Relative to basic brewed coffee, espresso is a fairly new beverage. First concocted in Italy in the mid-1880s, espresso rapidly climbed the coffee-drink ladder.
Are you in a hurry? Check out the Bialetti Espresso Maker at Amazon.
And became the base for many current coffee classics—lattes, cappuccinos, macchiatos, and just plain espresso.
Every worthy coffee shop coast to coast in the United States (and beyond) will have a state-of-the-art espresso machine, pushing out pressurized hot water through finely ground coffee beans.
According to some sources, the name ‘espresso’ comes from the ‘pressed’ or ‘expressed’ quality of the grinds used in its brewing.
In many English and Spanish speaking circles, the name ‘expresso’ is used instead. While widely understood, both the Oxford English and Merriam Webster’s dictionaries describe this as a ‘variant spelling.’
The cost of industrial espresso machines is one of the most jaw-dropping expenses in the restaurant industry.
Quality machines for the restaurant or professional coffee shop can exceed $20,000 dollars—often several times the cost of the restaurant’s monthly rent.
This is due not only to the cutting-edge precision components involved in the heating, condensing, and pressurizing of water, but in the chic exteriors boasted by many of these machines.
Fortunately, the home purveyor of espresso does not have to take out a second mortgage to finance the purchase of an espresso machine.
While stovetop percolators can be found in thrift stores for the price of a few weeks’ pocket change.
For those who want coffee shop-grade espresso without the extreme costs, middle-of-the-road options provide a nice alternative.
The Bialetti Steam Espresso Maker
See The Bialetti Steam Espresso Maker at Amazon
For those looking for authentic, Italian coffee makers and gadgets, look no further than the Bialetti line.
The patriarch of the brand, Alfonso Bialetti, is credited with the patenting of the original stovetop percolator—called then (and still) the Moka Pot.
Since its inception in 1933, the Bialetti line has come to be the industry standard for coffee brewing and serving equipment in Italy and beyond.
In fact, nine out of ten Italian kitchens report using at least one piece of Bialetti equipment.
Many decades after the iconic Moka Pot’s inclusion into all things coffee culture, Bialetti continues to churn out affordable, quality coffee brewing equipment.
Their Steam Espresso Maker continues the tradition of affordable, effective espresso brewing technology. This machine claims to combine timeless elegance with sophisticated modern technology, to create aromatic, flavorful espresso in minutes.
The included steam wand quickly heats and effectively froths milk to make decadent cappuccinos and lattes. The warming plate keeps the espresso cup warm long after brewing, for lasting fresh espresso.
Is it all Just Hype?
Coffee snobs are, well, snobby. For many people, their morning (or afternoon…or evening…) espresso represents the peak of personal taste and sophistication.
Therefore, stones are quickly cast at any perceived inadequacy or inferiority in coffee and espresso brewing.
Let’s take a look at what some of the reviews of this espresso machine are saying.
Most users are in general agreement that this machine is easy to use. The included operation instructions are easy to follow.
Many folks have reported that the small size is a nice feature, as it does not take up much space on the counter. It looks very good—more elegant than the low price would suggest.
Many people who only use the machine a few times a week have commented that it is dependable at this level of use, although with heavier use, the machine begins to falter, and problems arise.
One of the most consistently reported problems is that the knob used to set the machine breaks off, making proper use impossible.
This is certainly a drawback!
Additionally, although the machine looks slick, much of its construction is plastic, which many users report as feeling fragile and flimsy to the touch.
Other reports indicate that the frothing wand is unnecessary, and removes precious pressure from the main unit, resulting in a watery espresso.
Others say that although the wand works well, the frothing tip is unnecessary, and the whole wand is difficult to clean.
Additionally, the amount of steam used in the wand is not adjustable, and many connoisseurs prefer an adjustable froth in their home espresso makers.
Another comment lament leveled against this machine (and many more inexpensive home espresso makers) is that the pressure reached is simply insufficient to brew authentic espresso.
Espresso aficionados generally agree that for genuine espresso, a steam pressure of at least nine bars is essential. This machine maxes out around six bars, which is not enough for ‘true’ espresso.
Ultimately, for the money, this is not a bad espresso machine.
For the casual consumer, it will get the job done.
It will not make coffee shop-grade espresso, primarily on account of the lower maximum pressure this machine reaches.
If you are a true aficionado of espresso, your best options will be to either continue patronizing your local coffee shop, or invest in a more sophisticated machine.
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