advantages & challenges

Advantages

Price

Finding a machine capable of producing true 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 a top end commercial pump machine (or commercial lever) provided you pair it with a quality espresso capable grinder. It’s true that other travel coffee devices can be found cheaper, but most often they sacrifice on the max pressure you can generate, and usually in quality of materials. Some like the Aeropress can be a fantastic value, but they cannot produce espresso at such low pressures (1 bar or less in most cases) and they end up being a portable coffee maker that makes more like regular strength coffee.

Easy to Press

Small-diameter tall cylinder makes this possible. See our specs page for full force table.

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. This makes for very unique shots especially with light roasted coffees and tames the natural acidity in them very well.

Fast to Modify Temp

Some machines take several minutes to come down from a high temperature or stabilize after boiler temp is set. The Forge temp can be steamed in just a couple minutes from cold, or only a few seconds if hot already. We have found in testing that dark roasts require no to minimal pre-heating, and for light roasts the Forge is easily brought to high temperatures by setting it on top of your kettle and allowing the steam to heat. Using a temperature strip allows for a more precise control over shot temperature.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Challenges

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. Please see our Grinder Suggestions for more info.

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.

Limited Shot Volume with 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.

Filling With Water

Some care is needed when pouring into the small diameter pipe. It becomes very easy after some practice. Using a gooseneck kettle also makes this much easier.

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.

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 for steaming. You can also put heated milk into a French Press and churn it up into a good texture. YouTube is a great resource here to see how others are making good quality textured milk without the use of a steam-wand.

The Forge started as a community project, with input from Home-Barista forum members. We are proud to provide an espresso device capable of meeting the extreme high demands of the specialty coffee community. See the project history on Home-Barista