Parts of an Espresso Machine

Learn the parts of an espresso machine from the experts at Third Rail Coffee in this Howcast video.


My name is Mike Jones, and I'm a barista at Third Rail Coffee right by Washington Square Park in New York City. I'm going to teach you some basic coffee-making skills.

So, what are the basic parts of an espresso machine? What are the basic things you need to be making espresso? This is the machine here, this is sort of just standard, semi-auto espresso machine, which is what most speciality coffee shops are using. Right here is the 'portafilter'. Now this is inserted into what is called the 'group head', that is where the water actually comes down, there's a screen up in there that's basically a filter that evenly distributes the water. So in the portafilter here - what's inside it's called a 'basket', you can pop that out, and these come in many different sizes and designs. This one right here is actually a new one that's specially engineered so that there's consistency in the holes, and I've been kinda excited about it. So that just pops in and out. This is called a bottomless portafilter in that there are no spouts on it. So, technically this would extract a double espresso, a double shot, but it's just all coming out into one stream. So, portafilter in the group head, on this machine this is how you engage the water, some just have a button, but on any good espresso machine it's not gonna be automatic in that you don't just hit a button and then it goes for a certain period of time then stops. You want to have control over that so you can watch the shot, feel it out, and stop it when you think it's done.

This right here is just a hot water dispenser. You can use it for americanos or teas. I would recommend pulling water from a different hot water tower since this is usually not up to the right temperature, but it's great for just rinsing cups.

This is called the 'drip tray', that's pretty self-explanatory, water falls in there, it's plumbed underneath so it just drips down.

This is a steam wand. This is how you steam the milk. You can have different sorts of tips on the steam wand, as far as what kind of pressure you're putting on to the milk, but that's getting a little too in-depth. This is how you activate it, just a knob. Turn it that way - this machine's not on right now but, steam would be coming out, as well as a little bit of water. And that is pretty much the basics of an espresso machine.

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