Espresso, also mistakenly called expresso, is a coffee that differs from the brewed coffee most of us drink each morning due to the way it is prepared. Made by forcing nearly boiling water, between 195 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit, through densely-packed coffee grounds that are usually in the shape though not size of a hockey puck, espresso is known for its deeply intense flavors despite having less caffeine than most other forms of coffee.
The deep flavors that espresso is known for are developed by the length of time the hot water is in contact with the finely ground coffee. When made properly, the water is forced through the puck at high pressure taking from 25 to 30 seconds to make it through the coffee. Because of this, espresso makers that do not use pucks of coffee grounds and high-pressured water do not actually make espresso. They make espresso-flavored coffee.
These are some of the more popular espresso makers.
Stovetop espresso makers
Stovetop Espresso Makers are cute and inexpensive. They are also commonly found in Italian homes. However, since they do not build up the type of water pressure needed to make espresso, they make a strong coffee that is not actually an expresso. They are similar to percolators.
Hand Push Press Espresso Makers
Made by companies such as AeroPress, these make real espresso. Moreover, they are inexpensive. Using a couple of cylinders, one tightly fitted within the other, and a disposable microfilter, a hand push press expresso maker works when the user presses the top cylinder down in the same way that a syringe works to push heated water into and through the puck of finely ground coffee and through the filter and finally into the espresso cup. The downside to this maker is that it takes some muscle to operate it.
Handpress Hand-Pump Portable Espresso Machines
These are beautiful. Using the same technology that bicyclists have used for decades to quickly pump up their tires alongside the road, these espresso making machines often come with a air pressure gauge so that the user knows exactly how many bars of pressure the water is at when it is being forced through the puck of finely ground coffee.
The downside to these fancy hand-pump espresso makers is that they cost close to $200 and that many people have reported that their O rings fail fairly quickly.