The Best Espresso Machines

Reviewed by our expert Cristian Guasch | Updated: November 23, 2020

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Making Espresso

Coffee drinkers of the world agree that espresso machines are an absolute necessity. We read over tons of coffee maker reviews and research new ways of making the strong, energy giving beverage.

Having the right machine AND the right method is of the utmost importance. But you WILL need a machine to make the drink.

To understand the finer points of this coffee based drink, it is essential to know what it is and where it came from.

Originally, espresso was not brewed but created by forcing steam or extremely hot water through coffee that was ground super fine under pressure. This created a more robust, full bodied concentrated beverage with more dissolved solids than regular coffee beverages.

The concentration of the coffee gives it a much thicker consistency and a single serving is measured in shots (about 1 oz usually). Since it is created under pressure, the elements of the espresso break down quickly due to oxidation.

Espresso is consumed as a standalone beverage, but is also the basis for cappuccinos, lattes and mochas. All have the characteristic tartness of the original espresso concoction.

Types of Espresso Machine

Basically, espresso machines are made in several types. There are steam driven machines, piston driven machines and pump driven machines. Steam driven types operate by forcing water through the coffee grounds using steam pressure. This was the original method and was the ONLY method until the 1940s. This type of design is still used today in low end machines for consumers. The cost is low because there is no need for moving parts.

Piston driven type machines have a lever that is pulled by the user to place pressure on the water and send it through the coffee grounds. Now there are two variations of this design; manual and spring piston.

Manual versions are directly pumped by the user while the spring piston ones operate a tension spring that delivers the water through the grinds. NOTE: This type of espresso machine brought about the cream on top of a properly made espresso shot.

Pump drive machines are another variance of the piston type but the pressure is delivered by a motorized pump, not a manual lever. This is said to be a more accurate way of creating pressure. Some enthusiasts agree, others do not. It really is a matter of preference. This design has become very popular in espresso bars everywhere with home versions having a single chamber for the water.

What Makes A Good Espresso Machine?

The thing to look for in an espresso machine is one that fits your consumption level. Most home espresso makers have a single chamber for the water.

If you plan to entertain, you may want to invest a few more bucks and go for a commercial grade machine with several separate water chambers. That way, you can actually prepare a few different beverages at one time.

Some will also have a feature that allows you to steam milk for your coffee. Better machines will have a separate apparatus for this. Otherwise, you may need to allow some time for the machine to switch modes. That can be a bother sometimes.

As you can see above, the choice is one of features, like buying a car or new TV set. Like I read somewhere, it will be YOUR lifestyle that ultimately defines your need. With that in mind, it will take research and homework on your part.

Good name brands include Dualit, Briel, Gaggia, Krups, Capresso, DeLonghi, Saeco, and Russell Hobbs. All make consumer grade machines as well as commercial ones.

Depending on what you want to spend, the quality is dependent. Usually, the consumer grade espresso machines can be purchased for around $150 to $200. Of course, the commercial machines can run into the thousands.

To find the espresso machine that is right for you, it takes a little time to read coffee makers reviews. A stovetop style espresso maker will fit well for someone who doesn’t have much time for detailed clean up and such but enjoys the taste and fragrance of the drink.

A single chamber steam driven machine is the choice for an espresso purist and gets you back to the basics. So take some time, read the reviews and make sure you know how to make espresso to ensure you have a good, positive experience every time.

Note: Sometimes espresso is wrongly spelled as “expresso” or as “expreso”, making it difficult to find in Internet queries.

All About Espresso Reviews

Our espresso reviews will give you the background that will allow you to make an informed decision when buying or replacing your coffee machine.

Many people will tell you that love makes the world go round, however many coffee lovers will tell you that espresso makes their world go round. Espresso provides one of the strongest forms of coffee taste, with its own distinctive flavor and an oily foam layer of crema.

In order to find the best kind of coffee maker for you involves considering your personal needs and what an coffee machine can do for you. You will have to consider all the different elements of a machine as well as your budget before shopping for your espresso machine.

Your Own Espresso Reviews

Having and using your own espresso maker is divine. You may want to choose one that features a glass pot since they are easier to clean. Remember that using filters will deplete the taste of a good espresso and that choosing sterling silver is always the best way to go to avoid unpleasant taste.

Different Brands of Espresso Makers

How to Make the Best Coffee

Normally, espresso is made by forcing hot water of 194 F or 90 C, through seven to ten grams of finely ground coffee. Ground your coffee beans, unless you are using those commercially made coffee ground pods.

Generally, you will use seven to ten grams of finely ground coffee for every two ounces of water in order to make one shot of espresso. Tamp the grounds using the tamper and apply about 30 pounds of pressure to the coffee grounds.

Some espresso machines will automatically apply this pressure for you; however, you may be required to tamp the grounds lightly before you insert them into the unit. Remember to follow the directions of the manufacturer when using your machine.

Allow the machine the time to heat up properly, place your cup under the dispenser and then time your espresso shot for about 25 to 30 seconds.

Remember to clean your espresso coffee maker properly after each use and clean the grinder weekly. If you do not do this, the flavor will not be a savory as it should be.

These are in my opinion the best espresso machines:

Rancilio Sylvia
The Rancilio Sylvia has become one of the highest ranked espresso products now sold. That is due to the high quality and a two year warranty. You can understand when you see the durable stainless steel casing.

Breville-800ESXL
The Breville 800ESXL is a fun machine to have. It is not just a good looking espresso maker, but is good at what it does. It has quite a number of novel features

DeLonghi-BAR32
Lets find out why the Bar32 is so popular in Europe and North America. Lets start with the most obvious feature, that is its good looks, and the fact that it makes an excellent espresso.

DeLonghi-EC155-Espresso-Maker
For less than $100, you won’t find a better expresso machine than the Delonghi EC155 The machine is easy to operate and at the same time it produces a good quality espresso with the right amount of crema.

Nespresso
The system itself is made up of a coffee machine into which specialized single-serve coffee capsules are brewed.

Automatic Espresso Machine

Fully Automatic Espresso Machine The fully automatic espresso machine is essentially an evolution of the espresso machine. Using the espresso method, the device can automatically produce a variety of coffees. Compared to other coffee makers, the preparation with a fully automated coffee maker is limited to just pressing a few buttons. Easy.

The Swiss engineer Arthur Schmed from Ruti is credited with being the inventor of the fully automated coffee maker. At the end of the seventies he seized on the idea of the principle of pressure and short brewing time of the espresso machine.

After two years of research and development in 1980 Schmed presented the first functioning prototype of a fully Automatic Espresso Machine. In 1985 the Swiss company Solis produced the first fully automated coffee maker and presented it as a world’s first at a fair.

The biggest difference however between a filter coffee maker and a fully automated one is the aroma, which unfolds best under pressure. With traditional filter coffee makers the coffee can turn bitter quite quickly.

This occurs because there is no pressure generated and the longer the contact to the ground coffee powder is, the more bitter and tanning agents are set free.

Through too longer contact the coffee becomes undrinkable.

The brewing process in a fully automated machine is generally less than 30 seconds per cup. Hereby the pressure is approx. 7.5 – 9 bar and more essential oils and aroma is released and less tanning and bitter agents.

This results in the coffee being more digestible and more aromatic.

Through the crema, the flavors in the hot coffee/espresso are trapped until it dissolves as the coffee cools down.

The longer the crema remains, the more aromatic the coffee.

The requirement for a good espresso is the right degree of pressure. For an espresso you need pressure between 7,5 and 9 bar. This amount of pressure ensures the optimal development of the flavours of the coffee/espresso beans.

A pump pressure of approx. 15 bar in fully automated machines is very suitable for the creation of an espresso.

The end result is that only a pressure of 7.5 – 9 bar reach the coffee beans as the water from the pump is first pushed through the thermal block, the brewing unit and then the spout.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Automatic Espresso Machine:

Pros

Cons

What is espresso and how is it made?

Espresso is the base of mochas, macchiato and cappuccino

Enter the Flavorful and Aromatic World of the Espresso

Amongst the various coffee types, espresso is the most sought after because of its intense flavors, textures and aromas.

It is characterized by a thicker consistency and higher concentration of dissolved solids with reddish-brown foam (crema) on top.

Due to these characteristics, you will delightedly discover that espressos form the base of popular drinks like the mochas, macchiato and cappuccino.

Espresso Origins

The word itself is an Italian word that means “fast” in reference to the quick way with which the coffee grounds are mixed with the pressurized water.
As such, you get the fullest extraction of coffee essence possible than in any other method without actually chewing on the coffee beans.

Now, that would be a really bitter experience in more ways than one. Anyways, modern esspresso as we know it today has its origins in the early part of the twentieth century specifically 1901.

In that year, Luigi Bezzera invented a coffee machine that forced steam and boiling water through ground coffee and then into a cup.

In 1903, an enterprising Italian by the name of Desiderio Pavoni bought the patent from Bezzera.

This machine was the “La Pavona” popular in the United States by the 1900s although it was only in 1961 when the first pump-driven machine was developed by M. Faena.

Available Blends

You have many choices when it comes to the available blends in the expresso universe.
Basically, you can choose from the dry-processed or the wet-processed blends.

Keep in mind that each blend will yield a different kind of coffee so choosing one is always up to the drinker’s preferences.

On one hand, the dry-processed blends contain beans from Yemen, Brazil, Indonesia and Ethiopia.

You will find that these blends are more heavy-bodied with lesser acidity but definitely sweeter.

On the other hand, the wet-processed blends produce less sweet but more acidic coffees.

Often, these two blends are also mixed to create subtle flavors that each one may not have without the other.

For example, an expresso may contain dry-processed beans used for their subtle flavors with a small portion made of wet-processed beans to enhance the flavors brought by the latter’s floral and fruity tastes.

Also, blends can either be single origins or multiple origins. Or it can be made from Robusta coffee beans and Arabica coffee beans.

It all depends on the baristas’ preference as well as the drinker’s desires. And the fact that different roasters employ different roasting strategies can complicate the choosing of the perfect italian coffee for your tastes.

So, if you find one that suits you, enjoy it while you can before exposing your palate to other blends.

Roasting the Italian Coffee Beans

Speaking of roasting, you must keep in mind that the primary objective of roasting espressi is to minimize the acidity and bitterness while maximizing aroma and sweetness.

There are many tips in this aspect but the most important is to end the roast somewhere between the first crack’s end and the less than halfway into the second crack.

Indeed, the world of espresso is an aromatic and flavorful universe.

The trick is in choosing the best blend, the best roaster and the best presentation for your coffee needs.

Does espresso have more caffeine?

Coffee beans consist of many different chemical parts. A part of these components is destroyed by the heat of the roasting, the other part survives.

Caffeine is not damaged during the roasting of the coffee beans.

When hot water is added, the caffein separates from the coffee grounds.

After caffein was identified in 1820, its stimulating properties were discovered.

Caffein is also called guaranine when found in guarana, mateine when found in mate, and theine when found in tea.

Increasing the blood pressure is the best known property, it does this by inducing the central nervous system, the heart, the lungs and believe it or nor urine production.

The postponement of tiredness is another property, that is one of the many positive properties

It is also known to stimulate the strength of aspirin and to give slight relieve for asthmatic patients.

There have been suggestions made that caffein can lead to possible cancers and birth abnormalities.

These allegations have never been confirmed and as such there are no warnings from the US Food and Drug Administration (US FDA).

There quite a variation in the caffein contained in the different coffee beans. The average amount of caffein in a normal cup of joe is 90 to 150 mg.

When comparing the different types of coffee makers it was discovered

While the other coffee makers produced between 80 and 135 mg per cup of coffee. The drip coffee maker produced far more caffein per cup (115 to 175 mg).

Contrary to what is commonly believed, the cup of espresso contains as much caffein as a normal cup of coffee (100mg).

But if you compare the espresso with the same ammount in milliliter you find that espresso has far more caffein.

Caffein is absorbed much quicker by the body when taken as concentrated as in a cup of espresso.

The amount of caffein found in coffee blends will also vary.

The following are examples of the caffein content for different coffee blends:

When you are sensitive to caffeine, you will turn to drinking decaf coffee.

That’s how you can still enjoy a cup of joe without the ill effects of the caffeine.

The caffeine is removed before the coffee beans are roasted. This is done by treating the beans with chlorinated hydrocarbons.

After the treatment the solvents will be removed and the beans are roasted like untreated beans.

There are no known ill side effects to decaffeinated coffee, so you can drink as much as you want without feeling the effects of caffeine.

Cristian Guasch:

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