The best espresso machines deliver one of life's pleasures by the cupful. Beyond producing flavorful espresso for a lot less than your favorite 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 all 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.
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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.
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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 Mr. Coffee Café Barista is the best budget espresso machine. It will deliver a decent cup of coffee topped with foam with no need for you to fiddle with a steam wand.
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 Delonghi Magnifica ESAM3300 will give you the same capability for a lot less.
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.
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.
Generally speaking, you get what you pay for. The lightweight plastic construction and ho-hum industrial design of the Mr. Coffee Café Barista puts it at the lower end of the espresso machine category. Even so, the Café Barista is capable of pulling shots of espresso and simplifies the process of making milk-based drinks. You fill a reservoir with milk (it must be stored in the refrigerator between uses) and then press the cappuccino or latte button and wait for Mr. Coffee to deliver your beverage with no need for you to do hands-on frothing.
If your primary drink is a shot of espresso, you're better off spending a little more for the DeLonghi Dedica which makes a better cup of coffee. In taste testing, CNet found that the Café Barista's delivered inconsistent shots. Sometimes, this resulted in particularly "intense" pulls exhibiting "a few chocolate notes," while at other times, the pulls were weaker in potency. To get the best flavor from the Mr. Coffee, choose rich, chocolatey roasts. All in all, we think this machine is a solid value and one of the best espresso machines under $200.
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.
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.
With a built-in, conical burr grinder; tactile controls for dose, volume and brewing; and superautomatic operation (the machine will grind, tamp and brew automatically), the Delonghi Magnifica is a "beans-to-brew" machine selling at a moderate price and lauded for high reliability. The number of dials and buttons may seem daunting at first, but operations are very straightforward, permitting a good deal of control for a superautomatic machine. Flavor can be dialed in with incremental turns of two dials controlling water volume and dosing. This simplifies the making of espresso, cappuccino, Americanos and latte drinks according to preference.
Some users reported issues with dark-roast beans clogging the grinder, requiring the onerous task of agitating the hopper to free up the grounds. So this machine is best used with medium espresso roasts. The molded plastic case mars an otherwise-sleek exterior design.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.