Coffee machines differ from coffee makers in that the preparation process takes place with minimal human involvement, and there is also the possibility to process coffee under pressure — to brew espresso. For this, a compressor is built into the unit. It is for this reason that coffee machines for the home are much more expensive than electric coffee makers, which apparently also brew coffee. But the drink in coffee machines is stronger and more aromatic. This equipment is also called espresso machines, because they prepare many drinks based on this drink. In the article, we will consider how to choose a coffee machine for the home kitchen, and we will understand the intricacies of this technique.
To choose a coffee maker for your home, decide on the types of drinks you want to prepare
Usually, espresso machines have two modes of operation: coffee is prepared using hot water or hot steam under pressure. This is a “branded” method of preparation, which is only partially (without pressure) realized in geyser coffee makers.
General device and principle of operation
For making coffee, the coffee machine has a special filter into which ground coffee is poured. The powder must be compacted to a certain density. In some models, tamping occurs when the filter is installed. It can simply be turned all the way, and then returned to the desired position. At the same time, the coffee is pressed and the used “pill” can be easily thrown away after preparation. The filter can be equipped with a regulator for the number of coffee cups that will be prepared at one time. Such a coffee maker for home is convenient.
In order to obtain a drink of good quality, specially prepared types of coffee are used for espresso. It should be well roasted and ground to a fine fraction, then the drink will be strong and aromatic. Household espresso machines are produced by many companies. We recommend reading customer reviews before purchasing.
Some models of coffee machines can be filled with ready-made “tablets” with a certain type of coffee. It is convenient because it takes less time.
In other models, coffee can be measured automatically. These are units that can grind coffee. The main thing is that the coffee beans are poured into the tank. Next, the unit itself will grind the required portion of coffee (the amount depends on the selected type of drink and the number of portions), and then pour and tamp the resulting powder.
Small espresso machines have only one booster pump, which allows you to prepare one cup of coffee at a time. There are models with two pumps, in which you can prepare two cups of drink at once, and the drinks, in some models, may be different. Of course, double-dispensing coffee machines cost more.
Also note that inexpensive models of household coffee machines work only with cups of a certain height. You can’t always put your favorite cup in them. For someone, this feature does not affect the choice of a coffee maker, for someone it is very important, and it is desirable to choose a coffee maker “for your favorite cup”.
The presence of a cappuccino maker
Even a home coffee machine can have an additional outlet, which serves whipped milk.
Milk is poured into a separate tank, when preparing the drink, it is whipped (with the help of a powerful jet of steam) and added to the espresso in its finished form. This is how cappuccino is prepared, and the device for whipping milk is called a cappuccino maker. In general, in recent years, this part has been built not only into espresso machines, but also into all others: cappuccino, macchiato and other coffee-based drinks with the addition of milk have become too popular.
Automatic or semi-automatic
There are automatic and semi-automatic coffee machines. In semi-automatic machines, coffee is poured manually, and water is poured into the container. Coffee grinders are built into automatic coffee machines, and some of them have the ability to set the degree of grinding.
Some models of automatic coffee makers are connected to the water supply. They have a built-in water preparation system, so you need to change the filters regularly. But they only require loading coffee and pouring milk. Then it remains only to choose the type of drink and the number of cups to be prepared. But knowing the realities of water supply, it is difficult to believe in the long service life of such units, and they cost much more.
In the machine, you simply press the button with the desired drink. Then everything happens according to the program and you just take out the cup with the finished drink.
Some models have electronic control and a touch-sensitive liquid crystal screen, which displays the selected program and comments on the cooking process. In others, simpler and more budget-friendly, management is based on ordinary buttons. Such models may not be so pompous, but they cost somewhat less. And in general, an automatic espresso coffee machine for the home is not the cheapest equipment. Average prices are $60-120. Cheaper units of normal companies are almost never found, but more expensive ones are very common.
Should you buy an automatic coffee maker? If you don’t have time, then yes. The choice is doubly justified if you don’t like making coffee. Just keep in mind that if the automatic coffee machine breaks down, its repair can cost a lot.
The choice of a coffee machine is usually made based on tastes and habits, the volume of the drink that needs to be prepared at one time. It is still necessary to pay attention to the possibilities provided by a particular model.
For grain and ground coffee
Any household coffee maker brews a drink from ground coffee, but some models have a built-in coffee grinder. Then you can pour coffee beans into the unit. Coffee is ground before preparation. It is clear that freshly ground coffee smells much better, but the preparation time increases, as does the price of the unit. And the noise level during operation of the coffee grinder is much higher. But you can find a model with a timer and use the coffee maker as an alarm clock.
Both domestic and professional coffee machines can have a coffee grinder. Then you can pour ground or grain coffee
And if you choose a coffee maker with the possibility of using grain coffee, then it is better to be able to adjust the degree of grinding. A larger grind results in a less strong coffee and vice versa. So thanks to this, you can adjust the strength of the drink.
When choosing a coffee machine, do not forget that this equipment is not simple and requires regular maintenance: it requires regular cleaning. In these units, it is necessary to clean:
- Heating elements and water tank from accumulated salts. If cleaning is not carried out for a long time, the consumption of electricity and coffee consumption increases, and the quality of the drink at the same time becomes lower and lower. If you do not clean the plaque for a very long time, the heaters may fail.
- Brewing node from coffee oils. Oils not only clog the holes, they also degrade the quality of the drink. So it is also necessary to clean regularly, but simply rinse, so every time after preparing a drink.
- Milk supply system. In general, it is advisable to wash this part every time you pour in a new portion of milk.
Cleaning operations can be done manually using various detergents. It is not very pleasant and sometimes takes a lot of time. If you don’t like washing dishes, there are models with a self-cleaning function. For cleaning, the coffee maker is filled with water, detergent is added to it, and then the corresponding mode is activated. It is necessary to flush the water with detergent twice through the hot tap, and then wait for the end of the procedure. Next, you should flush the system a couple of times with clean water, and then you can brew coffee again. In general, the entire process is described in detail in the instructions for the coffee machine. Do not be lazy to read, as each model has its own nuances.
Possibilities of adjusting the strength of the drink
Many models of coffee machines have the function of controlling the strength of the drink. Here, the interaction time of water or water vapor with coffee changes. The slower the water passes through the ground coffee, the stronger the drink.
It is also possible to regulate the amount of water supplied. A 70 ml cup is enough for someone, and someone needs 250 ml. So the feature is quite useful.
Timer (delayed start)
Another useful function for busy people is delayed start. You fill up the car in advance, set the time to turn it on. Morning, evening, afternoon – it doesn’t matter. You have ready coffee by a certain time. This option is so popular that it is available in both complex and simple coffee makers.
There are even models that can be started remotely using a mobile app. This is an option for busy people with irregular work schedules. Driving up to the house, start the coffee maker and enjoy a hot drink in a few minutes. If you need to choose a coffee machine for a house where busy people live, this is a necessary option, and it increases the cost slightly.