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Espresso Machine Buying Guide

espresso being pouredWhen trying to choose the right coffee or espresso machine, the huge number of choices you have can make it pretty difficult to come to a confident decision on which is the best for you. Electricshopping.com has one of the largest ranges of coffee and espresso machines in the UK online store, so we have written this guide to give you a helping hand! We will first go into the basics of what goes into making an espresso, and then describe what you should look out for in making your decision.

The A B C’s of making espresso

The Italians view the skill of making an espresso a fine art, and don’t take it lightly. In the past, a skilled ‘barista’ could go far in society simply for their insight into coffee making!  The ‘art’ of espresso making is to try and extract as much flavour from the coffee with as little water as possible, therefore the only way to do this is to pass water through the coffee grounds at high pressure. A by-product of this method is that true espresso will have a light foamy layer on the top, which is called the crema layer.

The need for high pressure water means that what separates mediocre espresso machines from great ones is the amount of pressure that they can build up, and for a professional tasting slurp, you should look for machines that offer above 10 – 12 bar pressure.

Espresso Machine Types

Just like most other home appliances, you can buy espresso machines that let you do some of the work, and others that do everything for you. Fully automatic machines are referred to as ‘Bean to Cup’ machines, as they will grind the coffee beans on demand, boil and dispense the water in predefined measures, and then even dispose of the spent coffee grounds in a waste container.

A relatively recent change in making espresso is the introduction of coffee pod and capsules, that remove worries of getting the right measure of coffee, and also means less mess. This is a good way to start your experience with espresso making, but seasoned would steer away from these as they sometimes may not deliver as much flavour or aroma as freshly ground coffee. If you opt for a pod machine, it’s useful to also check if it can use coffee grounds, just in case you run out of pods at that all important moment.

One final thing to think about is how much espresso will you be making? If you will be making over 50 cups a day, as well as using the machine for supplying hot water for other hot drinks, consider looking into machines with more than one espresso head, and a large boiler. These are not displayed on our website, but are available from us, so call us if you need any more information. However, as these machines are designed for commercial use, prices start at about a thousand pounds.

Espresso machines can be found in many shapes and sizes, but two types worth noting are lever and pump machines. Pumps are the most common and use an electric pump to build pressure and pass water through the coffee. Lever machines, such as the Gaggia G100 series, are the truly old fashioned type that requires the user to manually press down a leaver to push the water through the coffee. These are often placed in full view in the kitchen as they make both great espresso and great talking points!

For those who love cappuccinos and lattes, many espresso machines come with steam tubes. This allows you to warm and froth milk, for that perfect and authentic cappuccino, all you’ll need to complete the picture is a sprinkle of cocoa on the top!

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