These espresso machines are what you should not buy!
Good espresso has been called many names, ranging from romantic to sensational. Francesco Illy called it a "solution of sugars, caffeine, acids and proteins; a suspension of tiny particles of coffee beans and minute bubbles of gas; an emulsion of oils and colloids...
That is how sophisticated espresso is to many people. Therefore, the espresso machines that produced these true espresso does have to fulfilled some basic criteria, if not, it would not be any different from a filter drip coffee maker right?
To get a real espresso, the precise weight is 7 grams and it has to be packed (professionally known as tamped) into a filter holder. After that, hot water of between 195 to 205 F would have to be forced through this filter holder.
**Never make the mistake about using boiling water as this would burn the coffee and produce bitter coffee! Learn more about these variables in our free coffee course
For espresso to happens, the key is in the tamping and also the pressure, this is the reason why many manufacturers of espresso machines would proudly highlight what are the pressures they are able to achieve.
The minimum pressure to get a good intense espresso is at least 12 bars which is about 150 pounds per square inch. At that pressure, it would take about 20 to 30 seconds to extract one fluid of this intense caffeine beverage.
If the machines that you owned do not meet of the variables required, your espresso is ruined, it would taste runny, bitter, burnt and is what we described as totally lifeless. A beverage that is not worth your time preparing for!
And out of these variables, pressure is something that varies from machines to machines. This is also the reason why you should be cautioned against buying some machines.
Here is a video that shows the preparation of an espresso, this should give one an overview on the preparation of espresso coffee.
So, what are the espresso machines that we should avoid? In short, those that are not able to produce a pressure more than 12 bars. So, if you want a real espresso, then the moka pots are something you should not get.
With regards to machines, the pump driven espresso machines are the ones that produces at least 12 bars to give you a great espresso. Steam powered machines do have enough power to generate a 12 bar pressure which would give you a weak espresso.
This is not to say that you should avoid these machines, personally, I believe that each type of espresso makers have their audience. But, if you want a coffee shop's quality espresso, then a pump driven espresso machines should be what you should look for...