You have probably spotted the espresso machine you want for quite some time. Or you may have not even decided on a specific espresso machine but yet are hell-bent on getting one. Here you go, check out the best budget espresso machines that you can add to your kitchen equipment.
Many coffee drinkers postpone investing in this product because they are yet not aware of how does an espresso machine work. This guide can prove to be that push in the knowledge you require before making the investment.
Espresso Machine Schematics
First, let’s familiarize ourselves with coffee-jargon that can expand your understanding of different parameters that can be tweaked in an espresso machine.
- Bars of Pressure: Bar is considered as the unit of measurement, noting the pressure at which coffee is extracted. Nine bars of pressure would be considered as an appropriate rating for a perfect cup of espresso.
- Portafilter: Portafilter is a paper-like piece of equipment through which ground coffee is poured into the machine.
- Dialing in: “Dialing in” refers to altering brewing parameters such as tamp, coffee quantity, temperature, grind ratio, etc.
- Tamp: This term is used when coffee is compressed perfectly in the portafilter. Properly tamped coffee ensures that water does not easily seep through the coffee, and greater solids are dissolved.
How does an Espresso Machine Work: What’s Really Inside?
To understand how an espresso machine works, one must have an idea about the vital parts of such a machine. Keep reading to know more:
Water and Pump
Espresso cannot be made without water. For this reason, every espresso machine needs to have an arrangement for supplying water during the brewing process. One route to fill water is by attaching a water line. Another option is to get an espresso machine that consists of a reservoir to store water.
You must be wondering how this stored water is supposed to mix with your coffee ground/beans? This is where the pump in espresso machines comes into play. Either a vibratory or a rotary pump can be used to pump the water at an ideal pressure of 9 bars. This permits the water to seep through the coffee at the desired pressure.
Rotary pumps are commonly used in commercial coffee machines (at coffee shops) as they require to supply pressure continually. On the other hand, vibratory pumps (much noisier) are used for home coffee makers as they only build pressure when an espresso shot is needed. One must regularly descale their espresso machine to avoid terribly tasting coffee.
All kinds of coffee require the water to be boiled at an almost perfect temperature to make sure that the true essence of the coffee elements can be extracted. This boiling factor can only be implemented when you have a connected one-way valve for the water to pour into the boiler.
Now, boilers also come in different types depending on the espresso machine diagram that your product portrays. Below we have spoken about the three possible boilers that your semi-automatic espresso machine can have.
Single Boiler: Single boilers use the same exact same surface and surface area when you pour water, whether for steaming milk (for a latte) or for brewing espresso. Both these tasks would have to be done in the same tank. Obviously, you cannot do both together and would have to wait for one process to finish.
The temperature setting for brewing espresso and steaming milk vary by a great number of degrees. Single boilers come with a major disadvantage of having to wait for the water to either cool down or heat up once again before switching to your next step. This can be a significant drawback in the case of brewing an espresso while attempting to make a lovely latte. The former will become cold by the time the milk for the latte is steamed.
Dual Boiler: This is the perfect solution for people who struggle with the latte and espresso issue, as mentioned above. Dual boilers consist of 2 tanks, as the name suggests.
Each tank can maintain a unique temperature setting and this proves ideal for brewing espresso and steaming milk for a latte at the same time in different containers.
Heat Exchange: The heat exchange boiler consists of a big tank. On the insides, one can find an isolated section. This isolated section would be separated from the main heating element. The primary purpose of the isolated section is to store water that is cooler and apt for brewing espresso. This lesser temperature of the water is achieved due to constantly pouring water through the isolation chamber into the group head, and repeating this cycle.
Once again, just like the dual boiler, even the heat exchange boiler can offer different temperature chambers. This means that no more waiting exists as you can steam milk and brew the espresso shot simultaneously.
This is the most crucial part of your espresso machine as it accommodates the portafilter in an apt position. When you arrive at the moment that requires pulling the espresso shot, the valve is opened, and this part (group head) pressurizes hot water from your machine, pouring the liquid right through your compressed coffee. Ultimately this is extracted out of the portafilter and gives you a refreshing espresso.
Depending on purpose on purchase – whether for commercial coffee-making or for personalized usage – your espresso machine will come with either 1 or 2 group heads. This is decided following your brewing needs.
If you are looking for a compact and hassle-free coffee-brewing remedy, then you can check out the Nespresso Essenza Mini machine.
Now you know precisely what is happening on the insides of your espresso machine. This guide should have also equipped you with the basics of brewing coffee from your very own espresso machine.
I’m Louis Huynh & I’m the guy behind COFFEE MINISTER. In my blog, I share my expertise and help you with your coffee-struggles. I can read coffee like the back of my hand and brew it like it is in coffee shops.