When your coffee craving beckons, it takes a lot to say no. Heading to the cafe every single time isn’t always possible, though. Here at Appliances Online, we offer a wide range of coffee machines, catering to everyone from the instant coffee convert to the hardcore brew enthusiast.
- A capsule machine brings a full spectrum of tantalising flavours to your kitchen. Capsule machines are easy to use—no tamping required—and are ideal if you don’t have a lot of bench space to work with.
- A manual machine gives you full autonomy over the outcome of your cup of coffee. Skip the cafe queues and play barista at home. Control the coarseness of your grounds, and hone the fine art of frothing milk.
- An automatic machine removes all the guesswork from making perfect espresso coffee. From tamping your grounds to frothing your milk, a fully-automatic machine gets the job done quicker, without sacrificing on quality.
Zimbabwe's coffee culture is growing especially in Harare with mobile coffee carts visible in many of the cities corners. Whether you crave an earthy espresso or you’re a sweet tooth who won’t settle for anything less than a mocha, you feel the effects of skipping your favourite brew for just one day. We’ve come a long way since relying solely on instant coffee for that caffeine kick. The era of espresso is well and truly here to stay.
This coffee machine buying guide aims to simplify the process of not only purchasing your own machine, but of making quality espresso that you can drink in its purest form or use as the base for a variety of milk coffee beverages.
So we've just mentioned espressos quite a bit there and i'm sure some Zimbos are a littled confused. No worries, let us explain...
Your cup of coffee begins as a plant that produces berries, and these berries contain seeds in the form of coffee beans. The berries are picked from the plant, processed, and then dried, with their beans being roasted, ground, and expressed into your favourite coffee beverage. The two most common coffee bean varieties are Arabica and Robusta, with taste and caffeine content ultimately tipping you towards one or the other. No matter which beans you use, fresh is always best. Like cooked food, coffee begins to deteriorate as soon as it’s roasted, and especially once it’s been ground.
Espresso—not “expresso”—is essentially a shot of coffee produced by hot water expressed over ground coffee powder under pressure. It differs from instant coffee or coffee made using a brewer. Apart from the liquid component of your shot, an espresso is topped with a light foam known as crema, which contains the fats, oils, and sugars of your coffee beans. The crema balances the acidity of your espresso with a mellow creaminess. Everything from the coarseness of your grind to the way a machine heats your water will impact the outcome of your espresso.
A capsule coffee machine, or 'espresso maker', makes your coffee with single-use sealed coffee pods containing ground coffee powder. The capsule is pierced and injected with hot water against a brew head, thereby producing an espresso. The capsule then drops into a waste compartment for emptying at a later point.
- Simple espresso solution, requiring no barista skills
- Compact in size; great for small areas or minimalist kitchen designs
- Variety of models and milk systems available
These kitchen appliances involve manually collecting the right amount of coffee powder into a group handle and firmly tamping it. Once you have fastened the handle into the group head of the machine, hot water expresses itself onto the powder to create an espresso. You then remove the group handle and knock out the waste.
- Authentic coffee machine providing you with the tools to make any warm beverage
- Variety of models available that cater to coffee beginners and home experts alike
- The freedom to enjoy any pre-ground blend of coffee of your choice
An automatic coffee machine is your gateway to one-touch espresso. These machines grind the beans fresh into the brew unit, before tamping and brewing with hot water under pressure to dispense an espresso. The excess powder is then dumped into a waste bin to be emptied later.
- Simple espresso solution, requiring no barista skills
- The coffee that goes into each cup is always freshly ground, ensuring optimum quality every time
- Can speedily make one or several coffees, and little maintenance is required
With such a wide variety of espresso machines on the market, it follows that there are different milk frothing systems. However, not all of them are available with each type of coffee machine:
Manual steam wand: This wand uses the machine’s full pump pressure to foam your milk manually, giving you complete control over the texture and temperature. Foaming with steam stretches the milk, resulting in an authentic coffee texture.
Automatic steam wand: Similar to the manual steam wand in design, this foams your milk until it reaches a consistency determined by programmed settings. Temperature is usually detected by a sensor under the jug or on the wand itself.
Automatic milk systems: There are a couple of different automatic milk systems, which offer an easy, convenient method of foaming your milk.
- The most common is the milk carafe. As with the wand systems, steam is used to stretch the milk. Steam transfers the milk from the carafe to a foaming system where it combines with air and steam before being dispensed into your cup. Some milk carafes have adjustable settings for dispensing everything from flat milk to foamed milk, giving you the versatility to create a wide range of milk beverages.
- A similar system to the milk carafe is when milk and foaming are done separately. The milk is stored in a container and then collected by the steam through a hose and foamed on the machine. This system can provide fixed foam for cappuccino or a dial for alternating between flat milk and foamed milk. Some premium machines offer electronically adjustable foam, as well as milk temperature control.
Whisk milk frother: Much like a kettle, the jug is heated with an element and a spinning whisk airates the milk to create a frothing action. There are different whisks for flat milk and frothed milk. This is a quick and easy way of making one or two coffees.
Thermoblock (or thermocoil): Some brands may use different names for their systems, but there are ultimately two ways a coffee machine can heat water. A thermoblock or thermocoil is a rapid way of heating the water, as it only heats the amount of water required for your coffee. A boiler, on the other hand, heats a reservoir of water and offers consistent water temperature time after time.
Single heating systems: A single heating system has one pump and one element. The machine will need to heat up and cool down, as it is made to perform one task at a time when sufficiently heated.
Double heating system: A twin or double heating system enables faster operation and is ultimately more gentle on your machine in the long run. This system allows you to make coffee or prepare milk without an interval between tasks. Some models contain dual boilers—one dedicated to hot water or espresso, and one for the milk. This means both jobs can be done simultaneously for even more convenience.
- Pre-infusion or pre-brew: On selected manual and automatic machines, the pump will slowly saturate the coffee powder with water, allowing the flavours and aromas to develop before extracting the coffee.
- Pressure gauges: Manual machines with a pressure gauge will give you feedback on how much pressure the machine is using to brew the coffee. This is impacted by the grind of the coffee powder, as well as how the coffee is tamped. This is a helpful tool when brewing your coffee, as over- or under-extraction of coffee grounds can spoil the flavour of your cup.