There are a number of ways to make espresso.  The cheapest methods usually are called espresso machines, but technically do not make espresso as they use steam to produce coffee.  These are most of the machines that cost less than a hundred dollars.  From there you can go in several directions.  

There are superautomatics – you put in coffee and it does it all for you including grinding the beans.  These tend to be very expensive and even the ones that run many thousands of dollars cannot produce very good espresso compared to much cheaper equipment used by a barista who has read a little about making coffee.

There are easy serve machines like pod machines and these are a big step up from superautomatics, but the pods are very expensive relative to non pod coffee and while  they aren’t bad they also will never reach the heights of a good barista (but they are much better than a bad one).

SBDU – Single boiler units have a pump and first you brew the coffee and then you flip a switch to heat the water to the right temperature for steaming.  On average they run from $100-$1000.

HX – heat exchangers – this is probably my favorite category.  They are more expensive than SBDU (most seem to run $1000-5000), but on average are far better built and the limitation is no longer the machine, but instead the barista.  The design is clever and allows the barista to steam and produce espresso at the same time

DB – double boilers – these tend to be the most expensive machines.  They have a boiler for the espresso and one for steam allowing you to have each at the ideal temperature for their intended purpose at the same time.  Some experts think these are a step up from HX machines and some do not.  I fall into the latter camp and think of them as parallel, but again it is a matter of taste and priorities.  At first a DB is certainly easier to use. These usually run from around $2,000-$10,000!

Lever machines – these are where espresso really got going.  Instead of a pump you use a lever to push the water through the coffee.  There are two classes of these – those with a spring and those where you push through – the manual lever.  

There are, of course, exceptiions to these rules such as the new Silvano, CC1, etc, all of which sound like great ideas and clever compromises.  Hmm, I wonder who could write a blog entry explaining the idea behind a machine like the Silvano?  (Perhaps someone who bought one recently – hint hint).

 

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Comments

Submitted by EricBNC on
<br>I will put up some information on the Silvano - it is a bit of a hybrid like the Crossland.

Submitted by jbviau on
I think you've covered ESE pods here, but the capsule systems (Nespresso, etc.) probably deserve a nod as well.

Submitted by Single Serve Coffee (not verified) on
I think you should mention single-serve espresso machines like <a href="http://www.aromacup.com/single-serve-brew-systems/nespresso/">Nespresso Machines </a> or iperEspresso machines by illy. They make very Espresso and you as consumer will save a lot of money.

Submitted by wakeknot on
you are right thanks for pointing that out. they are better than most super autos and probably about as good as you can do without a good grinder (although not comparable with a good machine and a good grinder).

the basic types of espresso machines

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There are a number of ways to make espresso.  The cheapest methods usually are called espresso machines, but technically do not make espresso as they use steam to produce coffee.  These are most of the machines that cost less than a hundred dollars.  From there you can go in several directions.  

There are superautomatics – you put in coffee and it does it all for you including grinding the beans.  These tend to be very expensive and even the ones that run many thousands of dollars cannot produce very good espresso compared to much cheaper equipment used by a barista who has read a little about making coffee.

There are easy serve machines like pod machines and these are a big step up from superautomatics, but the pods are very expensive relative to non pod coffee and while  they aren’t bad they also will never reach the heights of a good barista (but they are much better than a bad one).

SBDU – Single boiler units have a pump and first you brew the coffee and then you flip a switch to heat the water to the right temperature for steaming.  On average they run from $100-$1000.

HX – heat exchangers – this is probably my favorite category.  They are more expensive than SBDU (most seem to run $1000-5000), but on average are far better built and the limitation is no longer the machine, but instead the barista.  The design is clever and allows the barista to steam and produce espresso at the same time

DB – double boilers – these tend to be the most expensive machines.  They have a boiler for the espresso and one for steam allowing you to have each at the ideal temperature for their intended purpose at the same time.  Some experts think these are a step up from HX machines and some do not.  I fall into the latter camp and think of them as parallel, but again it is a matter of taste and priorities.  At first a DB is certainly easier to use. These usually run from around $2,000-$10,000!

Lever machines – these are where espresso really got going.  Instead of a pump you use a lever to push the water through the coffee.  There are two classes of these – those with a spring and those where you push through – the manual lever.  

There are, of course, exceptiions to these rules such as the new Silvano, CC1, etc, all of which sound like great ideas and clever compromises.  Hmm, I wonder who could write a blog entry explaining the idea behind a machine like the Silvano?  (Perhaps someone who bought one recently – hint hint).

 

Category: BLOG

@intrepid

November 6, 2011 | by wakeknot

thanks!

@singleserveespresso

November 6, 2011 | by wakeknot

you are right thanks for pointing that out. they are better than most super autos and probably about as good as you can do without a good grinder (although not comparable with a good machine and a good grinder).

@jbviau

November 6, 2011 | by wakeknot

good point you are right

Everything looks about how

November 5, 2011 | by intrepid510

Everything looks about how it should.

What about Nespresso machines?

September 19, 2011 | by Single Serve Coffee

I think you should mention single-serve espresso machines like Nespresso Machines or iperEspresso machines by illy. They make very Espresso and you as consumer will save a lot of money.

Don't forget capsules

September 17, 2011 | by jbviau

I think you've covered ESE pods here, but the capsule systems (Nespresso, etc.) probably deserve a nod as well.

excellent

September 17, 2011 | by wakeknot

I was hoping you would!

Nice read

September 17, 2011 | by EricBNC


I will put up some information on the Silvano - it is a bit of a hybrid like the Crossland.

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