Understanding the Different Types of Espresso Machines

Understanding the Different Types of Espresso Machines_n

Coffee is basically for everyday life, and so far, it hasn’t been proven to cause any health damages. People will keep taking this drink. There are many benefits to the use of making coffee. You being on this page is because you are subconsciously driven by how alert it keeps you on a day full of work, and how it causes you to start your day sharp and ready to go. Basically, without the usage of medical jargon, that’s what you achieve with coffee.

It’s safe to say coffee is somewhat what engine oil is to vehicles, to humans. The alertness it delivers is unprecedented. Everyone loves coffee, but not everyone likes the same flavor of coffee.

And as the saying goes, all espressos are coffee, but not all coffee is espresso. This is simple to understand, in that the bean and the grounded powder is what is referred to as coffee. However, espresso is a preparation process that combines coffee beans from different regions into one.

There are several ways in which coffee can be prepared, and the espresso is just one of them. Amidst the different ways, espresso set itself apart, thanks to its mode and duration of preparation.

Some modes of preparing coffee employ the slow filtering of hot water through the grounded coffee. As a result of this, it’s going to take quite a while before you get your cup of coffee fixed. Yes, that’s the catch with an espresso! You have your cup of coffee in your hand in the shortest possible time, and then you go back to minding your business.

The functioning of the various espresso machines is the same. The espresso drink is achieved with the help of the machine designed to pressurize and shoot near-boiling water through finely-ground coffee beans that are packed into cakes.  When your coffee is prepared like this, you can be sure of getting an aromatic yet complex cup of caffeine-packed drink in just about 30 seconds. Yes, it is that fast.

However, there are several espresso machines out there, but they are all categorized into three major types. These three different types of espresso machines are premised on the ease of use and certain features.

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Types of Automatic Espresso Machines

 There are several products out there, with different features and several technological capabilities fielded. However, all these are categorized into three main sections.

  • Semi-Automatic
  • Fully-Automatic
  • Super-Automatic

 These categorizations have been at one time or the other mentioned in the list compiled above. Here is a more detailed look into what these mean.

Semi-Automatic

This system of automatic espresso machine was first seen with the Gaggia’s first design. Usually, the barista would have pump the piston of the coffee machine manually, just for a shot of coffee.

However, this changed in 1961, with the design proposed by Ernesto Valente. In place of the manual pump, he introduced the motorized pump to get things done.

In this new design, with a single click of a button, you can start and stop the shot being made. This is the basic design of every semi-automatic coffee machine till date, irrespective of the features, maker, or model.

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Last update on 2020-04-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Fully-Automatic

In the fully automated espresso machine, the time needed to control brewing is usually used for other stuffs. You don’t need to worry about managing brewing time; the machine does that for you. However, in this system, you get to control the brewing – which is not the case in semi-automatic machines

In these machines, there is also a feature called flowmeter. This has the function of monitoring and regulating the volume of water passing through the coffee.

Once you have things going on this machine, you can pretty much handoff, but you need to control your grind and tamping of beans.

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De'Longhi ESAM04110S Magnifica Fully Automatic Espresso Machine with Manual Cappuccino System, Silver
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Last update on 2020-04-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Super-Automatic

Most times, this is confused with the fully-automatic espresso machines out there. Super-Automatic espresso machines are those with grinders on board. They help you with the tamping of the beans.

There’s also the possibility of a milk frother to be installed in the machine, thanks to this, the milk is added directly to your cup, and you don’t have to worry about that. 

Another feature of this class of espresso machine is that they are programmable. So, most of the machines listed above can be safely thrown into this class. Though, most will still fit with the other categories.

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Last update on 2020-04-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Other Forms of Espresso Machine Classifications

You can categorize espresso machines as depicted above. However, there are other ways in which these machines can be grouped too, which includes ;

Understanding the Different Types of Espresso Machines_c1
  • Type of Driving Mechanism
  • Structure

These various types are adapted to different ways of application, of which every application form is as essential as it can get.

Classification According to the Driving Mechanism Type

Driving mechanism is a significant factor in the espresso machine. There are four main types of espresso machines based on this categorization.

  • Piston Driven Espresso Machines
  • Steam Driven Espresso Machines
  • Pump Driven Espresso Machines
  • Air-Pump Driven Espresso Machines

The driving mechanism is so important because it influences the effort that needs to be applied by the user so that the machine can work. The driving mechanism is also essential for being an influence on the amount of pressure produced by the espresso machine. These factors are what make the driving mechanism a very compelling factor to consider when trying to purchase your espresso machine.

The Piston Driven Espresso Machine

This is as literal as it can get; this machine works thanks to the presence of a piston. In some other places, you could find it being referred to as a lever-operated espresso machine. Also, the piston driven espresso machine can be categorized in two, which are; Manually Driven Piston Espresso Machine and Spring Driven Piston Espresso Machine.

The piston’s activity makes the pressurized water in this type of espresso machine. This process of creating the pressurized water is referred to as “pulling a shot.” The operation of this machine type is simple, as the user, you just need to pull the piston, and you have your pressurized water shot at your cup.

When the piston is pulled, it produces a pressure of about 8 to 10 bars. This feature is mainly found in the manual espresso machine, as you use your strength to initiate the pull on the mechanism. If you are looking to have the coffee machine in your home, then this is the best machine that’s suited for you.

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De'Longhi EC155 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
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The Steam Driven Espresso Machine

This is quite different from the piston driven espresso machine, but the result is the same, and it comes at a lower price. The device works by making use of pressure from hot water. The structure of this machine is also somewhat different. In that, it possesses a boiler with separate heads. As a result of this, the device can make coffee of various types at the same time.

Sincerely, this is the first type of espresso machine we’ve had in existence. When compared with the pump driven espresso machine, this does not provide as much pressure. The pressure exerted by these type of machines is just enough to afford you a good quality shot of steaming hot coffee.

That’s the catch with steam driven espresso machines. They don’t give you much pressure, but thanks to the steam, you can be sure of an excellent cup of coffee. Hence, if you are strictly running on a budget, but you’d still want to have a machine that makes very great coffee, then a steam-driven one is your best bet.

De'Longhi ECP3220W 15 Bar Espresso Machine with Advanced Cappuccino System, White
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The Pump Driven Espresso Machine

These machine types are the closest there is to the automatic espresso machine. This machine is the first innovation to make use of the electric motor, instead of burning physical energy from a person. Due to its near automatic functionality, it is one of the most popular espresso machines you’d find on the market.

Specifically, the pump used in this machine is the Solenoid Piston Pump, which is one of the positive displacement models.

This type of machine has an upside, in that there is a steady dispense of pressure and flow. Hence, you don’t have to worry about inconsistency. This is one of the reasons why the pump driven espresso machine also became popular, just like the steam driven espresso machines. It is by no mistake that this is one of the most popular among customers, as it has risen to be one of the most sought-after home appliance.

Saeco 00126 Gran Crema Traditional Pump Driven Espresso Machine
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Last update on 2020-04-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Air Pump Driven Espresso Machine

Innovation is one major characteristic of technology, and it is also evident in the art of making coffee. The air pump driven espresso machine is one of the recent inventions of the coffee world. Unlike the piston, the air pump driven espresso machine makes use of compressed air in the creation of the pressure needed to pull your shot.

The pressured hot water is released to the coffee beans by the air pump. The pulled hot water is then ducted through the thermo flask, either with the help of an electric compressor or a hand pump. This, in turn produces compressed air.

For this appliance, the usage of Nitrogen can also be employed in the creation of the pressure, just as you can make use of the carbon dioxide cartridge too. This system of the machine was introduced to the world in the 21st century, and as we speak, innovative works are going on to make sure that this machine becomes an all-in-one machine for the espresso.

The unique selling point of the air-pump-driven espresso machine is that it is very lightweight and small in size so that you can have it anywhere; even in your dorm room.

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Last update on 2020-04-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Types of Espresso Machines Based on Their Structures

The structure is another basis for the classification of espresso machines, and there is no standard best of them all. The structure you prefer is entirely up to you. The type of coffee you would love to make influences the kind of coffee maker you go home with.

Understanding the Different Types of Espresso Machines_c2

According to structure, there are quite several variants based on mechanism, shape, components, merits, and cons.

The Stove Top Espresso Machine

In some people’s opinion, this is not an espresso machine. This is because the machine is designed in such a way that it makes use of a Moka Pot. The Moka Pot is one that seems traditional but can get your coffee ready in no time. All it has to do is to sit on the stove. In the case of this system, the pressure generated is a result of the mechanical movements on some parts of the machine. This is an entirely manual process and consumes much human effort.

If your budget is as low as it can be, this is probably your only option of getting homemade coffee daily. But know that you are going to put so much effort into making the most of it. Cost is another selling point, as you spend so low on acquiring and maintaining this machine.

On the machine, there is also the presence of a water reservoir, which is sitting under the brewing compartment. Once the brewing of the coffee is complete, you can get served in your cup. Getting your drink at hand will only take about three steps. That’s the extent to which it’s manual, which you can still live with, yeah?

Anyways, according to some users, the drink from this machine is off what they know as espresso. Let’s just say its coffee. Are you looking for a coffee maker that wouldn’t cost you much? Then this is the real deal.

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Bialetti 06800 Express Moka Pot, 6 -Cup, Aluminum Silver
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The Lever Espresso Machine

This is the same as the lever espresso machine mentioned earlier in this read. A lever machine is a manual machine, which generates just the power needed to make the perfect cup of coffee. Just as the lever is pulled, the coffee bean is struck by the high-pressure water. This marks the start of an interesting coffee preparation.

The lever machines were the only options available in preparing espresso drinks before the espresso machines came out.

Many people love to use this machine because of the lever; it is fun to operate. But, there is a need for you to grind the beans, add a sufficient amount of water, and see your drink being prepared.

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The Pod Espresso Machine

This machine is a bit different from the conventional ones, in that instead of coffee beans, it makes use of ESE pods. This comes with a limitation, such that you cannot prepare just any type of coffee.

Understanding the Different Types of Espresso Machines_c3

 The flavor or brand of coffee you’d make is all dependent on the fitting pod around the coffee maker you’ve got. Hence, to enjoy a particular kind of coffee, you need to ensure that the coffee maker fits. The catch about this type of coffee maker is that it is straightforward and takes less time.

This machine is also known to need fewer skills and effort, and you can place your trust in the quality of espresso it doles out.

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Final Take/Conclusion

Espresso is a great drink, but with only the right machine that’s adapted to your preference and need, you can then be sure of perfection. The different type of devices have different strengths and weaknesses; you just have to make your pick.

This list is a compilation of the various ways in which espresso machines are categorized, with the pros and cons of each category explicitly stated. We hope from now on; you enjoy great coffee moments because you deserve it.

Ivan is a 24-year old graphic design and computer science student from Serbia who loves driving motorcycle in his free time and is absolutely obsessed with nature, sports and hanging out with friends.

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