Today we focus on what is usually the final chapter of your home coffee journey - an Espresso Machine.
With lockdowns recently forcing people to work at home, and spending less time in cafes, these machines have seen a surge in popularity. Many people (myself included) are finding that you can get very close or even match a cafe quality coffee at home, something we love at The Native Barista.
What is it?
An espresso machine is just that - a small appliance which combines coffee (beans or ground depending on the model), and water into an espresso shot. Whilst there are highly automated "one touch" coffee machines you might find in an office, we're focusing on the more manual machines - the ones which are operated similar to those in your local cafe.
There is a very wide range of home use espresso machines on the market, some costing only around $89 (such as this machine at Kogan.com) and others all the way up to $6000 (which will get you something like this), with different features and specifications. The Breville Barista Pro (pictured with our very own TNB Milk Jug and Tamp Mat), is in the popular range for most consumers at around $900. Whilst this may seem like a large initial investment, bear in mind this usually pays for itself in less than a year if you're paying $4 at a cafe (and even quicker if your partner or family use it).
The key action of any espresso machine is forcing pressurised water through compacted ground coffee to produce the thick, concentrated coffee we call an espresso. The quality of the final espresso produced depends on many factors, some relating to the machine itself and others relating to the raw inputs (water, coffee) and how well the user has prepared the ground coffee.
Using an Espresso Machine
Espresso Machines take a little bit of practice using to get perfect. The basic concept of using them involves placing ground coffee beans into a portafilter, tamping down, inserting into a grouphead and "pulling a shot" of espresso.
We think it's best learnt by observations, see this YouTube video for a great demonstration of using the Breville Barista Express.
One of the great things about an espresso machine is you are constantly learning and improving - going all the way from a basic flat white to making fancy latte art! We think it's a great life long skill to have and one that's sure to impress your family and friends.
Espresso Machine Accessories
Apart from looking great in any kitchen space themselves, espresso machines also have accessories that don't often come with the machine, but make using them easier and complement the look of your kitchen space.
Tamper Mats provide something to balance the portafilter on whilst you tamp down the ground coffee, and prevent your benchtop and portafilter from being damaged.
The Milk Jugs that come with Espresso Machines are often stainless steel and can look a little bit plain next to your new machine. We love our 350ml Matte Black milk jugs, a perfect size for frothing a latte for yourself and with a spout perfect for creating latte art.
Lastly, you'll need a Knock Box to dispose of the spent coffee grounds once the machine has converted the coffee into an espresso. Also called a "Coffee Grounds Bin", this is one of the fun parts of making an espresso, where you can bang the portafilter against the knock box (something you may have seen the barista at your local cafe doing). This also lets you save your coffee grounds, which can be used for many different things!
Here at The Native Barista, we love the look of matte black. It goes with (almost) anything, and looks great next to your espresso machine.