Espresso is an Italian coffee that has been enjoyed for more than 100 years. Perhaps you’ve had an espresso at your local coffeehouse, but have always wanted to try making it yourself at home. With your own steam espresso machine, you can enjoy this delicious delicacy without ever leaving the house.
Steam espresso machines come in many makes and models, and you’ll certainly want to get the best one you can. This guide will tell you all you need to know about steam espresso machines, so you can find the one that’s right for you.
How does a Steam Espresso Machine Work?
Steam espresso machines operate by forcing water through finely ground coffee when the water is just below the boiling point. This is done with a machine that heats the water in an enclosed container. As the amount of steam grows inside the container, the pressure builds which pushes the water through the coffee grounds.
The coffee grounds are contained in a small cylinder called a “puck.” A relatively small amount of water is used compared to drip coffee machines, giving espresso it’s intense, concentrated flavor, and thick, silky texture.
How Do You Use A Steam Espresso Machine?
You must only use the finest ground coffee to make espresso, and it must be fresh ground, so don’t waste your time with pre-ground coffee. If you do use pre-ground coffee, the flavors will not be as strong as they should be.
You’ll need to get a high-quality coffee grinder to grind whole coffee beans if you don’t have one already. But not just any grinder will suffice. You need to get a burr grinder, which crushes the coffee beans uniformly. Do not get a blade grinder, because the coffee beans will never be ground as consistently enough to make good espresso. And not all burr grinders are good enough either. Ideally, you would use only the highest quality burr grinders with flat burrs to get the perfect grind for espresso.
What Is the Optimal Use of My Portafilter?
Start by looking in your portafilter. Make sure it is clean and dry, and free of any debris, then fill it with coffee grounds. You’ll need to use about 6-8 grams of ground coffee for a single shot of espresso, or 12-16 for a double shot.
Then you need to take a special tool called a tamper and use it to press the coffee down into a tight puck. Get a machine tamper that is calibrated if you can, because this will ensure that your coffee is tampered exactly the same way each time you make espresso. This helps your espresso come out exactly the way you like each time. Be sure that the lip of the filter is free of any coffee grounds before putting it into your espresso machine. This will help ensure the tightest possible seal.
How Do I Clean My Steam Espresso Machine?
Keeping your steam espresso machine clean and well maintained is essential to making consistently great espresso coffee. There are a couple of methods to do so, some of which you will need to do more often than others. The first method is called backflushing, which should be done approximately once a week. The other is just a more detailed cleaning of the machine, and should be performed after about every 200 shots. You should also get a special brush, made just for espresso machines to clean the portafilter basket and group head.
Backflushing is the method you will have to use most frequently, in order to keep your espresso tasting clean and fresh. Backflushing involves running your machine for a short period of time, several times over, to flush the lines clean. You need to get a blind filter basket, or backflush disk, to put in your portafilter before backflushing. This will force the water throughout the machine thus cleaning it. After this you must run the machine with clean water for about 10 seconds to finish the process.
To clean your steam espresso machine more thoroughly, you’ll need to run some type of cleansing agent through the machine. There are commercial cleansers available on the market, but you can also use vinegar or lemon juice diluted in water. Regardless of which cleaner you choose you’ll have to flush the solution through the machine, then run water through it several times to make sure it’s completely rinsed.
You will find brewing your own fresh espresso at home to be a unique experience. And it will be so nice to enjoy espresso on demand whenever you like. A steam espresso machine also adds a bit of sleek sophistication to any kitchen. Take a look at some of the machines below, and you’ll surely find one you like.