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Coffee Machine Buying Guide __FULL__

An espresso machine is a kitchen appliance that brews coffee by pushing nearly boiled pressurized water through a compressed puck of ground coffee. The result is a thick, concentrated coffee going under the name of espresso.

coffee machine buying guide

The boiler is the component that heats the water, the grouphead delivers water into the filter, the pump creates the brewing pressure, and the filter is where the ground coffee is brewed and filtered. Here is a dictionary of espresso machine parts, if you want to learn more.

In order to qualify as an espresso machine, the appliance needs to be able to create pressure for the brewing process. Although many times people refer to stronger coffee as espresso, this is not a correct denomination. We cannot make coffee in a coffee machine, or in a French press. But more on the subject here: What Is Espresso?

Our guide will show you what are the most important things to consider when buying an espresso machine, whether you want coffee shop quality espresso shots and coffee drinks, or you chase the perfect espresso shot.

The steam wand is a small, solid-metal pipe, like an arm sticking out of the machine, typically located near the group or coffee head. The attached arm forces steam into the milk and gently warms it under pressure. It also adds air to the milk which makes it foam.

If you are buying this machine for an office, you will have to buy a commercial machine. Some manufacturers have warranty clauses against over use of the domestic machines. So if the machine breaks, you are on your own.

However, if you want a great machine for domestic use, there is nothing holding from getting a commercial model. You will pay more as the initial investment, and your electricity bills will be higher, but your coffee making experience will be great.

The capsule machines are not particularly expensive, but the espresso capsules for them is. In time, you will pay for the convenience more than you expect. The more coffee you make with it, the more expensive it gets. If you like to drink to double shots per day, please make the math before buying it as an inexpensive solution.

For those who desire a wide array of ways to enjoy coffee, an espresso machine provides greater variety. And while the thought of an eye-opening morning espresso or relaxing afternoon Cappuccino can be intriguing, the purchase of an espresso machine can be intimidating.

Intensive historical information is not the purpose of this article and sources for the interested are easy to find. Suffice it to say that the 19th century was the age of steam, so it was inevitable that it should be applied to a faster method of brewing coffee. Unfortunately, the first machines were difficult to control with regard to correct temperature, amount of water, and delivery so the resulting brew was bitter, and could easily burn the barista.

Semi-Automatic espresso machines basically take the guess-work out of the correct amount of water for a single or double shot of espresso. While you will need to grind, measure, and tamp the coffee,based your skill in those areas, these machines will produce the same shot of espresso every time.

A less costly, one-button control for creating a variety of espresso-based drinks, is the capsule espresso machine. These machines use pre-packaged capsules of ground coffee similar to, but smaller than k-cups. They come complete with milk carafe and automatic frothing capabilities, auto-clean cycles, and a selection of specialty drinks. While they are not customizable to personal preferences, they do provide a simple, inexpensive cup of espresso for the no-fuss, no-muss coffee lover.

In the past few decades, big chains and independent cafes alike have become hallmarks of almost every town and city. With this grandiose presence of artisanal coffee, it is nearly a miracle if you have not developed a taste for espresso drinks. Seeing as specialty coffee isn't cheap, and the lines at the cafes are getting longer, it is very tempting to brew espresso at home. As you may know, making espresso is more complicated than pouring hot water over coffee grounds. Furthermore, the machinery required to make your favorite drink can be somewhat intimidating. But, no need to stress because we put together a step-by-step guide that can help lead you to your dream machine. We've also summarized some of the finer points of making espresso, so get ready to impress your friends with your barista skills.

When buying a home espresso machine, the most significant decision is choosing between a super-automatic or a semi-automatic machine. The fundamental difference between these two categories is that super-automatic machines are foolproof, doing everything automatically at the touch of a button. In contrast, semi-automatic machines require you to do all the grinding and tamping and milk steaming manually.

Super-automatic machines are for those that place a premium on convenience and want an easy, no-fuss way to make home espresso. With their single-button functionality, adding one of these machines to your morning routine takes zero extra brainpower. Also, if you have guests, you can generally teach them to use the machine in under a minute. The sacrifice you make here is taste. We found super-automatic machines can brew some pretty good espresso. Still, the shots are more watered down, falling short of the rich, full-bodied espresso possible from a semi-automatic machine. Bottom line: these machines are quick, easy, and even tasty, but they're not going to match the quality of your favorite local coffee shop.

Semi-automatic machines require a bit more labor and have a slight learning curve compared to the super-automatic models. To make espresso on a semi-automatic machine, you must first manually grind and tamp coffee and fit the portafilter into the espresso machine before starting the brew cycle. This might sound complicated, but it's relatively simple, especially after just a bit of practice. It could take pulling 10-20 shots to feel proficient in all of these new skills, but it quickly becomes second nature. We've found that if you invest in a nice semi-automatic machine, this extra effort will reward you with much better tasting espresso. Semi-automatic machines also give you the option of experimenting with grind size and the amount of coffee used so that you can play around with the subtleties of espresso. These machines are better for those who enjoy the ritual of coffee making and want to put in a little more effort to improve flavor.

Nespresso machines fall within the super-automatic genre and utilize a single serving capsule system, similar to the Keurig coffee makers. These capsules are often referred to as pods and nearly eliminate clean-up and make it easy to switch between types of coffee quickly. Their biggest obvious downside is cost. Making a shot with one of these capsules can be as much as double the cost of making a shot from freshly ground beans.

The greener alternative to Nespresso is a super-automatic machine that uses fresh beans. All you have to do is put whole beans in these machines, and they will grind and tamp them automatically. This method ends up being nearly as convenient as a Nespresso machine, with just a little additional clean-up (you'll have to rinse the bin where the spent grinds deposit). Since you choose the coffee going into these machines, you have the freedom to select ethically and sustainably sourced beans without the worry of buying into a system that creates extra waste.

Pressure profiling has been getting a lot of press in the coffee world. It is one of the main advantages of these super expensive machines. Pressure profiling essentially allows a slow ramp-up to full pressure in the extraction process, followed by a slow decrease. The result of pressure profiling is a more uniform extraction, as the grinds settle evenly as the pressure ramps up. Pressure profiling lowers the chance of channeling. Channeling creates an uneven extraction because water pulls to one side or the other in the brewing process. It is usually an indication of a tamping error resulting in thin-bodied and weak-tasting espresso.

  • This is the liquid just as it comes out of the machine. Many espresso lovers prefer drinking it in its natural state, which resembles a slightly darker version of black coffee. Macchiato: Your espresso shot, with just a little bit of steamed milk on top to add some extra foam and temper the strong flavor.

  • Cappuccino: Like a macchiato, but with extra milk. A cappuccino is one of the most popular ways to drink espresso and easy to make at home if you have an espresso maker.

  • Latte: This is similar to a cappuccino, but with more milk and only a thin layer of foam.

  • Mocha: Like a cappuccino, but with chocolate added in.

Those are the main standards, but if you want you can always add extra touches based on your preferences like whipped cream, flavorings like hazelnut, caramel or peppermint, and even use alternatives to milk (although something like soy milk tends not to froth as well).

The amount of coffee you and your household drink, space available, the types of beverage you prefer and how you plan to grind your coffee are all points to consider when shopping for a machine too, so read on before parting with your hard-earned cash.

Most espresso machines require you to fill the portafilter with ground coffee, tamp it (tightly pack the grounds into the basket using a pressing tool), secure the portafilter and then the machine does the rest of the work though some will let you alter the extraction time and/or water temperature.

Choose from well-known brands like Nespresso, Lavazza and Tassimo where a dizzying array of capsules available mean you can enjoy a coffee shop branded hazelnut latte, a mocha or PSL without any of the hard work and no need to mess around with milks yourself (though some machines offer a steam wand). We also recommend you take a look at machines that are compatible with a variety of capsules and can prove great value. 041b061a72


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