Mr. Coffee ECM202 Espresso Maker
by Harris Encana
(Los Gatos, California, USA)
Mr. Coffee ECM20
Steam Espresso Maker
I can't really justify my initial interest in espresso. I just noticed that my coworkers were getting espresso drinks every day from a nearby coffee shop. The idea came to me that I could become a master espresso maker (or barista, in coffee parlance), but this was even before I gained an appreciation for drinking it.
I started with a fairly basic espresso maker - the Mr. Coffee ECM20 Espresso Maker, which I ordered from Amazon. While I waited for the espresso maker to arrive, I researched the process of brewing perfect espresso. Since I am a technical person by profession, I felt that I would approach espresso brewing as a technical problem that I could learn to solve with a reliable method.
The first trials did not go so well. The espresso tasted bitter, and the machine was very difficult to clean. I didn't want to leave a single coffee stain or even a single coffee ground behind, because I understood that it could result in an inferior product. I learned about grinding the beans properly, tamping them, and, most importantly, using the exact amount of water necessary to pull a perfect shot. This last part is so important for achieving the correct flavor. Because only one or two shots can be pulled from a fresh set of grounds, the fact that this coffee maker comes with a glass carafe is, in my opinion, a misleading gimmick. Just get a metal or ceramic espresso cup and put that under the drip. Trust me, you won't be using this machine the same way you'd use a drip coffee maker.
Once I mastered espresso, I quickly lost interest in it. My results were good but not great. Since professionally-made espresso drinks are so easy to buy in a modern city, I decided to give my coffee maker away to a coworker.
Don't get one of these home espresso makers unless you are committed to perfecting your technique over a period of weeks, and unless you are not intimidated by the strenuous cleaning job that awaits you after each usage. However, if this is the model that you select, you will find it to be a durable and reliable machine. My coworker who received mine is still happy with it years later.