Espresso has been one of the most desired hot beverages in the world for over a century when it was said to be first discovered in Italy. Espresso actually means "quick coffee" or "coffee served quickly", thus the small cups that can be swallowed in three-four gulps. Italy is known for having amazing cafes as well as espresso machines.
The trend toward fancier espresso drinks came along later and, in the U.S., was made popular by Starbuck's, Pete's Coffee and similar coffee chains. Ironically, these chains have made their way into other countries, although the European countries seem to still prefer their most traditional cafes. It's now been a generation of Starbuck's customers, so it's likely the espresso and it's fancy counterparts are here to stay.
Espresso (often incorrectly called expresso) is actually not the type of bean, but is the specific roast of the bean and the process in which it is made. Most coffee beans can be roasted as espresso beans and roasting preferences are generally in light, medium or heavy, with most cafes using the medium. The roasted beans are ground fine and packed into the espresso basket and a specific pressure (135 psi) to push the steaming hot water (200 degrees) through the grounds. The whole process takes about 30 seconds and produces about 1-2 oz. of liquid. Italians often add a sugar cube, but you'll rarely see milk or cream being added.
Espresso machines come in all different sizes, from individual to multiple shower heads for brewing many shots at the same time. Some of today's most popular espresso specialty drinks are: cappuccinos, lattes and mochaccinos, which all start with shots of espresso. These machines are used in private homes as well as coffee houses. We've put together a list of the most expensive machines available, for you espresso aficionados out there. Some are fully automatic, while others are manual; both are said to produce outstanding java. The sign of a good cup of espresso is the presence of crema, the foam on your espresso.
Welcome to the world of espresso machines that many claim would love to own. You can always consider checking out your local used restaurant supply store if a new one is out of financial reach.
10 The Oracle: $2,000
9 Jura's Impressa J9.3 One Touch TFT: $3,300
8 Kees van der Westen Mirage: $6,700
7 La Marzocco International's GS/3: $7,000
6 Astra 2000 Fully Automated: $12,500
5 Synesso Cyncra: $12,500
4 Rancilio Espresso: $18,500
3 Slayer Espresso: $18,500
2 Elektra Belle Epoque: $20,000
1 van der Westen Speedster: $20,000
An amazing high-polished chrome machine that is popular among the espresso elite. The Speedster is one of the most high-end coffee makers around. There are only about 400 made each year and they are assembled in Westen's small workshop in the town of Waalre, in the Netherlands. Although the machines take up quite a bit of counter space, the discerning millionaire will want one for each of their homes, the yacht, the submarine and definitely, the houseboat. This espresso maker is one of the most expensive available anywhere in the world.
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