WHICH ESPRESSO MACHINE IS THE RIGHT ONE?
Depending on your preferences and area of use, a different tool is the right one. The main differences between the various portafilter machines are their boiler and pump.
The boiler contains the water for making espressos and the steam for foaming the milk. A heating element brings the water to the ideal temperature and keeps it at as constant a level as possible. The size of the boiler determines the capacity of the water and steam supply.
Single-circuit systems - perfect for espresso lovers
A single boiler supplies the brewing group and steam lance at the same time. This means that milk cannot be foamed at the same time when preparing espressos. The optimum temperature for the brew group is around 90°C, and much more than 100°C is needed to produce steam. The change from brewing water to steam is only possible after heating up. Single-circuit systems are therefore the right choice for espresso lovers.
Dual-circuit principle - no waiting time for milk foaming
Water is heated in a closed boiler. A layer of water forms in the lower part of the boiler and a layer of steam in the upper part. A pressostat keeps the pressure at about 0.8-1.2 bar. The temperature here is about 125°C. A somewhat thicker pipe is laid through the "water section" of the boiler, through which a pump pumps cold fresh water for espresso. As the fresh water passes through the heat exchanger, it is heated to the desired brewing temperature of around 95°C by the surrounding boiler water. The brewing temperature is thus set indirectly via the boiler pressure. Steam for milk froth can be taken from the upper part of the boiler, and hot water for making tea or warming cups from the lower part. The heat exchanger is designed so that the water remains in the heat exchanger at the optimum flow rate until it reaches the right temperature.
Dual boiler - for professionals
As the name suggests, a dual boiler consists of two separate boilers for brewing water and steam. Thanks to this separation, espressos and steam can be drawn simultaneously without fluctuations in pressure or temperature.
The manufacturers of modern espresso machines rely on electrically operated pumps. Whereas in the past a lot of skill was required to operate lever machines, today constant pump systems ensure perfect espressos.
Vibration pump vs. rotary pump
The vibration pump is mainly used in the household segment. The pump is cheaper and takes up less space than the rotary pump. On the other hand, it is louder than the other system.
The rotary pump has a higher capacity than the vibration pump. It is correspondingly more expensive. Its smooth running and robustness are particularly appreciated in the catering trade or by discerning home baristi.
Which espresso machine is the right one? The easiest way to start is to sort by boiler. Which system meets your individual requirements: Single-circuit, dual-circuit, dual boiler?
For the rest of the selection process, look at features such as espresso machines with P.I.D. (Proportional-Integral-Derivative Controller). With this complex control circuit, the temperature of the water in the boiler is constantly controlled, ensuring optimal results.
Finally, you decide on your preferred pump system.
Don't forget: at least as important as the right espresso machine is the right grinder. Like the machine, an even grind is one of the "four M's" for a perfect espresso.