Today is obviously going to focus on semi automatic espresso machines. We’ve spoken a lot about the semi automatic espresso machine, without perhaps, many of you knowing it. We’ll look at all types of espresso machines so that by understanding the differences we can appreciate the benefits of each kind. It will also help you to determine which kind of espresso machine is best for your specific home setup.
The espresso machine has been with us for quite a long time. Since 1901 in fact. The steam driven espresso machine was the first one on the market and is still very popular with many of the less expensive cappuccino machines out there. This type of espresso coffee machine is fairly simple, using steam pressure to force the steam into the grouphead and then through the espresso machines.
Improvements in the semi automatic espresso machines
In 1945 Gaggia introduced the first piston lever cappuccino machines. It was through this style of semi automatic espresso machines that the term pulling a shot of espresso became known . The barista would pull on the lever to force pressurized water through the coffee grinds at anywhere around 8 to 10 bars of pressure.
In 1961 Faema introduced the pump driven espresso machines which have quickly become the most popular style of semi automatic espresso machines used in commercial espresso machines in commercial coffee shops and coffee franchises. There are 4 basic variations of pump driven espresso machines which perhaps we’ll discuss in greater detail another day. Basically, a motorized pump drives the pressurized water over the coffee grinds.
Lastly there is also the air pump driven espresso machines, invented fairly recently where compressed air by a variety of means is used to force the water through the ground espresso beans. The water is usually added hot via a kettle i.e. manually. So these machines are quite a bit lighter. These only started coming onto the market in 2007.
So that’s a brief introduction into the types of espresso machines on the market. Now practically any type of espresso machine that you might be interested in is going to be at least a semi automatic espresso machine. So let’s quickly define the types of semi automatic espresso machines out there. The semi automatic coffee machine will force the water through the beans for you. However, it won’t grind, tamp or control the amount of water delivered.
An automatic espresso machine will control the amount of water delivered through the espresso beans but the grinding and tamping of the beans are still up to you.
Going beyond the semi automatic espresso machines
Lastly, we have the super automatic espresso machine which not only controls the amount of water forced through the ground coffee beans but also the grinding and tamping of the coffee as well. Many of these machines are of late coming with milk islands or automatic milk frothing attachments which steams and froths your milk automatically for you too. Most super automatic cappuccino machines will not take coffee pods or espresso pods, so that is something to be aware of if you enjoy brewing with the coffee pod.
In my humble opinion, the best espresso machine is one of the semi automatic espresso machines. Not only are these machines cheaper but they obviously allow greater control of the coffee flavor extraction as well as delivery. You determine the grind fineness, the amount and duration of water delivered and in a way, you can control the pressure of the water flowing through the grinds by the pressure you use to tamp your beans. Lastly, as there are less moving parts, these coffee machines are generally more reliable over the long haul.
A couple of decent examples of the semi automatic cappuccino machine to look at if you are in the market would be the Saeco Aroma as well as the DeLonghi coffee machine where you will find a few varieties to choose from as far as manual espresso machines or what are really semi automatic espresso machines are concerned.