Are you tired of forking over your fortune for a five-dollar cup of coffee every morning?
You’re not alone.
Many people prefer the taste and convenience of store-bought drinks like cappuccinos, macchiatos or other increasingly hard-to-pronounce espresso beverages.
According to the Huffington Post, the average American worker will shell out almost 2,000 dollars annually for coffee.
The good news?
That doesn’t have to be you. You can cut that number down sizably by brewing your own espresso right at home!
Creating a coffeehouse in your own kitchen doesn’t have to be difficult. All you need is the right machine, some knowledge, and maybe a shot of the beverage before you start.
The Art of Making a Perfect Espresso
Before you start, you may want to know a bit about the process. This overview will tell you what exactly you’re getting into.
What exactly is espresso, and how is it made?
According to Business Insider, the word Espresso refers to the process of coffee extraction rather than the type of beans that are used. A regular cup of coffee is made using grounds, a filter, water and that great mainstay, gravity.
An espresso is made by exerting pressure (about 9 times our normal atmospheric pressure, says Gizmodo) on the entire process. You would use roughly the same amount of beans as you would when brewing a regular cup of coffee, but less water. This means you basically get a much more concentrated cup of coffee.
Keep in mind that an espresso should be rich, creamy on top and only a little bitter.
The beans are ground much finer than they would be for a French press of regular coffeemaker. This allows the water to filter through them more easily in the pressurized atmosphere of the machine.
If you don’t want to waste the finely ground coffee beans, you can make espresso powder out of them. Simply dry them out and grind them down. You can use the powder as a flavorful cooking ingredient or to make instant espresso.
Bonus Insider Tip: If you’re ready to take it a step further, try brewing an espresso ristretto. This serious shot is made using the same process as espresso, but with around ¾ of the water — making the flavor even bolder. What a mean cup of joe!
Choosing the Best Espresso Machine for You
It’s decision time.
There are thousands of machines on the market. Before falling in love with any espresso maker, examine these factors. They will help you determine which machine best suits your needs.
1. Simplicity, Ease and Timing
What exactly do you want to do with this machine?
Is it for everyday use before work in the morning, or are you interested in a future career as a master barista?
If you simply want to make delicious, strongly concentrated coffee, consider buying an automatic or semiautomatic machine. These are easy to use and allow you to multitask in the kitchen as you go about your morning. Many semi and super automatic espresso makers allow you to adjust settings for some variety in your life.
A semiautomatic such as the Breville Barista Express gives you a bit more control over the brewing process. You’ll control the brew time and be able to use whatever beans you prefer.
A fully automatic or super automatic espresso machine will control most aspects of the brewing process. You’ll simply add water and coffee.
If you are a true aficionado looking to delve deep into the process and learn everything you can, try a manual espresso maker like the ROK Presso. These kinds of espresso makers are hands-on the whole way, requiring patience and skill (which you’ll presumably acquire with time).
Theoretically, a manual espresso maker will make a tastier drink and allow you to showcase your skills.
2. Counter Space Investment
Want to convert your kitchen into one giant espresso extravaganza?
Unless you have more square footage than you know what to do with, take some measurements before making a purchase. These machines come in all shapes and sizes. The Breville Barista Express mentioned earlier takes up just over a square foot of counter space.
However, you can buy something that takes up quite a few feet of space (think the espresso machine in your local coffee shop) and comes with all sorts of accouterments.
3. Bells, Whistles and Your Budget
Are you a shot guy, or a latte gal?
Consider what sort of extras you’ll need in order to create your perfect coffee experience. If you want cappuccinos, consider buying a machine that is capable of steaming milk for you. Many machines also have grinders included. Is this something you’d be interested in?
You’ll also want to check your budget. Espresso machines can come in a basic package for less than 1,000 dollars. Or you can choose to go all out with something like the La Marzocco, made in Italy and topping out at just over 7,000 dollars!
No matter what you decide to buy, have fun and get to brewing!