Should You Choose an Espresso Machine for Home?

If you love espresso, there’s no substitute for a perfectly-pulled shot. Whether you like your espresso straight up or in a latte or cappuccino, getting it right is a complex process. A home espresso maker can be a big ticket item, so it’s a good idea to put some thought into whether or not you really want one before you buy. Here are some factors to think about when you’re trying to predict whether your home espresso maker will get a lot of use or just sit on the counter once the novelty wears off.

The Ritual

A big part of the pleasure of coffee comes from our associations with where and when we drink it. For many of us, our favorite cafe or espresso bar gives us a welcome retreat from our workplaces and homes where we can soak up the atmosphere while we sip our coffee. Sometimes you enjoy something just because it’s a treat or a luxury, in which case having it available every day at home may not be the best option.

Then again, you may already be brewing high-quality coffee in your own kitchen. People who buy freshly-roasted beans and grind them at home, and who have already experimented with a few different brewing methods, are probably going to get a lot of use out of a home espresso machine. If you enjoy cooking gourmet foods for yourself or for your family and friends, being able to make espresso in your own kitchen will appeal to you.

The Learning Curve

Unless you buy a super-automatic machine (more about that later), it’s going to take you some time to learn to pull a good shot. There are a lot of factors that go into making good espresso: you need to choose the right beans, grind them properly, and tamp them evenly and with the right pressure. A good barista can juggle these variables. For example, they can change the tamp to compensate for a less than optimal grind. The first few shots of espresso you make probably aren’t going to taste like what the professional barista at your favorite cafe produces. Steaming milk for lattes and cappuccinos takes some practice, too.

To a foodie and coffee aficionado, this all sounds like great news! Learning a new culinary skill and putting your own personal stamp on your espresso shots can be a fascinating process. You can even take a barista course and develop a new job skill.

The Cost

A new semi-automatic espresso maker can cost under $100 or more than $2000, depending on which model you buy. Realistically, you should look at paying $150 to $400 for a decent starter machine. This may be more than you want to pay for something that won’t get a lot of use, but it’s not much more than some of the better automatic drip machines cost. Keep in mind that you will also need a decent grinder, since grinding right before brewing is one of the biggest factors in making great espresso.

Super-Automatic Espresso Makers

Maybe you would love to have access to delicious espresso-based drinks at home but you’re not interested in developing your barista skills. In this case a super-automatic machine may be the way to go. These machines grind, tamp and brew, taking you from beans to a cup of espresso at the touch of a button. The higher-end machines will steam milk and add it to the cup automatically, while others have a steam wand that you can use manually. Some super-automatics don’t deal with oily, dark-roasted beans very well, and some don’t make the milk as hot as you might like, but on the whole these produce very good drinks. The machines need to be cleaned regularly (especially if they have a built-in milk tank) but you don’t need any special skills to get good results.

These machines can cost a few hundred to several thousand dollars, but if you’re stopping at the Starbucks drive-through every morning for a latte, a super-automatic machine at home could still save you money in the long run.

To Summarize

If you:

  • Already grind beans at home
  • Have experimented with different brewing methods
  • Like gourmet cooking and/or entertaining at home
  • Enjoy home luxuries as much as going out
  • Spend a lot on take-out espresso-based drinks

You probably won’t regret investing in an espresso machine for your home. Enjoy!

Should I Buy A Super Automatic Espresso Machine?

For caffeine lovers, a shot of perfect espresso is their line to heaven. While most online definitions indicate that it is a type of caffeine-rich beverage, careful research will reveal that espresso is actually a method of preparing coffee. By passing intensely hot water through ground coffee beans under pressure, a drink which is distinctively different (and better) than drip coffee is produced.

The process of making a perfect espresso is quite complicated and requires a good level of coffee-making skills. However, one is saved from trouble through the existence of super automatic espresso machine units out in the market today.

Does It Make Sense To Buy This Type Of Coffee Machine?

Espresso can be prepared manually or with the aid of conventional coffee machines. However, many baristas and those who have been making their own coffee at home will agree that espresso is both messy and tedious to prepare. Even if this is the case, the flavor and aroma of this drink are more than enough to convince people to make it. Super automatic units have been designed to ensure that people will be able to make espresso anytime they like and without the usual hassles of the manual procedure. It makes sense to buy these machines because of the following reasons:

  • The consistency of quality of espresso shots will always be there.
  • There is no need for special skills or experience to operate such machines.
  • Owning one is practical because it matches the modern lifestyle of people who are always on the go.

What Do These Machines Have To Offer?

There are plenty of existing coffee machine designs/models out there today. However, a super automatic espresso machine clearly “eclipses” these because of its advanced and exciting features. Buying a unit can be compared to buying a car. There are features that have been designed to be practical, modern, and impressive. These include the ones listed below:

  • Improved heating system: Buyers will have two options here. They could either go for the single or double boiler system. Top-of-the-line superautomatic units usually have double boiler systems. This means that they can make espresso cups faster (in 15-20 seconds). A unit with a single heating system will add a minute or two to the waiting period per cup.
  • Improved grinding capability: Ceramic blades are used in super automatic units instead of steel. This produces better grind and flavor quality. Such blades also stay sharp longer, which means that less attention is required for replacement or maintenance.
  • Varied types of espresso can be produced: People have different preferences when it comes to espresso. Some want a double shot while others prefer a macchiato. Modern super automatic units offer the capability to make more than one type of espresso with just a touch of a button. Adjustments on water level, pressure, temperature, type of milk, and type of beans can be automated through on-screen commands or with a single push of a button. The presence of a bypass doser is one of the several reasons for this capability of super automatic units.
  • Cleanups are easier: Units with removable brew groups are designed to be cleaned with water only. For those units with a built-in brew group, cleaning tablets just need to be run through the system on a regular basis.
  • Capability to make more cups per refill of water: The Gaggia Titanium Office model, as an example, has a 60-ounce water capacity. This means that it can make more ristretto, lungo, or single-shot cups than its manual or automatic counterparts. This is a great feature when there are always guests coming by and they share this unique love for espresso.
  • Cup warming capability: Most recent designs of super automatic units include a cup warmer system. These systems could either be active or passive. An active system is more popular because it heats up cups much faster. A passive system, on the other hand, heats cups more slowly but doesn’t consume a lot of electrical energy. With a heated cup always on standby, coffee drinkers are assured that they will always be served with espresso that tastes perfect.

What About The Cost Factor?

There is no doubt that these espresso machines are quite pricey. However, the price range could vary so much that it isn’t impossible to pick one that will perfectly match an individual’s needs. On average, these machines could cost from $300 to more than $4,000. Luckily, with the huge volume of super automatic models appearing in stores and online shops today, it is easy to get one at a promo or discounted rate.

The Final Decision Is Easy To Make

The process of making espresso coffee has now been made simpler and faster. This power is now within the fingertips of coffee lovers through super automatic espresso machine units. Considering the factors of benefits, modern features, cost, and availability, the answer to the question presented at the title of this article is obvious: a big yes!

Brewing A Perfect Espresso Using Breville Espresso Machine

Every morning all around the world, millions of people will start their day with a cup of espresso. Be it a home-made espresso or one done by a barista, getting your day started right will signal the positive attitude you will have during the day. However, this does not mean that having an espresso is strictly limited to a specific time of the day, instead, you can take it anytime of the day. All you need will be the tips and tricks when using the breville espresso machine.

Getting your espresso perfect is something that needs a lot of factors to be put into consideration. Most people tend to ignore this facts but if you want your espresso excellent without any second guessing on how it was made then this is the platform you are looking for. No short courses for you to be a barista in order to learn the tricks and tips when using the Breville espresso machine. So, what do you need to have a perfect espresso?


In order to get the superior quality espresso, one of the tips and tricks when using the Breville espresso machine is to always ensure that you have clean water. By clean water it means that there ought to be no sediments and particles in the water. Why so? You may ask. This is because, making espresso is unique and as such using water containing sediment and particles is bound to ruin your Breville espresso machine and in addition it can also give the espresso an unwanted flavor. Therefore always check the quality of water before using it on your Breville espresso machine.

Keeping the water top quality also means that you want to keep anything in the machine that touches the water in top condition.  In order to keep the interior of your machine clean, get these tablets to keep it all in tip top shape.


The roasted coffee beans needs to be ground in order for their effectiveness in making an espresso be noticeable. As one of the major tips and tricks when using the Breville espresso machine, always ensure that your ground coffee are clumping together then you know they are ground correctly this is because the espresso requires a far much finer ground of coffee beans around the coarseness of sand or even salt.

For grinding your coffee for espresso, I recommend getting a ceramic conical burr grinder for the best results.  This is the one that I use and it works great and not too expensive!

Espresso Machine

The major component when making an espresso is the espresso machine itself. Without it there can be no espresso. The Breville espresso machine particularly stands out as a bespoke espresso machine. The different models of Breville espresso machines in the market all have two main objectives of saving you the cost of buying an espresso machine while at the same time providing you with excellent espresso as the finished product. So as part of the tips and tricks when using the Breville espresso machine always ensure you have the original Breville espresso machine.


Having a clean water free of sediments and particles, ground coffee that has granules clumping together indicating it is perfect for making an espresso and also a Breville espresso machine ready to go, the only thing missing will be you as an individual. As an individual, you can be a barista who has had vast knowledge in brewing espresso or an espresso enthusiast who has a knack for learning new tips and tricks when using the Breville espresso machine that you adore so much. Either way when it comes to brewing an espresso, you will play an important role in using the Breville espresso machine.

After having ensured that the four parameters have been put in place you can now make that espresso. So this majorly concentrates on what tips and tricks will you be using when brewing using the Breville espresso machine.

First you will need to fill the Breville espresso machine with clean filtered water that contain no sediments or particles in it. The water is usually filled in the reservoir mostly located at the top of a typical Breville espresso machine.

Switch on the Breville espresso machine but do not start brewing immediately in fact as a tip always ensure your entire Breville espresso machine is warm only then can you start brewing process.

Thereafter you can heat up parts that are closest to your coffee and the front of the Breville espresso machine this is done through running the machine for around 15 seconds or just a few seconds.

At this stage you can grind a few coffee beans until they are fine. Another tip and trick when using the Breville espresso machine at this stage is that if the espresso shot went too fast then it is a sign that the coffee beans were coarse and they need to be grounded more fine. Also, if the espresso shot took to long to long then the coffee beans need to be ground a little coarse.

You can now measure a few grams of the ground coffee around 20 grams will be enough and place it into the portafilter. The tip and trick here when using the Breville espresso machine is to always rotate the portafilter to enable the grounded coffee beans be even at the bottom. An extra trick when using the Breville espresso machine is using your finger to level any ground coffee beans to fill any pockets of air.

During tamping, an important tip and trick when using Breville espresso machine is to ensure that the spread is even and also the dry puck remaining is also evenly spread.

In most Breville espresso machines, they give an option of pre-infusion which is a major advantage but before the pre-infusion always ensure that the portafilter has been returned to the grouphead. If it happens that the espresso tastes sour the solution to this is always to extend the brew time in order to get the perfect espresso.

With these tips and tricks when using the Breville espresso machine, a novice can turn into a barista in a spur of the moment and with a little practice using the Breville espresso machine everyone can master the basics of making an espresso machine without necessarily breaking any sweat.

Steaming in with Espresso Machine Tips

Whether you have a simple or advanced espresso machine these tips will go along way in showing you how to steam in. If you have ever tried it at home you already know it is not an easy task. All you need is a few insights to be an expert.

Making an espresso is easy compared to steaming milk since the latter involves different, less-developed senses and also happens very fast.

First, make sure your machine is in a position to create a steam pressure of between 1 and 1.5bars which is ideal for making a microfoam nirvana. Check the operating manual before you purchase a new unit or the gauge of your equipment if you already have one. If it can generate more pressure the better since the steam pressure reduces when you make shot of coffee because water temperature decreases.

Note, milk is a food and addition of steam just like in other foods changes its nutritional properties considerably. The proteins in the milk reacts and their form change when subjected to heat. What makes it to form is the reaction of the proteins with air. In the light of this nature of milk, you are advised not to steam the milk twice or mix the steamed milk with cold milk and steam it again. Every time, use fresh, cold milk and always steam just what you need at that particular time.

Espresso machine produce a frightening sound especially when you are close. Do not fear if you are to get the best results. Also, remember you cannot perfect at your first instance, you have to keep on trying.

Milk Steaming Tips

  • Take milk directly from the fridge and put in a cool jug.
  • Put appropriate amount of milk depending on the volume of beverage you want to make.
  • Place steam wand just above drip tray and allow steam to release water. Then put the wand in the milk jug a few inch below the surface.
  • Turn on the steam full blast with your strong hand, lower the jug until the steam wand tip is just below the milk surface. At this point you should hear a slight hissing sound as air is being introduced into the milk. Avoid splattering of milk by making sure the tip is low enough. Also it should be high enough in order to produce fine textured milk. Ensure the steam wand is just off the center for the formation of a whirlpool. If this does not happen tilt the jug at an angle of 45-degrees. This will result in the steam at the top creating fine-textured milk.
  • Hold the jug with your hand, it is no longer cold no warm. Its temperature is or about same with that of that hand. Move the jug down slowly as the milk expands while ensuring the hissing sound is maintained. Repeat the process until you have the required amount of fine-textured milk.
  • When you have the desired quantity of milk, lower the steam wand until such a point that the hissing sound ceases. Although you have added enough air for good foaming, you are not yet over with heating. That is why you lower the wand to heat the milk.
  • When the temperature of the milk reaches 60 degrees C, the jug is too hot to touch, switch off the steam and remove the steam band. Allow the machine to stop vibrating to avoid spraying foam on your face. Note, the temperature continues rising to 70 degrees C. At this juncture you are assured of maximum sweetness. To keep your steam wand clean, release a little steam to clear the milk gunk. Immediate cleaning is important for good hygiene.
  • Start circulating the milk in the jug slowly to keep your milk rolling. This ensures the fine-textured milk and the rest of the milk remain combined. The large bubbles on the visible bubbles which are on the surface also disappear.
  • Once the froth and the milk combine you have your espresso. The final beverage will be rich in cream and have the best flavor.

Armed with these tips you can invite your friends to your home to enjoy an espresso. You will even have courage to teach them and showcase your great skills.

Serious Coffee Drinkers Own Espresso Machines!

There was a time when most people had to visit a local cafe if they wanted to enjoy a genuine espresso. These days, consumers have the option of buying equipment that allows them to make their favorite beverage in their very own kitchens. Espresso machines are available in a wide range of sizes with various features and the prices vary accordingly. Check out our reviews of the top 10 espresso machine on the market.

This modern appliance brews coffee by using high pressure to apply hot water to beans. The result is a thick, hot beverage with creamy foam floating on the surface. Many coffee lovers prefer this brewing method because it concentrates the flavors and produces a more full-bodied taste than traditional drip brew methods.

How Much Control Do You Want Over Your Coffee?

Consumers can choose from manual or automatic appliances. The biggest difference is in how much effort is necessary to operate the equipment. Some people are more interested in optimizing their time by having the machine do most of the work. Others are more interested in perfecting the art of making the ideal cup of espresso and would rather have more control over the process. Budget may also be a factor in this decision as automatic units are generally more expensive than the manual options.

Typical Manual Spring Piston Espresso Machine

Individuals who choose to purchase a manual machine must be willing to put in the time and effort required to learn how to use it properly. This type of machine is available with a spring piston lever or a direct lever. With a direct lever model, the operator applies pressure manually to deliver the water to the grounds.

The spring piston lever relies on an internal spring to infuse the grounds with nearly boiling water. The operator compresses the spring by pulling down on the lever and the spring exerts steadily declining pressure to the liquid as it returns to its resting position. When the machine is not in use, the lever will point upward, unlike a direct lever unit, which has the lever pointing down. The operator controls how much pressure to apply by applying force to the lever.

With a lever machine, the operator has complete control over preinfusion, which is the length of time the water rests on the coffee grounds. Most semi-automatic and automatic models do not allow the operator to control this step. To pull the perfect shot, the operator must factor in a number of variables. These include the specific coffee grind and its level of freshness as well as the amount of grounds used and the water temperature.

A manual machine is similar to a semi-automatic appliance in that it provides the operator the opportunity to decide how much water to apply to the grounds. An automatic machine allows the user to program in a specific amount but to vary the amount requires additional programming. Manual machines offer additional control when it comes to adding more water to the brew.

The lever machine has a grouphead with a cavity. When the lever is pushed to cock the spring, water fills the cavity after a valve opens between the grouphead and boiler. To add more water, the user can depress the lever again. This opens the valve and allows the cavity to fill up with water. Reactivating the spring is done when the initial amount of brewing water is nearly gone, half gone or one-quarter gone allowing the user to control the amount of additional water used.

A lever machine maintains water in the boiler under pressure and several degrees above the boiling point. The high pressure allows the water to remain in liquid form at a hotter temperature than it would at normal atmospheric pressure. This high temperature is necessary to transport the water from the boiler to the grouphead and to produce the steam required to froth milk.

Under normal circumstances, water at such a high temperature would scorch the grounds making for a bitter beverage. The appliance’s design overcomes this temperature problem. The grouphead serves as a heatsink to cool off the water to the point that it is at optimum brewing temperature by the time it reaches nozzle.

This design produces the desired results but it has its disadvantages as well. The grouphead’s ability to leech off heat diminishes when pulling consecutive shots. Eventually the water will be too hot and will burn the grounds unless the appliance is allowed to rest. This is also a problem when the machine is left on for several hours.

Manual machines do allow users various ways to manipulate the temperatures. Some individuals will turn the machine off or unplug it after it is at operating temperatures. Another technique involves warming up the grouphead with a hot water flush and letting the machine rest for a couple minutes between pulling shots. Many people quickly discover that employing trial and error methods of experimentation is the only to get the hang of using a manual espresso machine.

When choosing an automatic appliance, consumers have several options to consider. A semi-automatic machine has automatic temperature controls and an automatic pump. What makes it semi-automatic is the activation switch to turn the pump on and off giving the user control over the length of time the pump is engaged.

The temperature controls and pump are also automated for the boiler in an automatic appliance. On many models, the preset water volumes are programmable giving the user control over how much water the system delivers to the grounds. A super automatic machine has the same features as the automatic model but it also prepares the grounds by grinding, measuring, and tamping them at the touch of a button.

Dual Boiler Espresso Machines

A dual boiler machine is the most sophisticated of the automatic models, which also means it is the most expensive. These units allow for steaming and brewing at the same time. The water in one boiler is kept at a temperature that is ideal for brewing while the water in the second boiler stays at steaming temperature.

The biggest problem with this type of brewer is that European manufacturers have not designed them for power specifications in the United States. The average 15-amp electrical wall socket delivers 110 volts. This is insufficient power to operate both boilers at European specifications.

A heat exchanger design with a single boiler allows for simultaneous brewing and steaming. The water in the boiler is kept at a temperature that produces steam. Water flows from the reservoir to the grouphead through a coiled tube, which serves as the unit’s heat exchanger. The brewing water is flash heated to the optimum temperature for brewing as it travels through the tube. Consumers opting for this design should select a model that has a way to connect a water supply or features an external reservoir if they intend to leave the machine on around the clock. This allows for better temperature stability and more consistent brewing results.

A dual use machine with a single boiler is the most affordable and common type of appliance used by consumers. The design features two thermostats. The first thermostat controls the brewing temperature to draw the most flavor out of the grounds. The second thermostat operates several degrees hotter at a temperature to produce steamed milk. Users must choose between the two settings making it impossible to steam milk and brew coffee at the same time.

Semi Automatic Espresso Machines

A semi-automatic model is ideal for consumers who want some control over the brewing process but not total control. The user can control exactly how much water is delivered to build the shot. This is done by pushing the pump switch at the appropriate time. With an automatic device, the machine delivers the same amount of water with each shot with no way to adjust if necessary while pulling the shot.

Semi-automatic appliances automatically control the boiler heater. Whenever the heating element detects a temperature drop, it turns on to allow the water to return to the optimum temperature for brewing. Older machines required the user to turn the boiler heater on and off manually. Most users will have no trouble producing consistent tasting beverages because the machine automatically controls the pump pressure. With a lever machine, the spring or the user controls the pressure, which can lead to inconsistent results.

An automatic unit controls every aspect of water delivery. The user simply fills the filter with coffee, pushes the button to start the brewing process, and the machine does the rest. It releases the same predetermined amount of water every time until the user reprograms it. The machine ends the brewing cycle when it has produced the desired amount of beverage. Most machines have four settings allowing for one or two shots short and one or two shots long. Some models have a semi-automatic button that allows users to override the pre-programmed options.

Super Automatic Espresso Machines

The super-automatic machine does everything the automatic machine does but it also grinds the beans, removing yet another step in the brewing process. Most of these products feature high-quality conical burr grinders. Users have the option of choosing the grind level from extremely fine or coarse. Selecting the right setting is crucial because finely ground beans produce more flavor but the result can be bitter if the beans are too finely ground. Some models have a pre-grinding function that will grind beans for a second cup of coffee while the first is still brewing.

These high-end appliances offer automatic dosing to give the user the most consistent results possible. The dosing mechanism allows the user the ability to choose precisely how many grams of beans to load into the filter for each shot. Consumers who want an even easier way to adjust the dose from time to time can select a machine that has a bypass doser. The bypass device does not utilize the grinder, so it must be loaded with pre-ground beans.

Most super automatic brewers have a single Thermobloc heating unit. Small amounts of water are allowed to flow through the reservoir. Most units will take approximately 45 seconds to heat the water from the brewing temperature to the proper temperature for steaming. To eliminate the wait time for the water to heat to steaming temperature, consumers can purchase a model featuring dual heating systems. This eliminates the need to cool the boiler for the next brewing cycle after steaming.

Additional features are available on a variety of machines from semi-automatic to super-automatic designs. Some individuals prefer models with settings for pre-brewing. This function moistens the grounds initially and then allows time for them to steep before starting the brewing process. This method of brewing can improve the quality and quantity of crema while extracting the maximum amount of flavor from the beans.

Cup warmers are handy for enhancing the espresso drinking experience. Because the liquid is brewed in small quantities, it cools off very quickly as soon as it fills the cup. Machines with this feature typically have a heated storage tray on top of the unit. Some systems have a dedicated heater that warms the tray. Others utilize a passive heating system and leech heat from the machine’s boiler system.

Water Filtration

Brewing water quality plays a major role in the taste of the finished product. Some makers have built-in water filtration systems. The filters in these systems will remove chlorine and a variety of minerals, including lead, copper, and aluminum before the water enters the brewing process. The filter also removes carbon from the water and prevents calcium build up inside the machine. This eliminates the need for decalcifying during routine maintenance.

The amount of money spent on a quality espresso machine depends on budget and personal preference. Some consumers will spend as much on a machine as they will on other large kitchen appliances but if they can get several years of reliable performance in exchange, they consider the purchase a wise investment. Those who want to save money but do not mind putting in the effort required to use a manual machine enjoy the most authentic preparation experience. Those who prefer instant gratification and consistent results with no fuss will not mind spending more for a machine that does it all.

Coffee 101: What is Espresso?

Legend tells us that the first coffee lovers were Ethiopian goat herders. These daring individuals first tried the berries of the coffee tree after watching their caffeinated goats dance with joy. Since then, coffee has become the second most popular beverage in the world.

There are two ways to prepare a cup of coffee. There is the simple brew method that has been around since the 9th century. Then there is espresso. Espresso is made with pressurized steam and finely ground coffee beans. Popular since its invention in 16th century Arabia, espresso is a highly concentrated drink full of flavor and caffeine.

The difference between espresso and coffee may not be readily apparent. Many people who are just starting to explore coffee may even think it is the same thing! Nothing could be further from the truth.

Basic Drip Brewed Coffee

Many people first experience coffee from a home automatic drip brewer. These machines heat water to near boiling, then slowly release it through medium ground beans. Most drip machines use a fine paper or mesh filter to keep the grounds out of the drink. The filter also captures the natural oils in coffee. This decreases the body of the drink, making it mild.

The last widely used method is the percolator. These devices have a chamber for water and a chamber for coffee. A tube connects them. Water is heated to near boiling and forced up the tube. It drips over the grounds and back into the pot. Water can be pushed through the grounds many times to create a strong drink. It releases a very pleasant aroma, but can taste rather harsh.

What is Espresso?

No matter what kind of drip brew method is used, it cannot produce espresso. Espresso is less watery than any drip coffee. It has a rich, thick texture in the cup. Steam brewed espresso forms a rich foam on the top of the brew called crema. Crema is not dairy or any other additive. This thick froth comes from the natural oils in the coffee bean. Well made crema will range from dark tan to a mahogany shade, depending on the beans used.

A modern espresso machine heats water to just below boiling under high pressure. Finely ground espresso coffee grounds are carefully tamped into the filter, forming a solid puck. Steam is forced quickly through the ground coffee. Most modern machines will also have a steam wand that is used to create lattes and cappuccino.

Serving Sizes

A serving of espresso is about an ounce. It is sometimes added to drip brew coffee to increase its potency. It is most often consumed with added whipped cream, milk or other flavors. Some hardy few drink it straight.

  • Ristretto. This is the first three-quarters of an ounce of a puck’s extraction. It is also called the short shot. It is widely believed to be the best espresso to drink straight. I wouldn’t know, I am not brave enough to drink it straight!
  • Single Shot. Standard one ounce espresso serving.
  • Lungo. The long shot, this is one and a half ounces of espresso from a standard puck.
  • Double Shot. Made with twice as much ground beans as the other shots, this is two ounces of espresso brewed at once.

That Flavor!

Coffee beans are like grapes. The taste depends on where they grow, what the weather was like and how they are handled. For these reasons, most espresso is made with a blend of beans intended to produce mild acidity, a full body and a balance of sweet to bitter flavor. Well-brewed espresso, unlike drip coffee, will have a complex flavor. Fruity flavors balanced with a bitter bite and a nutty undertone with a sweet and salty taste are all hallmarks of a good cup.The back of the mouth bitterness of espresso should be balanced with the front of the mouth sweetness. Bitter robusta beans are often used in espresso blends to bring that bitter taste out. Drip coffee blends rarely use robusta beans. It uses milder beans. Drip brewing can’t bring out the best in robusta beans.

What is Acidity?

Espresso lovers often talk about its acidity level. It has nothing to do with a sour taste or pH. It has everything to do with taste. A high acidity coffee is one that tastes ‘bright’ or ‘bold’. A low acidity coffee is described as ‘smooth’. If the acidity is too low, the coffee may be considered ‘flat’.

Coffee beans do contain a large number of phytic and tannic acids. Too much of them can raise the pH level and change the flavor profile. How much acid ends up in your brew depends on how it was made and the type of beans used. In general, darker roasts have a lower pH and a smoother flavor profile. Lighter roasts are brighter, with a higher pH.

Espresso’s short brew time doesn’t generally allow many phytic and tannic acids into the brew. If the brew has a higher pH, the crema will look yellowish instead of dark.

Traditional Espresso Drinks

Large coffee chains offer many types of drinks made with espresso. Most of them have lots of sugar or flavored syrup. Traditional espresso is a simple drink. It is made with a shot or two of espresso and little more.

  • Espresso Machiatto. Often made with flavored syrups and chocolate in chain coffee shops, the Machiatto is misunderstood by many. It is traditionally made with a single shot of espresso topped with a lot of foamed milk.
  • Cafe Breve. Another simple drink, the Breve is a shot of espresso made with steamed light cream or half and half.
  • Espresso con Panna. A rich treat, this drink is made with a shot of espresso topped with a thick layer of whipped cream.
  • Cappuccino. An Italian cappuccino is drunk only in the morning. It is also only made with steamed milk and a shot of espresso. It does not have dry foam or other additives. It’s very different from the American chain cafe drink!
  • Cafe Latte. A sweet and mellow drink, a latte is another Italian morning treat. One or two shots of espresso are mixed with eight ounces of steamed milk. It is then topped with foamed milk. If you drink it without the foam then you’d call it a flat white latte.
  • Cafe Americano. This is a cup with history. During World War II American soldiers in Europe missed their drip brew coffee. European cafes began to mix a shot of espresso with six ounces of water for them. The taste is somewhat like drip brewed coffee, perhaps a little better.

Everything You always Wanted to Know about Coffee but Were Afraid to Ask

Some of the best beverages in the world are made using the humble coffee bean. I know that coffee, in all guises, sure makes my life better! Understanding the difference between espresso and coffee or the difference between coffee and cappuccino can feel tricky at first.

I know the first time I walked into a coffee shop by myself, I was a little overwhelmed. I didn’t know the difference between latte and cappuccino, let alone the difference between mocha and latte! I was able to learn, eventually. I’m going to put everything into this guide that I had to ask so you don’t have to suffer that embarrassment.

Coffee 101

  • All coffee is made of ground, roasted beans.
  • Green beans are soft, spongy things with a grass-like smell. They can be stored before roasting for a very long time.
  • Coffee strains from different parts of the world taste differently, eve if they are roasted the same!
  • As coffee beans are roasted, they turn darker and expand.
  • Once coffee is roasted it has a shorter shelf life. Over time, roasted coffee begins to lose its oils and flavor.

A Quick Word on Coffee Roasts and Preparation

Just knowing the basics of roasting are enough to start opening up the world of coffee. In general, espresso in made with low acidity, medium or dark roasted beans. Coffee can be made with any roast of beans. I prefer a dark roast for all my coffee drinks, but don’t be afraid to experiment!

A light roast is heated for the least amount of time. The beans only expand and slightly crack. These beans give coffee a toasted grain flavor with high acidity. Light roasts also have the most caffeine.

A medium roasted bean has a richer, darker color with a slightly oily surface. They have a heavier body with much more flavor and aroma. Some beans may even be slightly spicy at this roast level.

Dark roasts are dark brown to black, with a shiny, oily surface. These beans have complex flavors from the roasting process and the beans themselves. Their smoky, rich taste and lower amount of caffeine makes them perfect for use in espresso.

Many people enjoy a lighter, more caffeinated roast earlier in the day. A darker, more flavorful, but less caffeinated dark roast makes a great evening drink. Now that we all understand the basics of coffee and its preparation, we can begin to fully understand the different preparations of regular coffee and espresso.

What is the Difference Between Coffee and Espresso?

Most of us are familiar with drip-brewed coffee. This is a kind of coffee more accurately known as pour-over brewed coffee. Coarsely ground grinds are used in some kind of filter, generally paper or a reusable mesh made of plastic or metal. Hot water is poured over the grounds and water is allowed to drip through them into a container.

Pour-over coffee provides a brighter flavor profile. It is well suited to light and medium roasts or beans known for having a fruity or floral flavor profile. It is easy to make at home with only very basic equipment.

Espresso is very different! Espresso is made using an extraction method. You’ll also need a specialized machine to prepare it. Hot water or steam is forced though tightly packed, fine grounds at very high pressure.

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The liquid that comes out is slightly thickened, with rich flavor. Gas from the brewing process is released and is coated with oils from fresh beans, forming the crema.

Espresso must be made with very finely ground roasted beans. It is almost always made with a dark or continental-style roast. Most espresso is made with a blend of beans to provide the best flavor profile.

An espresso can be brewed in under a minute, unlike drip coffee, which takes several minutes to make. Each step in the espresso brewing process can be carefully controlled, to alter the flavor profile. There is less caffeine in espresso, due to the dark roast and faster brewing method.

Espresso, not drip-brewed coffee, is used to make drinks like cappuccino, lattes or mocha. It’s really about how the drink is prepared! Now you can see there is a huge difference between a coffee and a cappuccino.

About Espresso

We know the difference between espresso and coffee now. But how is straight espresso served? This is a strongly flavored, bitter drink that is served in small portions. A two ounce cup is traditional. Many aficionados will ask for a cube of pure sugar on the side. The sugar is dissolved in the drink before the espresso shot is taken.

My Guide: 

About Cappuccino

Cappuccino is made with espresso and foamed milk on the top. Your barista will foam the milk while the espresso shot is being brewed, then the foamed milk will be layered onto the espresso. You can order a double or single shot of espresso to be used in this drink.

Many people like to add a little more flavor to this drink. A sprinkling of cinnamon over the foam is a favorite of many cappuccino aficionados. Others like a little sweetener or fruity flavors.

Even though there is quite a lot of difference between coffee and cappuccino, most people who drink cappuccinos are also pour-over coffee fans. It is considered by many to be a very approachable coffee-house beverage because it can be made in so many ways.

About Lattes

In Italy, a latte is traditionally a morning drink. Americans and others will enjoy them anytime of the day, though. It is prepared with milk and espresso. First, you steam milk to perfection. Then you pour a small amount of espresso into the milk. It has a rich and mild flavor well suited to slow morning sipping.

The main difference between latte and cappuccino is the lack of a foamy consistency in a latte. A cappuccino also has more espresso blended into it. Cappuccinos are another Italian morning only drink, just a slightly stronger one!

About Frappes

A frappe is a cold coffee beverage. It’s originally of Greek origin. It is otherwise very similar to a cappuccino. Strongly brewed coffee or espresso, foamed milk and steamed milk are blended, then poured over crushed or shaved ice.

Frappes can also be made with ice cream instead of steamed milk. The most common flavors are chocolate and vanilla, but others can be used. A barista will blend espresso into soft serve ice cream before adding other flavors or ingredients.

Fruity or sweet flavors are sometimes added for a refreshing afternoon beverage. Fruity flavors are also sometimes used. Many people like a sweet topping of whipped cream and a cherry.

Frappes are generally made with a much stronger brew of coffee than normal or doubled shots of espresso. This is because the brew will be diluted as the ice melts. As a result, it is not a low-caffeine drink.

About Mochas

A mocha is very similar to a latte. It’s a steamed milk drink that has quite a lot of chocolate syrup added. The sweetness of the chocolate must be balanced with the bitterness of the espresso. If you get the mix wrong, the drink can become overly sweet.

The main difference between mocha and latte is the chocolate syrup. A traditional latte is not made with anything sweeter than steamed milk. It’s more of a desert beverage as it is, and goes nicely with a whipped cream topping with a candied cherry.

About Americanos

During World War II many American soldiers in Europe asked for their espressos to be watered down to something more like the drip-brewed coffee they missed from home. This became known as an Americano.

It is made by either adding water to regularly brewed espresso or by flushing extra water through the coffee puck during brewing. The end result is a drink with all the flavor of an espresso, but at a reduced strength.

Other Things to Know

There are a few other terms to know. A wet cappuccino is made with extra steamed milk and less foam. A dry one is made with no steamed milk, just a lot of foam. A skinny drink is made with skim milk instead of traditional full fat milk.

Cheat Sheet of Popular Espresso Based Drinks

  • Latte – This is really a milk beverage with a little coffee. It’s made with 1/6th espresso, 4/6th steamed milk and 1/6th foamed milk.
  • Flat White – Basically a latte without a dry milk top, it is made with 1/3rd espresso and 2/3rd frothed milk.
  • Cappuccino – Possibly one of the most popular coffee drinks ever made! It’s made with 1/3rd espresso, 1/3rd steamed milk and 1/3rd foamed milk.
  • Mochaccino – It’s cappuccino with a sweet twist, made with 1/3rd espresso, 1/3rd steamed milk and 1/3rd frothed milk. They add one tablespoon of chocolate syrup.
  • Mocha – Is a chocolate coffee drink made with 2/5th espresso, 2/5th chocolate syrup and 1/5th steamed milk.
  • Mocha Latte – This is 1/8th espresso, 5/8th steamed milk, 1/8th foamed milk and 1/8th chocolate syrup.

Now you are well prepared to order bravely. These drinks are the basis for nearly every other coffee shop beverage that one can imagine. You can choose to have yours made traditionally, with soy milk or with an interesting new flavor of syrup. You now know to get that great cup of coffee, cappuccino or any other coffee drink you might desire.

Coffee is Loaded with Antioxidants and Beneficial Nutrients

One little known fact is that coffee is actually fairly healthy. Among the beneficial nutrients, coffee is packed with powerful antioxidants. Because of this, some studies have shown that those who drink coffee have a lowered risk of a number of serious diseases. Here, you will learn more about the specific benefits of drinking coffee—which are much more than just giving you the energy to start your morning.

Many individuals drink coffee to help them get a boost of energy when they need it most, and this has been proven to be true scientifically. This effect is brought on thanks to the caffeine, a stimulant that is the most used psychoactive substance in the entire world. Once the coffee has been consumed, this chemical is absorbed through the bloodstream, and then travels to the brain. Within the brain, the caffeine will block Adenosine, an inhibitory neurotransmitter. As this happens, it leads to other neurotransmitters to increase, like dopamine and norepinephrine, causing neurons to fire more rapidly. In addition to increased energy levels, coffee can help to improve many aspects of brain function, including vigilance, mood, memory, and general cognitive function.

Caffeine is also commonly found in many fat burning supplements—it is one of the only natural substances that has been proven successful in burning fat, as it can boost the metabolic rate anywhere from 3 to 11%. Additional studies have shown that caffeine may increase fat burning by up to 10% in individuals that are obese, and 29% in individuals that are lean. Though it should be noted that these effects will taper off in those who are long term coffee drinkers.

Because caffeine works like that, it stimulates the nervous system, which causes the fat cells to break down body fat while the epinephrine levels are increased within the blood. Epinephrine is adrenaline—the right or flight hormone that readies the body for physical exertion. The process works as such: as the fat cells break down thanks to the caffeine, they are released into the bloodstream and are made available to be used as fuel as free fatty acids. Physical performance can be increased by up to 12% through the use of caffeine. Ideally, you would enjoy a cup of coffee about an hour before you plan on working out.

The nutrients found in one cup of coffee include 11% of the recommended daily amount (RDA) of Vitamin B12, 6% of the RDA of Vitamin B5, 3% of the RDA of Potassium and Manganese, and 2% of the RDA of Vitamin B3. This may seem like scant amounts, but those who drink multiple cups of coffee per day will double or triple these amounts of essential nutrients needed for the body to thrive.

The most common neurodegenerative disease and leading cause of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease. Those who are 65 and older are normally who is affected, and the worst part is that there is no known cure for this awful disease. The next best thing is to take action and prevent the disease the best that you can, including doing things like exercising, eating healthy, and even drinking coffee. Several studies have shown that those who drink coffee regularly have as much as a 65% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

In addition to Alzheimer’s, caffeine might lower the risk of the second most common neurodegenerative disease—Parkinson’s. This disease is caused by the loss of neurons that generate dopamine in the brain. Because there is also no cure for it, it is vital to focus on doing what you can to prevent it. Those who regularly consume caffeinated coffee lower their risk of developing Parkinson’s anywhere from 32 to 60%.

A few common diseases mainly affect the liver, and many of which have the ability to lead to cirrhosis, a condition in which the liver becomes mostly replaced with scar tissue. A healthy liver will contribute to many functions that are important to the body. Those who drink 4 or more cups of coffee per day have about an 80% less risk of developing potentially fatal cirrhosis.

Some outlets have expressed concern that caffeine will increase blood pressure. While this is a true statement, it is a very small and temporary increase, and may go away if you regularly consume coffee, but this is not always the case, especially if you have a normally elevated blood pressure. That being said, there are some studies that have shown a reduced risk of heart disease in women who regularly drink coffee, and a 20% lowered risk of a stroke for normal coffee drinkers.

Given all of this information, it would only make sense that those who regularly drink coffee may help them to live longer, as it has a significant overall impact of the ability to lower the risk of many diseases. In two notably large studies, coffee drinking men were associated with a 20% less chance of death, and coffee drinking women has 26% lowered risk of death, both over the period of 18 to 24 years. Interestingly enough, those individuals with type 2 diabetes had a 30% lowered risk of death throughout a 20 year study.

Antioxidants have been frequently talked about when discussion turns to diet, and coffee can be indicated as one of the most antioxidant rich items that is part of a standard Western diet. One fun fact is that many people actually get more antioxidants from coffee than they do from vegetables or fruits combined in their daily diet. That being said, no wonder coffee is regarded as one of the healthiest beverages available.

Next time you question whether or not you should have an extra cup of coffee, remember that when consumed regularly, you are actually helping your body thrive in many ways. Share this wealth of knowledge and remember that you cannot overload your coffee with sugar and expect to reap these benefits. The powerful antioxidants and other nutrients work best when combined with an overall healthy lifestyle and regular visits to your doctor.