Overview of Espresso and Espresso Machines by toriola1


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                                        Overview of Espresso and Espresso Machines
                                                              By JoBeth Levina

   What do you think of when you hear the word “espresso”? Perhaps,

“Express – train; fast black, iron horse of rocket fuel!”


“Strong. Hyper-caffeinated. Bitter. What, me try it?” (is you a man or is you a mouse?)

Also, maybe,

“I like my coffee black, but not that black!”

Wrong. Espresso, when correctly made, is none of these things.

 Espresso is a traditional coffee drink invented by the French, but perfected by the Italians. You can
associate the word “espresso” with the English word “press”, for that is the fundamental action
pertaining to both the ground coffee – which is pressed into a compact disc – and the machine used to
make it, which forces or “presses” hot water through the disc of coffee. The result is a demitasse (very
small cup) of all of the best characteristics of the coffee bean with none of the less desirable ones.

 A well “pulled” shot of espresso is not bitter. The flavor is full, complex, and remains on the tongue for
10-15 minutes after drinking it. That flavor can be fairly accurately compared with the wonderful aroma
present when the seal is first broken on a container of coffee. If your espresso is bitter blame the
barista, not the drink.

 Afraid of the shakes? Don’t be. Surprisingly, given the concentrated nature of the drink, a shot of
espresso has only about half the caffeine of a normally brewed cup of joe. This is because the heated
water is forced through the coffee too quickly (ideally in around 20 seconds) to liberate all of the
caffeine present in the grind.

 All of this wonderfulness requires a special type of machine to make. As already mentioned, an
espresso machine’s express purpose is to press heated water (about 200 degrees) through a disc of

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pressed coffee. How is this accomplished? There are 3 basic designs: steam driven, piston driven, and
pump driven.

 Mechanically, the simplest is the steam driven machine. It employs steam pressure to force water
through the coffee. Since there are no moving parts, this design is normally used for lower-priced home
espresso makers. This principle was also used in early commercial machines but was abandoned by
professionals when a better design came along in 1945.

 That design is the piston driven machine. In this design, a long lever is pulled by the barista (hence the
phrase “pulling” a shot) to drive a piston, which in turn forces the heated water out of a cylinder and
through the coffee. A later refinement of this design was to interject a spring into the process between
the lever and piston. The lever compresses the spring, which in turn drives the pistion. The purpose is
to better control the pressure of the water (ideally 9 ft-lbs) as it is forced through the coffee.

 An even better design was introduced in 1961, the pump driven machine. This design uses an electric
pump to force the water. The benefit is more accuracy (and no arm-strain!).

 Good espresso also has a “head”, like a beer does. The head is made up of concentrated oils from the
coffee. It is dark reddish-brown, and should have enough body to support the weight of a teaspoon of
sugar for about 2 seconds before it sinks into the drink.

 The coffee itself is, of course, rather important. It should be of a medium roast; a dark roast has had
too many of the oils and sugars cooked out of it. It also needs to be ground exactly right. A proper grind
can be described as the consistency of talcum powder. The best bet is to have your espresso
professionally ground at a good shop. They have the right equipment and know-how to make a perfect

 Need water quality even be discussed here? You don’t drink tap, so don’t brew tap. Enough said

 Espresso is complex in both nature and process. It requires special equipment and exacting technique
to make properly, but is well worth the effort. If you’ve never tried it, drop by a reputable coffee house
and let them convince you. Chances are you’ll be hooked.

If you found this article on espresso machines interesting you might also like to check out JoBeth's
Gaggia coffee maker reviews and advice for getting the most out of your machine at

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                                        The Right Espresso From The Right Machine
                                                          By Johnathan Bakers

Picking out the best espresso machine

When you are in the market for an espresso machine you need to know which are the most important
features to make the right choice. Since almost every manufacturer has more than one make and
model you need to be a saavy consumer. Coffee houses see what other houses are using when
picking out their espresso machines or use their knowledge to pick the best. Sometimes even the
most sophisticated coffee consumer might need some help in picking out the best espresso machines
on the market. Read on to learn how to buy one for your kitchen.

You know you have found a good espresso machine if it has a built-in grinder. A grind dial is usually
present as well so that you know you are getting the right kind of grind. You need to calibrate your
grinder and your new machine if you don't have a built-in grinder. Some grinder machines are set to a
moka grinder which could be too coarse for your espresso machine. You might need to experiment
with the right grind after a few shots of espresso. The right one should be about 2 ounces of espresso
in 27 seconds from a double basket.

A good espresso machine should be able to take grinds that are of more than one thickness. You can
tell if a machine is good because the grinds won't become stuffed up or jammed if they are on the
coarse side. The best machines will have a check valve that allow them to go through grinds that need
more pressure. There is a best pressure for extraction and higher pressures don't give this best flavor.
 You might even get a way too bitter espresso in this case.

The better your machine the less noise it should make. If your machine is too noisy it is not as good.
You should always be able to hear your friend or partner in your kitchen when your espresso machine
is going. If you can speak over your machine you can be able to tell your friends how yummy your
espresso is before they even try it!

Johnathan Bakers publishes especially for http://www.coffee-espresso-maker-tips.com , an online
publication on the topic of coffee and cappuccino. Recording his experience in works such as
http://www.coffee-espresso-maker-tips.com/expresso-machines.html ,the reviewer improved his
experience on areas

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