Espresso Makers

An espresso coffee making machine brews coffee through force pressurization of water near its boiling point, through some ground coffee and filter, for producing a concentrated and thick coffee known as espresso. The first espresso coffee making machines were built and patented during the late 1800s by someone known as Angelo Moriondo in Turin, Italy. Thereafter, a better and modified design of the espresso maker was patented in the year 1901. Later on this patent was owned by ‘La Pavoni’ company that started manufacturing espresso machines at commercial level from 1905 onwards. Their target market was mainly in and around Milan. A large number of espresso machine designs have been created and produced since that time. Majority of these machines work on similar principles and elements, like the porta-filter and group head. Some espresso machines also feature steam wands which are used for frothing and steaming liquids, for including milk, for producing coffee drinks like Cafe latte and cappuccino.

Espresso machines can be air-pump driven, pump driven, piston driven or steam driven, apart from them being automatic or manual in nature.

Moka Pots which are also referred to as stove top espresso makers have many similarities to the espresso machines of today in the manner that they brew coffee under pressure. Furthermore, the produced brew also has certain similarities, but differs in other aspects. Although their classification as espresso coffee machines is sometimes arguable, it’s because they use steam and pressure for brewing coffee that they’re compared to the regular espresso machines. In fact, the espresso machines used before the 1948 Gaggia used to be a lot like the Moka Pots.

Drive mechanisms of espresso machines

All sorts of espresso machine designs have been used for production of espresso coffee over the centuries. However, a large majority of these designs have the same elements. The taste of espresso coffee produced through these machines can be adjusted by varying the extent of pressure (for tamping the grinds) and fineness of the coffee grinds. In fact, quite a few baristas pull their espresso shots straight into pre-heated shot glasses or demitasse cups, for maintenance of high temperature of espresso coffee. Let’s look at some of the common drive mechanisms of espresso coffee machines:

Steam-driven - Steam-driven units operate by forcing water through coffee with the help of steam pressure or steam. In fact, the oldest espresso machines were also steam-driven, in which steam from a common boiler used to get piped into four different group heads for production of different coffee types at the same time. The low-cost consumer espresso coffee machines of today still employ this kind of design as it doesn’t involve any moving parts.

Piston-driven - The lever or piston-driven coffee machines were originally designed, developed and produced in Italy back in the year 1945 by someone known as Achille Gaggia. These machines have a lever which is pumped by an operator for pressurizing hot water through the coffee grinds. The term pulling a shot actually has its origins in these lever-style piston-driven machines! There are two types of piston-driven coffee machines: the spring piston kinds and the manual piston kinds.

Pump-driven - Pump-driven coffee machines are a modified version of the piston-driven variety. Introduced for the first time in 1960s, these have emerged as the most popular espresso coffee machines in the commercial espresso bars of today. Pump-driven espresso machines can be further subdivided into four variants – single boiler units, single boiler dual use units, heat exchanger units and dual boiler units.

Air-pump driven - The modern era has seen the emergence of new-age air-pump-driven espresso coffee machines. These employ compressed air for forcing hot water through the coffee grinds. The addition of hot water is done through a thermo flask or a kettle, and compressed air is forced via an electric compressor, CO2/N2 cartridges or a hand-pump. A major advantage of air-pump coffee machines is that they are comparatively lighter and smaller than the electric machines.