From the classic steam espresso machine to the super-automatic coffee maker, there is a huge difference. But what is the best option for you? Find out in this article what types of espresso machines are currently sold, how they work and what each of them offers you.
Among the technological trends of this century is the growing presence of professional electrical devices in private homes. Increasingly affordable, small enough not to take up too much space and quite affordable in terms of functionality, and espresso machines are firmly in line with this trend.
Maybe you also have such a surprising device at home, which can prepare almost everything you can serve in a pretentious cafe. If you know how to use it correctly. Here is some useful information about the main types of espresso machines on the market, which can help you better understand yours.
Steam models under pressure
Easy to maintain and use, compact and quite affordable, pressure steam espresso machines are still among the popular versions, after a long history that begins in 1884. The principle of operation is based on the pressure generated by bringing water to room temperature. boiling and creating steam. The hot steam then passes through the ground coffee, extracting the aroma, taste and color.
The simple technical structure makes these models easy to produce and therefore sold at lower prices than other versions. The disadvantage, however, is the low pressure level it works with, which does not exceed 1.5 bar, and the high temperature level, which is very close to the boiling point and can lead to too acidic and bitter coffee.
Under what conditions do we recommend such a device? Low budget, the need to quickly get a good espresso and enough patience to learn to juggle the degree of crushing and the type of coffee to get the perfect taste.
Lever espresso machine
If the previous versions were based on the force of steam, in this case the operation depends on the physical force, applied mechanically by the barista. You will find models with manual lever and spring, which work on the same principle, with a small constructive difference.
The lever, placed horizontally at the manual ones and vertically at the spring ones, allows, by its movement, the hot water to enter the filter holder, for pre-infusion, and at the next step, it pushes hot water through the coffee for complete infusion. Everything is manually controlled by the user, which makes this type of espresso the ideal option for those convinced that making a good coffee is an art.
The freedom offered by a lever device allows testing multiple combinations of pre-infusion times, pressure and temperature for different varieties of coffee. So you can really learn how to make a perfect espresso.
However, the system is not without its disadvantages. First of all, it takes longer to make an espresso with this type of device, so it is not exactly suitable for contexts in which it must be used intensively. Second, there is no consistency in preparation. If you serve 5 consecutive doppio, you may not get two exactly the same, in terms of intensity, taste, aroma, etc. It is a rather risky aspect, for example, for a cafe, which does not allow too many variations of quality.
Since 1960, the market has been conquered by electric pump espresso machines that automatically ensure the heating and pressure circulation of water through the coffee pot. They are power consuming, unlike lever models, but offer better efficiency.
The semi-automatic variants are usually used in cafes and places where they rely on the experience brought by the barista. If the water circulation is ensured automatically, everything else is controlled by the user, meaning: the degree of crushing, the amount of coffee used, compaction in the filter holder, water pressure and temperature, brewing time.
They can be very good options for the home, if you are really passionate about coffee and preparing an espresso is for you a special experience, in which you want to actively participate. But they are usually a bit more expensive.
Automatic espresso machine for restaurants and bars
Locals that rely on the identification of a fixed espresso recipe that can be played indefinitely, in identical quality conditions, will usually be equipped with an espresso machine ( several models compared here ) automatically. This type of device controls, in addition to the semi-automatic alternatives, the amount of water used for infusion at each shot.
It saves time, because the barista does not have to watch and stop the water at each cup, and if it is a model with several distribution heads, it can easily prepare several portions at the same time. However, it must continue to fill and empty the filter holder and grind the grains.
Super-automatic coffee machine for the house
In essence, a super-automatic coffee machine brings you a miniature cafe in your home or office, with an integrated barista. These models are designed for those who want to consume a perfect espresso, every time, without worrying about the details of the preparation.
It includes automated systems that take care of the whole process, from A to Z. They grind the coffee beans, fill the filtration section, heat the water to the correct temperature and push it through the coffee layers at the right pressure and for the necessary time. In general, with such an espresso machine, all you have to do is make sure that the water tank and the grain compartment are refilled, place the cup and press a button.
It is true that some manufacturers still offer partial control to the user, allowing him to change certain parameters, such as the amount of water (espresso, doppio, long coffee) or pressure (harder or less intense coffee). But the possibilities of involvement in the process of obtaining the drink are quite limited compared to other versions. The price varies depending on the brand and functions offered, but they are usually slightly higher than in the case of automatic ones.