9 Bar vs. 15 Bar Espresso Machines: The Perfect Pressure for Espresso Bliss

crazy by Editorial Staff | Posted on April 1st, 2023

Hello, coffee enthusiasts! If you’re as passionate about espresso as we are, you’ve likely heard about espresso machines with different pressure levels—specifically, 9 bars and 15 bars.


But what’s the difference, and which one should you choose for that creamy, heavenly espresso shot? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered!

espresso machine

Let’s dive into the world of espresso pressure and find out how it affects your beloved coffee.

Understanding Pressure: What Are Bars, Anyway?

Pressure is a crucial element of the espresso-making process, and it’s measured in bars. One bar is equal to the atmospheric pressure at sea level. So when we talk about an espresso machine with 9 bars of pressure, it means the water is forced through the coffee grounds at nine times the atmospheric pressure. Neat, right?

Now, there’s been some debate about the ideal pressure for brewing espresso. Is it 9 bars, or should we crank it up to 15 bars? Let’s find out!

The Classic Standard: Why 9 Bars Reign Supreme

The magic number 9 has been a classic standard in the espresso world for over 100 years! Italian inventor Luigi Bezzera was a trailblazer when he created the first modern espresso machine, and he discovered something amazing: pushing water at 9 bars through finely-ground coffee at around 90-95°C gave the best results—smooth, rich, and aromatic espresso.

Most coffee connoisseurs and professionals today still swear by the 9-bar standard, but you might be wondering…

What About 15 Bars? More Pressure, More Flavor?

You’ve probably seen espresso machines boasting 15 or even 18 bars of pressure. It sounds impressive, but does more pressure mean better espresso? Not exactly.

In reality, many machines that advertise higher pressure don’t actually achieve it during brewing. They might start at 15 bars, but by the time the water reaches the coffee grounds, the pressure is closer to 9 bars. Plus, high-end machines often have a built-in valve to limit pressure to 9 bars!

So, when it comes to pressure, the sweet spot is still 9 bars. Don’t worry if your machine claims 15 bars; you’re likely brewing at the perfect pressure anyway!

Types of Espresso Machines: Levers, Steam, and Pumps

Espresso machines come in all shapes and sizes, but they can be grouped into three main types based on how they apply pressure:

  • Levers: Classic and elegant, lever machines give you manual control over pressure. Perfect for baristas who love hands-on brewing!
  • Steam: These machines use steam power to create pressure. They’re budget-friendly but may lack the oomph to extract crema.
  • Pump: You’ll find pump machines in most coffee shops. Consistent and reliable, they offer control over temperature and pressure.

Comparison: 9-Bar vs. 15-Bar Espresso Machines

Aspect9-Bar Machines15-Bar Machines
Ideal Pressure9 bars (industry standard)Often start at 15 bars, reduce to 9 bars during brewing
Extraction QualitySmooth, rich, and aromatic espressoSimilar to 9-bar machines, as brewing occurs around 9 bars
CremaBeautiful crema on topSimilar to 9-bar machines; quality crema
Common UseProfessional and home espresso machinesBudget-friendly home machines (some high-end machines may advertise higher bars)
Valve RegulationBuilt-in valve to limit pressure to 9 barsSome machines have built-in valves to reduce pressure to optimal levels

Questions from Fellow Coffee Lovers

  • How long should you extract espresso? Aim for 20-30 seconds. Adjust grind, dosage, and tamp for the perfect shot.
  • What’s the crema on an espresso? Crema is the frothy, caramel-colored layer on top of your espresso. It’s coffee bean oils emulsified by hot water—yum!

Key Takeaways

Before we wrap up, here are the main points to remember:

  • 9 bars of pressure is the classic standard for brewing espresso.
  • 15-bar machines often reduce pressure to around 9 bars during brewing.
  • Pressure is crucial for extracting rich, flavorful espresso with beautiful crema.
  • Espresso machines come in various types, including levers, steam-powered, and pump machines.

Final Sips

In the world of espresso, pressure matters, and 9 bars is the way to go. Whether you’re a seasoned barista or a curious home brewer, understanding pressure will help you craft exquisite espresso time after time.

Now, grab your favorite cup, and happy caffeinating!

crazy

Editorial Staff

The editorial staff at Crazy Coffee Crave is a team of coffee enthusiasts & Baristas who enjoy the one thing we all think about as soon as we get up in the morning. Trusted by thousands of readers worldwide.