There are so many types of Espresso makers available on the market today… how is a consumer every going to be able to make a choice? Some machines are piston driven. Others are steam driven. Then there are the ones that are pump driven. There are also big differences from one machine to the next when it comes to manual versus automatic. You’ve got semi-automatic, automatic and super-automatic Espresso machines. To help you find the best Espresso machine for home, I explain below what the major differences are between these machines.
Piston Driven Espresso Machine Makers best value super automatic espresso machine
A piston is sometimes called a lever. The piston driven Espresso maker was invented by the Italian Achille Gaggia in the year 1945. That name might sound familiar to you. This is because Mr. Gaggia is the founder of Gaggia Espresso makers. The design of the piston driven coffee maker, uses a lever. The lever is pumped by the operator to pressurize hot water and send it through the coffee grinds. When the water was hot enough, the operator had to pull a handle to produce a shot of Espresso.
In modern days, we still have lever based machines. There are manual piston machines and spring piston machines. With the manual machine, the operator pushes the water through the grinds directly. With the spring piston, the operator puts tension on the spring, which then produces enough pressure to make the best Espresso it can. The pressure is usually 8 to 10 bar.
Steam Driven Espresso Machine Makers
In a steam driven Espresso machine, steam is used to create enough pressure to send hot water through coffee grinds to make a good Espresso. The very first coffee makers were steam driven. A boiler was piped through four group heads so that the machine could make various types of Espresso at a time. This design is still used in low-cost consumer machines. The great thing about it is that this design does not require moving parts. It hardly ever breaks down because of it. The repair costs are kept at a minimum this way.
Pump Driven Espresso Machine Makers
The pump driven coffee machine is actually a refinement of the piston driven machine. Instead of having to apply force manually, the pump is driven by a motor. In commercial applications, these machines are often attached to the plumbing of the building where the coffee maker resides. Some high end home Espresso makers also have this construction. The low end machines usually have water reservoirs.
Espresso Machine Automaticity
In modern times, Espresso maker manufacturers can include pumps, valves, grinders and sensors to help automate the Espresso brewing process. These types of coffee makers are called automatic.
Semi-automatic: Water is delivered by a pump and not by manual force. Remaining brew pressure is dissipated using a three way valve.
Automatic: A programmed amount of water flows through a flowmeter. Then, the pump is automatically shut down. The brew pressure is released through a solenoid valve.
Super-automatic: Everything is automated. The coffee is ground, tamped and extracted. The only thing the operator needs to do is fill the bean hopper. In the case where the machine uses a water reservoir, it needs to be refilled on a frequent basis.