The first step to making espresso is the grinding of the bean; the beans must be ground properly to ensure the proper quality of the espresso. Grinders, however, range in quality. Blade grinders, most common in households, are much like food processors; the coffee passes through blades and gets chopped into tiny pieces. The result can be grinds of various sizes. Burr grinders, where the beans pass through grinding wheels, are better quality, and they produce more consistent results.
Automatic Espresso Machine
There are several types of automatic espresso machines, though the two most common for household use are semiautomatic machines and automatic machines. Semiautomatic machines have an activation switch that allows the user to engage or disengage the machine’s pump. Automatic machines heat, pump and run on their own, and there is no activation switch. These cost from $1,000 to more than $2,000.
Manual Espresso Machine
Slightly more difficult to operate is the manual espresso machine. It is available in two varieties, the spring piston lever and the direct lever. While results can often be frustrating, those who really learn to use manual espresso machines find the results well worth the effort.
The Moka Pot
The Moka Pot espresso machine is a much simpler and inexpensive way to espresso. The Moka Pot produces coffee that tastes somewhat stronger than regular drip coffee but slightly weaker than machine espresso. In the Moka Pot, the bottom section is filled with water, the filter piece is filled with coffee, and the pieces are screwed in place. The pot is then placed on the stove top; once it begins to boil, the coffee pours out into the top part of the pot.
Another type of espresso maker is the Handpresso, a portable and simple device for making single servings of espresso at a time. This handheld maker actually uses a pressurized system, somewhat like pumping a bike tire, to produce espresso. Simply fill the basket with coffee, then pump up the pressure on the maker. Open the top, and pour boiling water into it. Then, place the coffee in its place opposite the water. Flip it over and pour it into a cup.