Espresso Machine Resources

 

So, You Want To Make Your Own Espresso… Try Using a Lever Espresso Machine at Home

La Pavoni Professional Lever Espresso Machine PC-16

Tired of waiting in line every morning just to get a jolt of caffeine to the system? Or maybe you’d just rather have an espresso after dinner without having to drive down the street to a shop to get one. Why not save gas money and time by investing in your own espresso machine? They’re easily stored, not too hard to operate, and in the end, will save you the cost of buying overpriced espressos at shops as well as the money it costs you to drive there every day.

Of course, once you start looking into espresso machines, you might find yourself staring at department store shelves in dismay, wondering how making one little cup of coffee can possibly be so difficult…

Needless to say, not all espresso machines were created equal! Pressure machines, pump espresso machines, and bean-to-cup machines aside, one of the best espresso machines to use at home is a lever-operated machine. They’re not too difficult to use, and with a bit of practice, you can be making café-quality espressos in the comfort of your own home.

What is a Lever Espresso Machine?

Essentially, a lever espresso machine does the same thing as a pump machine, but without the automated action. This means that you have better control over the strength and quality of the espresso output. The water in a lever-operated machine is heated by an electric boiler, which is then forced through the coffee grounds by pulling on – you guessed it – the lever. The amount of pressure that needs to be applied to make good espresso will need to be learned, but after a few tries you’ll feel like a pro.

But How Does it Work?

Maybe you’ve already purchased your lever espresso machine, and are just poring through the manual right now, trying to figure out how it could possibly work… fair enough, it looks fairly complicated to begin with. But before you get frustrated and pack the thing up to return it, here are a few things to keep in mind when trying to use a lever espresso machine at home:

1) Check the Temperature: You’ll want to have the temperature set to somewhere between 91C and 95C, ensuring that you’re not trying to make the espresso with boiling water. Coffee connoisseurs will swear by water that’s almost boiling but not quite… so make sure the temperature is at the correct setting each time you use the machine.

2) Clean It: As obvious as it might sound, you need to clean the machine after every use. Leftover coffee oils and residue will leave your espresso tasting like dirt, if it’s coming from an unclean machine. Do yourself a favor, and clean everything that comes into contact with either the grounds or the liquid.

3) Use Decent Water: Your coffee can only be a good as the water you use, so at the very least, use filtered water for the machine. Some espresso fanatics swear by this technique, however – use 20% mineral water and 80% filtered water, shake it up, and then pour it into the machine. It adds some zip to your coffee, and prevents it from getting that dull, flat taste.

4) Use Good Coffee: Don’t fall into the trap of using junk coffee for your espresso! Yes, it’s easier, and yes, it’s a bit cheaper, but seriously – you’ve spent the money on the machine, so don’t disgrace it by throwing in hotel-room quality coffee grounds. Use higher-grade beans that will produce a rich crema without a terribly bitter aftertaste – you’ll be very glad you did. About 12 grams of coffee will generally be enough to fill the double-shot filter, and half that in the regular.

5) Tamper with the Tamping: This is where the learned skill of espresso-making starts to come in handy. You’ll have to tamp quite hard to get that famous espresso crema, and when you finally ease the pressure off, twist the tamper sternly to finish what’s on top. This will also prevent coffee from sticking onto the tamper.

6)  Pull The Shot: This is the final step in using a lever espresso machine at home, and probably the most important – it is, after all, where you actually get the coffee. Put the water into the filter, and when the machine has heated up to the temperature you set earlier, wait about 10 seconds for the brewing chamber to fill with water, before pulling on the lever. Press down firmly and constantly, but don’t force it. What you should see is a thick flow of espresso from the machine to your cup, and crema forming on top.

And that’s it. Making your own espresso at home isn’t quite as difficult as it sounds – it’ll just take a few tries to reach perfection. But just think… then you can drink all the espresso you want, whenever you want. Not a bad trade-off!

To see those chic La Pavoni lever espresso machines go to Everyespressomachine.com

For other types of espresso machines, visit our Automatic Espresso Machines page.

Visit this page to learn How to clean an espresso machine?


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