How to use a 20 Bar Espresso machine is a lesson many new owners or prospective owners of an espresso machine would like to learn. With several symbiotic working parts from frothing milk to tamping the grounds in order to produce a cafe style, coffee beverage, the skill set is worth the effort.
Firstly, we’ll pour over what a 20 bar espresso machine is and the difference between BARS. Read until the end to find out how to brew your first cup of Joe with a 20 bar espresso machine.
Table of Contents
A Short History of Using Coffee
Coffee lovers around the world have been brewing coffee since it was exported from North Africa in the 15th century (which is almost six hundred years!) and have worked out a very vast variety of ways to brew the delicious roasted beans. Firstly, people simply sieved the crushed grounds and added boiling water.
Special hourglass shaped pots to filter out the grounds while heating it quickly became popular, to some of the amazingly complex machinery used today. The invention of espresso is popularly attributed to the inventor Angelo Moriondo of Italy, who gained a patent in 1884 for “new steam machinery for the economic and instantaneous confection of coffee beverage.”
What sets an Espresso Machine Apart from other Methods?
As coffee became a regular commodity, it’s now found in almost every home. However, coffee lovers who still want the aromas, taste and luxury of good coffee while in the comfort of their own homes have taken to purchasing Espresso Machines.
The ability to brew great tasting coffee, such as espressos, lattes, cappuccinos, mochas, and macchiatos, in minutes without sacrificing on quality is worth the outlay. Plus most models add style to a kitchen.
There are a few things to know when you start shopping for an Espresso Machine of your own…
Piston or Pump Espresso Machines
There are two types of Espresso Machines that you’ll find: piston and pump.
The piston Espresso Machine first heats the water to boiling, then you have to pull a lever (which moves a piston, hence the name) which will pressurize the water and then force it through the grounds, which are in a single chamber with many small holes for even coffee filtration and pressure release. This can result in consistent coffee flavor, but may lack the rich crema, or cream, that many love their espresso to have.
The pump Espresso Machine is derived from the piston Espresso Machine, yet has a few key differences many feel results in a more rich flavor and a full and frothy crema on top. The pump Espresso Machine can heat water to two temperatures, one for boiling and one for steaming, allowing you to froth milk as you make your coffee drink.
The entire process is automated, so there is no need for you to pull a lever; all you have to do is make sure the water reservoir is filled and push the brewing button. From there, it will boil the water and then pressurize it, then it will force the water through the coffee grounds which are in a double chamber.
The first containing the grounds and letting the water filter through, into the second chamber containing a smaller area which builds pressure because there is only one hole for the coffee to be drained out of, rather than many like the piston Espresso Machine.
Because the pump Espresso Machine builds so much more pressure and forces the coffee out with said pressure, a much richer espresso can be made with a very full crema with bold flavors.
What is a BAR and why is it important?
When you finally get into the market to find quality Espresso Machine, this is some terminology that routinely confuses people so there’s no need to feel ashamed or disappointed with what you don’t know about Espresso Machines, because you aren’t alone. It’s actually simple to understand once you’re made aware of it and how it affects your coffee.
So what actually is a BAR? A BAR is not a literal bar, but it is in fact a unit of measurement designed to measure pressure according to the atmospheric level at sea. If you’re in America, you may be more familiar with measuring pressure as “pounds per square inch” or “PSI”.
- We can thank scientist Evangelista Torricelli for her efforts in 1643, for inventing the first machine that measures BAR pressure. Called a barometer it measures pressure in bar units.
You’ll still likely be familiar with your local meteorologist reporting pressure systems using BAR, or Barometric measurements. 1 BAR is the equivalent of 14.7 PSI or the atmospheric level naturally at sea, so the higher the number of BARs your Espresso Machine uses, the more pressure, or force, it’ll use to push water through the coffee grounds and create a crema.
In theory more BARS speeds up the coffee making process, to the chagrin of some baristas whom claim a slower brew is best.
Do different BARs provide different results when using an Espresso Machine?
Different BARs absolutely provide different results when you use your Espresso Machine, and that’s why it’s so important to get the right machine, because the pressure cannot be adjusted on the espresso machine, so once you own it, there’s no going back from its set pressure. How to use a 20 BAR Espresso Machine is not so different from other high bar espresso machines.
Professional businesses, like coffee shops and cafes that have an Espresso Machine have an industrial one which has it’s BAR somewhere between 7 and 11, with the ideal being 9 BAR.
You, however, will most likely not be purchasing an industrial, heavy-duty Espresso Machine for your kitchen counter. Because your Espresso Machine isn’t an industrial one, it won’t have the same driving force behind it and the water will lose pressure on its way to the coffee grounds, giving it a lower BAR than it claims to have, which means, in order to get the perfect espresso you crave, you need to get an Espresso Machine with a higher BAR than you’d think you would actually need.
For regular Espresso Machines, the BARs usually get grouped together. With a BAR of 7 to 9 or less, you may find your espresso a little lackluster. Because it doesn’t have enough pressure, the water being forced through the coffee grounds cannot properly make their way through and have too little force to properly push the flavor and oil out of the coffee grounds, leaving you with a weak espresso and very little crema, if any.
With a BAR of 10 to 15 for your home espresso machine, you can expect a decent espresso. Its pressure is strong enough that it can force out the flavor of the coffee grounds for a moderately strong taste and can create some crema, though not quite that picture-perfect iconic look you may be familiar with.
An Espresso Machine with 15 to 20 BARS is where you truly want your Espresso Machine to sit. This amount of initial pressure makes up for the pressure lost as the water travels, giving you the actual 7 to 11 BARS of pressure which is ideal in an espresso machine.
This pressure pulls the most flavor out of the coffee grounds and leaves you with the best taste and the fullest body to your espresso, while also giving you a satisfying rich and frothy crema. Remember, in theory 20 BARS will create a quicker coffee than 15 BARS.
Aficionados disagree on whether a slower brewed coffee tastes better. But 25-30 seconds should be a good standard.
What’s the difference between 15 BARS and 20 BARS on an Espresso Machine?
If 15 BAR and 20 BAR are the pressure levels you want in an Espresso Machine, are they really any different? Is 20 BAR really better than 15 BAR when it comes to the quality or the flavor of your espresso?
The answer is yes! There is indeed a difference in quality for your espressos and crema when it comes down to whether or not you use a 15 BAR Espresso Machine or a 20 BAR Espresso Machine.
While using a 15 BAR Espresso Machine is great, it’ll leave you on the lower end of the 7 to 11 BAR pressure scale professionals strive for. This means your espresso may not be as strong and tasty as it could be.
The crema may not be as full and creamy because the water lost a little too much pressure before it got to the coffee grounds to really get all of the flavor out and to really pressurize it in the second chamber to create the frothy crema that sits on top.
Using a 20 BAR Espresso Machine means you are almost guaranteed to hit the 9 to 11 BAR range, which is the sweet-spot the industrial Espresso Machines strive for in coffee shops and cafes everywhere.
20 BARS of pressure make sure it doesn’t lose too much pressure by the time the water reaches the coffee grounds, ensuring there is enough pressure so you get the richest, strongest, full-bodied espresso you strive for out of your coffee grounds, topped with a substantial amount of delicious and bold crema you want for that iconic look and delicious taste when you are craving an espresso.
How to use a 20 BAR Espresso Machine to Make a Coffee
You might think making an espresso must be complicated because of how quickly they can get pricey, but by using the modern-day convenience of a 20 BAR Espresso Machine, you can make your own espresso, as often as you want, in just a few minutes for the price of your coffee beans or coffee grounds.
Before we start if this is not your first time using your 20 bar espresso machine please note Burrs become dull and oils can build up in machines so a cleaning session is necessary before you start.
Step 1. Water
Fill the water tank to the designated line. This is very vital because otherwise you will have no espresso.
Step 2. Power
Turn on your 20 BAR Espresso Machine. The machine should have an easy to locate ON button. Depending on your specific Espresso Machine, a red light may appear. This will start heating the water in two separate chambers to different levels, one for the espresso itself, and the other for steaming compartment for you to use to froth milk if you so wish. During this time, depending on your specific Espresso Machine, you may be able to warm the glass you wish to use on a warming tray located at the top of the machine.
Step 3. Choosing the right coffee grounds
Make sure you have the right coffee grounds, or beans, to use in your Espresso Machine. In order to go into the Espresso Machine, you need to use finely ground coffee beans, which you can buy pre-ground. Otherwise, you can take your preferred coffee beans and grind them yourself, making fresher coffee grounds that lead to a more decadent espresso.
Step 4. Preparing your coffee grounds
Your Espresso Machine should include a measuring scoop to make sure you get the perfect amount of coffee grounds for your Espresso Machine and the best results from the brewing process. Taking the coffee grounds, transfer them into the portable filter that’s affixed to a handle and then, using the pressing tool your Espresso Machine should also provide (most often located at the other end of the measuring scoop) pack down the coffee grounds evenly so they will not interfere with anything, but don’t be too forceful and pack the coffee grounds in too tightly or you may hinder the brewing process by making it difficult for the water to pass through the densely packed coffee grounds.
Step 5. Lock the handle
Once you have packed your coffee grounds into the portable filter, simply pick it up, insert it under the tap, and twist it the correct way to lock it securely so no water, coffee, or air escapes during the brewing process.
Step 6. Start brewing
Depending on your Espresso Machine, it may start the brewing process automatically as the handle is locked into place when the water reaches the correct temperature, or you may have to push a BREW button when the light turns green.
Step 7. Stop brewing
Once again, depending on your Espresso Machine, you may have to click the BREW button again when the time is right to stop brewing when you have enough espresso, or maybe because your glass ended up being too small, or your Espresso Machine may stop brewing on its own. At this point, all you have to do is enjoy your delicious espresso from your 20 BAR Espresso Machine and lounge about.
Optional – Step 8. Start steaming and add frothed milk
Most good Espresso Machines come with an attached steam area to froth milk to add to your drink once you’ve finished preparing the coffee.
Once you have your espresso, you have the option of using the steam attachment to froth milk until it is foamy and creamy, allowing you to add it to your espresso to make other coffee drinks or latte art.
How to use a 20 BAR espresso machine is not an over whelming task. Whether you’re looking to get your first Espresso Machine, or if you’re looking to upgrade, to a 20 BAR Espresso Machine it’s a fabulous option, that’ll give you amazing tasting espresso with a beautiful crema that you can enjoy year-round, affordably.
How to use a 20 BAR espresso Machine like most things worth learning simply takes a small amount of patience and practice time.
Please remember that 15 to 20 BAR home machines will aim to actually reach the golden 9 BAR level for the prefect cup. And the quality of the coffee will also depend on quality of the grounds, reaching a proper espresso extraction temperature at 90°C to 96°C. Remember lower temperatures can make the coffee too acidic and higher temperatures can create a bitter taste.
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