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Whats The Difference Between Espresso And Coffee Maker?

Q: So want to start making coffee/Lattes at home to save money but wondering whats the difference between a coffee maker and an Espresso maker(besides the name) b/c they both look to do the same thing. Hot water over grinded coffee. Want to buy a cheaper simple machine but wondering if I can make Espresso in a coffee maker and vice versa. Thanks.

A: Lets get this straight; The difference between Espresso & all other methods of making coffee is the use of PRESSURE to force the hot water through the coffee. The use of pressure, combined with a fine grind to hold the pressure, results in a lot more being extracted from the coffee than with non-pressurised methods. If the beans are fresh, this will produce a crema on the top of the coffee. The crema should be golden in colour, not whitish or brown, and should be made up of bubbles so fine that they can barely be seen, except across the light. First generation Espresso machines - i.e. getting on for 100 years ago simply boiled water to create steam, which created the pressure to force the water through the coffee in the water that a stove top Mocha pot does today. Yes, they are crude & yes, they burned the coffee. The second generation of Espresso machines had a boiler that didn't heat the water to boiling point, and instead used a lever which lifted a piston to open a chamber in the portafilter head, the forcing the lever down closed the chamber as the piston went down & forced the coffee through the coffee. Another variation was the use of a spring lever where you pulled the lever down against the pressure of the spring & the spring pulling the lever back to the vertical position again forced the water through the coffee. Today most, but not all, machines use an electric pump, either vibrating or rotary in design, to force the water through the coffee. To make a half decent Espresso you must buy freshly roasted whole beans & grind them yourself as ground coffee stales within 30minutes. You also need a decent grinder to grind (1) fine enough & (2) consistently enough for Espresso. All of the above requirements start to get expensive, & we would advise against a "cheap" Espresso machine. Finally, and this is the important point: You dont need to have Espresso to enjoy great coffee. Get yourself a basic coffee grinder, get a Swissgold filter (google for one near you - they're inexpensive) then hunt down a local roaster of gourmet coffee beans. You will find the Swissgold filter is quick & easy to use & makes a surperb cup of coffee. A lot of people fail to appreciate that a lot of the world's finest coffees are simply unsuitable for the Espresso process, so in restricting yourself to Espresso coffee you are missing out on most of the world's finest coffees. It is simply the power of marketing that has empowered 'Espresso' with the cache as the 'only' kind of coffee to drink. Challenge the assumption & we think you will be pleasantly surprised & save yourself a pile of cash.

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