling.
  • There is a removable dump box located inside the machine which is easily accessed from the front by sliding out the drip tray. The digital display will indicate when the tray or the dump box need to be emptied.

More Than Just an Espresso Machine

The Gaggia Titanium Super Automatic Espresso Machine is more then just an “Espresso Machine”. It is a small self-indulgence that will make you happy for years to come. It is an awesome addition to your kitchen, and will be enjoyed by all of your friends and family. You will love being able to make your own espressos, lattes, and cappuccinos whenever you desire, and you’ll be saving a small fortune over what you used to pay at your local coffee house. If you’re a nut about a good cup of coffee then you deserve to splurge on yourself, because a good espresso is one of life’s simple pleasures.