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DIY Espresso Answered

Hey all! I'm looking for collaborators in this project, I'm planning on making an espresso machine for my venue (The Alibi). Since professional machines can cost over 5000 dollars, I would like to make one for under 150.

I will compromise and allow us to move back to the 50's and have it be hand pressed, in fact, a steampunk espresso is exactly what I'm looking for. Huge levers and spinning gears are perfect. The only critical thing would be the water temperature (i hear it has to be =>199 & <=201.

Any ideas?


Ohh i forgot...

watertemp. and pressure is defined by an italien standard.
THE Istituto Nazionale Espresso Italiano

coffeepowder 7 Gramm ± 0,5
watertemp at the brewinggroup 88° C ± 2° C
temp. in the cup 67° C ± 3° C
pressure 9 bar ± 1
rocessing time 25 Sekunden ± 2,5 Sekunden
fluid in the cup 25 ml ± 2,5

This is a nice Idea. I am looking forward to build a selfdevelopt by my self.
Important we have two different powersupplys you 110V(USA) and me 260V (Germany).
The first we need a dualboiler system because i think you want to make cappucinos too.
Now it is important to know if you want a system with a tank or a direkt connetion to the watersupply.
How do it heat up?
How do we get espresso? by pressure or by a rotarypump
did we use an E61 brewinggroup or somthing different?

And moust important who pay if the machine blows up? ;-)

Greetings from germany

My two cents: Buy a few vintage la pavoni europiccola machines, send them off to be refurbished, descaled, etc., then hire the best baristas you can find. They're excellent hand-pump machines, not terribly expensive, and unless you're pulling as many shots as a dedicated cafe/espresso bar, it will suit your needs. $600/ea. plus a hundred or so for a rebuild.

Now, if your goal is to build it, and I understand that obsession, then take apart one of these lever-style espresso machines and get to know it inside and out. Scale it up to fit your needs. You'll need a good machinist, some engineering know-how, and a lot of patience.

The lever-style 4 grouphead machines might not be too expensive anymore. The nicer ones are collector's items now though.


7 years ago

Hi, good idea of making the espresso machine at home. I will also want to discuss over it. I am interested in such creative things and also tried some things in home. ======================= Furniture Packages Spain

I had to join this site just to comment! A home build DIY machine for $150? You can barely get a Krups for that price. That makes me laugh so f*ing hard!!!! A decent portafilter will fun you $90, and an E61 group (complete and by itself from espressoparts) will cost you around $650. I really don't mean to be a negative nelly but to think you can get ANY acceptable shots for that price you are badly mistaken. The reason those machines cost that much is the temp. stability which took engineers a long time to think up and develop and $150 won't buy you enough paper to scribble design ideas on that compare to them.

Oh and I own a La Marzocco GS/3 which I happily paid $4700 for (a steal at that price). It fits my kitchen nicely and I never have to leave the house again for decent coffee.

and i have a used magic chef i happily paid 6$ for, and it fits my bedroom like a Compaq at a mac convention. hehe.

hey man! i might not be able to collaborate with you, but i can give you my idea. your right about professional espresso machines costing a lot! but in reality, how much different are 10$ magic chef espresso makers (like the one i have :}) from a 10,000$ Racilio? one of the main differences in temperature control system. most cheap espresso makers(and most 500$ too) just have a thermometer that turns of the heating element as soon as the water is the right temperature, but the heating element will still be hot, so the water will get to hot, and the machine may ether pump the water through the grounds when its to hot, witch leads to over-extracted coffee, or let the water cool down, and then pump it, and that usually leads to sour under extracted coffee. now, one of those 10000$ coffee makers that all of us "black gold" drinkers dream of, has something called a "P.I.D" controller, witch is sortove like a little computer with one program. you put in the temperature that you want the water to be, and it figers out how to get the water from the temperature it is now, to the target temperature. it dose this by turning the boiler on and off, so that it heats up but doesn't get to hot, usually they are only a percent of a degree off. so my idea is, you take one of those 10$ espresso makers, put a thermometer i the water boiler, so you can see what temp. is, and a switch going to the pump, so you can watch the thermometer and manipulate the main power knob like a PID until the water is just right, and then turn on the pump, and wallah; a perfect shot of "black gold". that, and it would look pretty steam punk with the thermometer and the extra switches sticking out. good luck my diy espresso friend.

If all you need is steam under pressure, you probably can accomplish this with just one strong kettle (boiler) with water that is completely closed and a heat source. This will give you both all the steam and pressure that you need. Now combine this with some safety valves and tubes to the coffee holder. A handy metal worker can probably build a rather cheap espresso machine based on this principle. When I have time I will dive into this myself a bit deeper. If anyone uses this idea, let me know. I'm very interested to see if it will actually work.

If you're going low-budget you can check out the Aeropress. All you need is a hot water tap that's temperature controlled and you can be knocking out espressos and americanos in no time.

I actually have seen that device and have tried a few beverages from it at friends, it's delicious! But in Ann Arbor there's this uppity up attitude where people compare espresso models like other people check out their cars, so something like this is not likely to impress. It's a good temporary alternative though, or maybe possibly we can house it as the heart, and create a aura of power and awe with lots of steam jets and huge hunks of metal. ; P -bg thanks for the reminder, totally forgot about that thing!

You can easily modify them with a new housing. Get a brass tube that the aeropress snugly fits inside and put it in after cutting away a slit so you can see the levels. then take the stopper off of the plunger and get another metal tube for that.

I'm thinking you'll need a temp controlled water tap for a start, Something like a hand press but instead of having it all boring, you may aswell add a steam jet for frothing other stuff, that's simple apart from maybe the nozzle, for the press have an old brass wheel off a ship or something, that turns the press, if you can get a boiler that puts out the right temp water you could go to building the whole machine from scratch, make it deadly simple inside but give it an aura of complexity. For closing time or the start of 'coffee hour' a sream whistle would be cool. Basically get a working setup running first then steampunk the beast, the easier it is to operate the more interesting it can be to see.