Being able to make cafe-quality espresso is perhaps the ultimate home coffee experience. That experience, though, comes at a price, literally, and a very large one at that; espresso machines are expensive. It’s hardly an investment one makes on a whim and often comes with a *gulp* here we go. But there’s a new Kickstarter looking to ease that barrier of entry a bit. Relying on gas- or pump-power for pressure, the Xbar offers a no-frills approach to home espresso.
While there is a history of crowdfunded home espresso machines not coming to fruition, this one looks to be a little different. With no need for electricity, the cylindrical-shaped Xbar offers a “full-manual, professional-grade, 9 bar espresso maker.” But how it manages to create those nine bars of pressure is really where this espresso machine makes interesting headway. Users have the option of utilizing a gas cartridge, which is able to produce about eight shots per cartridge, or attaching an air pump to the unit’s Schrader valve.
With the Xbar fully pressurized, users can then control the amount of pressure throughout the shot using the paddle and pressure release valve. In the demo video, a shot is pulled at three bars for an initial pre-infusion before ramping up to a full nine bars for the remainder of the shot. Folks looking to get a little experimental can manually control the pressure curve throughout the shot as well.
With still over 40 days left in the Kickstarter campaign, the Xbar has already raised over five times its $5,000 goal. With an expected MSRP of around $300—significantly cheaper than just about any home semi-automatic espresso machine—backers can get their hands on an Xbar of their own for as low as $189. Backer rewards are slated to begin shipping out later this year in September.
The Xbar is by no means the first manual-powered machine on the market promising cafe-quality espresso—the Flair and Aram espresso makers, for instance, are just two of the many options—but it is one of the first to utilize an industry-standard 58mm portafilter at the price point. So if you’re looking to dip you toes into the home espresso world but aren’t quite ready to part ways with the full price tag, the Xbar may be a good place to start. For more information or to back the campaign, visit the Xbar Kickstarter page.