No kitchen is complete without one of the best espresso machines. Espresso contains a deep and yet balanced flavor profile, topped with a rich and creamy layer of crema. Add to that, it produces a delectable aroma which will summon everyone into the kitchen. Of course, not every espresso machine brews to this premium standard — that’s why true coffee aficionados only want the best performers.
While the quality of the espresso is of the utmost importance, if you're considering buying an espresso machine, you should also check it's intuitive to operate and quick to brew, without consuming too much energy in the process. Considering this appliance is going to take a prime spot in your kitchen, it needs to look good as well.
With all of this in mind, it’s no wonder that the best espresso machines can be a hard find — especially if you've got a budget in mind. That’s why we’ve done the hard work for you. We’ve scoured the market to find those machines which offer everything and more. Whether you’re shopping on a budget, or want a machine which can produce milky drinks, we’ve got you covered. These are the best espresso machines.
The best espresso machines you can buy today
The Breville Bambino Plus impressed us in our testing, consistently producing high quality espresso and offering an excellent automatic milk frother for that extra professional finishing touch. It's difficult to produce a bad coffee from this particular espresso machine, and with a speedy three second heat up time you'll be enjoying a fantastically brewed shot in no time at all.
Like many of the best espresso machines, you can adjust the espresso settings for a shorter or longer shot, however the adjustable pre-infusion settings here are particularly impressive. Similarly, being able to customize both the temperature and texture of the milk while also automatically steaming luscious micro-foam was a particular draw in our testing.
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.
Read our full Breville / Sage Bambino Plus review.
The DeLonghi Stilosa offers one of the best espresso machines at this price point. 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.
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. What makes this one of the best espresso machines, however, is the fact that there are still plenty of variables for you to dial in. From grind fineness to temperature and texture, there's plenty to tinker with, and you'll also get the option of saving up to eight settings into memory.
Coming in under $150, the Nespresso Essenza Mini offers one of the more affordable devices in our top picks of the best espresso machines. However, you're not skimping on the richness of your coffee here, with an impressive 19-bar pressure on offer.
The Essenza Mini takes all the hassle out of your morning shot of coffee, using the Nespresso pod system to offer up a massive range of blends and beans. It's certainly a no-frills approach, with no customization options and a slightly longer warm up time of around 30 seconds. However, if you're a casual espresso enjoyer and don't want to invest in a barista-grade piece of kit, this is an excellent budget alternative.
You'll find plenty more of the best Nespresso machines in our dedicated roundup as well.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Philips 3200 Series doesn’t come cheap, but it brings a lot to the table. This espresso machine lets the user create beverages which would usually require barista-level experience at the push of a button. It comes with several settings, including espresso, hot water, cappuccino, coffee, latte macchiato and americano. Plus there’s the option to customize your selection by strength, size and the amount of steamed milk.
When we tried it out for ourselves, we found the coffee it produced tasted good and was not overly bitter. While we were generally pleased with the results, it could have tasted stronger. This was even the case when we adjusted it to its finest grind setting. The quality of the crema was on the thin-side too. For this reason we wouldn’t recommend this machine to anyone who likes their coffee to pack a punch.
We found similar results after steaming milk as well — while it held its form, it wasn’t as dense as it could have been. However, while the overall performance was somewhat average, operation couldn’t be much more straightforward. And with the attachments being easy to remove and clean (the LatteGo parts can even go in the dishwasher), it’s a nice offering if you value simplicity above all.
How we tested the best espresso machines
We found the best espresso machines through a combination of extensive online research and hands-on testing. We started off by shortlisting the models with the best and most consistent ratings online. We found those machines which consumers would recommend and happily buy again, factoring in different types and styles of espresso machine to suit different circumstances.
We then assessed the specifications to find those which had the most to offer. This included comparing the pressure, settings and capacity, not to mention any useful attachments, such as a milk frother. Any innovative features and accessories were taken into consideration as well.
We also tested some of these machines hands-on so we could give our personal opinion on the design and performance. We brewed a selection of beverages, considering the speed and efficiency of the process and the flavor of the result. We also made a note of any strengths and weaknesses of the model, including the effectiveness of the milk frother and the ease of filling and emptying the grounds. As a result, we can say with confidence that these are the best espresso machines you will find.
Which type of coffee maker should you buy? Check out our guide if you're unsure.
How to choose the best espresso machine for you
Selecting the best espresso machines for you 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.
Is an espresso machine worth it?
If you want the freedom to experiment with nearly everything about your coffee's brewing process, an espresso machine is absolutely worth it. Even if you're a beginner looking to produce cafe-style drinks from the comfort of your own kitchen, there's plenty of value in an all-in-one home setup. These days, the best espresso machines pack a wide range of features but also cater to varying skill levels, so you can gradually grow more confident in experimenting over time.
If, however, you just want a simple cup of coffee and don't have time to grind your own beans, fill your brew basket, tamp, pre-infuse, and froth your milk, then it might be worth sticking with a drip machine or pod coffee maker. There is a little extra effort involved when brewing from an espresso machine, not including the sometimes fiddly cleaning schedule.
When should you replace an espresso machine?
The best espresso machines typically come with a one or two year warranty and stay in operation anywhere from 7 to 10 years. As you would expect, an expensive fully automatic model will last the longest. When you buy a machine, don’t spring for an extended warranty. It’s unlikely that it will cost less than repairing your machine during its lifetime.
Among the things you’ll notice when your machine breaks down is that stops building up pressure or your espresso doesn’t come out as hot as it used to. These problems could be indicative of a faulty pump or heating element that isn’t worth fixing. If you bring it in for a repair and are quoted a price that is over 50% of the cost of a new unit, we recommend buying a replacement. To keep your machine in good working order as long as possible, be sure to clean your coffee maker thoroughly. Defer to the instruction manual for this, as well as information on regular maintenance on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis.
When you buy a new espresso machine, you’ll also find features available that aren’t offered on older models. Electronic displays, hot water spouts, and frothed milk dispensers are now common. Steam wands have been improved so that they are easier to use and give better foaming. Whether you like the convenience of premeasured pods of coffee or want a machine that grinds beans for each dose of coffee, you can now find more machines to meet your needs.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity are still rarely available on espresso machines with the exception of smart coffeemakers from Nespresso. They allow you to control the machine and get alerts when you’re running low on capsules on an app on your mobile device.
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