The Inner Workings of Espresso Machines

This post ,on the inner workings of espresso machines, will be of interest to anyone who wishes to understand what goes in to making good quality espresso makers.
When buying an espresso machine you will want to purchase a product that is reliable as, over the course of it’s lifetime, you will be working the device hard. So, what are the components that make up a high quality espresso machine.

Water Reservoir
What many look for in a water reservoir is capacity. However, views can differ on this: some people prefer a large tank whilst others prefer something small as it forces them to clean the reservoir on a regular basis. From the point of view of hygiene, get into the habit of filling and refilling your tank as this will allow your shot to taste much fresher and smoother.
The other thing you will want is ease of access to the tank. Sometimes, particularly on smaller models, there may be obstructions which make accessing sections of the water tank difficult.

Many home espresso machine use a vibrating pump that pushes water into the boiler and then through to the coffee using high degrees of pressure. This pressure is measured in bars, with a ratio of 8-10 being enough to create espresso. If the pressure is set too high then you will need to use finer coffee as the water will be pushed too quickly through the coffee grounds during the extraction process resulting in over extraction.

When looking at the quality of boilers in relation to espresso machines, it is important to note that it is not so much what a boiler is made of but what is it’s thickness and weight. The greater these dimensions then the more usage the boiler will be able to endure during it’s lifetime.

Let me provide the example of a cooking pot in order to make this point. No matter how well made the pot is and regardless of the materials that go into it’s design, if it doesn’t’ have a solid bottom then it’s not going to be able to stand the test of time. Likewise, a boiler made from lightweight materials is much more likely to fluctuate in temperature, thus affecting the consistency and taste of your brew. Stainless steel boilers probably offer the greatest advantages as they never rust.

Portafilter Handle
The portafilter handle, which holds the filter basket, should ideally be made from brass in order to provide it with greater durability. The alternative aluminum handles can weaken as the machine ages. In addition, a strong portafilter handle normally retains more heat and adds to the quality of the drink.
Without the portafilter you can have no espresso. The portafilter works hand in unison with the tamper. The tamper is the device that presses the ground coffee into the portafilter. There are many thousands of tampers on the market but the best are probably those that fit neatly with the portafilter.

A good quality grinder is very important in producing the right quality of grind for flavorsome coffee. High quality, conical grinding disks are required in a machine to prevent the coffee tarring and burning.
The motors used to grind the coffee should also be robustly built. The heavier the motor , the slower the grind will be, resulting in the best quality, ground coffee drink.

Also watch out for dosers. These tools are used on many grinders allowing for pre measured coffee grinds. Having this exact measurement of coffee means the shot will be as ordered, taste great and will not leave excess grinds behind in the espresso machine chamber. Grinders with low cost blades cannot match the power and precision of more powerful blades.

I hope this post has provided you with an appreciation of the inner workings of an espresso machine so the next time you go to buy one you’ll have a better knowledge of what your purchasing.


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