The Best Espresso Machines (Review) in 2020
All coffee lovers know that there’s more than one way to make a good cup of coffee. There is French press, Moka pot, drip coffee, cold brew and many other coffee makers that can turn those innocent looking beans into a mean cup of java. But real coffee connoisseurs, those who’ve tasted the strong flavor and rich aroma of a freshly made espresso, know that there is nothing quite like the coffee made with a high-end machine. But paying for an espresso at a coffee shop every day? Way too expensive.
By investing in a quality espresso coffee machine, you’ll be able to whip up your very own delicious espresso every single morning – for years to come. To help you find the best espresso machine for your needs as well as your budget, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of quality coffee makers.
Dose control grinding technology
Precision espresso extraction system with digital temperature control
Micro foam texturing system
Intuitive and simple grind size control
Fully automatic, one-touch operation
Programmable milk texturing
Intuitive proportional integral derivative system
Dual Italian pumps and stainless steel boilers
Premium-quality polished aluminum construction
Designed for stovetop use
Patented Bialetti safety valve
Easy to clean design
The Best Espresso Machine
If you want a café-quality espresso in the comfort of your own home, look no further than the Breville Barista Express machine. Packed with commercial-grade features but easy to use, this powerful, durable and well-built espresso machine consistently produces fantastic espresso.
The Breville coffee maker has a stainless steel conical burr grinder that grinds on-demand the amount of coffee you need and delivers it directly into the portafilter. There’s also the grind size dial feature which allows you to control the grind size no matter the type of bean.
Of course, that’s not all – this semi-automatic coffee machine also features precise espresso extraction, micro-foam milk texturing for your lattes and cappuccinos and purge function which automatically adjusts water temperature. Together, these features allow you to quickly and effortlessly create exactly the type of coffee you like best. Considering the machine stores up to 2 liters of water has an attractive design and is easy to clean, it’s a great addition to kitchens of coffee-loving families, as well as small offices.
Semi-automatic, brushed stainless steel
15-bar Italian pump, 1600W thermo coil heating system
67 oz. removable water tank
Stainless steel conical burr grinder
Features include Dose-control grinding and grind size dial, Precise espresso extraction, Micro-foam milk texturing and other
Makes espresso, cappuccino, latte
Consistent results, easy to operate
The best coffee maker under $200, Mr. Coffee machine comes with all the bells and whistles you want from a good espresso machine but without the hefty price. This espresso, cappuccino and latte maker crafts delicious beverages and is super-easy to use and clean – perfect for everyday coffee making at home.
Featuring 15-bar pump system, the machine brews rich-tasting coffee easily and quickly. The control panel is intuitively designed and simple to use as all you have to do is one-touch select your beverage of choice.
Of course, before you can do that, you need to pick a single shot or double shot filter, choose your grounds and fill the milk reservoir. Speaking of which, the machine automatically froths milk into latte and cappuccino selections, making incredibly creamy, tasty coffees. As a bonus, this semi-automatic coffee machine comes with a recipe book that includes several impressive but easy to make recipes.
Semi-automatic, mix of plastic and steel
15-bar pump system, 1040W
54 oz. removable water tank
Makes espresso, cappuccino, latte
Automatic milk frother
Compact, well-built and with a beautiful design, the Gaggia Classic espresso coffee maker makes for a wonderful addition to any kitchen. This machine is simple to use and comes with all the features an espresso lover needs to make a fantastic cup of coffee every day.
The Gaggia Classic has a 3-way solenoid valve, which is a commercial feature for drip -operation. There is a Pannarello wand which siphons air directly into the milk, making it perfect for latte and cappuccino frothing.
There are three different filters available to suit each level of expertise, from barista to beginner. Each is made from chrome-plated brass, ensuring quality and great taste. This Italian espresso machine has a stainless steel housing which gives the machine a simple, clean and sleek look. Importantly, it’s easy to clean as all you need to do is wipe it down with a damp cloth from time to time.
Semi-automatic, stainless steel
72 oz removable water tank
3-Way solenoid valve, steam wand, 3 styles of portafilter baskets
Makes espresso, cappuccino, latte
Compact and convenient, the Breville’s Nespresso Pixie suits tight spaces and folks who like their coffee-making to be quick and easy. This little guy may be small, but it crafts absolutely delicious coffee every single time.
The Nespresso boasts a 19-bar high-pressure pump that ensures every cup of coffee you make is of excellent quality, rich and strong. This small espresso machine has an intuitive design and is easy to use as there are two automatic and programmable cup sizes – Espresso and Lungo. This means that you can actually reprogram these options to custom volumes if you like.
Because this is a capsule-using coffee machine, the Nespresso comes with a complimentary gift of 14 pods with unique aroma profiles. And if you’re worried about plastic waste, don’t be – these capsules are made of aluminum, not plastic, meaning you can recycle it. Another huge plus is the energy consumption – this coffee maker consumes less energy than larger machines, saving you money long-term.
Automatic espresso machine, metal, and plastic
19-bar extraction system, 1160 Watts
Automatic and programmable cup capacities, Espresso and Lungo
24 oz removable water tank, capsule container capacity is 10 capsules
Compact and energy-saving
Packed with helpful features but still affordable, this DeLonghi model is a great coffee machine for both beginners and those more experienced in espresso making. This is one of the most convenient budget machines as it’s super-easy to use, clean and store.
The Italians know their coffee and this espresso machine proves it. With a touch of a few buttons, you can brew delicious cappuccino, latte, and espresso and create rich, creamy froth with a simple manual frother. But what’s really interesting about this coffee maker is its patented dual filter holder which allows it to work with both ground coffee and espresso pods.
And if you’re entertaining? No problem, the coffee maker brews two cups at once and allows you to make several more cups afterward as long as there is enough water. Speaking of which, the water tank and the drip tray are easy to remove and clean, while the machine itself can be wiped down with a wet cloth.
Semi-automatic, stainless steel and plastic
15-bar pump, 1100 watt
44 oz removable water tank
Makes single or double espresso, cappuccino, latte
Works with both ground coffee and pods
Looking for a good budget-friendly espresso machine? Check out the Ninja coffee maker that allows you to brew various types of coffee in the comfort of your own home.
This model comes with several helpful features, including a built-in frother which can transform any type of coffee into creamy, silky goodness. The control panel allows you to choose between classic, rich and over ice brew, as well as specialty and café forte. Each type tastes different, which café forte being the strongest and richest.
There are six brew sizes (XL cup, travel size, multi-serve, and so on) which mean you can easily brew one, two or several cups of coffee at once. This convenient coffee maker comes with a recipe guide that contains 20 delicious recipe ideas.
Semi-automatic, mostly plastic coffee maker
5 coffee brew styles
6 serving sizes
If automatic and semi-automatic coffee machines are not your thing, give traditional stovetop coffee makers a try. The Bialetti Original Moka Express is a fantastic choice as it’s super-affordable, easy to clean and store and incredibly simple and straightforward to use. Not to mention, it makes rich, strong espresso in just a few minutes!
The Bialetti Original may be a cheap espresso maker, but it’s one of the most reliable, durable and functional products on the market. This Italian coffee maker produces a strong, authentic espresso with the wonderful aroma in about 7-8 minutes.
Made of aluminum, with a distinctive eight-sided shape, this pot turns ground coffee beans into quality espresso every single time. There are no buttons or frothers here – all you have to do is fill the lower chamber with water, insert the funnel and add ground coffee to it and screw the upper part to the base. That’s it really, all that’s left is to put the pot on the stove and wait till the water boils.
Stovetop espresso maker
Made of polished aluminum
Makes 4.4 ounces of Moka coffee
Easy to clean but should not be washed in a dishwasher
Lightweight, compact and simple to use, the Bella Personal Espresso Maker may not come with bells and whistles of high-end models but is a good option if you’re looking for a cheap espresso machine.
The Bella coffee maker is easy to use as it comes with a no-fuss glass decanter, frothing steam wand and a detachable permanent filter basket. By turning the knob, you can quickly and easily brew your own espresso.
And if you’re in the mood for a cappuccino or latte? No problem, as the machine comes with a built-in frother that quickly warms and froths milk. The decanter stores one to four cups of coffee so you can also entertain with this compact little machine. Although not the best quality coffee machine out there, the Bella espresso maker is perfect for espresso beginners.
Semi-automatic, plastic and aluminum
5-bar pressure, 750 Watts
Makes espresso, latte, cappuccino
Brews 1-4 cups
DeLonghi is well-known for designing and producing quality appliances and this budget-friendly coffee maker is no exception. Lightweight, compact and simple to use, the machine consistently makes barista-quality espressos and cappuccinos.
This espresso coffee maker has a stainless steel boiler and a 15-bar pump which assures the machine consistently makes great coffee. The control, which offers modifications for your personal taste, is really simple to use.
You can brew single or double espresso, latte or cappuccino as there is a built-in frother that mixes steam and milk to create rich froth. The coffee maker also has a feature called advanced cappuccino system which helps maintain optimal temperature so you can brew cup after cup almost instantly. Importantly, this coffee maker works with both espresso pods and ground coffee so you can use whatever is more convenient for you.
Semi-automatic, stainless steel
15-bar pump pressure, 1100 watts
35 oz removable water tank
Swivel jet frother
Makes espresso, cappuccino, latte
Works with both pods and ground coffee
Durable, portable and aesthetically pleasing, the Flair manual press makes fantastic espresso consistently, no matter if you’re having it at home or while traveling. Because there’s nothing to plug in, this espresso maker is ideal for camping and RV adventures, although you can certainly use it at home as well.
Making espresso with the Flair coffee maker takes more effort than brewing with a machine, however, once you get a hang of it, it will become a piece of cake. As the manufacturer states, it’s “an art form and not a push-button solution”. And indeed it is!
Made of stainless steel and aluminum, this is a highly durable espresso maker that will last for years, if not decades. This is because there are only three major parts here – the base, the post, and the brewing head. As a bonus, the Flair comes with a custom fitted travel case which ensures safe transport.
Manual espresso press, stainless steel, and aluminum
Nothing to plug in, no batteries
Makes high-quality, rich espresso consistently
Ideal for camping and traveling
Beautifully designed with sturdy, durable parts, La Pavoni’s Europiccola is a fantastic choice if you’re looking for the best home coffee machine that you can use for decades and even pass on to future generations. Yes, this is one of the most expensive espresso machines on the list but there are several good reasons for that. Let’s check out each one down below.
La Pavoni has been making lever espresso machines for more than a century so it’s no wonder this piece is built like a tank – incredibly sturdy, all-steel construction under heavy chrome plating that is guaranteed to last a very, very long time.
The machine is steam pressure and piston operated and has internal thermostats that continuously monitor pressure. There is an automatic milk foamer, which allows you to make thick, rich foam for cappuccinos and lattes. As for espresso itself, the lever-based operation allows you to control the final result and lets you brew café-quality, personalized espresso.
Lever style espresso machine, stainless steel
20 oz removable water tank
Automatic milk frother
Makes espresso, cappuccino, latte
Highly durable, consistently makes quality espresso
Compact but powerful, this Nespresso machine by Delonghi is perfect if you want quick and easy daily espresso or coffee with various flavors. Considering it’s affordable and easy to use the coffee maker, it’s a great option if you’re just starting your coffee journey.
This machine has a powerful, 19-bar pressure pump which enables it to make quality coffee every time. The system heats up to optimal temperature in just 25 seconds, so making your cup of java in the morning will be quick and easy. As a bonus, the system automatically turns off after nine minutes, ensuring the machine doesn’t consume too much energy.
Using this Nespresso is simple – there are five cup sizes you can choose from, including espresso, double espresso, Gran Lungo, coffee, and Alto coffee. The machine comes with 12 Nespresso capsules, which are made from recyclable aluminum.
Automatic Nespresso machine, metal and plastic
19-bar extraction system
5 cup sizes
40 oz removable water tank, capsule container capacity is 10 capsules
Centrifusion extraction technology and blend-specific brewing
Compact and energy-saving
Convenient and versatile, this budget espresso maker is a good choice for not-too-demanding coffee drinkers. The Cuisinart may not be the highest quality machine out there, but it certainly packs a punch when it comes to brewing quality espresso.
This model has 15 bars of pressure, ensuring great coffee is consistently brewed every single time. You can brew one or two cups at once, which is always a welcome feature if you have a guest over. Of course, there is also a steam nozzle included which means the machine can also make great cappuccinos and lattes for those who prefer less strong coffee. The biggest plus of the Cuisinart coffee maker though is its ability to use both ground coffee or espresso pods.
Semi-automatic espresso maker, steel and plastic
5-bar pressure pump, 53 oz. removable water tank
Brews 1 or 2 cups; espresso, latte, cappuccino
Works with both ground coffee and pods
Looking for a commercial espresso machine that you can use in the comfort of your own home? Look no further than the Rancilio Silvia. With its iron frame and stainless steel sides, this machine is built to craft exceptional espresso consistently throughout the years.
The Rancilio Silvia has a 15-bar heavy duty pump, offering professional-like performance when it comes to quality coffee brewing. The boiler is wrapped in a foam thermal insulator, which allows a significant reduction of energy consumption.
This semi-automatic machine features a patented ergonomic 58mm portafilter which ensures superb extraction. The result is a rich, strong espresso which can easily be turned into a nice cappuccino or latte as the coffee maker has a steam wand. If you like to use pod and capsules from time to time, you’ll be pleased to know that there is a pod and capsule adaptor kit available separately.
Semi-automatic, stainless steel and iron frame
15-bar pressure pump, 2 oz boiler
Built-in steam wand
Patented ergonomic porta filter
Makes 1-2 cups, espresso, cappuccino, latte
If you’re looking for the absolute best espresso machine for home use and you don’t mind paying a little extra to get it, the Breville Oracle espresso machine is for you. This espresso maker really has it all, including a double-boiler and a grinder which allow you to consistently make excellent quality espresso, cappuccino, and latte.
The Breville Oracle automatically grinds, doses and tamps coffee for barista-quality espresso. To create that golden honey cream in your coffee, the machine uses low pressure, pre-infusion and 9-bar extraction pressure which allow you to craft out-of-this-world delicious, rich espresso. There is also an automatic steam wand which turns milk into a silky smooth foam. Thanks to this fantastic micro-foam milk texturing feature, this is probably the best latte machine on our list.
This espresso machine with grinder also boasts one-touch Americano feature as well as a flexible shot control option that allows you to choose between one, two or however many shots every time you brew coffee.
Semi-automatic, brushed stainless steel
9-bar pressure pump, 84-ounce removable water tank
Dual stainless steel boiler and dual Italian pumps with PID
Automatically grinds, doses and tamps
Automatic steam wand with micro-foam texturing
Flexible shot control and one-touch Americano
Durable, consistently makes high-quality espresso
Best Espresso Machines Buying Guide & FAQ
Finding the best home espresso machine is anything but easy. With so many brands and different models available, search for the right one can be daunting. Luckily, you ended up here, in a place where looking for the best coffee makers is made super-easy.
Besides our Top 15 list, we also prepared a comprehensive buying guide in which we cover absolutely everything you need to know about espresso machines and how to select a quality one. There is also an FAQ section in which we answer some of the most commonly asked questions about espresso and espresso machines, so make sure you check that out as well. Remember, the more you know about coffee machines, the easier it will be to select the right one for your needs.
What to Consider When Buying an Espresso Machine
To purchase the best espresso machine, consider the following features and how much (if at all) they matter to you.
- Build Materials
Let’s start with the most important thing – the materials used in the construction of the machine. Metal such as steel, brushed stainless steel, etc., as well as aluminum, is a better option than plastic. For one, metal espresso machines are much more durable than plastic ones, and two, they’re usually easier to clean too. However, a metal body is not a must-have for an espresso machine, especially if you're on a tight budget. What’s truly important is that the boiler is made of steel or brass (more expensive). The machine with a plastic body and a steel boiler should still be quite affordable.
The next thing to consider is how user-friendly the machine is. Generally speaking, unless you’re a barista, it’s best to look for machines with simple, easy to use controls. This is especially important if you’re a beginner when it comes to espresso-making and you don’t have the time or desire to learn new brewing tricks. In this case, semi-automatic and fully automatic espresso machines are your best bet, although manual tools are not too hard to learn to use either.
If you just want a nice espresso every morning before work, a simple bare-bones espresso maker will do the trick. If you enjoy your lattes, cappuccinos and other caffeinated beverages on the regular, it’s important to look for machines that offer the extra features. A frothing or steam wand is a must-have in this case and we wholeheartedly recommend you don’t skimp on this important feature. If other features, such as grinding technology or making several cups at a time are also important to you, make sure the machine you’re thinking of buying offers them.
Finally, let’s talk about your budget. If you can’t spend more than a couple of hundred, the choice is not that hard – we’ve covered quite a few affordable options in the first chapter of this article and they’re all perfectly good, quality budget coffee makers. They’re ideal for folks who just want a quick and easy cup of a coffee/shot of espresso in the morning. If your budget is much larger than this, you will have more options but also a harder time to pick the right espresso machine. Luckily, you can find some of the best products right here, but if you’d like a few more pointers, here goes. Look for machines that are made of sturdy, quality materials and that have a good bar pump system, a milk frother and quite a few extra features, including a grinder.
Different Types of Espresso Machines
There are three main types of home espresso machines.
These coffee makers usually don’t have any electronic components and are simple, albeit physically harder to use. If you don’t mind putting some work into your espresso, definitely give manual machines a try. They allow you to control pretty much every part of espresso-making which results in a cup of coffee that is just to your taste. Manual machines have levers and are usually very aesthetically pleasing.
- Fully Automatic
Equipped with an electronic pump, fully automatic espresso machines do all the work for you. They automate the amount and delivery of water and often coffee grounds or pods too, making them the easiest to use. However, they’re not particularly versatile as they don’t offer that much control. For this reason, they’re best suited for folks who like to keep things quick and simple.
The most common of the bunch, semi-automatic espresso machines also use electronic pumps, making them much easier to use than manual ones. They’re in between fully automatic and manual machines in that they give you a mix of control and ease of use, so they’re perfect for both espresso connoisseurs and beginners.
Cleaning and Caring for Your Espresso Machine
To keep your espresso machine safe and sound for years, maybe even decades, it’s important to take care of it properly and clean it regularly. To keep things nice and simple, clean your espresso machine:
Immediately after using it: sanitize the milk wand with a damp towel and release some steam to expel trapped milk in the nozzle hole.
- Daily: unscrew the basket and filter and clean them both with hot water and a scrubby pad. Rinse thoroughly and dry with a clean towel. Now clean the gasket (seal) with a nylon brush, dislodging the material trapped there. Rinse with water. Finally, remove the sieve (screen) so you can clean it with a wet cloth or brush. Use hot water and remember to dry it with a clean towel.
- Weekly: wipe the entire machine carefully and thoroughly with a damp, hot towel. You can also use a sanitizer of your choice, as long as it doesn’t compromise the material of the coffee maker. Go into nooks and crannies and once done, dry with a clean towel.
- Monthly: once a month, deep-clean your machine with a cleaning solution. Make sure you read the instructions as every machine is different – use the recommended amount of detergent, mix it with water and use it to clean your machine by disassembling all the parts. Portafilter, basket, screen and steam wand should all be deep-cleaned.
- Every 2-4 months: if you have hard water, it’s crucial to descale your cappuccino machine regularly. For this, you’ll need a commercial descaling solution. Just fill the machine’s tank with water and the descaler and run the mixture through the steam wand and group head (use a container to catch it). Then, leave the descaler for about 30 minutes to do its job. Finally, empty the tank and fill it with clean water and rinse it the way you did with the descaler. Do the last step two to three times.
What Drinks Can You Make With Your New Espresso Machine?
Besides true espresso, a quality espresso machine will also be able to make:
- Cappuccino: equal part of espresso, frothed milk, and steamed milk.
- Latte: a shot of espresso with steamed milk (more than cappuccino) and a thin layer of foam.
- Macchiato: a shot of espresso with a little bit of steamed milk on top.
- Americano: a shot of espresso with about 7 oz of hot water.
- Espresso con Pana: regular espresso with whipped cream on top.
- Mocha: either cappuccino or latte with chocolate syrup.
- Frappe: cold espresso with milk and ice.
Best Espresso Machine Brands
A quick Google search reveals hundreds of different espresso machines. Now, generally speaking, having lots of choices is a good thing as pretty much everyone can find the right product for their budget and needs. However, when you’re looking for the best espresso machine for your home and you’re not an expert, a huge number of different products can be confusing. To help you narrow down your search, we’ve outlined four of the most popular and best quality brands on the market.
Breville: the Australian company has been around since 1957 and is one of the most popular manufacturers of kitchen appliances. Their espresso machines are undoubtedly some of the most durable machines on the market that consistently brew coffee of excellent quality.
DeLonghi: this Italian company has been a reliable kitchen equipment manufacturer since 1902. Their coffee makers are among the most popular machines throughout the world and an overwhelming number of espresso machine reviews tell us they’re also of excellent quality.
Gaggia: another Italian company that makes fantastic coffee machines, Gaggia has been around since 1947. The brand’s espresso machines have a wide range of price tags so it’s not difficult to find the product that fits your budget.
Rancilio: founded in 1927 in Italy, Rancilio specializes in manufacturing espresso machines. Although their products are usually on the higher end price wise, they’re definitely of superior quality, design, and performance.
Things You Need to Make the Perfect Espresso
Making the perfect espresso requires using a quality espresso machine and a good recipe, as well as a little bit of practice. But because there are so many different espresso makers, it’s important not to follow the rules blindly but adjust the recipe you like to your machine. Some espresso makers come with absolutely everything you need to make excellent coffee while others don’t. If your machine doesn’t have the following accessories, simply buy them separately: a grinder (burr grinders are the best), milk frother and a tamper. And of course, don’t forget the coffee!
Most people likea 30ml double espresso, for which you’ll need 14-18g of dry coffee, depending on how strong you like your espresso. All high-end machines will automatically dose (which you can pre-set) your coffee and grind it. Because most grinders will dose the coffee grounds to the poprtafilter into a mountain shape, you’ll want to distribute the grounds evenly. Next, time to tamp your coffee evenly and consistently. Finally, it’s time to insert the portafilter and start brewing – be sure to brew immediately so that the heat from the group head doesn’t burn your grounds. The brewing time can be tricky in the beginning as over-extraction (taking too long) and under-extraction (too quick) is never good. Once brewed, you can drink straight-up espresso or use the milk frother to create a perfect cappuccino or latte!
Best Espresso Machines FAQ:
Q: Can I make espresso without a machine?
A: If you love your espresso but are on a tight budget, you’ll be pleased to know you can make a decent espresso with a Moka pot (stovetop coffee maker), French press or an Aeropress. However, if you really want that unique and traditional espresso taste (and kick!), we suggest you purchase an affordable manual espresso machine.
Q: What does tamping espresso mean?
A: Espresso tamping is a delicate task of compacting coffee grounds evenly. When tamping, it’s important to do it consistently and just right, meaning not too hard but not too weak either. If you use too much pressure, the flow of water through the coffee grounds will be restricted, resulting in bitter coffee. If you don’t use enough pressure, the water will run straight through the coffee grounds, resulting in weak, flavorless coffee. Luckily, great tamping comes with practice so don’t be disappointed if you're not successful from the start - nobody is!
Q: Do I need to descale my espresso machine?
A: Descaling your espresso machine is crucial if you want to keep it healthy for a long time. Calcium carbonate deposits found in kettles, washing machines, and yes, your espresso machine, can wreak havoc even on the most expensive coffee makers so make sure you descale it from time to time. How often you need to descale your espresso maker depends on how hard the water is in your area. Generally speaking, an espresso machine should be descaled every couple of months.
Q: What coffee should I use for my espresso machine?
A: While you can use any coffee roast to make espresso when you find the right kind (which will be different for everyone), you’ll never look back. Saying that the most common coffee beans used to make espressos are Robusta and Arabica. The former one has a strong flavor, high bitterness and low acidity with high caffeine content. The latter one has a milder, sweeter flavor and is usually more expensive.
Our Top Pick
Most excellent-quality espresso machines come with a hefty price, but not Breville BES870XL Barista Express espresso machine. This semi-automatic espresso maker boasts most of the features found on high-end models but is still budget-friendly. Made of stainless steel and equipped with a 15-bar Italian pump and burr grinder, the Breville Barista Express has it all and then some. The machine makes perfect, café-quality espresso, cappuccino, latte, and many other caffeinated drinks quickly, effortlessly and consistently. Considering it's less than $500, it’s a steal!
- How To Re-create Your Favorite Café Experiences From Traveling While At Home - HuffPost
- How to make the perfect espresso - The Guardian