How Espresso Machines Work

Espresso machines are a staple of coffee shops everywhere. They're big, complicated, and a substantial investment. But how do they work? For a deep dive on how espresso machines work, keep reading!

The Basics

Espresso Machine, How Espresso Machines Work

Espresso is highly concentrated coffee made from hot water forced through tightly-packed coffee grounds. Espresso machines both heat the water and pump it through the grounds. This expels fresh espresso.

Water Supply

Espresso Machine, How Espresso Machines Work

Every espresso machine needs water. Small, home machines usually just have a tank or reservoir filled with water. Industrial espresso machines are connected to the building's water line. Every espresso machine has a water supply to make espresso with.

The Pump

Espresso Machine, How Espresso Machines Work

Because espresso is made by forcing water through coffee grounds, you can't just pour water on top of it. Espresso machines have pumps to pressurize the water through the grounds. The water pump is an important part of the espresso making process.


Espresso Machine, How Espresso Machines Work

To make espresso, you need the right temperature of water. It shouldn't be boiling or tepid. The ideal espresso brewing water is near boiling but not quite. Espresso machines are made with a heating mechanism to heat the water before it's pressured through the coffee grounds. This is frequently called a boiler.

Group Head and Portafilter

Espresso Pulled, How Espresso Machines Work

This is where the espresso comes out. The portafilter is a metal container that fits into the espresso machine. You fill it with coffee grounds and the machine forces hot water through it. This is where the group head comes in: when water is forced through the portafilter, it needs to go somewhere. The group head is a spout that expels your fresh espresso. 

Espresso is the base of many drinks in coffee shops. Espresso machines may seem like big, complicated machines, but they're not so crazy! Hopefully this article cleared it up a bit for you.

Denise Hansen, How Espresso Machines Work