It has bumped its way to the top of your wish list and the time has come for your very own espresso machine. The idea of pulling your own espresso shots, or serving magnificent cappuccino and latte at home is appealing and you are set to buy. You want to arrive at the best espresso machine that your wallet will allow. Shortly into the research phase you begin to feel confused by the selection available. Prices range from $ 50 to $ 10,000 and the choices in functionality are equally diverse. To make matters worse, there is a huge body of information available and most of it seems contradictory from one source to the next.
So just how do you decide on which is the best espresso machine with so much questionable information about? The most efficient way is to first learn how genuine espresso is made. The specifications and features of each machine instantly become much more meaningful the minute you understand these things. You can then insist on the “must have” features and operate within your budget to select the remaining features.
This is a great place for a quick coffee chemistry lesson. I promise, it won’t hurt a bit. Hot water forced under pressure through finely ground and tightly compressed coffee grounds makes espresso. That sounds simple enough. Doesn’t it?
Just appreciate that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts here. A number of factors must come together for the finished product to approach the glorious result found in the best coffee bars and cafes. Grind, roast, pressure, temperature, time and tamping technique all have a role to play. The machine has the greatest impact on time, temperature and pressure, so that’s where we’ll focus our discussion.
The extraction time (how long it takes for the water to flow through the coffee), the water temperature, and the pressure are all most heavily influenced by the machine. These “must have” performance features should be considered first when trying to decide on the best espresso machine for you. Your espresso machine should provide the following:
Pressure – A minimum of 9 to 13 bar pressure is required.
Temperature – the water should be about 95 degrees C during extraction.
Time – The extraction should take about 25 to 30 seconds.
The best espresso machine is that which you can afford and will deliver the required performance in these areas. Lower priced machines usually fail to meet these baseline requirements, especially where pressure and extraction time are concerned. Crema (the brownish-red foam on top) does not develop using a machine that produces pressure below 9 bar. You will not have real espresso without crema.
The mixture is significantly effected by extraction time and temperature and a machine that fails either will produce a shot that is too weak or too strong. Now I should mention that the operator (that’s you) controls the tamping and grind and these also affect extraction. Be that as it may, the world’s most skillful barista won’t get acceptable results if the machine doesn’t do its part.
Naturally, the machine’s ability to control these and other factors for you will increase along with price.The machine’s capabilities beyond these three important factors are technically speaking, a matter of convenience. There is no question however that your overall satisfaction with the machine you select and your willingness to use it on a regular basis will be further enhanced by its other more exciting features.