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This page contains all the resources I have on espresso machines: what is a good espresso machine, how is it different from a coffee maker, do you need a grinder, and how to choose one.
What is an espresso machine?
Espresso machines are used for brewing coffee by pushing very hot, nearly boiling, water under high pressure through finely-ground coffee. High pressure makes a more intense and rich coffee flavor. This creates a thick ‘shot’ of espresso coffee with golden cream on top. Various types of espresso drinks can be made using a basic espresso shot – cappuccino, macchiato, latte, etc.
Espresso machines are used by baristas all over the world to produce this famous Italian specialty. Using an espresso machine you can make delicious espresso at home just like the ones from your favorite café.
How does an espresso machine work?
A reservoir with water is connected to a pump that under high pressure (9-10 bars) pushes water to a boiler that heats it up to 90º – 95º C. Portafilter (the removable part with a handle) with compressed coffee grounds is locked in the group head. Water gets from the boiler to the group head and comes out of the machine through the attached portafilter.
Brown cream on top of a thick espresso ‘shot’ is formed because of the coffee oils pressured through the portafilter.
On the side of the machine, there is usually a steam wand which warms the milk for making cappuccino and other espresso drinks.
What espresso machine does Starbucks use?
Starbucks uses the Mastrena High-Performance Espresso Machine in the majority of stores across the world. It is specially designed, shorter than the standard espresso machine so that Starbucks employees could interact with their customers much easier. This is a completely automatic espresso machine. It is produced by a company Thermoplan located in Switzerland. They partner exclusively with Starbucks since 1999.
How to use an espresso machine?
- Fill the reservoir with water.
- Turn on the machine to start heating the water.
- Add finely-ground coffee to the portafilter (the removable part with a handle) evenly distributed.
- Take the tamper and press the coffee grounds with enough pressure to get them compact.
- Place the portafilter in the group head (a part where water should come out).
- Place a cup beneath.
- Press the shot button.
- The machine will brew and pour the coffee in 20-30 seconds.
Which Espresso Machine Should I Buy?
Best Espresso Machine: Breville BES870XL Barista Express
You can never go wrong with Breville. Pricey, but you can’t beat it in terms of features and quality.
Budget Alternative: Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista
You can find more espresso machine choices on Amazon.