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    If you want to buy an espresso machine and have questions, this article is for you! We've gathered together some of the most common questions we hear from customers and answered them here. This will help make the decision-making process easier for you!

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    What Is an Espresso Machine?

    An espresso machine is a device that brews coffee by forcing pressurized water through finely ground beans. It's an Italian invention, with the first patent filed in 1884.

    The name comes from the fact that this process produces a beverage with very little foam ("espresso" means "pressed out"), which was initially prepared by pulling shots directly into cups or glasses; hence, it was known as "pulled" or "pushed" coffee. This process rinses the desirable creams and oils from the beans at the best temperature and pressure for the bean used. The machine pushes the water through at the correct pressure. The grinder is a very important part of this process, grinding the coffee to the perfectly sized granule. With the pressure and the temp at a constant, the size of the granules of coffee dictate the rate of the flow, which is to be at the size of a pencil lead and take approximately 18-23 seconds to brew. We work closely with your roaster to ensure we brew your coffee the best it can be.

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    What's a Super Automatic Machine?

    A super-automatic machine is a machine that automatically grinds the beans, tamps, and delivers your coffee into the cup at the push of a button. These machines are available in one-step and two-step versions. The one-step delivers the espresso, but also the milk, be it, cappuccino, latte, or flat white, it foams and delivers to perfection! This means you can use any coffee bean in an automatic machine, even if it's not one of our recommended brands!  The two step- delivers the coffee into the cup, but an auto frothing steam wand steams the type of froth you choose in your steam pitcher. It automatically shuts off when completed; add to your coffee and perfection!

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    What's a Traditional Machine?

    A traditional espresso machine is one of the most popular options today. It combines the best of both worlds: it's easy to use but also gives you control over your brewing process. A grinder at the side of the machine is used as opposed to the Super Auto’s built in grinder.

    The difference between an automatic and semi-automatic traditional machine is that the automatic models extraction (shots) are pre-programmed: you fill your handle with coffee from the grinder, tamp and place the portafilter in the machine. Choose your espresso handle, single or double spouted, choose the long or short shot button, place it in the machine, press long or short extraction and it brews into the cup, allowing you to serve a pastry, collect money or steam milk and the extraction will stop to the perfect dose, automatically. This prevents errors or over extracted drinks that taste burnt and waste coffee. Each espresso group or port has 5 choices for doses - single or double long shots approximately 1.2 oz, shorter shots, and single and double short shots .75 oz for espresso drinkers. There is also a free flow on/off shot, where you decide when you stop the extraction.

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    What Makes a Good Espresso Machine?

    Many different things go into making the perfect cup of coffee, but the most important part is your espresso machine. If you're looking for an espresso machine that can deliver quality beverages consistently and reliably, look no further than The Bird Espresso Systems! We have everything from entry-level devices to high-end commercial equipment.

    We can help you choose the right type of coffee maker for your needs. Our experts will help determine which features are most important to ensure every cup tastes excellent every time!

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    Can I Use Any Bean in an Espresso Machine?

    Yes! You can use any bean in an espresso machine, but understand the bean choice is important as all coffees are not created equal! Super automatics are a little more particular about oils and oily, dark roasted beans can clog your machine.

    We recommend that you visit the different coffee houses and try their coffees, pool your friends and see what their favorites are? Or, ask the experts, we would be happy to recommend a roaster in your area. The coffee roasters are also your partners in your business, they are there to advise and help by offering their experience. They train you on making their drinks as they are the experts on their coffee. You can also use any milk in an espresso machine, although some mixtures may be more difficult than others to froth up properly (for example, soy milk).

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    Does the Quality of Water Affect the Taste of My Espresso? 

    Yes, your water's quality will affect your espresso's taste. If you use good-quality water, your espresso will taste better than bad-quality water. You can test the quality of your water by using a TDS meter (total dissolved solids). If your TDS levels are too high or low, such as 150ppm or less than 50ppm, this could affect how well it works in an espresso machine.

    Additionally, hard water is the enemy of the espresso machine - with all of the pipes delivering hot water throughout your machine, hard water (calcium) can build up in your machine limiting and eventually stopping the flow of water, as you can imagine, this can be devastating and expensive to your machine and pocket. Water treatment is required for warranty and protects you. They are inexpensive and a great added insurance for your machine.

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    How Long Will My Machine Last?

    The lifespan of an espresso machine is dependent on several factors. The most important are:

    • How often you use it and how much pressure you apply to it? If you're a serious coffee drinker and make espresso every day, your machine will last a lot longer than if you only occasionally use it for entertaining guests or making lattes at home.
    • How well-maintained your equipment is. If you clean out gunk from the filter basket regularly and keep your grinder sharpened (and/or change out burrs), then there's less chance that particles will get into the brew chamber and cause damage over time.
A coffee machine with three cups on the front.