There are 2 essential ingredients for a perfect espresso coffee: coffee beans and espresso machine. If you fail with either of these two, no matter how good is the other one, you won’t get a perfect espresso coffee, or even a good one…
One of the two key ingredients is an espresso machine. Here we will be talking only about the smaller, home versions of espresso machines. Professional machines for coffeehouses restaurants and coffee bars are a different price range and in good way a different coffee machines than the home versions. Some of the better known brand names espresso machines (DeLonghi, Dafino, Krups, Breville, Flair…) can come up to $1000!
So buying an espresso machine can definitely be an investment that should take some time to decide. All big brands come with high quality and similar specs, and usually it only comes down to what do you prefer. We find that for home use it is best to get fully automatic espresso machine…although semi-automatic or manual machines might seem more appealing or make you feel more barista-like, the truth is that after a few days you will just want your espresso coffee tasting perfectly and prepared effortlessly.
Arabica vs. Robusta
Coffee beans are the seeds of berries from flowering plants in the Coffea genus. The seeds are separated from the coffee plant to get a raw product - unroasted green coffee. To produce the coffee that we know, the seeds are then roasted, and grinded into fine particles.
Arabica coffee (also known as Arabian coffee), comes from the Arabica plant. It is the most popular coffee in the world as it makes up around 60% of global coffee production. Arabica originates from Ethiopia and is grown worldwide in countries (like Brazil and Indonesia), which have tropical conditions and high elevations which is necessary for Arabica coffee plants. It has many varieties but the two most popular ones are Typica and Bourbon. Arabica beans have rich, sweet-aroma, low sour taste, that makes it the most popular coffee choice. Arabica also has lower to mid % of caffeine in itself, so it popular choice for people that preferring drinking more than 1-2 coffees per day. Of course the most quality coffee you can drink is 100% Arabica, but that’s rarely the case as it is often mixed in a blend with Robusta which give the final product a rich, strong taste and creamy texture.
Robusta Coffee comes from the Coffea Canephora plant. It is the second most popular coffee in the world, behind Arabica coffee. Up to 40% of global coffee production goes on Robusta coffee. It originates from sub-Saharan Africa, and nowadays it mostly grown in the east (Africa, Vietnam (the leader in Robusta coffee production), Indonesia). As well as Arabica, Robusta comes if many varieties, but the 2 most popular Robusta coffees are Erecta and Nganda. Robusta coffee has more caffeine % in it than Arabica, which probably influenced its recent growth in popularity (as mentioned, 40% of coffee market goes to Robusta coffee, but before it was more around 20%). It has earthy, nutty, some say rubbery taste, and definitely more bitter than sour taste. Robusta is often used for espresso coffee making. High end Robusta is especially desirable selection. Whether it’s 100% Robusta or more often a blend, it’s thick, creamy quality gives an espresso coffee additional fullness.
Although Arabica coffee is often considered to be a higher quality, and Robusta as being lower quality coffee, it's not always the case. Mostly that is because Arabica is consistently “good” while top quality Robusta coffee will usually taste as good as or even better than average Arabica. At the end, it comes to what you like more, which taste do you prefer more…and the prefect choice would probably be a fine blend of two, that you can find at the local coffeehouse ;) .