Manual/semi-automatic

Manual espresso machines have loose filter handles that you fill with freshly ground coffee. For optimal taste, a separate grinder is needed with which to grind the coffee. When the filter is filled with coffee, you pack it with a coffee press. Then the filter holder is placed in the machine and the brewing is switched on.

Good quality espresso machines are built in metal. Especially the brew group and the filter holders. There are several kinds, simply put you can say that more weight in these components gives a more stable brewing temperature and better coffee taste.

There are manual espresso machines from 1000 SEK and up to the cost of a car. We describe some of the details that distinguish them below.
SINGLE BOILER

Great for people who have a limited budget and who mainly drink pure coffee. The machine has a heat source and thus a temperature. It is normally possible to froth milk with a steam pipe. First brew the coffee, then adjust the machine so the temperature rises and creates a steam pressure in the boiler. The machine works great for serving a lot of coffees in one flow, but when it's time to froth milk, there will be a bit of a wait before it reaches the right temperature.

Our advice is to avoid machines that have a lot of plastic. A simple test is to feel the weight of the filter holder, more weight gives better coffee.


HEAT EXCHANGER

Most professional espresso machines have a heat exchanger system. This means that the machine only has one electrical element, which heats the boiler for hot water and steam. The boiler itself is a heater for heating the water for the brewing. That water circulates in a separate system through the boiler and the brewing group. In this way, the machine maintains the right temperature for both coffee brewing and steam. Froth the milk while brewing the coffee.

The capacity of machines with heat exchangers is generally very good. It can make many coffees in a row with a stable brewing temperature and good steam function. The most important factor for capacity is the volume of the boiler and the power of the heater. The bigger, the better.

Something that can get the brewing temperature out of balance is a large withdrawal of hot water. A semi-professional machine usually has a boiler volume of 1-2 liters, which means that there is approximately 50-100 cl of water in the boiler (the remaining volume is occupied by steam). If you empty the main part of hot water for e.g. tea or americano, the machine is filled with fresh cold water and it loses pressure. On a small machine the heating time is only a few minutes and on a 2-group machine for one serving the cooking volume is 10-15 liters, you need to drain a lot of water to get it out of balance.

Heat exchanger technology is well-proven, Faema developed the first modern espresso machine Faema E-61 which came on the market in 1962. We have a couple of them in our shop in Stockholm.


DUAL BOILERS
In recent years, it has become increasingly popular with dual boilers. The system has separate boilers for steam/hot water and the brew group, and most machines with several brew groups have an individual boiler for each group.

Many of the dual boilers have an electronically adjustable temperature control. It gives the user the opportunity to brew the coffee at different temperatures, which affects the taste. However, not all machines have this easy adjustment option.


TEMPERATURE CONTROL

There are several ways to control the temperature in an espresso machine, here are the most common techniques:
The thermostat is usually located in smaller machines and normally has a factory-calibrated temperature.
Pressure switch mechanically senses the pressure in the boiler. Can be adjusted but the adjustment is normally located inside the shell.
PID / NTC is an electronic control of the temperature and can usually be changed via buttons and display.


PUMP

The most common pump for home machines is a vibratory pump. A ball is moved back and forth with magnetism and feeds the water. A crackling sound from the pump is typical of the technology. The pressure can’t be adjusted on the pump and they normally deliver about 15 bar. Many machines have a pressure regulator that equalizes the pressure to the correct 8-10 bar.

The rotary pump is the most common technique in professional machines. A motor drives the pump that rotates. Most rotary pumps have a set screw to regulate the desired pressure. Compared to a vibratory pump, the rotary pump reaches the correct brewing pressure, and it has a quieter and more comfortable mechanism.

The magnetic gear pump with adjustable speed makes it possible to change the pump pressure during brewing. With electronic control, the user sets the desired pump profile. Pump profiles can significantly affect the taste of coffee.
Espresso machines for home use
Espresso machines semi-pro
Espresso machines for restaurants