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What is an Espresso Coffee Machine?

Coby McKinley Profile image

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Updated August 23, 2022

If you’re shopping for the best coffee maker, then you’ve probably considered an espresso machine. You’ve probably seen this brewer while ordering specialty drinks at your local coffee shop. Luckily, you can bring an espresso maker into your home and make your favorite coffee drinks for friends and family. That said, you may still wonder, what is an espresso coffee machine. Read this guide, and we’ll show you exactly what an espresso machine is.


  • An espresso maker uses hot water and a pressure pump system to brew shots of espresso.
  • The manual espresso machine is mainly obsolete, and professionals have moved on to automatic models.
  • A cup of espresso is much stronger than a cup of coffee, and the espresso taste is more intense than an average black coffee.

What is an Espresso Machine?

An espresso coffee machine uses hot water and an average of 9 bars of pressure to brew the perfect shot of espresso. These machines make a more concentrated drink than a cup of drip coffee, and some models have a steam wand to make frothy milk for latte art.

Coffee grounds are placed in a portafilter and tamped before the barista slides them into the machine. Once the water reaches the ideal brewing temperature, the pressure from the pump presses the water through the coffee puck. If you’d prefer a cold drink with that concentrated coffee flavor, use a cold brew coffee maker.

Insider Tip

Look for an automatic coffee machine that connects directly with your water line. This feature simplifies the brewing process compared to a water tank.

After a while, you’ll need to learn what descaling a coffee maker is. It is a crucial step in cleaning your coffee maker.

Type of Espresso Machine

You will typically find an automatic espresso machine if you’re shopping around, but manual models are available. That said, there is little reason to opt for a manual espresso maker in modern kitchens. The kind of thermostat in the coffee maker might stay the same, but you should consider the distinct types of espresso machines. For those who prefer stovetop espresso over a plug-in machine, check out our comparison article of the Bialetti Venus vs Brikka stovetop espresso machines.

Manual Machine

A manual machine uses a manual pump to build pressure for the brew. It is labor-intensive and not recommended for most coffee drinkers.

Semi-Automatic Machine

The semi-automatic espresso machine uses an electric pressure pump. However, you still need to grind your coffee beans and watch your brew time. With that said, using the right amount of grounds and coarseness will prevent your coffee machine from making weak coffee.

Fully-Automatic Machine

In a full-automatic espresso maker, you need to grind and tamp your beans. That said, the machine automatically raises the pressure gauge and sets the brew time.

Super-Automatic Machine

A super-automatic espresso machine takes care of the entire espresso brewing process. Also called bean-to-cup machines, super-automatic takes fresh beans, grinds them with a built-in bean grinder, and regulates the brew time and water temperature.


Do not use pre-ground coffee for your espresso maker. It will result in a stale and bitter-tasting coffee.


What is the best water for coffee?

While you want to use clean water, coffee experts recommend you don’t use too-filtered water. Minerals like calcium and magnesium are essential to give your cup of coffee a rich taste. That said, using brewing water with too many minerals might negatively affect your drink.

What are must-have accessories for my coffee-espresso machine?

Besides the machine itself, experienced coffee drinkers note that a coffee grinder is the most critical tool for café-quality espresso. In addition, you want to use a Burr grinder to dial in the grind size of your roasted coffee beans. For espresso, pre-ground coffee will not deliver great-tasting espresso shots.

How much caffeine is in a shot of espresso?

Shots of espresso contain an average of 65 milligrams of caffeine per serving. This is less than a typical cup of coffee with about 95 milligrams per 8 ounces of coffee. While a cup of espresso is more potent, people usually consume more caffeine in a single serving of their morning brew.

STAT: According to a recent study from Harvard, drinking four cups of coffee per day could reduce body fat by about 4%. (source)

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