The toughest part of being in the Whole Latte Love sales department is finding the right machine to fit a particular customer’s needs. As such, I thought it would be great to give a bit of a breakdown of the machine types (and sub-types) for those coffee lovers out there researching their next machine. There are three basic machine types: Manual, Semi-Automatic and Super-Automatic. For this blog, I’ll be starting with the Manual Espresso Machine.
Manual machines give the real coffee enthusiast total control over every aspect of the espresso brewing process. Basically, manual machines have been used to brew espresso since its inception. You can control the grind and tamp, as well as the pressure with which the machine brews through, using a lever on the front of the unit. When the shot comes out into your cup, it is truly your creation, which is what true coffee enthusiasts crave. At the risk of sounding clichéd, you are the barista with a manual machine. Another benefit is that a manual espresso machine looks phenomenal on the kitchen counter; it makes a statement about your dedication to the art of brewing. You think to yourself “This is the tool of a barista. Not as fast or as mechanical as a super-auto, but an elegant machine for a more civilized age.”
Piston or Spring Levers
There are two types of manual machines: the spring lever and the piston lever. The piston lever directly engages the piston head, and is the original form of the espresso machine. The other type is the spring lever. It works using the same concept as the spring lever, with a piston pushing down over the grounds to achieve the pressure; but, the lever of the machine only cocks a spring. When the spring is released, it evenly distributes the needed pressure to pull a shot of espresso.
Unfortunately, Not For Everyone
Due to the strict nature of the machine, and the total control aspect of it, this just is not a machine for everyone. The grind and tamp must be precise, and the pressure must be consistent, this may prove to be difficult for the average user. But if you love your coffee and want the full experience, from beginning to end, this is the machine type for you. Check out the Achille by Gaggia, and the Europiccola by La Pavoni.
If a manual machine isn’t for you, there are other options available. In my next blog, I’ll go over Semi-Automatics and their features along with their pros and cons.