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9 VS 15 BAR Espresso Machines

A 15 BAR Espresso Machine uses 7 to 11 on the pressure scale and results in rich and flavorful espresso but lacks the quality and crema that can be found in coffee shops and cafes. Meanwhile, a 9 BAR Espresso Machine uses 5 to 11 on the pressure scale, which means it can’t push flavors out of the coffee beans as a 15 BAR could.

Espresso machines come in all shapes and sizes, and even BARS. That’s why it’s important to know what BAR machine you should get to produce the richest and most flavorful espresso for your needs.

Let’s get started.

What’s The Difference Between 9 BARS and 15 BARS Espresso Machines?

If you’re looking to get a 9 or 15 BAR espresso machine then you’re on the right track to make some quality espresso. But is there a reasonable difference between them to get one over the other?

Yes! There are a few differences that can have a massive impact on your final espresso and crema, so let’s have a look.

9 BAR Espresso Machine

A 9 BAR Espresso Machine is known as the industrial standard to make great espresso. The problem here is that bars in regular espresso machines are advertised as lower than they should be. This is why it’s hard to find 9 BAR Espresso Machines these days, most machines you’ll find today advertise 15 BARS or more.

Most if not all 9 BAR Espresso Machines also use a Piston instead of a Pump for pressure. This is not necessarily bad as piston machines can make a consistent and tasty espresso, but it lacks crema which a lot of espresso lovers miss.

So, what’s the deal with a 9 BAR Espresso Machine? Since espresso machines tend to lose pressure during brew time, you’ll most likely end up between 5 to 11 on the pressure scale. Which is not ideal if you’re trying to hit that 9 to 11 sweet spot for espresso.

15 BAR Espresso Machine

A 15 BAR Espresso Machine is a great choice, but it lacks the pressure that professional baristas strive for. 15 BAR Machines put you on the lower end of 7 to 11 on the pressure scale. This won’t necessarily produce lousy espresso, but it’s not going to give the strong and tasty flavors you might be after.

The crema is not going to be as full and creamy either, this is due to water losing pressure before it gets to the coffee grounds.

15 BAR Espresso Machines are still a fantastic option and are widely used today, most people have this type of machine at home. While professional baristas like to use a 20 BAR Espresso Machine such as this Gevi Espresso Machine to be certain they hit 9 to 11 on the pressure scale for that rich, flavorful espresso and just that right amount of delicious crema.

If you’re looking for a 15 BAR Espresso Machine then I personally recommend this De’Longhi Stilosa.

Suggested read: Why it’s important to pick a known coffee machine brand.

What is a BAR?

A BAR is a unit of measurement which is designed to measure pressure according to the atmospheric level at sea. If you’re in America you may be more familiar with the term “pounds per square inch” or “PSI”.

1 BAR equals 14.7 PSI, or the atmospheric level naturally at sea, so the higher the number of BARS your espresso machine uses, the more pressure it will use to push water through the coffee grounds.

I hope that gives you a better understanding of why we use the BAR measurement on espresso machines!

Do BARS in Espresso Machines Make a Difference?

Absolutely! The differences in pressure play the biggest role in an espresso machine. Once you get a machine, you also can’t change the pressure, so it’s important to take the right one that fits you.

Professional businesses like coffee shops and cafes have industrial espresso machines which have their BARS somewhere between 7 and 11, with the ideal being 9 BARS.

The main problem is that regular espresso machines give it a lower BAR than it claims to have, which means in order to get the perfect espresso, you need an espresso machine with a higher BAR than you’d think you would need.

Guide for BARS on Industrial Espresso Machines

Regular Espresso Machines will usually group their BARS together. With a BAR of 7 to 9 or less, you may find your espresso not near where you want it to be. This is simply because it doesn’t have enough pressure, the water being forced through the coffee grounds cannot make its way through and have too little force to push the flavor and oil out of the coffee grounds. This leaves you with a weak espresso and little to no crema.

With a BAR of 10 to 15 for your home espresso machine, you can expect a decent espresso. The pressure in these machines is much stronger and it can force out the flavor of the coffee grounds for a moderately strong taste. It can also create some crema, but not quite as much as you’d like.

The big toys of espresso machines that have a BAR of 15 to 20 are where you truly want your espresso machine to sit. If you’re serious about your espresso then you need one of these. This amount of pressure makes up for the pressure loss during water travels, this gives you the actual 7 to 11 BARS of pressure, which is the sweet spot.

This pressure pulls most flavor of the coffee grounds and leaves you with a rich taste and beautiful espresso, while also giving you a delicious and frothy crema.

Piston VS Pump Espresso Machines

There are 2 types of Espresso Machines: piston and pump.

Piston Espresso Machines

Espresso machines that use a piston will first heat water to boiling. After that you have to pull a lever (this moves the piston, hence the name) which will pressurize the water and force it through the coffee grounds which are in a single chamber with many small holes for even coffee filtration. This can result in consistent coffee flavor, but lack the rich crema that many espresso lovers like.

Pump Espresso machines

The Pump Espresso Machine is a more effective version of the piston machine which produces more flavorful espresso and frothy crema. The pump espresso machine can heat water to 2 temperatures, one for boiling and one for steaming, this allows you to froth milk as you make your coffee.

The entire process is automated so there’s no need to pull a lever. Your only job is to make sure the water reservoir is filled and push the brew button, once pushed it will boil the water and pressurize it, then force the water through the coffee grounds which are in a double chamber this time.

The first chamber contains the coffee grounds and lets the water filter through into the second chamber containing a small area that builds pressure because there is only one hole for the coffee to get out of, rather than many like the piston espresso machines.

This means that pump espresso machines build much more pressure and force the coffee out which produces a much richer espresso with a frothy crema.

How To Use a 15 BAR Espresso Machine For Coffee

Making an espresso using a 15 BAR espresso machine is quite straightforward.

  1. Fill the water tank to the designated line.
  2. Turn on your 15 BAR Espresso Machine
  3. Either make your own finely ground beans, or buy pre-ground. Just makes sure they are very finely ground.
  4. Grab the machine’s measuring scoop, take 1 scoop of coffee grounds, and put them into the portable filter.
  5. Once you packed your coffee grounds into the portable filter, simply pick it up, insert it under the tap, and twist it the correct way to lock it securely, so no water, air, or coffee escapes during the brewing process.
  6. Depending on the machine, the brew will start automatically as the handle locks in place, or you may have to push a BREW button.
  7. Once again, depending on the machine, you may have to click the BREW button again when the time is right to stop brewing, or the machine will stop on its own.
  8. Enjoy your delicious 15 BAR espresso!

The Bottom Line

The 15 BAR Espresso Machine is the clear winner if you want to be right below the industrial level of espresso but better than the espresso you make right now, and will give you a rich, flavorful espresso but may lack crema. I personally recommend the De’Longhi Stilosa as it’s a fantastic 15 BAR Espresso Machine. 

This doesn’t mean that a 9 BAR machine is bad, but there’s a reason why it’s harder to find these days. As the machine loses water pressure and pump machines are taking over, it’s not hard to see why people are moving on to 15 BAR (or more) machines to make sure they get closer to that sweet spot of 9 to 11.

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