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Pump Style Espresso Machines:
How They Work


You don’t need to be an expert to brew a great shot of espresso. Pump espresso machines take most of the guesswork out of the brewing equation.

Article by Andreanne Hamel

Early espresso machines, which are still popular today in homes and on camping trips, use a very simple system for brewing coffee: ground coffee beans are placed in a small filter area above a filled water receptacle. When the water is brought to a boil, the pressure forces it up through the beans and into a spout, where it is then dispensed into a cup. Voila!

The problem some users run into with these machines is quality. Through no fault of the machine, it’s sometimes tricky to get just the right ratio of beans, water volume and temperature, and brewing time. Some users would rather jump right into the process and get things right on the first try. That’s where pump-style machines come in.

Pump-Style Espresso Machines
A pump espresso machine works much like the earlier version mentioned above, with a little more automation. How much automation depends on the machine; there are semi-automatics that still require some skill on the part of the user. There are also super-automatics that even grind the beans themselves – and everything in between. The common characteristic of these machines is that the water is pumped from the reservoir into an electric heating chamber, and then passed through the grinds and into one or more cups waiting below.


How to Use a Pump-Style Machine

    1. Fill the machine’s reservoir with cold water, and turn on the power.

    2. Grind your beans and place them in the machine’s portable filter basket.

    3. When the water is heated, twist the portable filter into place.

    4. Place an espresso cup beneath each spout on the bottom of the filter.

When you start the brewing process, usually by turning a valve to the ‘espresso’ setting, the hot water in the reservoir is pressurized just enough to send it through the grinds and out into the waiting cups. This usually takes 25 seconds for a typical serving. Some machines also contain automatic milk steamers and frothers to whip up more gourmet espresso drinks like lattes and cappuccinos.

Pump-style espresso machines are the best espresso machines for new users. Unlike their earlier counterparts, these machines are more forgiving of small errors in measurement. The fancier ones even do all of the measuring themselves! Thanks to new advances, an espresso machine commercial or residential can brew up a wonderful cup of coffee with a minimal amount of guidance from the user. Great taste has never been easier!

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