Espresso, Espresso Makers, and More

Espresso is a concentrated coffee beverage brewed by forcing very hot water under high pressure through coffee that has been ground to a very fine powder. Developed in Milan, Italy in the early 20th century, it has become especially popular over the past few years. Prepared in a special Espresso Machine, espresso is a rich, almost syrupy beverage that is served in "shots," which is about one to two ounces in size. The term "pulling shots" refers to the process of making espresso by pulling the lever which forces the hot water through the coffee, thus making your "shot" of espresso. One of the characteristics of espresso is the "crema," or golden foam that characterizes good espresso. The flavors and chemicals are concentrated in this process, so it also lends itself to being mixed into other coffee-based drinks such as latte's and mochas. To make espresso, you need a special espresso maker. The purpose of this article is to give you information about espresso makers, a little about the process itself, and where you can buy these machines, along with prices.

Before You Buy...

You should first realize that brewing espresso is messy and complicated. There is a lot of work involved in achieving that 1.5 ounce "shot" of espresso. They can also be expensive, especially for a high-quality espresso maker. You can spend up to $3,000 for one, although there are good quality models available for a lot less. The $50 to $100 models are good for beginners who aren't sure they want to spend the time or money in espresso makers. A recommended price range for good-quality machines is from $250 to $500; you should get excellent tasting espresso from machines in this price range. Models costing $1,000 to $2,000 are reserved for those with unlimited funds, true espresso aficionados looking for the very best quality in espresso, or for those who want them for commercial purposes.

Espresso Maker Prices

Experts say that $200 is the starting price for reasonably good-quality espresso makers. You will need a machine that can withstand the demands for high heat and pressure. If you're not sure that you want to spend this much or more, there are a couple of models available in the $50-$100 price range. True espresso lovers do not consider them to be "real" espresso makers, however; they use steam to create the espresso, rather than the pressure that others use. Here are our picks based on online reviews:

  • Krups Allegro FND11 sells for around $50, and is a steam espresso maker. Recommended for those who are just starting out, who want to try this out first, before investing more money in an espresso maker. Krups also makes a slightly higher-end model selling for around $100-- the Krupps XP-150 is a dual coffee/esspresso maker, with a 10 cup coffee capacity, 4 cups of espresso.
  • The Gaggia Carezza at approximately $200, was rated the best entry-level espresso maker. Owners say that it gives a great-tasting espresso.
  • Breville ESP8XL , costing about $250, is rated the best value by many reviewers. Excellent tasting espresso plus durability are what gives it such high marks
  • Rancilio Silvia costs around $500, and gets high marks for excellent-tasting espresso and durability. One reviewer noted that this model has parts from its commercial models, which is probably what gives it durabilty.

Higher-priced models include FrancisFrancis!X1, around $800, the Pasquini Livia 900 Automatic, estimated around $1380, and Jura Capresso Impressa S-7 Avantgard, costing about $2,000. These models received excellent reviews; if you are wanting an even higher-quality espresso maker and don't mind spending the money, consider one of these models.

Features To Look For

Durability: Metal or heavy plastic housing is better. Boiler systems are usually more powerful than thermal blocks or coils. Brass or plated brass filter holders retain heat better than aluminum.

Pump-driven espresso makers are better than steam-driven. Steam driven models can't maintain the high heat necessary for great espresso, and piston driven models can be difficult to operate. Semi or fully automatic makers are very expensive.

Other features to consider: cup-warming surface, detachable water reservoir, removable drip tray

Where To Buy

We checked some online sources for Espresso Makers, and found the following places for you to check: carries a wide variety of brands and models, including severa; stovetop models by Cafe Milano which we didn't find anywhere else, and selling for under $20. "Enjoy espresso the way Italians have for generations" is their motto. also distributes a wide variety of espresso makers and other coffee-related accessories, and offers free shipping on orders over $50.

Parting words

There you have it, basic information on espresso makers. While we couldn't include everything we found in this article, this gives you something to start with as you consider purchasing your very own espresso maker.

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