Coffee 101: Espresso Machine vs. Coffee Maker

Quick Summary

Espresso Machine vs. coffee maker: What are the Differences? Coffee makers and espresso machines function very differently, although they can look very similar to the inexperienced eye. Each uses a different brewing method and produces entirely different drinks.

Coffee Maker vs. Espresso Machine

Espresso machines use a piston, steam, or pump to brew coffee grounds. Nearly boiling water is rapidly pushed through ground coffee for a rich, condensed drink. Coffee makers use gravity and permeate coffee grounds through a filter.

When deciding on a coffee maker vs. espresso machine, you need to consider the kind of coffee drink you want to produce. Coffee makers only produce black drip coffee, while espresso can be the base for several coffee drink varieties.

Coffee Maker: Pros and Cons

Coffee Maker vs. Espresso Machine

Beautiful drip coffee maker

Coffee makers are present in almost every home and workplace. They can produce large amounts of coffee easily and are very easy to clean and maintain. Coffee makers use a brewing method that relies on gravity.

The Good

Coffee makers are most prized for their convenience. They are very easy to operate, and most coffee makers have settings that allow you to choose a preset brewing time.

Most machines only require one or two tablespoons for six ounces of coffee, depending on your taste. It's easy to control the strength of your coffee with a drip coffee maker.

They are also a cost-effective choice. Drip coffee machines are cheaper than espresso machines and can produce large quantities of coffee.

The Bad

However, if you've developed a finely tuned taste for coffee, you might not be satisfied with drip coffee from a machine. Coffee makers only allow you to make a simple black coffee. If you're interested in making "gourmet" coffee drinks, like cappuccinos or lattes, you'll want the ability to make espresso. Coffee machines require a little more patience since they rely on gravity to for their brew.

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Espresso Machine: Pros and Cons

Espresso Machine vs. Coffee Maker

The Best Espresso Machine

Between an espresso machine vs. coffee maker, espresso gives the user more choices. There are use a pump, piston or steam-based options. Among pump-based machines, you can choose from semi-automatic, automatic and super-automatic machines.

The machine pushes almost boiling water through coffee grounds at high pressure. You'll see machines with 9-bar pressure, which is the minimum required. Most high-quality machines use a 15-bar pump. Espresso machines can either have a thermoblock or thermocoil heating element, or a boiler. Prosumer and high-end espresso machines also come with a PID controller, most of the time.

The Good

Espresso machines can produce a higher quality of coffee and allow you to create a wide variety of coffee drinks. They have a very fast extraction time, with most machines averaging between 20 to 30 seconds per espresso.

Espresso can be the base for several gourmet coffee drinks such as lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, Americanos, and more. Some drinks may require frothed milk, which you can try on your own or with a machine.

The Bad

You'll have to be more particular about the coffee grounds you use for an espresso machine. Since the brewing process is done very quickly, it's vital that the grounds be very fine and uniform in size. A burr grinder is best for achieving finely, consistent grounds. It uses fewer revolutions per minute (RPM) than a blade grinder so that there is less heat or friction.

An espresso machine requires more coffee grounds for the amount of drink produced. For 1.5 oz. of water, you'll need about 7 grams of coffee.

It can take longer to learn how to effectively operate your espresso machine since the functions are more complex. These machines are also costlier, reaching into the hundreds or even thousands of dollars depending on the quality and type.


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