If it's a satisfying, deep, rich, crema-topped espresso that you're after, and with as little work and knowledge necessary as possible, than you won't find anything better than an automatic espresso machine. An automatic espresso machine eliminates nearly all the work for you by requiring you to do nothing more than pour in your preferred choice of espresso beans. An automatic machine will then grind the beans, tamp the coffee, and extract an espresso shot. No matter your skill level, delicious and efficient espresso will be just moments away at any time.
To use an automatic espresso machine, the barista simply pours in whole coffee beans. A built in coffee-grinder than grinds the beans to the exact grind best suited for espresso. It will then dispense a dose between 5 and 16 grams of coffee. A typical shot of espresso is 7 grams, but depending upon the machine, some machines will allow you to choose between 6 and 9 grams per shot. The machine will then tamp the dose down properly into an espresso pellet. Because unevenly tamped or loose coffee causes a poor extraction, this is a crucial step and having it automatically performed is just one more way to achieve consistent quality. Finally, the head will draw pressurized steam through the pellet at a predetermined BAR pressure for the highest possible extraction possible.
Making Quality Espresso Consistently
Because espresso-making has typically been known as a very exact science that required the user to know exactly how to create a steady, firm pressure while pulling on the espresso lever, many home-users have avoided the concept altogether and have preferred to buy espresso shots from a professional. However, even the most inexperienced home barista can consistently make high-quality espresso using an automatic espresso machine. This is also a benefit for coffee shops that have a high rate of hiring/training, because it requires much less time to familiarize a new barista to espresso making with an automatic machine than with a manual. It also ensures consistent quality that tastes the same every time by eliminating the variations present in tamping, timing and the pressure of a manual espresso machine.
Variations in Automatic Espresso Machines
Because automatic espresso machines do nearly everything, every automatic espresso machine will grind beans, tamp coffee and extract a shot of espresso. However, there are additional features available, as based on your wants, needs and budget. Depending on the variety, you can choose to connect the machine to a water reservoir which would even eliminate the need to pour in water, and you can also choose a model with automatic milk frothers and dispensers. Options also include the number of shots you want to make at once, which generally ranges from one to three. The amount of bar pressure will vary, typically from 9 to 18. And, of course, the special features that include things like LCD screens, heated cup warmers, milk steam wands, the option to use pods, pre-grinding, pre-brewing and multi-position flow selectors are all dependent upon personal preference.