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Inside the Astra espresso machine

Inside the Astra espresso machine

Astra espresso machines are a top-of-the-line brand for business companies and individual consumers who take their espresso very seriously. As American-made machines, the Astras are designed for 110 volts, which puts them at an advantage over many European machines.

There are two features that really set the Astra espresso machines apart: the coveted Sirai pressure switch and the Procon rotary pump, which is much quieter than the vibration pumps that are fitted to most espresso machines. Plus, there’s heavy-duty wiring, quick on/off hot water and steam valves, and the machines work with both ground coffee and espresso pods. Another nice thing about getting an Astra espresso machine is that the company is willing to customize it for you if that’s what you want. For example, you have an automatic milk frother or pump pressure gauge installed.

You can order the standard panel colors of your choice, or the company will mix any color on request; If you want to paint your kitchen chartreuse and purple, your espresso machine can be created to match. The Astra’s boxy shape gets mixed reviews. The few exceptions to the basic aluminum case can be found in their Classic line, which features options like brass, hammered copper, and gold-plating, not to mention a decorative eagle that appears to soar over the top of the crowning dome.

The Gourmet series machines are compact, yet contain a 4.2 liter boiler, resulting in a virtually unlimited supply of dry steam. They can produce up to 180 shots of espresso per hour. Customers report that the frother needs less than 20 seconds to steam milk for a large latte. The excellent broth tip can easily steam small amounts of milk with control. The Astras can be connected to existing pipes or to a water reservoir, such as a five-gallon jug. The shower screen is easy to remove and clean, which is not always possible on many other espresso machines without removing the group head gasket. Astra Gourmet machines are popular with small businesses and also with home buyers who are serious about their espresso.

The Astra Pro is highly rated by individual consumers. It produces excellent, reliable espresso and a thick, dark crema. A note of caution: it takes a while to heat up, more than twenty minutes. The machine can get very hot if used for a while, making it a poor choice for homes with pets and small children. The self-tamping system takes a while to master. After mastering this machine, it’s well worth the effort. The Astra Pro has a single pressure gauge that shows both boiler pressure and pump pressure. It fits in an 18″ space, unlike many of its competitors.

Of the many reviews of these machines available on the web, it seems impossible to find one complaint about the Astra’s durability. The manufacturer offers a two-year limited warranty on parts and a one-year limited warranty on labor. The company is generally very helpful over the phone, even to buyers who bought their machine second hand. If you decide to buy an Astra, you’ll get the best value by buying it directly from the company or from a second-hand source like eBay.

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