A piston-driven espresso machine (espresso coffee maker) is a type of espresso machine is powered by the operator (e.g., the barista) pumping a lever which pressurizes the hot water and forces it through a compacted (tamped) bed of roasted, ground coffee to brew espresso.
Pulling An Espresso Shot
These lever-style machines are where the term “pulling an espresso shot” came from, because the operator had to pull the long handle.
Manual Piston Machines and Spring Piston Machines
Piston-driven machines may be manual piston machines in which the user’s pulling of the lever directly pushes the water through the coffee grounds to brew the espresso, or spring piston machines in which the user’s efforts create tension on a spring which then in turn creates the pressure to push the water through the grounds.
Espresso and Coffee Brewing Tips
For more espresso tips see our detailed coffee flavor profiles of Gourmet Coffees and instructions on preparing Espresso Drink Recipes. For step-by-step instructions see Pulling A Perfect Espresso Shot as well as How to make Lattes and Cappuccinos.