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20 Bar Espresso Machine Meaning vs 15 Bar vs 9 Bar

Updated: Feb 3

Have you ever wondered what the 20 bar espresso machine meaning is? And how does that differ from 15 bars or 9 bars of pressure? Are you looking for the best espresso machine recommendations for 20 bar, 15 bar or 9 bar? If so, you are in the right place!

Table of Contents for 20 Bar Espresso Machine Meaning vs 15 vs 9

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Understanding Espresso Machine Pressure 

The heart of espresso making lies in its extraction process, where hot water is forced through finely-ground coffee under high pressure. This pressure, measured in 'bars', is crucial for creating the rich, flavorful, and aromatic shot of espresso beloved by coffee enthusiasts worldwide.

But what exactly does 'bar' mean, and why is it so important in espresso preparation? This article explains the mechanics of espresso machine pressure, exploring how different bar measurement ratings - 9, 15, and 20 - impact the water flow and brewing process and the resulting beverage.

Keep in mind, in the context of a 9, 15 or 20 bar espresso machines, "bar" refers to water pressure, not barometric pressure. It indicates the amount of pressure used to push water through the coffee grounds during the espresso brewing process.

understanding 20 bar espresso machine meaning compared to 15 bar vs 9 bar
Quick Reference Chart to Understand Espresso Machine Bar Comparison: 9-Bar is the Golden Standard for Espresso

Importance of 'Bar' in Espresso Machines

In espresso machines, 'bar' is a unit of pressure. It represents the atmospheric pressure at sea level, equivalent to about 14.7 pounds per square inch. The right amount of pressure is key to extracting the perfect balance of flavor compounds from the coffee grounds.

Too little pressure can lead to under-extraction, resulting in a weak and sour espresso, while too much can cause over-extraction, making the espresso overly bitter. Understanding this balance is vital in choosing the right espresso machine and mastering the art of espresso brewing.

The Standard 9-Bar Espresso Machine

Historical Context and Significance of 9-Bar Pressure

The 9-bar pressure standard for espresso machines dates back to the mid-20th century and is often attributed to the developments by Italian coffee experts and machine manufacturers. It was discovered that this level of pressure was optimal for extracting a rich, dense, and flavorful espresso shot. This discovery was a significant milestone in the coffee world, setting a standard that is still widely regarded as the benchmark for quality espresso.

9 Bars of Pressure Impact on Flavor and Crema 

At 9 bars of pressure, the water is pushed through the coffee grounds at just the right intensity to extract the oils, flavors, and aromatic compounds efficiently. This pressure is also essential for creating the signature crema - the creamy, caramel-colored foam that tops a well-made espresso. The crema not only adds to the texture but also helps to trap the aromas, enhancing the overall sensory experience of the espresso.

Higher Pressure Machines: 15-Bar and 20-Bar Espresso Machine

The Evolution to Higher Pressures 

While 9 bars remains the traditional standard for how much pressure is optimal, many modern espresso machines, particularly those designed for home use, boast higher pressures of 15 or even 20 bars. This evolution in machine design is partly driven by marketing, as higher numbers often imply better performance.

However, it's important to understand how these higher pressures affect the brewing process and whether they translate into a better espresso.

Benefits and Potential Drawbacks 

The primary benefit of higher pressure machines is the flexibility they offer. While they can achieve pressures above the traditional 9 bars, they can also be adjusted to operate at this standard level, providing versatility in brewing.

However, it's a common misconception that higher pressure automatically means a better espresso. In reality, excessive pressure can lead to over-extraction, resulting in a bitter taste. The skill of the barista in managing this pressure is crucial in utilizing these machines effectively.

This section explores whether the higher pressure ratings genuinely enhance the espresso experience or if they are more about consumer perception.

Comparative Analysis of Different Bar Espresso Coffee Machines

In this section, we compare 9-bar, 15-bar, and 20-bar espresso machines, focusing on their capabilities, suitability for different users, and how they influence the espresso extraction process. Additionally, we recommend the best espresso machine for each category, considering factors like performance, reliability, and user feedback.

9-Bar Espresso Machines: The Industry Standard

  • Capabilities: 9-bar espresso machines are designed to mirror the pressure that has been deemed ideal for espresso extraction. These machines are often preferred in professional settings due to their ability to consistently produce well-balanced and flavorful espresso shots.

  • Best for: Professional baristas and enthusiasts who value traditional espresso brewing techniques.

  • Recommended Machine: The Gaggia Classic Evo Pro is a top pick for a 9-bar machine, although there are many high quality similar machines on the market today. However, this espresso machine is made in Italy and is known for its solid steel housing, stainless steel 58mm commercial portafilter and its commercial steam wand is a plus for those who want to froth milk.

Gaggia Classic Evo Pro: 9-Bar

9bar espresso machine by gaggia classic evo pro 9 bar espresso maker


15-Bar Espresso Machines: The Versatile Choice

  • Capabilities: 15-bar espresso machines often provide more flexibility. They can achieve higher pressures but are typically used at lower pressures for actual espresso extraction. The extra pressure can aid in pre-infusion, a process that gently soaks the coffee grounds before full extraction.

  • Best for: Home baristas who want more control over their brewing process and the flexibility to experiment.

  • Recommended Machine: The PHILIPS 4300 Series Fully Automatic Espresso Machine has impressive features and affordability. It offers convenience, quality, versatility and modern style, making it ideal for those who want to create cappuccinos, lattes, Americanos, etc. with espresso.

PHILIPS 4300 Series Automatic Espresso Machine: 15-Bar

You can read more about the Philips 4300 review in our article about top Espresso Machines.


20-Bar Espresso Machines: High Pressure for the Enthusiast

  • Capabilities: While 20-bar espresso machines can produce higher pressures, most expert baristas agree that such high pressure is not necessary for traditional espresso. These machines are often about providing extra power, which might be beneficial for other types of coffee drinks.

  • Best for: Coffee enthusiasts who are looking for a machine that offers high performance and versatility beyond just espresso.

  • Recommended Machine: CASABREWS Espresso Machine with Grinder, Barista Espresso Maker with Milk Frother Steam Wand, Professional Cappuccino Latte Machine with LCD Display is a standout for the best 20 bar espresso machine. It offers a variety of features for different coffee drinks that are sure to please even the most elite coffee lover.

CASABREWS Espresso Machine with Grinder: 20-Bar


Factors Influencing Extraction Quality

  • Pressure Consistency: Regardless of the maximum pressure, the ability of a machine to maintain consistent pressure during extraction is crucial.

  • Temperature Stability: The temperature of the water should be stable as it affects the flavors extracted from the coffee.

  • User Skill: A significant factor is the skill of the barista in using the machine. Understanding how to adjust espresso grind size, tamping pressure, and extraction time is key to making great espresso.

In summary, the choice between 9-bar, 15-bar, and 20-bar machines depends on personal preference, skill level, and what you're looking to get out of your espresso experience. Each category has its champions, and the best machine for you will align with your coffee brewing goals and lifestyle.

The Role of Espresso Barista Skills in Coffee Extraction

Adapting Techniques to Machine Pressure of Espresso Coffee Machines

The skill of the barista plays a pivotal role in the art of espresso making, regardless of the machine's pressure rating. Understanding how to manipulate variables like espresso grind, size, tamping pressure, and extraction time is key. A skilled barista can produce excellent espresso on a 9-bar machine, and similarly, they can adjust their technique to accommodate the characteristics of 15-bar and 20-bar machines.

Expert Insights on Optimal Use of Different Pressures 

Experts often stress the importance of technique over equipment. For instance, with a 15-bar or 20-bar machine, a barista might adjust the coarser or tamp lighter to prevent over-extraction. Conversely, with a 9-bar machine, precision in coffee grind size and tamping becomes even more critical to achieve the desired extraction. This section highlights expert opinions and tips for optimizing espresso extraction across different pressure ratings.

Beyond Pressure: Other Key Factors in Espresso Quality

Temperature Stability, Grind Consistency, and More 

While pressure is a critical factor, it's not the only one. Temperature stability ensures that water is at the ideal heat for extraction, while grind consistency affects how water flows through the coffee. Additionally, the freshness of the coffee beans, the quality, water temperature and the cleanliness of the machine all contribute to the final taste of the espresso.

The Holistic Approach to Espresso Perfection 

To achieve the perfect cup of espresso, one must consider all these factors in tandem. This section provides a comprehensive view of the holistic approach to espresso making, emphasizing that a good espresso machine is just one part of the puzzle.

Espresso Makers Buying Guide

Choosing the Right Espresso Maker for Your Needs 

Selecting the right espresso machine can be daunting. This section provides a step-by-step guide to help readers assess their needs, considering factors like their skill level, the frequency of use, the type of coffee they enjoy, and their budget.

Considerations for Home Baristas and Professionals 

For home baristas, ease of use and maintenance might be key factors. For professionals, consistency, durability, and the ability to customize settings are more important. This part of the guide will break down what to look for in an espresso maker based on the user's context and goals.

Appendix Bar Espresso Machines Bar Meaning

Glossary of Terms 

To help readers better understand the technical terms used throughout the article, this section provides a glossary. It will include definitions of key espresso-making terms such as:

  • Bar: A unit of pressure, equivalent to atmospheric pressure at sea level.

  • Crema: The creamy, caramel-colored foam that tops a well-made espresso, formed by the emulsification of oils in the coffee beans.

  • Extraction: The process of hot water flowing through the coffee grounds to produce espresso.

  • Pre-infusion: A process in which water is gently applied to the coffee grounds to start the extraction process, often used in higher bar machines.

  • Over-extraction/Under-extraction: Terms used to describe the result when too much or too little flavor is extracted from the coffee grounds, respectively.

Further Reading and Resources For those interested in exploring more about espresso machines and coffee brewing, this section lists recommended books, websites, and online forums. It's a curated selection to guide readers who wish to deepen their knowledge and skills in espresso making.

  • Books: A list of essential reading for coffee enthusiasts and baristas, covering topics from the basics of coffee brewing to advanced barista techniques.

  • Websites and Blogs: Links to reputable websites and blogs that offer up-to-date information, reviews, and tips on espresso machines and coffee brewing.

  • Online Forums and Communities: Information on online platforms where coffee enthusiasts and professionals share experiences, advice, and discuss various aspects of espresso making.

FAQ for 20 Bar Espresso Machine Meaning vs. 15 Bar vs 9 Bar

Understanding Espresso Machine Pressure

What Does the Bar Number Indicate? 

The bar number on an espresso machine indicates the pressure level used to push water through the coffee grounds. This pressure is crucial in the extraction process, determining the flavor, aroma, and crema of the espresso.

What do the bars mean on an espresso maker? 

The bars on an espresso machine signify the pressure level that the machine uses to push hot water through the coffee grounds. This is water temperature and pressure alone is critical for extracting the espresso.

What is a bar on an espresso maker? 

A bar on an espresso machine is a unit of pressure measurement when measured by a pressure gauge. It represents the force used to push water through the coffee grounds during the espresso brewing process.

Comparing Different Bar Ratings

What is the difference between a 9 bar and 15 bar espresso machine? 

The main difference is in their maximum pressure capabilities. A 9-bar machine is optimized for the standard espresso pressure, while a 15-bar machine can generate higher pressure but is often used at 9 bars for espresso brewing.

What's The Difference Between 15 BARS and 20 BARS Espresso Machines? 

The difference between a 15 vs 20 bar espresso machine lies in their maximum pressure capabilities. While both can exceed the standard 9 bars required for espresso, a 20-bar machine can generate more pressure, potentially offering greater flexibility in extraction, though it's often not necessary for traditional espresso.

15 Bar vs 20 Bar Espresso Makers: Is there a Winner? 

It depends on the user's preference and needs. Both can produce high quality espresso together, but a 20-bar machine might offer more flexibility for other brewing methods. For traditional espresso, both should ideally operate at around 9 bars during extraction.

Is 15 bar or 20 bar espresso coffee machine better? 

Neither is necessarily better; it depends on the user's needs. A machine should operate around 9 bars for a traditional, perfect shot of espresso. A 20-bar machine offers more flexibility but isn't required for standard espresso brewing.

Bar Pressure and Espresso Quality

What Does 15 Bar Pump Mean? 

A 15 bar pump in an espresso machine means it can produce up to 15 bars of pressure. This higher pressure can offer more control over the extraction process, but typically, the actual brewing occurs at around 9 bars, with the extra pressure aiding in pre-infusion or adjustment.

Is there a Perfect Bar Count for Making Espresso? 

Traditionally, 9 bars is considered the ideal pressure for making espresso. It provides the right balance for extracting rich flavor without over-extracting bitter compounds.


Miscellaneous Questions

Is 20 bar good for espresso machine? 

While 20 bar machines offer high pressure, it's not necessary for traditional espresso. A good espresso can be made with 9 bars of pressure, but the additional pressure in a 20 bar machine provides flexibility for other brewing methods.

Is 20 bar enough for espresso? 

20 bar is more than enough for. Traditional espresso is best brewed at 9 bars, so a 20-bar machine provides more pressure than needed but offers additional flexibility with many espresso machines.

Are 3.5 Bar Espresso Machines Good? 

3.5 bar machines are generally considered too low in pressure for traditional espresso. They may not adequately extract the flavors and aromas from the coffee grinds, resulting in a weak espresso.

Is 19 bar too much for espresso? 

19 bar is higher than the standard 9 bars required for espresso. While it's more than needed for traditional espresso, the extra pressure might be useful for other brewing techniques, though it's not essential for most flavor.

What does a 15 bar espresso machine mean? 

A 15 bar espresso machine means it can generate up to 15 bars of pressure, though for brewing espresso, it typically uses around 9 bars, with the extra pressure aiding in pre-infusion or adjustment of  for different coffees.

Is 15 or 20 bar better for espresso machine?

Both are equally capable when used at the standard 9 bars. For more versatility and experimentation, a 20 bar machine might offer slight advantages.

How To Use a 20 BAR Espresso Machine For Coffee? 

To use a 20 bar espresso machine, start by grinding your coffee to the desired fineness. Tamp the grounds evenly in the portafilter and lock it in place. Select the appropriate setting (if adjustable) to ensure the machine brews at around 9 bars for espresso. The additional pressure can be used for pre-infusion or other brewing techniques.

Does 9Barista make good espresso? 

The 9Barista machine is designed to brew coffee at 9 bars, the ideal pressure for espresso. If used correctly with quality coffee grounds, it can make excellent espresso.

Why is espresso brewed at 9 bar? 

Espresso is brewed at 9 bar because this pressure level has been found to be the most effective for extracting a balanced combination of flavors, oils, and aromatics from finely ground coffee.

How much coffee do you put in a 9Barista? 

The amount of coffee to put in a 9Barista or any espresso machine usually ranges between 18 to 20 grams for a double shot, but it can vary depending on personal taste and the specific requirements of the machine.

How many BARs do typical espresso machines have? 

Typical home espresso machines range from 9 to 20 bars, with 15 bars being a common specification. However, the actual brewing process usually occurs at around 9 bars.

Is 20 bar espresso machine good? 

A 20 bar espresso machine can be good, especially for those who want the flexibility to experiment with different brewing techniques. However, for traditional espresso, 9 bars of pressure is sufficient.

Is a 15 bar espresso machine good or is it too much pressure? 

A 15 bar machine can be ideal for home use as it offers flexibility. It can effectively operate at the standard 9 bars for espresso while providing options beyond nine bars for experimenting with different pressures.

What Makes a Good Espresso Machine? 

A good espresso machine maintains consistent pressure and temperature, provides user control over extraction variables, and is built with quality components. It should also fit the coffee maker's skill level and needs.

What was the first 9 bar espresso machine? 

The first espresso machine capable of achieving 9 bars of pressure was the Gaggia machine, introduced by Achille Gaggia in 1948. This innovation marked a significant advancement in espresso technology.

Who are the competitors of 9Barista? 

Competitors of 9Barista include other brands of espresso machines that focus on the home market, such as Breville, De'Longhi, and Nespresso, offering machines that can achieve the standard 9 bars of pressure for espresso.

What is the most reliable espresso machine? 

The most reliable espresso machine varies based on user needs and preferences, but brands like La Marzocco, Breville, and Jura are known for their durability, consistency, and quality.

What does 20 bar espresso machine mean? 

A 20 bar espresso machine means it can generate up to 20 bars of pressure, although for traditional espresso brewing, only around 9 bars is typically used.

What are the best coffee beans to use for espresso coffee grind?

Espresso coffee lovers typically enjoy espresso coffee beans that are fresh, high-quality medium to dark roast with a balanced flavor. A blend specifically designed for espresso brewing is often the best and easiest choice, although some coffee lovers still prefer coffee beans of light roasts.

We hope this has helped you understand the 20 bar espresso machine meaning and how it differs from 9-bar and 15-bar.


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