9 bar vs 15 bar espresso maker: Which one makes better espresso shots?

The best way to start your day is with a strong cup of coffee. The perfect cup of joe has both taste and substance to keep you going throughout the day. For many, this means a traditional black coffee. However, there is a much wider world of coffee than just black and one of the choices is espresso.

It’s no secret that the pressure you use when making espresso is the most important variable in achieving the perfect espresso shot. The best bar pressure for espresso is tight, but not too tight — ideal pressure to extract delicious espresso shot is around 15 bar.

That’s a little high, right? You might think that cheaper espresso machines have lower pressure — which is true in some cases, but not all. In order to get the most out of your espresso brewing setup, it’s smart to understand the differences between the different pressure levels that are available. And in this blog post we are doing a 9 bar vs 15 bar espresso maker analysis to find out which makes better espresso shots. Let’s begin!

9 bar vs 15 bar espresso maker

What is Pressure Bar?

A barometer is an instrument used to measure atmospheric pressure. Atmospheric is a layer of air wrapped around the earth and it has a weight that presses against everything it touches. One bar is measurement unit equal to the pressure at sea level. Higher the bar, higher the pressure!

Pressure in espresso machine is equal to the force required to push hot water through the coffee grounds to extract espresso shot. An espresso machine using 9 bar pressure means that the water is being forces through the coffee grounds at 9 times higher pressure than the atmospheric pressure at sea level and same goes for an espresso machine with 15 bar of pressure.

First espresso machines used steam pressure to extract espresso shots however, thanks to development and advent of electricity, semi-automatic and rotary pumps have replaced steam pressure in automatic machines.

Espresso Machines and Pressure

To extract a perfect shot of espresso, the espresso machine has to apply a certain amount of pressure which is measured in bars. A typical espresso machine make use of 9 bars of pressure to extract espresso shots which is equal to 9 times the pressure of atmosphere at sea level.

Majority of new and advanced espresso machines in the market work with 15 bars of pressure and most people argue that 15 bars is the perfect pressure to extract all the flavor and aroma of a delicious espresso shot.

Based on the extraction mechanism there are 3 types of espresso makers that you will find on the market. Here is a brief introduction to different types of espresso machines.

Lever Espresso Machines

Lever espresso machines use a lever to push water through the coffee grounds to extract espresso shots. It’s a manual way of extracting espresso shots where barista knows exactly how much pressure he should be exerting and he has the optimal control over the amount of pressure. Although most coffee shops use advanced espresso makers however, you can still find lever espresso machines in upscale coffee shops.

Pump Espresso Machines

Pump espresso machines are equipped with a dedicated system to generate the required pressure to force water through the coffee grounds to extract espresso shots. You can as well change the settings and water temperature to have precise results.

Steam Power Espresso Machines

Coffee and espresso maker that make use of steam power to generate pressure to force water through the coffee ground in the extraction process are not very much popular in coffee bars but you may find these machines in homes.

This method of espresso extraction is not powerful enough to extract crema however for an average espresso shot, a steam power espresso machine might work.

9 Bar vs 15 Bar Espresso Maker: Which One’s Better?

It is an agreed upon fact that 9 bar pressure is ideal for quality espresso extraction, and its so since the Italian inventor made his first modern espresso machine. He also discovered that you get an ideal shot of espresso when you force water at 9 bars of pressure and the optimal brewing temperature be 90 to 95C.

Pressure higher than 9 bars will create a shot that would be too strong and bitter and a lower pressure would create espresso that’d be weak. Hence, modern coffee machines use standard 9 bar pressure while extracting espresso shots.

9 Bar vs 15 Bar Espresso: Which espresso maker should you buy?

You might be wondering if 9 bar is the perfect pressure for ideal espresso shot why choose 15 and why they are manufacturing machines with higher pressure?

During the brewing process, many budget espresso machines lose most of the pressure between the pump and brew head. Which means you are likely brewing at 9 bar pressure by the time your shot is being pulled.

One of the standard built-in features for premium and high-end espresso machines is a valve that regulates coffee and espresso machines from generating pressure over 9 bars which results in perfect cup of joe!

Here are top 3 Espresso machines that you can check out if you are considering to replace your old and obsolete espresso machine.

We hope that this blog post has helped clear the 9 bar vs 15 bar espresso concept. Let us know which machine is your favorite and why?