Looking for the added kick that only espresso can provide? Ensure you make a great tasting cup every time with the perfect espresso maker.
A home espresso machine can save you trips to the local café for your caffeine kick. All espresso machine from the simple stove top model to the fanciest automatic machines work the same way – each forces hot water through coffee grounds under pressure. The difference in types and price comes with how the machines accomplish this and what features they have.
Steam Espresso Machines
This type of espresso coffee machine works by heating water until it comes to a boil and produces steam, which is forced through the espresso grounds to extract the flavour. These models are small, affordable and usually come with a milk frother. While it can make an enjoyable drink (especially when using flavoured beans and/or milk), aficionados say that the machines don’t make a true espresso because the extraction pressure is too low and the water is too hot.
Pump Espresso Machines
For those who want to play barista at home, a pump espresso machine is worth the investment. Water is heated to the correct temperature for optimal extraction of flavour without boiling. Then the water is forced at a high pressure through the grounds using an internal pump. The combination of right temperature and pressure produces a nicer tasting espresso with a high quality crema (the light brown foam that floats on top and is the sign of a good espresso).
Automatic Espresso Machines
For those who are after a true espresso but want an easier machine to use, this model is for them. It operates the same as a pump espresso maker, except it automates the pump extraction process, meaning the user doesn’t control when the extraction stops. The rest of the espresso making process – adding the grounds and water and cleaning the filter – is manual.
Also available is the Super Automatic Espresso Machine. This espresso maker does it all for you, from grinding the beans and tamping the filter, to brewing the espresso and emptying the used grounds into a waste unit, ready for the next cup.
What is espresso?
The word espresso is an Italian term that means something made quickly or made to order. The fast brewing time allows the best qualities of the coffee bean to be extracted, thus avoiding the adverse qualities related to over-extraction: lack of taste; loss of aroma; and bitter taste. A fresh espresso shot forms three layers: the aromatic crema; the billowing body; and the dark, intense heart.
What type of coffee do I need to use in my espresso machine?
When preparing espresso, you should always use the proper bean. Espresso beans are roasted longer than other beans and deliver a full, rich flavour and aroma. For pump-driven espresso machines, you should choose a fine coffee grind. For steam-driven espresso machines, use coarse ground coffee.
Where do I find the appropriate coffee beans?
Most supermarkets carry espresso beans. Gourmet food stores and coffee shops also carry a wide variety of beans.
How do I know if the coffee beans are fresh?
You will know espresso roast coffee beans are fresh if they have an oily surface.
Why does anyone drink espresso? It’s so bitter.
An authentic espresso should have a rich flavour, never bitter. Old coffee beans or coffee that has not been freshly ground may result in bitterness. For rich flavour, always use freshly ground beans.
Does espresso have too much caffeine?
Actually, because espresso beans are roasted longer than other coffee beans, they have a lower caffeine level. Measured on a per-serving basis, a 1 ounce shot of espresso has about half the caffeine of a standard 6 ounce cup of American-style coffee.
What’s the brown foam on top of an espresso?
The light brown foam that floats on top of an espresso is known as the “crema”. Distinguished by its caramel-color, the crema is the essence of authentic espresso. The crema carries a variety of flavours that comprise the coffee bean. The presence of crema means the espresso is fresh and perfectly prepared. It is a natural froth produced by the pump pressure. A good crema will last thirty to ninety seconds before it dissipates completely; once it has the aromatics are totally infused in the drink. Your crema should be about 1/8” thick and support a teaspoon of sugar at once.
My espresso has little or no crema. What’s wrong?
The coffee may have been ground too coarsely or the grounds may not have been pressed with a tamper. Also check to make sure that the coffee is not old or stale.
What is the difference between a cappuccino, latte and macchiato?
A cappuccino is one shot of espresso and 1/3 cup frothed milk. A latte is one shot of espresso and 2/3 cup steamed milk. A macchiato is one shot of espresso and a dollop of froth.