Written by Fahma

Advice on piston machines

Piston machines let you be a real barista. Because these are very specialized espresso machines, it is still quite difficult to choose between the different models. Which piston machine suits you best depends on a number of things. Go through the next steps and choose the piston machine that suits you best.

Piston machines

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1. In what way is the water heated?

To heat the water, each coffee maker has a boiler or a thermoblock. A water heater can accommodate a large amount of water. Heating up takes a little longer than with a thermoblock. A thermoblock is a metal block that is placed around the water pipes of the coffee machine. The pipes through which the water flows are thus heated. However, a boiler has a more constant temperature than a thermoblock. Some coffee machines even have two boilers, one for the coffee preparation and one for the steam pipe. Coffee and milk are being prepared at different temperatures, so you do not have to wait with 2 boilers until the temperature has dropped.

2. Under what pressure is the coffee made?

The pressure with which the water is pressed through the coffee is important for the taste. The pump pressure of a piston machine is measured in bar and indicates the maximum power of the pump. Because the pressure decreases as it gets closer to the coffee, the pressure of the water when it is pressed through the coffee is ideally 9 bar. Because the pressure is also dependent on the grinding degree, the dosage and the impulse pressure, the pressure at the coffee can vary. To know exactly under which pressure the espresso is made, a pressure gauge can be handy.

3. What are the properties of the different materials?

The most important material to watch out for is the inside of the piston machine. Many piston machines have an aluminum or stainless steel interior. Although this conducts heat well, these materials are sensitive to lime scale. Stainless steel will last longer than aluminum. Bronze and copper are more durable than aluminum and stainless steel and also retain the heat longer. This is also less sensitive to limescale.

4. What else can you pay attention to?

Because many factors are decisive for the preparation of a good espresso, Illy has developed a system in which the ground coffee is packaged in an unbalanced form at optimal dosage. You place this in the piston and then the water runs through with high pump pressure. If you do not want to spend too much time on making an espresso, but still want a good espresso flavor, this is a good solution. Remember that the filter paper that surrounds the coffee does not show all the flavors and that there is a slight paper flavor on the espresso. Another option to save time is to choose a piston machine with an integrated coffee grinder. This means you do not have to buy a separate bean grinder and you immediately have the right amount for one espresso. If you do not have an integrated bean grinder, you can purchase it separately on our website.

5. Tips for the optimal espresso

A good espresso is not just made with a piston machine. It is therefore important to experiment until you have the optimal taste. To help you on your way we give you a few tips:

  • Use good coffee, this is the beginning of the taste
  • Use 6 to 7 grams of ground coffee per espresso
  • Prepare your espresso immediately after the grind.
  • Use heated cups and make sure that the piston is not too cold.
  • Note the water quality: the hardness must be around 8 ° DH. Descale - your machine so regularly.
  • Use a water temperature between 90 and 96 degrees
  • Make sure the pump pressure is around 9 bar
Article by:
Fahma Coffee Machine Expert.

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