15 Bar vs 20 Bar Espresso Machines

15 Bar vs 20 Bar Espresso Machines
Photo by decrand on Pixabay

Are you a coffee lover searching for the perfect espresso machine? If so, you may have encountered terms like 15-bar and 20-bar espresso machines. But what do these numbers mean? And is there a significant difference between them? 

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the world of espresso machines and explore the distinctions between 15 Bar vs 20 Bar Espresso Machines. By the end, you’ll clearly understand how these machines work, their pros and cons, and which one might be right for you.


Understanding Espresso Machine Pressure

What does “bar” mean in espresso machines?

Before we delve into the differences, let’s clarify the terms “15 bar” and “20 bar”. In the context of espresso machines, the bar is a unit of measurement used to indicate pressure. It represents the force with which water is pushed through the coffee grounds to extract the flavors and oils. One BAR equals 14.7 PSI, meaning the natural atmospheric pressure at sea level. Consequently, the more BARS your espresso machine employs, the more pressure it exerts to force water through the coffee grounds.

Explaining the Significance of Pressure in Espresso Brewing

The pressure in an espresso machine is akin to the conductor in an orchestra orchestrating the extraction process. It influences the rate at which water passes through the coffee grounds, impacting the flavors, aromas, and the coveted crema atop your espresso shot.

The Ideal Pressure for Espresso

When making the perfect espresso, pressure plays a crucial role. Typically, coffee enthusiasts consider the ideal pressure to extract rich flavors from the coffee grounds around 9 bars. However, it’s important to note that maintaining consistent pressure throughout the brewing process is equally important. While a 15-bar or 20-bar machine may seem impressive, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee a better espresso. Excessive stress can often lead to over-extraction, resulting in a bitter or sour taste.

The Difference Between 15 Bar vs 20 Bar Espresso Machines

Now, let’s explore the differences between 15-bar and 20-bar espresso machines.

15 Bar Espresso Machines

A 15-bar espresso machine is a popular choice among home baristas. It offers sufficient pressure to produce a good cup of espresso. However, Opting for a 15-bar espresso machine is a solid choice for many, but it’s essential to acknowledge that it falls short of the pressure levels sought by professional baristas. 

Situated at the lower end of the pressure spectrum, typically between 7 to 11, a 15-bar machine might not deliver the bold and flavorful espresso particular enthusiasts seek.

Additionally, the crema produced by a 15-bar machine might not achieve the full and creamy texture expected, primarily because water tends to lose pressure before reaching the coffee grounds.

If you are looking for a 15-bar reliable espresso machine, then the Givi Espresso Machine is known for its consistent performance and user-friendly features.


  • Generally more budget-friendly compared to 20-bar machines.
  • Suitable for novice users and those new to home espresso brewing.
  • Widely popular for home use, offering satisfactory results for casual coffee drinkers.
  • Provides constant pressure for a good cup of espresso, given proper maintenance.
  • Often easier to operate, making them accessible to users with varying experience levels.


  • You need to meet the standards of experienced baristas due to lower pressure.
  • You may need help to achieve the intensity of flavor and crema produced by higher-pressure machines.
  • Requires regular cleaning and descaling to ensure optimal performance.
  • These may have limitations for users who prefer experimenting with different brewing techniques.

20 Bar Espresso Machines

On the other hand, A 20-bar espresso machine is a formidable tool, virtually guaranteed to fall within the 9 to 11 BAR range on the pressure scale. It is a professional-grade equipment. This level of pressure, when properly regulated, can deliver exceptional results. Professional baristas, coffee shops, and cafes love to have this instead of low bar machines. 

However, it’s important to note that not all 20-bar machines are created equal. Some may need help maintaining the desired pressure, resulting in inconsistent extraction. A 20-bar machine ensures minimal water loss before reaching the coffee grounds, maintaining ample pressure for a rich, robust, and flavorful espresso. 

Given the elevated pressure on the scale, this machine produces a generous amount of delightful and bold crema, offering the iconic appearance and the desired taste of ordering an espresso.

 If you’re considering a 20-bar machine, it’s crucial to choose a reputable brand with a proven track record, such as the Gevi Espresso Machine.


  • Can reach and maintain higher pressure, potentially enhancing flavor extraction.
  • These are often considered suitable for those seeking a more professional and intense espresso experience.
  • Some high-end models offer pressure control settings, allowing users to experiment with different brews.
  • Generally associated with premium brands and build quality, ensuring durability.
  • Higher pressure can contribute to a thicker and richer crema on the espresso.


  • Tends to be more expensive than 15-bar machines, making them less accessible for budget-conscious consumers.
  • This may require higher barista skills to optimize the brewing process.
  • Not all 20-bar machines are created equal, and some may struggle to maintain consistent pressure.
  • If not controlled properly, higher pressure can lead to over-extraction and a bitter taste.
  • This may demand more meticulous care, including frequent descaling, to ensure optimal and consistent performance.

Comparisons with Other Pressures:

15-Bar vs 9-Bar:

20-Bar vs 9-Bar:

Do BARS in Espresso Machines Make a Difference?

Yes, the pressure levels measured in BARS in espresso machines make a significant difference in the extraction process and, consequently, the taste and quality of the espresso. The pressure determines how water flows through the coffee grounds, impacting flavor, aroma, and crema formation. Different BARS settings cater to varying preferences, from milder to more robust espresso profiles.

Factors to Consider

When deciding between a 15-bar and a 20-bar espresso machine, several factors come into play. Here are some key considerations to help you make an informed choice:


Budget is crucial when purchasing any appliance, and espresso machines are no exception. Generally, 15-bar machines are more affordable than 20-bar machines, which are often considered higher-end and have a higher price tag.

Skill Level

Consider your skill level and experience as a barista. If you’re starting or prefer a more straightforward brewing process, a 15-bar machine is a better fit. These machines are generally easier to operate and provide consistent results without requiring advanced barista skills.

Brewing Preferences

Think about your personal preference regarding the strength and flavor of your espresso. If you enjoy a milder cup with balanced flavors, a 15-bar machine may be sufficient. However, if you prefer a more potent, more intense espresso with a thick crema, a 20-bar machine might be worth considering.

Brand and Reputation

When investing in an espresso machine, choosing a reputable brand known for producing high-quality and reliable equipment is essential. Research customer reviews and ratings to ensure that the device you’re considering has a solid reputation for durability and performance.


Gathered from discussions on Reddit r/espresso, the following testimonials represent real users’ opinions on 15-bar vs. 20-bar espresso machines.

byu/danierarara from discussion
byu/danierarara from discussion
byu/danierarara from discussion
byu/danierarara from discussion

Maintenance Tips for 15-Bar and 20-Bar Espresso Machines:

General Maintenance:

Portafilter and Group Head:

Steam Wand:

Piston VS Pump Espresso Machines

Choosing between a piston and a pump espresso machine determines your brewing experience. These two types of espresso machines operate on distinct mechanisms, each with advantages and considerations. Let’s delve into the differences between piston and pump espresso machines to help you make an informed decision.

Piston Espresso Machines

Piston espresso machines first heat water to boiling point. Once heated, the user manually pulls a lever, which activates the piston mechanism. This action pressurizes the water, forcing it through the coffee grounds. The coffee grounds are typically contained in a single chamber with multiple small holes, facilitating even filtration. This process aims to extract flavors from the coffee grounds, producing consistent flavor.

One advantage of piston espresso machines lies in the manual control they offer to users. The lever-pulling process allows individuals to tailor the pressure applied during extraction, potentially influencing the final taste of the espresso. This hands-on approach appeals to coffee enthusiasts who enjoy a more involved and customizable brewing experience.

However, piston machines also have some drawbacks. Achieving consistency in pressure and flavor can be challenging, as it heavily depends on the user’s skill and precision in operating the lever. Additionally, the lack of an automated pump may make it more difficult for users to consistently produce the desired crema, the golden layer on top of espresso shots that adds to the overall sensory experience.

Pump Espresso machines

On the other hand, pump espresso machines employ an automated pump mechanism to generate and maintain the pressure required for brewing. These machines are generally user-friendly and can ensure a more consistent and reliable extraction process. The pump’s automated nature allows greater pressure control precision, producing a richer crema.

One advantage of pump espresso machines is their convenience. The computerized pump system eliminates manual pressure control, making it suitable for users who prefer a straightforward brewing process. Additionally, these machines often come with features like programmable settings and various brewing options, catering to a broader range of preferences.

However, a potential drawback of pump machines is the reliance on electronic components, which can introduce the risk of malfunctions or breakdowns over time. While designed for durability, users should regularly maintain many modern pump machines to ensure consistent performance.

It means that pump espresso machines generate higher pressure than piston espresso machines, compelling the extraction of coffee with a more robust flavor and a frothy crema.

How To Use a 20-BAR Espresso Machine For Coffee


FAQs on 15-bar vs 20-bar Espresso Machines

Is a 20-bar espresso machine always better than a 15-bar machine?

Not necessarily. While 20-bar machines offer higher pressure, the quality of espresso depends on various factors, including machine build, maintenance, and personal preferences.

Are 20-bar machines more expensive than 15-bar machines?

Generally, yes. Consumers often consider higher-pressure machines premium, resulting in a higher price tag. However, balancing your budget with your desired espresso quality is essential.

Can a 15-bar machine produce a satisfying espresso?

Absolutely. Many coffee enthusiasts find that a well-maintained 15-bar machine can deliver a flavorful and satisfying espresso experience.

How does the bar pressure affect the taste of espresso?

Bar pressure influences the extraction process. Higher pressure can lead to a fuller-bodied and more intense flavor, while lower pressure results in a milder taste. However, the quality of the grind and coffee beans also plays a crucial role.

Can I use any coffee beans with both 15-bar and 20-bar machines?

Yes, you can use any coffee beans with these machines—however, the grind size matters. Consult your machine’s manual for recommended grind sizes, which can affect the extraction process.

Are there any specific maintenance requirements for 20-bar machines compared to 15-bar machines?

Both machines require regular maintenance, including descaling and cleaning. However, higher-pressure machines need more meticulous care to ensure consistent performance.

What’s the impact of water temperature on espresso quality?

Water temperature is critical. Ideally, it should be between 195°F and 205°F (90°C to 96°C). Inconsistent temperature can lead to uneven extraction, affecting the taste and aroma of your espresso.

Can I make other drinks besides espresso with these machines?

Yes, many espresso machines, whether 15 or 20-bar, come with features for making various coffee drinks like lattes and cappuccinos. Check the machine specifications for versatility.

Do 20-bar machines consume more energy than 15-bar machines?

Generally, higher-pressure machines might consume slightly more energy. However, the energy efficiency depends on the specific model and its features. Refer to the product specifications for accurate information.

Are there notable differences in the crema produced by 15-bar and 20-bar machines?

The crema, the golden layer on top of espresso, is influenced by various factors. While higher pressure can contribute to a richer crema, factors like coffee freshness and grind consistency are equally crucial.

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