As you go through the Website, you will notice many different phrases and words. When you are choosing a machine, it is important to understand what these phrases and words mean and why they may or may not be important to your buying decision.
Today, we are going to address the term “rapid steam,” as it applies to super-automatic and semi-automatic machines. Not included, in this blog, are prosumer and commercial machines, because they are designed to brew and steam at the same time. While rapid-steam machines can steam and then brew, they are not capable of doing both simultaneously.
The term “rapid steam” lets you know that you can quickly and easily alternate between brewing and steaming. Some rapid-steam machines have one boiler and others have two; but the number of boilers won’t matter very much, as long as the machine has rapid steam. A single-boiler machine, without rapid steam, will take about 30 seconds to heat from brew to steam temperature, and about 30 seconds to go through the boiler cool-down process before you can brew again. With a rapid-steam machine, it will take about 10 to 15 seconds to build up full to steam pressure and you can immediately brew again, without having to go through the cool-down process required of the single-boiler machines. Also, single-boiler machines will have more initial steam pressure and will heat the milk quicker than rapid steam machines. But, rapid steam machines will keep on steaming, for as long as you want, and alleviate the boiler cool-down process.
Not everybody needs rapid steam and just because a machine has rapid steam does not necessarily mean that it brews a better espresso. You should choose your machine based on how it will be used and the knowledge level of the people using it. If there are a few people using the machine, then rapid steam is very important because it is easy to learn and operate. If the machine is going to be used for one cappuccino in the AM and one in the PM, then you may not need the rapid steam, but may still want it.
Most brand-name super automatics have rapid steam, but the technology has not been implemented in many of the semi automatics. The key semi automatic that has rapid steam is the Gaggia Baby Twin, which has the two-boiler version.
I have resisted my tendency to drift towards too many technical details, but if you have any question or comments please feel free to post a reply; I will respond ASAP.