How Do Espresso Machines Work? 

Table of Contents

For many people, espresso is an integral part of life.  The truth is, there may be nothing {that a} good cup of joe can’t repair. 

Nonetheless, has it ever occurred to you to cease and marvel easy methods to make this scrumptious drink? After all, we all know espresso machines brew espresso, however I don’t assume many people perceive what goes by that course of. 

To place it merely, all espresso machines must do is to push sizzling water by a puck of finely-ground espresso. 

It’s that easy, however the tangles of wires and hulking steel can intimidate most customers to the purpose that it may well put them off from studying the intricacies of this machine. 

In case you are interested in what it’s like, this text will present you what constitutes an espresso machine and the way every thing goes and ties collectively to make a steaming cup of scrumptious espresso. 

To begin, right here is an outline of the elements you see in espresso machines

  1. Water Supply 
  2. Pump 
  3. Boiler 
  4. Group Head 
  5. Portafilter 

As you’ll be able to see, the article will comply with how water strikes by the espresso machine – ranging from its supply right down to the portafilter. 

Water Supply

brewing coffee

Espresso machines want water for them to brew espresso. 

Most espresso machines get water both from a built-in water reservoir or by way of a plumbed connection to the principle water supply. 

The kind of water supply you get is determined by how you’ll use your machine. 

For instance, espresso machines with built-in water reservoirs are perfect for brewing a cup or a small batch of espresso. 

These sorts additionally give the person extra freedom as you’ll be able to simply tweak and alter the water high quality. 

Alternatively, for those who plan to brew massive batches of espresso each day, then an espresso machine with a plumbed-in connection is crucial. 

The regular water provide entails that you just wouldn’t must stand up and refill consistently. 

There are additionally hybrid espresso machines which have each a built-in reservoir and a plumbing possibility. 

In case you are undecided which methodology works for you, you’ll be able to attempt these hybrid variations to get a really feel of what works greatest. 

Apart from the kind of water supply, bear in mind additionally to pair it with a water filter. 

The perfect espresso brews are made of fresh and clear water. 

Water with an excessive amount of or too little mineral content material will adversely have an effect on its style. 

breville water source

Water Reservoir 

Professionals: simpler to regulate, simple to arrange and clear 

Cons: must refill, wants routine cleansing and upkeep 

Machines: Rancilio Silvia M Residence Espresso Machine, La Pavoni “Stradivari”


Professionals: no want for fixed refills 

Cons: must be arrange, arrange is likely to be costly 

Machines: Isomac TEA Espresso Machine, Vibiemme VBM Domobar



Constant stress is required for water to push by a mattress of finely-ground espresso and extract the wealthy flavors. 

The espresso machine ought to have a stress of not less than 9 bars to get an ideal shot of espresso. 

How the machine generates stress is determined by the kind it’s.  

They’re normally labeled into lever-driven machines and pump-driven machines. 

Within the former, the espresso machine comes with a lever that it’s essential to push right down to extract the espresso. 

Alternatively, the latter depends on an digital pump to generate stress and is what you normally discover in home-based espresso fashions. 

Pump-driven machines normally have the next pumps: rotating and vibrating. 

Rotating Pumps 

Rotating or rotary pumps have a motor and rotor to create that stress. 

The spinning motor causes the veins contained in the disc to press in opposition to the outer chamber. 

Consequently, the house shrinks. 

Therefore, the pump pushes out the water each time this disc shrinks.  

Rotary pumps are normally present in professional-grade espresso machines. 

All these pumps ship constant stress and are fast in reaching totally different pressures too. 

Rotary pumps are additionally fairly massive and are extra sturdy, and thus, they’re more proficient in dealing with bigger volumes of water. 

They’re additionally quiet when working and have longer lifespans. 

coffee machine pump2

Vibrating Pumps 

Vibrating or vibratory pumps make the most of a pulsating piston to collect water from the tank after which push it by the boiler. 

The piston strikes at a median of sixty pushes per second. 

These pumps are normally present in house espresso machines since they’re smaller and are fairly easy. 

Vibratory pumps are additionally reasonably priced and are much less vulnerable to limescale build-up since they’re suited to decrease volumes of water. 

Nonetheless, vibratory pumps are sometimes unstable in delivering stress which may have an effect on your brew. 

Rotary Pump 

Professionals: quiet operation, constant stress, lengthy lifespan 

Cons: cumbersome and huge 

Machines: La Spaziale S1 Vivaldi II Espresso Machine, Nuova Simonelli Musica Espresso Machine

Vibratory Pump

Professionals: reasonably priced, small, much less vulnerable to limescale build-up

Cons: inconsistent stress, loud, brief lifespan 

Machines: La Pavoni “Napolitana” Espresso Machine, Rancilio Silvia M Residence Espresso Machine


coffee machine pump

Heating is a vital ingredient in an espresso machine. 

After the water pushes by the bottom espresso, it’s time for the machine to warmth it. 

Like water stress, the temperature additionally must be constant to get a scrumptious espresso shot. 

The boiler is the element answerable for heating the water within the machine. 

Nonetheless, boilers can get slightly difficult. 

Apart from the dimensions, boilers usually include further options to advertise stability and person management. 

To keep away from complicated you, we’re going to be discussing every function. 

Boiler Measurement 

larger coffee machine

The bigger the boiler, the extra batches it may well brew. 

Nonetheless, do not forget that extra espresso batches imply that the espresso machine requires extra time and power to brew them. 

Plus, there is likely to be a little bit of ready time in between. 

Small Boiler 

Professionals: extra compact, simple to arrange, reasonably priced

Cons: restricted espresso brews

Machines: Gaggia Traditional Semi-Automated Espresso Machine, ECM Casa V Espresso Machine

Mid-size Boiler 

Professionals: perfect for many customers, has probably the most product variations

Cons: has probably the most product variations

Machines: Fast Mill Silvano Evo Espresso Machine, La Spaziale S1 Mini Vivaldi II Espresso Machines

Giant Boiler 

Professionals: brews massive batches 

Cons: costly, requires a number of power 

Machines: La Marzocco GS3 Espresso Machine Authentic Automated

Boiler Sorts 

The following issue is what number of boilers you’ll use. 

Once more, this issue will rely upon how you may be utilizing your espresso machine. 

Single boilers 

Single boiler

Single boilers solely have one boiler that each brews espresso and steam for milk. 

Their easy construct signifies that these boiler machines are normally cheap. 

Nonetheless, since they solely have a single boiler, you can’t brew and froth milk concurrently. 

You’ll have to await the espresso machine to complete brewing earlier than you’ll be able to froth. 

Furthermore, there’s a little bit of ready time earlier than you’ll be able to steam milk since you’ll have to await the machine to achieve the proper temperature. 

It isn’t an issue if it’s only a single drink, however the ready time can add up in case you are brewing a number of milk-based drinks. 

Twin boilers 

dual boiler (1)

Twin boilers make the most of two boilers – every having a heating ingredient. 

As such, twin boiler espresso machines can brew espresso and steam milk concurrently. 

The additional boiler will increase the value of those machines, however you’ll get the comfort of brewing quite a few milk-based drinks. 

Warmth trade 

Warmth trade machines even have a single boiler, however they will brew espresso and steam milk on the identical time. 


These machines preserve the water at a steaming temperature as an alternative of boiling it. 

Though it may well concurrently brew and steam, warmth trade espresso machines are extra reasonably priced than twin boilers. 

Nonetheless, brewed water can overheat if left for too lengthy, making it troublesome to regulate the brewing temperature. 

Customers suggest purging tiny portions of water in timed intervals; nevertheless, this has a studying curve most customers can have issue adapting to. 

Single boiler 

Professionals: reasonably priced 

Cons: lengthy ready occasions, can’t brew and steam concurrently 

Machines: ECM Casa V Espresso Machine, Fast Mill Carola Espresso Machine

Twin boiler 

Professionals: brew and steam concurrently, exact temperature management 

Cons: costly 

Machines: Rancilio Silvia Professional Double Boiler Espresso Machine, Lelit PL92T Elizabeth V3 Twin Boiler Espresso Machine

Warmth trade 

Professionals: brew and steam concurrently, inexpensive possibility 

Cons: Tough to regulate the temperature 

Machines: Kalerm KLM1601 Premium Tremendous Automated Espresso Machine, Rocket Appartamento Espresso Machine

Boiler Temperature and Consumer Management Choices 

coffee machines buttons

The key of creating a very good shot of espresso is to have constant temperature and stress. 

Therefore, it isn’t far off to say that little spikes or inconsistencies with temperature can have an effect on the espresso’s style. 

Fortunately, espresso machines now have varied options that may assist the person management and stabilize temperature. 

Strain stat 

Most compact and reasonably priced espresso machines use a stress stat that units the brewing temperature to a sure quantity. 

The benefit this offers is that it’s perfect for freshmen or for individuals who merely don’t need a number of fuss over their espresso. 

You’ll simply must run the machine and wait to your espresso. 

Nonetheless, this additionally means the person can’t management or alter the temperature accordingly. 

Consequently, the espresso machine would possibly brew inconsistent photographs, particularly when used often. 

Proportional integral by-product (PID)

PID or digital temperature management options let the person alter the brewing temperature. 

Each are primarily the identical – the distinction lies in how the PID offers extra info and management than the digital temperature management. 

Furthermore, PID additionally allows the person to regulate the algorithm, which you can’t do in a digital temperature controller. 

Strain stat 

Professionals: reasonably priced, simple to make use of 

Cons: inconsistent over time, restricted management 

Machines: Bezzera BZ10, ECM Mechanika V Slim


Professionals: allows exact temperature management

Cons: not that sturdy 

Machines: Fast Mill Silvano Evo Espresso Machine, Lelit PL91T Victoria Espresso Machine

Group Head 

coffee grounds

The group head is the final element water goes by in an espresso machine. 

It’s a steel attachment and is the place the place water meets the puck stuffed with espresso.

When it’s time to pull an espresso shot, the group head will get pressurized water, sends it by a diffusion plate, and at last to the portafilter stuffed with floor espresso. 

Whereas there are numerous group head sorts, they primarily have the identical elements – simply in several configurations. 

This part will talk about the three forms of group heads accessible. 

E61 group head 

The E61 group head was named after the 12 months it was patented by the corporate, Faema. 

Now, this group head is off-patent and thus, present in varied espresso machines.

The E61 revolutionized the espresso world when it was first launched.

Attributable to its brew consistency and user-friendliness, the E61 rapidly changed the massive lever espresso machines that have been frequent earlier than. 

For one, the E61 group head was the primary espresso machine to have an electrical pump, have a thermosyphon, and allow pre-infusion. 

As such, the group head stood out among the many varied espresso machines fitted with three-way valves out there. 

Incoming sizzling water enters by the water inlet, a gap discovered behind the group head.

The pressurized water then leaves by way of an exhaust on the backside. 

The cam is an oval-shaped steel that rotates and presses on the valves on the facet, and it’s linked to a lever to allow the person to regulate the brewing course of. 

When the lever is down, the group head is switched off. 

The E61 group head is distinct by the actual fact that it’s made out of 9 kilos of brass.

This materials signifies that the group head has strong temperature stability as the fabric takes some time to warmth up and funky down. 

Attributable to its thermosyphon system and warmth exchanger, the E61 may solely warmth the brew by circulating the water throughout the machine. 

The upper the temperature distinction between the brew and the water within the warmth trade, the faster the circulation. 

These parts opened doorways for espresso machines to make use of recent water in making espresso.

Lastly, the pre-infusion is feasible because of the peculiar form and construction of the EC61 because it leaves a little bit of water within the espresso grounds earlier than the stress builds up. 

Consequently, the remaining moisture causes the bottom espresso to “bloom” or “swell up” and solidify and convey out a fuller and richer taste for extraction. 

espresso machine

Saturated group head 

La Marzocco made the saturated group head in 1970. 

It was first featured within the firm’s GS machine, being wielded immediately onto a brew boiler, and made out of brass. 

Saturated group heads are hole as they’ve a big reservoir that must be stuffed with water. 

When activated, the most popular water within the boiler would rise to the excessive a part of the group head whereas the cooler water would run right down to the boiler the place it may be reheated. 

As soon as the shot is extracted, the pump deactivates, and the valve closes. 

Early variations of saturated group heads had a excessive temperature offset between the boiler and the brew temperature since they weren’t insulated. 

Newer variations of this group head already include foam insulation to scale back this power wastage. 

Semi-saturated group head 

Semi-saturated group heads will not be linked to the boiler as a warmth exchanger separates them. 

Therefore, these group heads are simpler to restore and cheaper to provide. 

Nonetheless, the draw back is that they’re barely much less secure in sustaining temperature. 

E61 group head 

Professionals: excessive warmth retention, person can management brewing 

Cons: lengthy heat-up time (about 20 minutes to 40 minutes) 

Machines: Bezzera Unica PID Espresso Machine, Izzo Vivi 3 Espresso Machine

Saturated group head 

Professionals: lengthy lifespan, computer-controlled, secure temperature 

Cons: excessive power price, pricey to provide and restore 

Machines: Slayer Single Group Espresso Machine, Victoria Arduino Adonis Industrial Espresso Machine

Semi-saturated group head 

Professionals: simpler to restore, cheaper to provide

Cons: much less desk in temperature upkeep

Machines: Lelit Elizabeth, LUCCA A53


espresso portafilter

The portafilter pertains to the filter basket that incorporates floor espresso and is within the group head. 

There are numerous portafilters accessible that may adversely have an effect on the style of your espresso. 


First, they arrive in several sizes – 58mm, 54mm, 53mm, and even 40mm.

The portafilter’s dimension largely is determined by the producer or model and is about, that means you can’t enlarge it or vice versa.

The scale additionally impacts the quantity of espresso you’ll be able to place inside. 

Therefore, the smaller the portafilter, the much less floor espresso you’ll be able to put inside. 

Basket sizes 

Portafilters additionally differ by basket sizes that are: 

Single-shot baskets 

Single-shot baskets can solely maintain eight to 10 grams of espresso and are present in smaller or much less cheap espresso machines. 

Additionally they include a set of small holes on the backside to scale back move velocity. 

Double shot baskets 

Double shot baskets are what normally are available normal or mid-priced espresso machines. 

These baskets can maintain sixteen to twenty grams of espresso. 

Triple shot baskets 

Triple shot baskets are normally present in skilled espresso machines or made for brewing massive batches. 

These baskets can maintain thirty to thirty-five grams of espresso. 

Single-shot basket

Professionals: perfect for particular person use, simple to regulate 

Cons: restricted batches 

Double shot basket 

Professionals: perfect for a small batch 

Cons: left-over espresso grounds 

Triple shot basket 

Professionals: can accommodate and brew massive batches 

Cons: left-over espresso grounds 



Portafilters normally include spouts in order that the espresso would move from the machine onto the cup. 

Nonetheless, trendy espresso machines additionally make the most of a brand new kind – the bare portafilter. 

Spouted portafilter 

As talked about earlier, portafilters normally include one to 2 spouts for the espresso to move from the machine and onto the cup. 

Double spouts are fairly handy as you’ll be able to simply divide the espresso shot into two cups. 

Bare portafilter 

As in its identify, bare portafilters haven’t any spouts, which go away the filter basket uncovered. 

Therefore, you’ll be able to clearly see the espresso shot move from the machine into the espresso cup. 

Due to the shortage of obstruction, bare portafilters allow the person to observe their espresso photographs fastidiously. 

For one, you’ll be able to inform instantly when there are tamping errors. 

Figuring out your errors can assist you enhance and make you constant over time. 

The absence of a spout additionally makes it simpler to scrub, and you wouldn’t danger affecting the flavour attributable to oil build-up in a spout. 

Lastly, bare portafilters are additionally mentioned to provide extra crema in comparison with their counterparts since air particles keep trapped longer. 

Spouted portafilter 

Professionals: simpler slide, handy 

Cons: Tough to scrub, oil build-up can have an effect on the style

Bare portafilter 

Professionals: produces extra crema, simpler to scrub, person can discover errors instantly 

Cons: messier, has a studying curve 


Non-pressurized portafilter 

Sometimes, portafilters will not be pressurized because the espresso machine itself can generate stress. 

All you’ll have to do is press the portafilter down and tamp the espresso. 

Pressurized portafilter

Nonetheless, some espresso machines include pressurized portafilters. 

The truth is, you’ll be able to normally see this in super-automatic sorts or low-level machines. 

Right here, the portafilter comes with a number of holes to generate stress. 

Pressurized portafilters are fairly perfect for freshmen because it solely wants a delicate tamp. 

Nonetheless, a set stress additionally signifies that you should have much less management over the espresso shot. 

Non-pressurized portafilter 

Professionals: cheap, handy 

Cons: troublesome to restore 

Pressurized portafilter 

Professionals: perfect for freshmen

Cons: much less management over the shot 


Figuring out how the espresso machine works is just not mandatory, nevertheless it makes you recognize how your cup of scrumptious espresso got here to be.  Furthermore, having this bit of data additionally helps as you now know what elements to tweak and alter to enhance your espresso’s style. 

It is going to additionally come in useful in case the espresso machine ever breaks down and wishes a couple of repairs.  Having this tidbit of data can also be helpful whenever you wish to purchase a brand new espresso machine. 

Lastly, you’ll know what parts to deal with and discover an espresso machine that can fit your wants.  Joyful brewing! 

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