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Best espresso machines 2021

Best espresso machines
(Image credit: Breville)

The best espresso machines deliver one of life's pleasures by the cupful. A good espresso machine can give you luxury on a budget, or serve as a showpiece for your kitchen. Beyond saving you a trip to the coffee shop, the best espresso machines should be reliable, easy to use and simple to maintain, and also look good on your countertop.

While sometimes a small, intense cup of coffee is just what you need to pick you up, other times you want to kick back with a foamy cappuccino or latte.  That’s why many of our best espresso machines feature a steaming wand or other mechanism for heating and frothing milk. Which machine is best for you will depend largely on whether you like to be hands-on, measuring and tamping coffee you’ve ground yourself and frothing milk or prefer to simply push a button.

From the picks below, you should be able to find the perfect machine for you regardless of the amount of involvement you want to have. These picks should also fit any countertop or budget, with a variety of sizes and price options.

To come up with our list of best espresso machines, we looked at the top picks from Wirecutter, Reviewed, Good Housekeeping and other sites, as well as the top-selling models at Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, and other retailers. From there, we narrowed the list down to our favorite models based on features, price, design and other factors.

What are the best espresso machines?

Based on our research, the best espresso machine overall is the Breville Bambino Plus, which makes consistently good coffee, and at around $500, isn't too high a price for a doppio in the morning.

If you’re looking to spend less, the DeLonghi Stilosa Espresso Machine EC260BK offers the best price you'll find, though you'll have to do the grinding and frothing yourself.

The compact DeLonghi Dedica is another machine that allows you to do your own grinding, dosing, tamping, and timing without costing an arm and a leg. Also, in this category is the Rancilio Silvia which stands out for its industrial look and commercial-quality parts. Or you could opt for the Gaggia Carezza Deluxe which will make a statement in your kitchen with its retro Italian design.

If you want to step up to a fully automatic machine, our top choice is the pricey Breville Oracle Touch which does it all from grinding to brewing. The Saeco PicoBaristo Super-Automatic Espresso Machine HD8927/47 is so easy it's like magic, but doesn't come cheap.

If you don’t want to think about anything but what kind of beans you buy, you might like the Espressione Concierge which is totally preprogrammed and gives you no options for customization. The higher-priced Philips 3200 Series LatteGo that also does the frothing for you but it offers a lot more in terms of espresso quality and special features.

Lastly, for the ultimate in convenience, there’s the Nespresso CitiZ & Milk, which uses capsules rather than ground coffee.

Best espresso machines: Breville Bambino Plus

(Image credit: Breville)

1. Breville Bambino Plus

The best espresso machine overall

Dimensions: 12.6 x 11.8 x 7.7 inches | Materials: Stainless steel | Capacity: 64 fluid ounces | Features: 15 bar pump; Removable water reservoir; Steam wand; adjustable milk temperature and texture | Settings: 1 and 2 cups and steam | Grinder: No | Accessories: Tamper, Trimming tool, milk pitcher, and cleaning tools | Finishes: Brushed stainless steel, black, white, smoked hickory, blue, champagne | Warranty: 2 years, limited

Compact size
Good-looking design
Easy to use
Consistently good espresso
No hot water spout
No grinder
Filter basket has a tendency to stick

As the name implies, the Breville Bambino Plus is small, but despite its size, it's the best espresso machine for the price. It's produces a great cup of espresso every time with minimal effort on the part of the home barista. Equipped with a 1,560-watt thermacoil, the Bambino is ready to brew in 3 seconds after the press of a button. It pours single or double shots and has a large 2-liter reservoir that can be filled at the sink. If you want you can adjust the espresso settings for a shorter or longer shot. Plus, it has a steam wand that excels at whipping up milk for cappuccinos. You can customize the temperature and texture of the froth.

Some reviewers note that the portafilter that holds the filter with ground coffee can stick after you pull a shot, an issue we've also experienced on occasion. Users who love to be hands-on may balk at trading customization of each cup for consistency, but most people will find the compromise worth the guarantee that you’ll get the same rich, nuanced drink every time.  

DeLonghi Stilosa Espresso Machine EC260BK

(Image credit: DeLonghi)

2. DeLonghi Stilosa Espresso Machine EC260BK

A great espresso machine at an unbeatable price

Dimensions: 8.07 x 1 3.5 x 11.22 inches | Materials: Plastic and Stainless steel | Capacity: 33.8 fluid ounces | Features: 15 bar pump; Removable water reservoir; Steam wand | Settings: 1 and 2 cups and steam | Grinder: No | Accessories: Measuring spoon, Tamper | Finishes: Black with stainless steel | Warranty: 1 year

Inexpensive
Compact size
Solidly built
Manual operation
No grinder

You can’t get a better espresso machine at this price point than the DeLonghi Stilosa. It’s a completely manual machine, which means you have to do the grinding, measuring, and tamping, as well as the frothing yourself. However you can adjust the cup size according to how intense you like your espresso, brew into a travel mug, and make either 1 or 2 cups at once. And the boiler is constructed of stainless steel, making this a highly durable machine. 

The water tank holds about a quart of water or enough for many cups of espresso and can be removed from the machine to be filled at the sink.  Thanks to its compact size this machine won’t hog too much of your precious countertop space. All in all, this is a great model if you want a really good cup of coffee and don’t care too much about lots of bells and whistles.

Best espresso machines: Breville Oracle Touch

(Image credit: Breville)

3. Breville Oracle Touch

This ultra-premium machine does it all

Dimensions: 17.6 x 14.7 x 14.5 inches | Materials: Brushed stainless steel | Capacity: 84 fluid ounces | Features: 15 bar pump; Removable water reservoir; Hot water spout; Steam wand; Adjustable milk temperature and texture | Settings: 1 and 2 cups and steam | Grinder: Yes | Accessories: Tamper, Trimming tool, milk pitcher, cleaning tools and tool storage tray | Finishes: Brushed stainless steel, black | Warranty: 2 years, limited

Built-in hopper and burr grinder
Touch-screen controls
Barista-brewed flavor
Very expensive
Large

You'll pay a premium for the all-in-one convenience of Breville's flagship Oracle Touch, but you'll get a supremely easy to use machine equipped with a double boiler so you can pull a shot and steam milk simultaneously. Fill up the half-pound hopper with beans, lock in the  portafilter, and the machine takes care of the rest, precisely grinding and tamping your preferred roasted beans, then extracting a judicious amount of flavor with the consistency of a professional. The steam wand even self-cleans itself between sessions.

A lot of the magic of the Oracle Touch is hidden behind its full-color touch interface with pictures of coffee drinks to choose from (a feature sure to impress guests); dose amount, water temp and pressure, and steam pressure are all internally optimized. Set the milk pitcher under the nozzle and it froths without any need for you to hold the pitcher and move it around. There are still plenty of variables for you to dial in, including grind fineness, espresso and milk temperature and milk texture and you get the option of saving up to eight settings into memory.

Best espresso machines: Rancilio Silvia

(Image credit: Rancilio)

4. Rancilio Silvia

A consumer espresso machine with commercial-grade parts.

Dimensions: 13.4 x 11.4 x 9.2 inches | Materials: Stainless steel | Capacity: 67 fluid ounces | Features: 15-bar pump; Steam wand | Settings: Coffee, steam, and hot water | Grinder: No | Accessories: Scoop and tamper | Finishes: Stainless steel, black | Warranty: 1 year, limited

Compact
Commercial quality components
Consistent results
No grinder
Water tank isn't removable
3.5-minute warmup

Its no-nonsense style and stainless-steel panel give the Rancilio Silvia the look of a commercial machine in miniature. And indeed, this model is capable of the kind of superb extraction you expect from a professional barista. It’s a great choice for anyone who likes a hands-on approach to the espresso-making process as you have to measure out your own coffee, tamp it down in the filter, and then after pressing the coffee button, stop brewing when your desired amount is dispensed into your cup. The Silvia comes equipped with a  steam wand that’s considered one of the best in its class, as it offers a complete range of motion and you can adjust steaming pressure in granular increments.

The model has gone through various improvements over the years. On the current one,   there’s an improved, more ergonomic portafilter handle similar to the ones on Rancilio's higher-priced commercial machines. What you don’t get are some of the conveniences found on more consumer-oriented machines like a reservoir that you can fill at the sink and a water spout for easily making tea or Americanos. If you want hot water you need to use the steam wand.

Saeco PicoBaristo Super-Automatic Espresso Machine HD8927/47

(Image credit: Saeco)

5. Saeco PicoBaristo Super-Automatic Espresso Machine HD8927/47

A super automatic that’s like a home coffee bar

Dimensions: 8.5 x 17 x 13 inches | Materials: Plastic and Stainless steel | Capacity: 60.8 fluid ounces | Features: 15 bar pump; LED screen, Removable water reservoir, Milk frother | Settings: 1 and 2 cups, Espresso, Espresso lungo, Rstretto, Caffè crema, Espresso double, Cappuccino, Baby cappuccino, Flat white, Latte macchiato, Milk froth, Hot water | Grinder: Yes | Accessories: Measuring scoop, Cleaning brush, Water filter | Finishes: Black with stainless steel | Warranty: 1 year

LED Screen
Makes lots of different drinks
One touch operation
Filtration system
Expensive
Large

Getting a coffee beverage  from the Saeco PicoBaristo Super-Automatic Espresso Machine just might require less effort than giving an order to a barista. All you have to do is press one button on the LED screen for anything from an espresso to a flat white to a latte macchiato and the machine automatically does everything from grinding the beans to frothing the milk. You even have the option of customizing the strength of your espresso and the temperature and volume of your milk. 

The PicoBaristo heats up fast and after brewing, it practically cleans itself. Push a button and it rinses out the milk carafe. A special filtration system minimizes scale build up inside the machine, so you have less maintenance to perform. As you would expect, all this automation does not come cheap. And you should be prepared to give it a big chunk of space in your kitchen.

Best espresso machines: DeLonghi Dedica EC680M

(Image credit: Delonghi)

6. DeLonghi Dedica EC680M

The best compact espresso maker

Dimensions: 13 x 12 x 5.9 inches | Materials: Stainless steel | Capacity: 1 liter | Features: 15 bar pump; Removable water reservoir | Settings: 1 and 2 cups and steam | Grinder: No | Accessories: None | Finishes: Stainless steel, black, red | Warranty: 1 year, limited

Slim, 6-inch design
Excellent at frothing milk 
Can be used with ESE pods
No grinder
Tips over easily

A space-saving, 6-inch wide design makes the DeLonghi Dedica EC680M the best espresso machine for anyone with limited countertop space. Despite its diminutive size, this machine houses a powerful 15-bar-pressure pump and roars up to brewing temps in just 40 seconds. If you like a little milk with your coffee-based drinks you’ll only have to wait 12 seconds for the machine to reach optimal steam temperatures for frothing. CNet found it produces "exceptionally flavorful lattes and cappuccinos." Because this is a single-boiler model, you will have to wait between brewing and steaming.

With just three buttons — one for single-shots, another for doubles and a third for steam — the learning curve for the Dedica isn’t steep. The machine dispenses consistent single and double shots. If you don’t want to  bother grinding your own beans or even scooping pre-ground coffee, you have a third and more convenient option: popping in Easy Serving Espresso (E.S.E.) pods. 

Best espresso machines: Gaggia Carezza Deluxe

(Image credit: Gaggia)

7. Gaggia Carezza Deluxe

A machine that offers fun retro Italian design

Dimensions: 12.75 x 12.5 x 11 inches | Materials: Stainless steel and plastic | Capacity: 47 ounces | Features: 15-bar pump; Removable water reservoir; Steam wand; Boiler temperature gauge | Settings: 1 and 2 cups and steam | Grinder: No | Accessories: Doser and tamper | Finish: Stainless steel with black | Warranty: 1 year, limited

Stylish retro Italian design
Easy-to-use pannarello steam wand
Option to use ESE pods
Mostly plastic
No grinder
Noisy

With its retro-Italian design, the Gaggia Carezza will give you a taste of la dolce vita. This machine boasts a range of features normally found only on higher priced, semiautomatic machines: professional-grade filter baskets, automated moistening of the grounds for optimal extraction, a steam wand that gives microfoam frothing for barista-style latte art and automatic shut-off. However, it’s not fully automatic, so it’s up to you to stop the brewing process when the amount of espresso in the cup is to your liking. A single boiler heats water for both espresso and for steaming milk so you’ll have to pull a shot before you froth milk.

Reviewers at Good Housekeeping reported that Carezza produced "technically near-perfect espresso test after test," gracing every pull with rich color, full-body, and a thick layer of crema. The Good Housekeeping team did run into problems while steaming milk, but other reviewers were able to produce milky microbubbles for latte art after removing the wand attachment.

Best espresso machines: Espressione Concierge

(Image credit: Espressione USA)

8. Espressione Concierge

A sleek, compact machine with a built-in grinder

Dimensions: 15.7 x 12.6 x 7.1 inches | Materials: Brushed stainless steel | Capacity: 42 ounces | Features: 19-bar pump; Removable water reservoir; LED display; Steam wand | Settings: 2 for espresso, steam, and hot water | Grinder: Yes | Accessories: None | Finish: Stainless steel | Warranty: 1 year, limited

Sleek, 7-inch-wide design
Built-in bean hopper and burr grinder
LED touch-panel control
Grinder is quiet
Espresso flavor falls short

The Espressione Concierge is the epitome of convenience. It grinds, levels, tamps, and times the brew to give you absolutely consistent results every time. All of the settings are preprogrammed so that the only thing you can change  or have to think about is the type of roasted beans you pour into the hopper. You can bring the water tank to the sink for filling. Then, once you turn the machine on, you only have to wait  22 seconds until it’s ready to pull a shot. An integrated steam nozzle sits ready to froth milk to turn your espresso into a latte, cappuccino or macchiato. 

Epicurious describes the Concierge as "seemingly effortless" to use but notes that the resulting espresso falls a bit short of "the full flavor and body of a real espresso". With its narrow width and LED controls on the top rather than on the front this is a sleek machine that won’t add visual clutter to your kitchen. 

Best espresso machines: Philips 3200 Series LatteGo

(Image credit: Philips)

9. Philips 3200 Series LatteGo

A splurge-worthy latte maker

Dimensions: 9.7 x 14.6 x 17 inches | Materials: Plastic | Capacity: 61 ounces | Features: 15-bar pump, Removable water reservoir; Touch screen display; Frothing chamber | Settings: Espresso, coffee, latte, Americano, and hot water | Grinder: Yes | Accessories: Scoop and water filter | Finishes: Black, black with stainless steel | Warranty: 2 years, limited

Touch screen control
Built-in bean hopper and burr grinder
Delivers frothed milk into your cup
Container for used coffee grounds
Large
Installation is complicated

If you have a big budget, the Philips 3200 LatteGo just might be the best bang for your buck. Not only does it grind, tamp, and brew, it tops your espresso with foamy milk automatically. The innovative LatteGo system consists of a frothing chamber with a spout that hooks onto the front on the appliance.  Before it pulls a shot, the machine whips up milk in the container and dispenses it into your cup. After you’re finished you can pop the LatteGo parts in the dishwasher. While the machine does all the work, you have the option to customize the grind of your beans and the temperature, strength, and quantity of your brew. Best of all, testers rave about the quality of the coffee and the fact that even a cappuccino is delivered in under a minute.

We had trouble coming up with downsides, aside from the premium price. It doesn’t have a traditional steam wind which you might miss if you wanted to heat and froth a pitcher of chocolate milk. And keep in mind that this is a big machine and the initial setup is a bit complicated.

Best espresso machines: Nespresso CitiZ & Milk

(Image credit: Nespresso)

10. Nespresso CitiZ & Milk

The best espresso machine that uses capsules

Dimensions: 8.6 x 14.6 x 10.9 inches | Materials: Steel | Capacity: 33 ounces | Features: 19-bar pump, Removable water reservoir, Milk frother | Settings: Espresso and lungo | Grinder: No | Accessories: None | Finishes: Chrome, black, white, red | Warranty: 2 years, limited

Reservoir is easy to fill
Brews quickly
Wide variety of coffee available
Container for used capsules
Capsules are expensive

Using recyclable aluminum capsules, the Nespresso CitiZ & Milk churns out espresso with a picture-perfect topping of crema, the frothy head that's the hallmark of a true espresso. It works by reading the barcode on the recyclable capsules to determine the proper brewing time. With just two settings for an espresso and a less intense lungo, operating this machine couldn’t be more convenient: You press down a lever and select your beverage. If you like your drinks a little more or less concentrated, you can easily reprogram the settings. On the side of the CitiZ, there’s a removable milk frother that also operates with the push of a button and excels at creating foamy milk.

This machine is tall and sleek. While it doesn’t occupy too much space on your countertop, it does make a statement with its beautiful design. Other Nespresso machines that work exactly the same way are available, but offer different styling and features. If you like the convenience of this type of machine, you can choose whichever appeals to your needs, sense of design, and budget with the confidence that you’ll get a great shot of espresso. With any Nespresso, you will have to keep a stock of capsules on hand and at about 70 cents a pop they’re not inexpensive.

How to choose the best espresso machine for you

Selecting the right espresso maker comes down to 3 considerations: how much space you have in your kitchen, the size of your budget, and how much work you want to put into the brewing process.

Below we describe the four types of machines so you can decide which is best for you.

Manual: These handsome and expensive machines have a lever that you pull to deliver a shot of espresso. With a manual espresso maker, you have complete control and can produce your ideal cup but also have the best chance of messing up. We think that they’re best left to professionals or serious coffee connoisseurs.

Semiautomatic: This type, which has an electric pump is the most popular. It allows you to do the grinding and  tamping yourself  but the motor gives consistent flow and pressure.  You control the quantity of espresso in your cup by stopping the extraction process. Most semiautomatics have a steam wand or other mechanism for heating and frothing milk and some have a built-in grinder as well. Those without a grinder are generally the most compact and least expensive. You can find a good machine in this category for under $500.

Fully Automatic: With a fully automatic espresso maker, even the amount of water is determined by the machine. All you have to do is fill it with beans and press a button and the machine delivers your drink of choice whether it’s an espresso or a latte macchiato. Many do give you the opportunity to customize the grind, the temperature, the strength, and/or the amount to your liking. Virtually all feature steamers and burr grinders. Because they have so many features these machines will take up the most space in your kitchen and come with the highest price tags.

Capsule: The machines provide the ultimate convenience. You pop a capsule in, press a button and you get a cup of espresso topped with a layer of crema. The only thing you have to do is keep a supply of coffee capsules on hand and fill the tank with water.  Choose from a variety of configurations and models with and without on-board frothers or steaming wands. Capsule espresso makers aren’t cheap but won’t set you back as much as a fully automatic model. 

Other features to consider

In shopping for an espresso maker, you’ll also hear a lot about Bar Pump Pressure.  An espresso machine requires pressure to extract flavor from finely ground coffee. The pressure in pump machines is measured in bars or units of atmospheric pressure. Although 8 to 9 bars is considered sufficient, most machines, including all of our best espresso machines, have at least 15-bar pumps.

In addition to the built-in conveniences mentioned above, like burr grinders and steam wands, many espresso machines also come with some added accessories, like scoops and tampers to get your measurements just right. All of these extras and more are highlighted in our selections above.

When to replace your espresso machine 

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  • Wisdawn
    Thank you for this guide but I think that there's a serious drawback to the approach of the review itself here, and that is it completely ignores the espresso machine's microfoam-milk capabilities. This could be because the reviewer(s) are connoisseurs who enjoy straight espresso rather than white coffee, or for some other reason. And I, for example, enjoy straight espresso but I also like to entertain family or guests -- even myself -- with a good latte or cappuccino sometimes, and I've learned that the pressure must be good enough and the spout must look a certain way, like a professional espresso machine's spout, just a stainless steel thin pipe, to be able to produce milk with microfoam. I would be very interested in reading another espresso-machine review from Tom's Guide, which includes the microfoam-milk capabilities of all the espresso machines and sorts them also by the relevant order. I'm interested in knowing, for example, the cheapest espresso machine out there today that has true manual microfoam-milk capabilities, in the right hands, of course. And thanks again.
    Reply