How to Make Espresso

Choosing the right coffee beans and using the right water is very important to make a great espresso coffee. In the super automatic espresso machine, when you press the button, the right quantity of fresh coffee beans are grinded to provide the shot. To make real espresso, buy coffee beans with low oil content as this allows the beans to fall smoothly into the grinder. The filtered water provides the right balance of minerals, allowing you make better espresso coffee, and increasing the lifetime of your espresso machine. Choose a machine equipped with a charcoal water filters which will remove calcium from tap water.

The Origins of Espresso Coffee in Italy

Espresso Coffee, the most popular beverage in italy, is a thick, bittersweet elixir made by pressing 7 gram (0.25 oz) layer of ground coffee beans, and allowing a jet of hot water at 90°C (195°F) passes with a pressure of 10 or more atmospheres through it. The typical serving size of Espresso Coffee in Italy is half Espresso cup, 30 ml (one oz), but it contains a more concentrated amount of caffeine than a standard American Coffee. The Espresso Coffee is also the base to make an other very popular coffee beverage, the Cappuccino.In 1901, in an attempt to brew Coffee faster than usual, Mr. Luigi Bezzera built an innovative machine that pushed water through ground coffee with steam pressure. The flavored cup of Coffee was brewed much faster than a normal cup, that’s why the name Espresso Coffee, meaning, quick Coffee. The new Espresso Coffee machine was sold all over Europe, and during the years the technology and performance were improved by introducing a hand powered piston pump first, and an electric pump in the late ’60s.

The Expansion of Coffee Shops

To enjoy a real cup of Espresso you have to go to a Bar, the Italian name for Coffee shop. To prepare the real Espresso Coffee, as it is made in Italian Coffee shops, is necessary to have a special machinery and being skilled following some training courses as Barista. A good Barista knows all the secrets of Coffee, from the green coffee plants to equipments to prepare Espresso and Cappuccino. The task of a Barista is to calibrate the grind, tamp the right amount of coffee into the filter, and be carefull of time, temperature and pressure of the machine when starting with the jet of hot water. Thanks to the quick expansion of the coffee chain Starbucks, the Espresso’s popularity in the US and Asia has continued to grow in recent years, and now also Italian Coffee chains such as Illy and Lavazza are opening their own Coffee shops, and you can enjoy the real Italian Espresso Coffee that is a little different from Starbucks.

How an Espresso Machine Works

The Espresso Machines allow you have always ready steam and brew at the same time. The water in the boiler, maintained at a temperature of about 110° C under pressure, will push water from boiler to grouphead while pulling, and will provide steam for frothing milk. Boiler pressure is betweern 1.2 and 1.4 bar, just enough to push water into the pre infusion group and have the water in liguid form. The pre infusion group is separated from the boiler, so the temperature of water drops to around 92° C while brewing the boiler to the grouphead.

How to Choose the Right Espresso Machine

There are several brands and models of espresso machine on the market, from a manual espresso machine, called lever machine, to a super automatic:

Manual Espresso Machine

Manual espresso machine or lever espresso machine was the first espresso machine launched on the market, and the system is based on high pressure rather than steam power of the automatic modern machines. There are two kinds of lever machnes, Spring Piston Lever and Direct Lever Machines. Both of manual machines have a boiler water that runs at steaming temperatures, require a lot of practise, and need some physical work to operate.

Spring Piston Lever
You use the lever to compress the calibrated spring (around 9 bar) into the starting position, and it will will push water through a bed of ground coffee at a specific pressure when the lever will point up. They are still used because it’s up to the barista to determine:

  • Time for the pre infusion : the pre infusion is the main factor in producing a good espresso coffee. Lever espresso machines allow you control how much time brewing water will be over the bed of coffee. The right time is different for every machine, and also depends on grind, coffee freshness, dose of coffee, water temperatures, filter basket size.
  • Amount of water : by cocking 2-3 times the spring in the middle of the pull, you can control how much water flows through the bed of coffee, and also when you want to add extra water. In the automatic machines you have to program the amount of water, and to change it, you have to re programme.
  • Time to pull the shot : the secret to make a great espresso coffee is to know when to introduce water into the grouphead piston after the initial load, if after the initial brewing water has been used or if when almost all of water has been used.

Direct Lever Machine
The direct lever machine uses your hand as pump rather than spring piston system. You can see if it is a direct lever espresso machine from the down resting position of the lever. To get a great espresso coffee. you have to push down on the lever with a good touch, and since every coffee blend is different, you must find the right pressure for your blend.

Super Automatic Espresso Machine

If you are a coffee lover and have the time to practice the art of making espresso using a manual espresso machine, you’ll never buy an automatic machine. If you are always busy and want an excellent espresso at the touch of a button, you will choose an automatic machine. The super automatic espresso machine can do everything from grind your chosen coffee to filter your brewing water with low maintenance. Your only need to turn the machine on and let 2 minutes warm up. The super automatic machines are pre-programmed by the manufacturer to dispense the right amount of water, but you can re-program to better fit your taste. Also you have the option to change the fineness of the grind that will influence the speed of the espresso pour and effect flavor characteristics.

Pods and Capsules Automatic Espresso Machine

Between manual and super automatic machines you can choose an Automatic or Semi Automatic Machine that use ground coffee rather than beans. In 1961 Faema has become the most popular espresso bar with an innovative piston machine that instead of using manual force, used a motor-driven pump to provide the force necessary for espresso brewing. It is now very popular also for home uses, you have to place an amount of ground coffee (around 7gr.) in a a portafilter and press a little. In a Semi Automatic Machines you have just to press a button for 4-5 seconds to brew your coffee while in the Automatic Machines even the volume of water is pre-programmed by the manufacturer. To spread the use of coffee in homes around the world, the main coffee brands lately launched on the market ESE Pods (Easy Serving Espresso) and Espresso Capsules and relative Automatic Machines that make coffee preparation easier. Espresso Pods and Espresso Capsules are 2 different ways to make a great espresso with a pre-measured amount of coffee. ESE Pods are similar to teabags, just round, to be placed inside a special filter of your espresso machine. All Espresso Machines that have a portafilter can brew coffee using either ground coffee or ESE pod. While an ESE pod can be used also on a manual machine, Espresso Capsule requires a single-serve Espresso Machine that is compatible with the capsule. Each coffee brand has its own line of espresso capsules in design and size that is only compatible with it.