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Help Choosing A Espresso Machine - Gaggia UK
There are a number of espresso machines in the market place. What are the basic differences?
There are broadly two types of espresso machines. One is a pressure machine and the other a pump operated machine. More and more manufacturers are bringing out pump operated machines as these are the machines which can make an authentic espresso.
A pressure machine works on the similar principle to a radiator in a car. Water is boiled in a chamber and this builds pressure and steam. The boiling water is forced, by the pressure built up within the chamber, through the ground coffee to make the espresso. The steam generated is used for steaming or frothing milk. The disadvantage with this system is that the water is too hot to make an authentic espresso as it is at boiling point. The steam usually is inadequate for large amounts of cappuccino. As there is pressure inside the chamber you cannot open the chamber until you cool the machine down.
On the other hand the pump machine has a separate tank which can be accessed at any time, and filled as when required, and a boiler that is used to heat the water to usually about 85-90 degrees C, which is the ideal temperature for espresso. The boiler is thermostatically controlled.
If the basic difference is this why so many machines?
There are two basic things you need to watch.
- The pump pressure of the machine - You only require a pump pressure of 8-10 bar to produce a real espresso (even on a bar machine). Usually a machine with a nominal pressure of 15 bar is more than adequate.
- The temperature at which the espresso is served is so important that machines that have the right features will help you to make the perfect espresso at the right temperature with minimal heat loss.
If you are interested in good espresso but do not want to learn the art of making it with a high degree of skill there are now a number of BEAN TO CUP MACHINES available. eg: Syncrony Digital, Syncrony Logic, Syncrony Compact, Trevi Exclusive and the Jura Impressa Range
Below is a Table of the different features that come on
the machines and what they mean.
||What it means
|Aluminium Filter Holder - available on Gran
||Brass Chrome Plated Filter Holder - available on Espresso, Espresso Deluxe, Espresso Evolution, Carezza, Coffee, Coffee Deluxe, Classic, Baby, Tebe, Paros
||Filter holders should be kept warm (hot) as this is the first piece that comes into contact with the hot water. If this is cold you will loose temperature very quickly. Make sure you look at the metal used on the filter holder. Most basic models have aluminium filter holders. They are inexpensive and light but serve a useful purpose because aluminium is a good heat conductor. They will work well if you ensure they are always kept in contact with the brew head of the machine to keep it hot. If you do not keep it in contact the filter holder looses its heat very quickly. On the other hand filter holders made with brass (usually chrome plated) are ideal. They take a little longer to warm up but retain the heat better. They are usually heavier and are more controllable. This is the type used with bar machines.
|Boiler Rating 750W - available on Gran
||Boiler Rating 1425W - available on Espresso, Espresso Deluxe, Espresso Evolution, Carezza, Coffee, Coffee Deluxe, Classic, Baby, Tebe, Paros
||The rating on the boiler can determine the time it takes to initially warm the machine to the required temperature. It also determines how long it takes for the machine to recover after each time it is used to make a few espressos.
|Plastic Body - available on Gran, Espresso, Espresso Deluxe Espresso Evolution, Carezza, Baby
||Metal Body - available on Coffee, Coffee Deluxe, Classic Chrome, Tebe, Paros
||The construction of the body is mainly a feature suited to individual taste but the heavier the machine the easier it is to control the machine, especially when you have to fit and remove the filter holder. Metal bodied machines are therefore preferred by people who want the machine to be more substantial.
|Plastic Cup Warmer available on Gran, Espresso, Espresso Deluxe Espresso Evolution, Baby
||Metal Cup Warmer - available on Coffee, Coffee Deluxe, Classic, Tebe, Paros
||The cup should be warm before it is used to make the espresso. If you extract espresso into a cold cup you quickly loose the temperature. Most basic models do not come with cup warmers. If you have a cup warmer make sure you use it.
|Mechanical Valve - available on Gran, Espresso, Espresso Deluxe Espresso Evolution, Coffee, Coffee Deluxe
||Solonoid Valve - available on Baby, Classic, Tebe, Paros
||Some of the more expensive machines feature a solenoid valve instead of mechanical valve to control the water flow. The water pressure is increased at the point of delivery and is also shut off as soon as you finish the extraction. Any excess water is siphoned off into the 'dreg' tray.