When it comes to coffee, the espresso is considerably the most versatile drink that you can easily manipulate in order to create a variety of coffee drinks. With that, here’s everything you need to know on what to look for in getting a beginner espresso machine. Used as the base for some of the most popular coffee beverages such as latte and cappuccino, learning how to pull a good shot of espresso is one of the first things any coffee enthusiast should know. However, pulling an espresso shot is not as easy as brewing a pot of coffee. It requires a particular technique and knowledge about the process.
What is Espresso?
As mentioned earlier, espresso is often used as a base for several coffee beverages and drinks commonly served in coffee shops, such as cappuccinos, lattes, mocha, and more. But what is exactly is an espresso? The espresso is a highly concentrated form of coffee that is typically pulled and served in shots. It has a strong flavor and a thick consistency that has a notably high caffeine concentration. This full-flavored character makes it ideal for recipes that add several ingredients to the espresso shot, such as milk, to create a whole different drink and flavor.
How to Make Espresso
Considering that the espresso shot is commonly used as the base coffee ingredient for various coffee beverages, any coffee enthusiast needs to know and learn how to properly pull a shot of espresso using a beginner espresso machine:
- Fill your espresso machine’s portafilter with an appropriate amount of freshly ground coffee. It is important to make sure that you use the right dose or amount of ground coffee to ensure that you don’t go under or over-extract your shot.
- The proper dose would depend primarily on the basket volume of portafilter and the shot you are trying to pull to serve as a guide. Generally, a double portafilter basket would fit 18g to 25g of ground coffee that is perfect for pulling either one or double shot espresso.
- Evenly distribute the grounds by gently tapping the portafilter handle or use a distribution tool if you have one. Avoid any form of air pocket by tamping the coffee ground into a flat and even level.
- To do so, put ample pressure to compress the coffee grounds adequately. Spinning the tamper on will ensure that the surface is smooth and flat.
- After ensuring that the espresso machine is clean, insert the portafilter handle into the group head to finally start brewing the espresso.
- Pulling the shot should only take 20-30 seconds. The espresso machine would automatically stop, or you have the option to stop the brewing process at your preferred time manually.
Why You Need an Espresso Machine
Obviously, you would need an espresso machine in order to pull an authentic espresso shot. But before we head on to the whats and whys of a beginner espresso machine, let us first go over the different types of espresso machines that you can choose from:
Manual Espresso Machines
Manual espresso machines require the utmost precision and attention when pulling an espresso shot as it has little to no pre-programmed settings that would help. This feature allows users to control every part of the brewing process that can either result in a perfectly good espresso shot or an under or over-extracted espresso. This particular espresso type is known to be durable but can be too difficult to use for beginners.
Semi-automatic Espresso Machines
Relatively easier to use, semi-automatic espresso machines come with electric and pre-programmed functions that offer several control settings that are not found in manual espresso machines. This type of espresso machine still offers a relatively high level of control but with fewer risks of screwing the brewing process.
Automatic Espresso Machines
Fully automatic espresso machines are highly efficient and convenient coffee machines that can instantly produce espresso shots with just a button press. However, this programmed feature takes control out of your hands and is not ideal for those who enjoy a particular taste for their espresso.
Things to Consider When Choosing An Espresso Machine
When it comes to beginner espresso machines, the most suitable options are semi-automatic and automatic espresso machines. However, choosing the best is not as simple as choosing the espresso machine type but actually involves a whole lot of factors to consider. With that, here are some of the things you should consider when you’re choosing the best beginner espresso machine for you.
Ease of Use
The ease of use and convenience is specifically important when it comes to a beginner espresso machine. Considering that pulling an espresso shot requires technique and precision, having an espresso machine that could offer some kind of support throughout the process would be ideal.
Considering the plethora of espresso machines in the market comes with different styles, designs, and features, the espresso machine’s price can help limit your choice to a specific price range. Regardless, the multitude of options also allows you to find an espresso machine model that is considered the best value for money, depending on your needs and your budget.
Extra Features and Settings
Aside from ease of use and price, there are some specific functions and features that you can look for in a good beginner espresso machine. This includes a built-in grinder, a water filter, a relatively large water reservoir, a cup warmer, a frothing wand, and a variety of programmable settings that could help you make coffee easier and faster.
Knowing that there is a multitude of espresso machines in the market nowadays, choosing the best espresso machine can be a little tricky, especially if you have little to no idea what to look for. Hopefully, this article was able to provide you with the information that you need in order to choose the most suitable espresso machine for your needs. Here’s more to learn about espresso machines.