Advantages and Challenges

Posted May 19, 2016

EspressoForge started out as a community project, as such, we offer this comparison table to be as up-front about our device as possible. We hope it will help potential buyers decide if The Forge will fit their needs and lifestyle.

1. Price – finding a machine capable of producing espresso at 8 bar for a low price is a challenge. This was at the heart of why we designed the EspressoForge. But don’t think that because of the low price, shot quality suffers, in fact, the Forge can produce espresso equal to the top end commercial pump machine provided you pair it with a quality espresso capable grinder.

2. Easy to Press – small-diameter tall cylinder makes this possible.
Pressure Profiling – Easy to do with a pressure gauge (1/8″ NPT fitting). Although some other machines may have this ability, without knowing the pressure it makes it very hard to do. Also, because the Forge is filled from the top, a zero or very light pressure pre-infusion is possible, where on some machines a minimum pressure (boiler pressure or line pressure) is fixed.

3. Easy to clean and maintain – everything comes apart, no complex mechanical or hydraulic systems. Only a pair of rubber O-Rings to replace for maintenance.

4. Aftermarket compatibility – Ability to use any standard 58mm basket or shower screen (IMS precision screen/basket, VST baskets etc). This offers great flexibility not available to many lever machines.

5. Modifications – Are you the engineer type? The EspressoForge is great as a platform to add modifications such as a tripod stand, custom handles & grips, pressure gauges. Want to automate or gain more mechanical advantage over the piston? Use a rack/pinion, ratcheting caulking gun, springs. Or drive the device entirely pneumatically without a piston! Limited only by imagination and physics.

6. Quick to Warm-up – under 4m to make a shot from cold – this is based on my routine of boiling 0.5L water in electric kettle, prepping basket, preheating device, lock in, fill up with water and ready to press.

7. Direct lever feel – If you’ve used a Cremina or Pavoni, you know this feeling…minor force changes can have an instant impact on flow and pressure. Great for adjusting a shot for a less than ideal grind or distribution. But also very satisfying to use daily.

8. Puck Integrity – In some lever machines, to avoid air being drawn through the puck and disturbing your perfectly distributed grinds, it’s required to lower (spring lever) or raise (direct lever) just before water enters, and then while holding the lever lock in the portafilter. This isn’t required with the Forge since you can fill the device from the top.

1. Grinder Required – Just like every espresso machine, a quality espresso capable grinder is absolutely required! If you sacrifice quality in this area, you will be frustrated in trying to create a great espresso capable of being enjoyed without milk or sugar.

2. Some Force Required – The EspressoForge is a fully manual device, and although we have engineered it to require a very modest force (as seen on the pros side), it still does require more effort than a super-automatic or a semi-automatic pump machine. We think this manual effort is worth the trade-off for simplicity and longevity of the device. I would compare the effort to grinding 20g of coffee on a medium sized hand-grinder.

3. Limited shot volume on one pull – all levers experience this, but it is worth mentioning for those that aren’t aware. Maximum volume with a single pull is 60mL, however a lower volume shot is to be expected as some water will be absorbed by the coffee puck. For additional volume, partial or full additional pulls can be employed.

4. Filling With Water – Some care is needed when pouring into the small diameter pipe. It becomes very easy after some practice, but it’s something to be aware of when first using the device.

5. Max temp limitation – Just like any pour-over device, your maximum temperature is limited. But, we have found in testing that dark roasts require no pre-heating at all, and light roasts require only a single pre-heat round. This is due to the low thermal conductivity of stainless steel.

6. Shot-to-Shot Time – Although typical for lever machines, it takes about a minute or so to press out the remaining water after completing a shot. You could simply pull out the piston, dump the water, unlock the basket and flush out the wet grounds, but for those that like dry pucks, it will require a bit extra time when comparing to a pump machine.

7. No steamed milk! – It’s worth noting since steamed milk is a big deal to a lot of people. However, there are a few dedicated stove-top or plug-in devices just for steaming milk that would be a great addition! We recommend looking at a Bellman.



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