Espresso Coffee Machines: 20 Tips for Not Being Disappointed
The series of articles I wrote on espresso machines had a huge success. We have received many comments and a flood of emails, some doubts have already been duly addressed through answers I have posted, other obscure points will be addressed now. I value the readers of QVinho, so much that I answer all the comments left here in the blog, even so it is almost impossible to meet individually. So I decided to compile more information for premium espresso machines doubts, those that invariably populate the minds of espresso neophytes.
1. I am in doubt if I buy a machine of the mark X, Y or Z. Which one is better?
There are many brands of espresso machine for domestic use, the best are made in Italy, usually by the same industries that supply the professional market. Espresso Machine is like car has outstanding, top of the line, intermediate and popular: To take home a La Marzocco GS / 3 would be out of range due to sophistication and the very high price.
Top of the line is a machine that employs components used in professional equipment (for cafeterias). They are expensive, durable, and obviously make great espresso. Astoria , Dalla Corte , Elektra , Nuova Simonelli , Pasquini , La Cimbali , La Spaziale , Rancilio , Victoria Arduino , Vibiemme , Brasilia , Expobar and Grimac are trademarks appearing in coffee shops around the world and also the home of many espresso aficionado.
Intermediaries are the ones offering the best value for money. Brands like Saeco , Gaggia , La Pavoni , Solis , Francis Francis! , Ascaso and Jura Capresso are the best known worldwide. They do not have the same prestige as Line Tops, although they are able to bring together fundamental characteristics for a good machine. These manufacturers rarely employ the constructive refinements of Top machines.
Finally we came in the popular, economical machines, designed to cost little. Delonghi , Ariete and Krups are the most famous. Then comes the rest, unfamiliar ones that become attractive due to the low cost. FunKitchen, Zeex, Britânia and Espressione were the most cited by QVinho’s readers.
A popular car fulfills its function (as a means of transportation) as well as a top-of-the-line model, just as a popular machine fulfills its function (making coffee) as well as one out of the ordinary. Obviously, guiding a Maseratti is not the same as a Uno, so it is no use comparing one thing with another.
It is good not to forget that the quality of the espresso drink does not depend only on the machine, there are many other factors in this equation.
2. I bought a popular machine and I’m not satisfied with the quality of espresso, is the problem in the machine?
Probably not, but how can I say for sure? These manufacturers do not even tell you where they produce the equipment. How to trust? I can not. They do not disclose important technical data, but they sell to a very good “comrade”. If you have bought one of these and are dissatisfied, do not complain, put your hand in the dough and try to make it work in the best possible way.
3. My espresso comes out watery and without cream. Is the problem in the machine?
Perhaps. Considering the low price you paid (if you bought a popular one), this is probably the best result. Anyway, time the extraction time, if the espresso leaves before 20 seconds you will have to fine-tune the coffee grind (or compress it harder). The ideal time for a regular espresso (30ml) should be greater than 20 seconds. In fact many coffees ask for an even longer time, 30 or 40 seconds.
The video below shows in detail the extraction at Saeco Via Venezia. I used the blend of the Holy Grain and a custom filter holder, solid and without pressurizing valve (the original is pressurized and with the plastic outlet). I got a tasty, creamy espresso with 36 seconds of extraction.
4. I made a thinner grind and compacted harder, but now the coffee does not come out. What is going on?
You exaggerated. Try not to crush so hard or grind the coffee slightly thicker. Beware of the pressurized filter holder (one that has a valve that promises “creamy” coffee), they do not usually accept good compaction.
5. I do not have a mill, how do I?
Try to adjust only by hand, ie by making proper compression.
6. The coffee still comes out weak and with little cream. Is the machine not good?
Perhaps, nevertheless, it is good not to forget the role of the mill. Without this equipment it is difficult to solve the formula milling + compacting = adequate time of extraction.
7. Should I buy a mill?
If you like espresso the answer is yes!
8. I bought a mill, tried various adjustments and was still dissatisfied with the espresso. Is my mill bad?
Probably not. Household mills usually achieve a satisfactory result.
9. I’ve tried thousands of milling and compacting variations, but I still find the espresso a little weak and with thinning cream.
It may be the temperature of the machine. If the extraction time is adequate, it is very likely that the water is not at the proper temperature. Turn on the machine and warm it up before you start.
10. I left the machine on for a long time, now the espresso comes out bitter and with very dark cream. What’s the problem?
It warmed up too much.
11. I have already done and I have restated everything that has been mentioned so far, yet I am still dissatisfied with espresso, what should I do?
Maybe you need a better machine. Start making a savings and in parallel search the internet for the prices of good espresso machines (see Q.1).
12. Do not want to invest in new equipment, is there not an easier way, a manual, a recipe to get a decent espresso?
Does not exist. Just good coffee, good equipment and proper procedures.
13. I do not want to learn the science of making a good espresso, I just want a good coffee. There is a way?
Of course yes! Capsule machines like Nespresso came up to fill that need. Although you get a satisfactory result on the espresso without having to pay a high figure with machine and mill, the price of the capsules ends up being the Achilles heel.
14. And the superautomatic? Are they easy to use like capsules?
No. They are more practical than semiautomatic and more economical than capsules. Superautomatic machines have an internal mill that needs to be adjusted according to the type of coffee. It is not “plug and play” as a capsule.
15. Which type of espresso machine is best?
Quite a relative question. I’ll try to summarize:
For those who are not fussy and want to spend a little: A popular semi-automatic.
Who is demanding and can spend $ 1,000 or more: An intermediate semi-automatic with a mill.
Who is demanding both convenience and does not intend to take many cafes per day: Nespresso
For those who are not fussy and want practicality, besides taking many cafes by day: A superautomática.
For those who are fond want is an espresso as good as those of the best coffee: Any machine of top of the line brands, some of the intermediate team also play very well. A good mill is also indispensable.
16. Where can I buy my espresso machine?
First decide how much you want to spend, then search the internet for budget-compatible brands. Finally, contact the manufacturer to know where to buy it and if you have technical assistance in your area.
17. Is it possible to buy over the Internet in a store outside Brazil?
Yes. You will have to pay international shipping, in addition to import charges that levied on the total amount (cost of goods + freight). It is an import like any other, subject to bureaucracy imposed by the IRS. DHL and Fedex are the best transportation options. I do not recommend this type of purchase, since Brazilian norms do not favor this practice, but it is still a viable alternative to buy something that does not exist in Brazilian lands.
18. What brand of coffee should I buy?
The quality of the coffee is key, without a high-level grain the espresso experience is compromised. The best beans are classified as Special (visit the website of BSCA and learn to recognize a special coffee) My favorites are: Daterra Sweet Collection ( Atelie Coffee ), Blend Holy Grain , Farm Braunstone , Cafeera , Suplicy , Lucca and Farm Peach trees . Buy only fresh coffee, with a roasting date of less than 30 days.
19. In addition to QVinho, where can I read and learn about espresso?
Espresso Top 50
My bookmarks on Delicious
20. Is that all?
Espresso is not just a drink, it’s a style, a particular way of drinking coffee. It is not just a machine, it is a process, a sensory and perceptual experience. Open your eyes and head, then just enjoy the joke.