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Different types of coffee machines, coffee makers, espressos and coffees and how to make a good cup of coffee


Coffee Machine Guide

There are many different kinds
of coffee maker and coffees on the market, but do you know the difference
between them and what they have to offer?

Once you have made your
selection do you know how to get the best out of your new purchase?

Hopefully, the following will
throw some light on the subject.

Espresso and cappuccino makers

These are steam-driven
machines that produce very strong coffee. Espresso coffee is much richer
and more concentrated than filter coffee and is the base for a cappuccino
or latte. There are two basic types of machines, with pump machines the
more expensive.

Pressure machines

Similar to a radiator in
a car, water is boiled in a chamber and this builds pressure and steam.
Eventually enough pressure is built up and forces the boiling water
through to the coffee. The steam can be used for frothing. The
disadvantage is that the water is too hot to make an authentic espresso
and often the bar pressure is not enough to make a really good espresso.

Pump machines

More expensive than
pressure machines, pump machines have a separate tank and a
thermostatically-controlled boiler with a ‘Thermoblock’ system that heats
up the water to between 85-92°C – the optimum temperature for making
coffee. The water is then sent through the coffee holder at the correct
bar pressure.

Espresso coffee is made
by using finely-ground coffee. Some machines also use a pod system and
many now use the increasingly popular Nespresso method.


This is also a ‘pod’
system that produces espresso coffee. The coffee is blended, roasted,
grounded, and then hermetically sealed in capsules which stay fresh for up
to 9 months. The advantages of this system are that it’s an easy way to
make coffee, and most major brands of coffee makers have Nespresso
systems. There are no messy filter holders to clean, no spillage of coffee
granules – and the coffee tastes great! The downside is that you are tied
to the supplier’s range of coffees, which are at present only available by
mail order.

Points to consider when
buying an espresso maker

coffee pouring into cups from machine

Bar pressure

Good bar pressure is
essential for making a good ‘crema’. It means that the steam meets the
coffee granules at the correct speed. Too slow and it could result in a
bitter taste. 15 – 19 bar is the optimum, though some suppliers claim 9-11
bar is enough if the beans have been ground correctly.


Rather like a shower,
the Thermoblock is a type of boiler that heats up the water to about 90°C,
via a pump. To achieve an excellent flavour it’s important that you don’t
scald the coffee – unlike tea. Some models have a Thermoblock system for
frothing the milk, which needs to be at about 120°C.

Filter holder

This holds the coffee
granules and should be kept warm. Basic models have aluminium ones but
more expensive models have brass holders that retain the heat for longer.


Most machines have a
mechanical valve to control the water flow. Top-of-the-range machines have
solenoid valves that increase the water pressure at the point of delivery
and also shut off as soon as you finish the extraction


Like kettles, the higher
the wattage the faster the water is boiled. High wattage machines are good
if you are making several espressos.


cup of black coffee

Tips on making a
perfect espresso or cappuccino

If you want to imitate
the ‘baristas’ of the Italian coffee bars (experts in the art of making an
espresso) it is essential you know how to achieve a perfect ‘crema’.

Crema is the pure coffee
extract you find on the top of an espresso. Resembling the head you’d find
on a glass of stout, it’s full of rich aroma and leaves a lingering
flavour. A test of a good ‘crema’ is to put a little sugar on the top. If
it takes time to fall to the bottom you’ve succeeded!

Types of coffee

1/3 espresso, 1/3 hot milk, 1/3 frothy milk

with added hot milk. Normally ratio is 1:6 espresso: hot milk.

espresso with a little touch of milk

Con Panne:
espresso with a dash of cream

hot chocolate with a dash of espresso

hot water with a dash of espresso

Tamping coffee

You’ll always spot a
barista doing this. After they’ve filled the filter holder with coffee
they’ll gently tap the top of it, levelling off the coffee, before locking
the holder into the machine. This is to make sure the water filters
through evenly. Too much ‘tamping’ and the water will take too long. Top
machines feature an in-built tamper.


For perfect frothing you
can use any type of milk – full cream, semi-skimmed or skimmed is fine –
as long as it’s fresh. It’s the protein that makes the froth, and this
diminishes after about 4 days. Always use a stainless-steel jug (it
conducts heat better) and fill it to just under half full with cold milk.
When it’s too hot to touch at the base the froth is ready. Give it a
couple of taps to get rid of any bubbles, and then gently spoon the froth
onto your espresso for that perfect cappuccino!

from http://coffee-machines.cookery-guide.info/ who appear to no longer be