When is it Time for an Upgrade? How to Tell If It's Time for a Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine
Are you ready to bring that cafe espresso experience home? Sometimes it can be hard to know if it’s time to take the plunge into a more involved coffee process. That’s why we’re here! We can help you determine if you’d enjoy that leap from pour over, press, or a drip coffee maker to a semi-automatic espresso machine!
The first thing you’ll want to determine is whether or not you even like espresso. A common misconception is that espresso is only for super serious coffee drinkers, or that it’s the “hard stuff.” Really, espresso is just more concentrated. Plus, if you’re worried about the caffeine, because espresso is brewed by the shot it can actually be a little bit easier to portion and manage. A typical shot shouldn’t have more caffeine than a full cup of coffee, and oftentimes you’ll end up brewing a whole pot of drip brew.
What is different about espresso is flavor. A typical shot of espresso will be thicker, sweeter, and more syrupy than a cup of drip coffee. This makes it perfect to pair with milk for a plethora of drink options, good for cutting with hot water in an americano, or even enjoyable as a small, sippable shot from a demitasse cup. You can certainly use lighter roasts for espresso, but they’ll still have that thicker, heavier profile.
The best way to find out if you’ll like a home espresso maker from a flavor perspective is to try some drinks from your local cafe. If you can, try to go to a local roaster that has a strong reputation, as sometimes the larger chain shops don’t have as wide a range of espresso options, which can give you the impression that dark, chocolatey, and bitter is the only flavor profile you can get from espresso. This is definitely not the case!
Workflow and Learning Curve
Another big difference between slow brew methods and espresso is workflow, and the learning curve. Drip coffee making has its intricacies, and if you typically brew pour over then you’re already familiar with an involved coffee making process. However, if you prefer a very simple method of coffee making like drip brewing, or even press brewing, you might want to consider a superautomatic espresso machine. Superautos combine a machine and grinder and simplify the process.
However, if you enjoy the control over flavor profile that you get from pour over then semi-automatic espresso might be perfect for you. To brew espresso on a machine like this you’ll be grinding into a portafilter, measuring your grounds, tamping, pulling the shot, ejecting the puck into a waste container, and potentially steaming milk. It can seem like a lot to learn at first, and it can be a challenge. However, it’s incredibly rewarding when you can make delicious espresso based drinks like the kind you might get at a cafe. You can also get the process down to a pretty exact science that doesn’t take any longer than brewing pour over. All it takes is some practice!
Is it Time?
Still not sure if a semi-automatic espresso machine is right for you? You can always start with a machine like a Solis Barista Perfetta, which works with pressurized portafilter baskets. Many basic slow brew coffee grinders can actually grind fine enough to work with these pressurized baskets. The baskets create extra pressure with a double walled bottom, which helps slow down extraction to compensate for the coarser grind that your grinder will be capable of.
If you end up enjoying this, then you can start using the machine’s non pressurized baskets with a more espresso focused grinder!