I think you will agree that many people like to drink their morning coffee in the comfort of their kitchen, rather than during their commute.
Also, coffee bought in coffee shops is expensive and not always tasty. The average American who drinks coffee from shops spends about $836 per year, while the average American who brews the coffee at home spends only about $62 annually.
But you may be asking, “How can I brew specialty coffee drinks like espressos and lattes at home?”
Never fear with an espresso machine, you can create wonderful espresso-based drinks from home.
Automatic and super-automatic espresso machines are suitable for those who do not like to spend time making coffee in the morning. Or, if you want to make coffee like a real barista, then a semi-automatic espresso machine is the best choice for you.
In this list, you will find the best espresso machine for your needs.
How To Choose The Best Espresso Machine
Is an Espresso Machine Worth It?
The short answer is “Yes!” As we mentioned earlier, making coffee is much cheaper than buying it in coffee shops.
But let’s take a look at this issue from another angle.
The most popular type of coffee in the USA is drip coffee. Drip coffee is usually brewed in a standard coffee maker. But few people know that initially, black coffee was made with a base of espresso diluted with hot water (the drink we now call an “Americano”).
Espresso is the foundation of any coffee drink. To get a good cappuccino, latte, mochaccino, or Americano, you first need to brew an espresso.
There’s a reason that every coffee shop uses espresso machines: it’s the only way to make real espresso. Usually, creating an espresso requires a fancy espresso machine and a skilled barista. But imagine that you can make such a drink at home whenever you want. You’re in luck there are now espresso machines that can be used without barista training.
Types Of Espresso Machines
The first espresso machine appeared in 1901. Now there are several types of espresso machines that differ from each other. Some of them are small and can be taken with you on a hike, while others require electricity and just the press of a button to make a wonderful drink.
Manual Lever Espresso Machines
The manual lever espresso machine is considered the first modern espresso machine. To use it, you raise and lower a lever, which controls a piston that pushes water through a layer of coffee grounds. Today, this type of espresso machine is not common, but if you want to go back to basics, then this is the machine for you.
Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines
Real baristas use this type of espresso machine. Semi-automatic machines use an automated system to supply heated water to the group head, while the barista controls grinding, tamping, and extraction time.
These are very similar to semi-automatic machines, except that the machine controls extraction time and automatically stops the flow of water. This ensures a constant volume of each serving of espresso and means that you do not need to stand by the machine every time you pull a shot to prevent the coffee from overflowing.
Super-Automatic Espresso Machines
Super-automatic machines do everything themselves. The machine grinds and weighs coffee, fills the portafilter, and controls water temperature and extraction time. All you need to do is press a button, and you’ll get a perfect coffee every time.
Pod Espresso Machines
If for some reason you cannot afford a traditional espresso machine or do not have the time to brew coffee with one, then you should invest in a pod espresso machine. To make espresso in a pod machine you just need to insert a coffee capsule and press the button.
Portable/Compact Espresso Machines
Portable espresso devices take up very little space, so they’re suitable for people who travel and can’t live without good coffee on the road. These machines are great for hiking, camping, and all sorts of travel.
Is a Good Grinder Important For Quality Espresso?
There are many reasons that you need to grind your coffee beans. One is that the interaction of ground beans with oxygen degrades the taste and aroma of the coffee. Grinding the beans just before brewing eliminates this issue.
There are two grinding options: use a manual coffee grinder, or purchase an espresso machine with a built-in coffee grinder.
If you want to make an espresso shot without worrying about grinding your beans, you should choose a Nespresso machine:
If you don’t want to figure out how to grind your beans, then the best option is an espresso machine that has a built-in grinder. And the best of these machines is the Breville BES870XL the Barista Express.
How Much Is a Good Espresso Machine?
A good home espresso machine can be bought for less than $100, but if you want a serious machine that makes the best espresso, then you’ll need to spend more money.
Breville BES870XL the Barista Express
Want to brew espresso like a barista? Then you need Breville’s the Barista Express machine.
The Barista Express is the best semi-automatic espresso machine on the market. You can adjust all the brewing parameters, which gives you unlimited possibilities in the preparation of various drinks.
The very first thing that catches your eye is the machine’s design. The Barista Express is made of stainless steel, its chrome buttons are backlit, and its portafilter and jug are also made of polished stainless steel. Overall, it looks sleek and expensive.
The convenient built-in coffee grinder has 18 grind settings, from very fine to very coarse. Because this burr grinder is built into the machine, you won’t have to waste counter space on a separate grinder. Plus, the burr grinder can always dispense the same amount of coffee.
Best Budget Espresso Machines (For Making TRUE Espresso)
What is the best inexpensive espresso machine? A steam espresso machine is a good choice if you want to save a little money and are not ready to spend time learning how to make espresso like a barista in a coffee shop.
Steam espresso machines are easy to use, affordable, and compact. The only drawback of steam espresso machines is that they use very low levels of pressure to extract coffee.
SOWTECH Espresso Machine
If you want to find the most affordable espresso machine, look no further than SOWTECH’s espresso machine. This best espresso machine under $100 is the easiest and most affordable way to make espresso and espresso-based drinks.
The machine is compact (only 10.6 x 7.7 x 13.8 inches) and is therefore convenient for use in the home or office.
The brewing process is very simple. Coffee is prepared in just 3 steps:
- Add water
- Add ground beans to filter
- Select a brewing mode
Then, all you have to do is wait for a little while the machine prepares your drink. When the drink is ready, be sure to turn off the machine. It does not turn itself off automatically.
You can also add steamed milk to your drink using the built-in steamer/frother. Use this to make a latte, cappuccino, or any other espresso drink.
This machine produces great-tasting coffee. If you are a lover of good coffee but are on a budget, then the SOWTECH espresso machine is the best budget option for you.
Yabano Espresso Machine
The Yabano espresso machine is even more affordable than the SOWTECH.
This espresso machine can make 4 cups of espresso at a time. This is convenient if you have a large family. It is very easy to use.
The Yabano machine also includes a steam wand so you can create cappuccinos, lattes, and more.
Best Home Espresso Machines (Mid Range)
Mid-range espresso machines make good espresso. They are unlikely to replace the espresso prepared in a coffee shop and don’t allow a lot of customization, but they’re an affordable home option.
Delonghi EC680M Dedica Espresso Machine
The machine itself looks very stylish. The water reservoir is located at the rear. It can be filled without having to remove the tank or move the machine. It also provides the ability to adjust the drip tray to fit the height of the cup.
One of the features of the De’Longhi EC680M is that you can make 2 cups of espresso, or one double espresso, at a time. This is convenient if your family has more than one coffee lover. The machine is also equipped with a steam wand, which will please lovers of cappuccinos and lattes.
The De’Longhi EC680M is pre-programmed to make a specific size of shot, but you can change this programming if you like. For example, you can increase the shot size if you like espresso lungo. This programming is very easy, and you can return to the original settings at any time.
Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
Can a home espresso machine make a good cappuccino? The Mr. Coffee machine shows us that the answer is “Yes!”
It is the best espresso machine with milk frother. To make a cappuccino or latte, just press one button and the machine will do the rest. This is possible thanks to the automatic milk frother.
To make an espresso shot, you just have to press one button. The machine’s 15-bar pressure pump extracts quality aroma and caffeine from the grounds to create a vibrant impression for your taste buds.
For convenience, the machine comes with removable and easy-to-clean milk and water tanks.
Another feature of the Mr. Coffee machine is that you can choose to make one or two espresso shots. You just need to choose whether you want one or two shots, then select the size of your drink and let the Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker create your perfect drink.
EspressoWorks 7 Pc All-In-One Espresso Machine
This is a great product for any kitchen. If you want great espresso at an affordable price, definitely choose this machine.
The coolest thing is that EspressoWorks 7 comes with an espresso and cappuccino kit. Here’s what’s included in this kit: coffee grinder, milk frothing pitcher, spoon/tamper, and 2 ceramic cups. To get started, the only thing you’ll need to buy is coffee beans.
This home espresso machine heats up quickly, in just 45 seconds. The 15-bar pressure allows you to extract high-quality coffee.
Another feature is the water reservoir, which is always visible. Some espresso machines have a tank at the back, and users do not always see when the water runs out. With EspressoWorks 7, you’ll always see when the water is getting low.
The machine itself is surprisingly compact and provides sufficient pressure for preparing double espressos and milk foam. It is also easy to clean thanks to the removable drip tray.
Best Pod Espresso Machines (Easy To Use)
The desire to brew a real espresso deserves respect, but sometimes convenience comes first.
If for some reason you cannot afford a traditional espresso machine, then a capsule machine would be the best option. These devices require no grinding or other time-consuming steps. They are quick to use and easy to maintain.
There are many brands producing capsule espresso machines that have intuitive interfaces and create high-quality coffee. One of the leading companies in this area is Nespresso.
Nespresso VertuoPlus Coffee and Espresso Machine
So, you want to brew an espresso with minimal effort? Look no further than the Nespresso VertuoPlus.
This machine is much more convenient to use than any other espresso machine. It’s compact and does not require much maintenance.
The machine makes espresso in just a few seconds. All you have to do is place an espresso capsule in the machine and press a button.
Nespresso has 16 kinds of capsules. Each contains a unique mix of high-quality coffee from different countries. You can choose a capsule for a certain level of roast, or volume of beverage output (from 0.35 oz to 14 oz). When you order the machine, you can also order 3 packs of capsules.
Do you like coffee with milk foam? Then you can buy a bundle that includes both the Nespresso ENV150GYAE and an Aeroccino milk frother. The Aeroccino can make steamed milk, hot milk foam, or cold milk foam, so you can create all sorts of drinks.
How cool it is to press two buttons and get a cappuccino without having to know anything about coffee or milk?
There are many capsule machines on the market, but machines by Nespresso create superior espresso. The only problem is that some Nespresso capsule machines don’t include a milk steamer.
But you can solve this problem by buying the Breville Creatista. This capsule espresso machine includes a steam wand, pitcher, and temperature sensor that automate the steaming process.
All you have to do is pour milk into the jug, lower the steam wand into the milk, and press the start button. Once you pour the steamed milk into your espresso, your cappuccino is ready! And you don’t even need to understand intricacies like jug angle or milk temperature.
Best Super-Automatic Espresso Machines
Super-automatic espresso machines are like mechanical baristas. Outwardly, they look like a simple box with buttons and a display, but inside, the whole process of making espresso takes place. This is very convenient if you want to brew the best espresso with minimal effort.
Gaggia Brera Super Automatic Espresso Machine
With one touch of a button, the Gaggia Brera will make an espresso. The menu is easy to navigate, and you can manage all the machine’s functions quickly.
The built-in ceramic burr grinder has 5 degrees of grinding adjustment. Place the coffee beans here and select the degree of grinding depending on which coffee you want to brew. For espresso, choose the smallest degree of grinding.
You can also choose the strength of your drink, out of 3 choices in total. For espresso, you should use the strongest.
You can make any espresso-based drink with this machine by using the manual milk frother with a metal Panarello nozzle. To create the best foam, tilt the nozzle at an angle to the surface of the milk, lowering it by half a centimeter to catch the border between the rising foam and milk. It is best to use milk with high-fat content (in the region of 3%).
The Gaggia Brera also automatically flushes the coffee spill system each time it is turned on and off. This keeps the espresso machine clean at all times.
The Gaggia Brera includes a 1.2-liter water tank and an 8.8-oz bean hopper. This means you can easily make coffee for two or three people If you have a large family or frequent guests, then it is worth considering other models.
De’Longhi Super Automatic Espresso
This model is great for serving more than just two or three people. The water tank has a volume of 1.8 L (60 oz), and the bean hopper is 8.8 oz. You can use the machine to create two espressos at once, or one double espresso.
This is a surprisingly simple machine. Everything is set up, and rinsing is required only once a month.
You can customize grind size, water volume, and brew strength, so it’s possible to create not just a shot of espresso, but also other drinks.
The De’Longhi ESAM3300 is a wonderful device. Its frother steams milk, and the coffee is brewed with a thick layer of crema.
Take some time to read the instructions that come with the machine. Yes, you may have to spend a couple of hours setting up but trust us, it’s worth it.
Best Manual / Lever Espresso Machines
Flair Signature Espresso Maker
Want to buy the simplest yet most effective manual espresso machine under $200? Then take a look at our best budget pick, the Flair Signature Espresso Maker.
Yes, this is a lever espresso machine, but its design is stylish and unusual. But can it make a good espresso?
Yes! The Flair Signature makes a great espresso. Even coffee snobs will appreciate the taste.
Making coffee in manual espresso machines is an art that you should enjoy, because you are fully involved in the process, and you only need to watch a video or read instructions once to understand how it works. To monitor pressure, you can purchase a pressure gauge optionally.
Such a design has advantages. One of them is compactness. You can fold this espresso coffee maker and carry it in your bag. When it’s time to make coffee, just pull out your coffee and find hot water. The second advantage is that you don’t have to waste time cleaning. The design is so simple that cleaning is very quick and easy.
La Pavoni 16 Cup Espresso Lever Machine
Want to get an Italian espresso machine? One of the best lever espresso machines is La Pavoni’s Professional PBB-16. This is a very stylish device with a classic chrome design that immediately attracts attention.
Despite the complexity of its design, the machine is quite simple to use.
You can change the speed at which water passes through the ground beans, and you can be sure that the espresso is made exactly according to your requirements. Thanks to a built-in pressure gauge, it is easy to control the pressure with which your coffee is extracted.
The boiler can hold enough water for 16 cups of espresso brewed continuously, so this machine is great if you want to create espresso for friends and family. Another advantage of this machine is that it is very quiet, unlike most machines.
And using this classic method of espresso brewing, the taste is incomparable.
La Pavoni PPG-16 Espresso Machine
The La Pavoni PPG-16 is a model for lovers of Italian coffee. This is an advanced model of the PBB-16. Let’s take a look at their differences.
First of all, PPG-16 has a more stylish design. The boiler is made of solid brass, and all the handles are made of wood. Second, this Italian espresso maker comes with a steam wand, so you can make milk foam for cappuccinos or lattes. This requires practice, but once you learn how to do it, you’ll be delighted.
You may wonder why this best professional espresso machine is so expensive. The fact is that this is a very high-quality assembly. According to many buyers, such high-end machines can run smoothly for over 10 years.
Best Portable Espresso Machines
Wacaco Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker
Looking for the best compact espresso machine? This device is so small that it fits in your hand. It weighs less than a pound, but still makes delicious espresso.
You can even buy accessories that expand the capabilities of this espresso maker. For example, you can buy an adapter to use Nespresso capsules or an enlarged compartment to make double espresso.
Also, you can choose to buy the Nanopresso in either black or yellow, so your espresso maker will match your personality and style.
Everything You Need To Know Before Buying an Espresso Machine
We have compiled a list of the most commonly used words when it comes to making espresso, and their definitions.
- A bar is a unit of steam pressure used in almost all espresso machines. 9 bar is the accepted pressure for making espresso.
- A blend is a mixture of different types of coffee beans.
- A boiler is one of the main components of a coffee machine, and it heats water to a certain temperature.
- Cupping is when professionals blind-taste coffee. The process requires extensive coffee knowledge. Such a specialist, a taster, is called a cupper.
- A group is the part of a coffee machine that contains the portafilter, group head, and filters.
- The dispenser is a part of the grinder that measures the amount of ground coffee with the help of a built-in lever.
- Crema is foam on the surface of an espresso.
- Single-origin coffee is a type of coffee that is grown in one place.
- A pitcher is a jug for steaming and frothing milk. It is most often made of metal.
- The body of taste is a term that includes the totality of all the sensations in the mouth from a sip of coffee: saturation, texture, etc.
- A tamper is an accessory for manual pressing (compaction) of ground coffee in the portafilter.
- The portafilter holds the ground, tamped coffee. When attached to the group head, water flows through the portafilter to create espresso.
- Extraction is the process of extracting flavors from ground beans when brewing.
What To Look For When Buying an Espresso Machine
What makes a good espresso machine? Let’s take a look at the basic specifications that determine how you will make espresso.
Of particular importance is the material of the portafilter. It should be made of steel so that it heats the coffee groundswell when hot water flows through. This helps the coffee’s aromas to end up in the brewed espresso.
On some devices, you can find an indicator showing 15 to 20 bar. This is the working pressure of the pump. In the portafilter, the pressure will be 8 to 9 bar. This is the best pressure for a delicious, frothy espresso.
The pressure in the espresso machine must be at least 8 bar. Machines with lower pressure will cost less, but the quality of the espresso will be negatively affected.
If you are a lover of coffee drinks made with milk, then you should pay attention to how conveniently the espresso machine can make cappuccinos, lattes, and other similar drinks. Modern espresso machines have several options for steaming milk.
Simpler machines have a thin wand that can be immersed directly in a container of milk, from which the machine itself will take the right amount of milk. Mid- and high-range espresso machines have a separate jug for milk, which is either integrated into the machine or connected to it.
Not all modern automatic and semi-automatic espresso machines are equipped with a built-in coffee grinder, which allows you to make aromatic coffee from freshly ground beans. Grinder millstones are made mainly of two materials: stainless steel and ceramics.
If possible, you should buy a machine with ceramic millstones, as they provide perfect grinding, which in turn ensures that the water flows through the coffee evenly and the taste of the drink is perfect. A ceramic grinder will not allow coffee to overheat and have a burnt aftertaste.
It is also important to have the ability to adjust the degree of grinding, since, for the full realization of aroma and taste, different types of coffee require different degrees of grinding.
For example, to make espresso, you need a fine grind, and for lighter coffee drinks, in most cases, a coarser grind is suitable. Be sure to pay attention to how beans are poured into the grinder. It is important that this can be done easily and without extra effort.
On average, water tanks are large enough to make up to 8 cups of coffee in a row. It’s important to consider not just the number of cups, but how easy and convenient it is to pour water into the machine.
On some espresso makers, only a small opening is provided for adding water, while others may have a separate removable tank that can be filled from under the tap, and a lid that opens on top.
More expensive espresso machines can even be connected directly to the water supply, from which the machine will draw water automatically.
Cleaning and maintenance
Maintenance and cleaning of some types of machines can be quite difficult, so often users delay cleaning and maintenance, which in turn significantly reduces the life of the device.
Machines must be cleaned regularly, as stated in the instructions. This, of course, applies to all home appliances, but it is especially important when using espresso machines. You should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning your machine.
Built-in cleaning systems, which automatically clean the milk jug, and run a rinse cycle and descaling cycle, also facilitate the maintenance of the espresso makers. Nevertheless, an automatic cleaning system does not mean that the espresso machine itself will fulfill all the necessary care and maintenance.
In addition to having an automatic cleaning system, it is worth paying attention to whether certain parts of the machine can be washed separately and whether the machine has a water filter.
How Espresso Machines Work
Most espresso machines are equipped with indicators and buttons to control the process of making coffee. Here are the basic steps of how an espresso machine works:
- Under pressure, hot water moves through the portafilter.
- Passing through the portafilter, the water extracts flavor compounds from the ground coffee.
- The resulting coffee is poured out of the portafilter and into a cup.
Espresso Machine Brands
Breville was founded in Australia in 1932 as a manufacturer and marketer of small household appliances.
In 1974, the company produced an original product a sandwich toaster, and in the first year after release, it sold more than 400,000 units. After that, the company entered foreign markets, and in some markets became a household name.
This is a well-known company that produces household appliances, including espresso machines. Founded in 1902 in Italy, De’Longhi successfully operates in the market and has the highest status among customers and competitors. Its products are in great demand and have deservedly high reviews.
Nespresso is the brand name of Nestlé Nespresso S.A., a division of the Nestlé Group of Companies in Lausanne, Switzerland. Nespresso machines produce espresso from special capsules containing ground coffee. It’s a well-thought-out brand that caters to both gourmet coffee lovers and to those who just want a quick and easy coffee drink.
La Pavoni is a true Italian brand of espresso makers. It was founded in Milan in 1905, and the company adheres to the classic design of espresso machines.
Its espresso makers have a first-class design. Just take a look at the lever espresso machines from La Pavoni. They are the best combination of tradition and modern technology. But in addition to traditional espresso machines, the company also develops automatic espresso machines for commercial purposes.
Gaggia is a world-famous Italian manufacturer of coffee machines for professional and home use, and the brand has become synonymous with quality and reliability.
The company was founded in 1947 by Giovanni Achille Gaggia, the man to whom we owe the success of espresso all over the world today. It was he who received patent No. 365726 for the first modern, steamless coffee machine on September 5, 1938.
What coffee beans should I use for the perfect espresso?
Espresso coffee is almost always a blend of several types of beans.
A variety of coffees provides ample opportunities for creating blends. The basic rules for creating an espresso blend are as follows: the coffee should have bitter, acidic, and sweet notes, and be full-bodied and sweet enough to balance the bitterness and acidity in the taste of the finished drink.
As a rule, espresso mixes are made from various varieties of Arabica beans, though Robusta beans are sometimes used. Arabica and Robusta are different types of the coffee tree. Robusta has a higher yield because it is cultivated in more areas, and it is therefore much cheaper than Arabica.
Can you make espresso without a machine?
There are two alternative ways to make espresso: with an Aeropress and with a Moka Pot. Using these methods, you’ll create a drink that is very similar to espresso.
Why are espresso machines so expensive?
The cost of an espresso machine is influenced by its size, complex design, and the materials from which it is made.
First, a machine with more group heads (which can brew more coffee) will be more expensive. Additionally, a machine with more boilers will be more expensive. With one boiler, you can make espresso. With two, you can make espresso and steam milk at the same time. Third, the cost is determined by materials. Most espresso machines are made from expensive materials like stainless steel. Finally, the cost is determined by features of the machine, like digital displays, how many bars of pressure the machine provides, and the temperature to which it can heat the water.
Can espresso machines make lattes or cappuccinos?
Some models can make these types of drinks. As an example, the Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker can do so. If the espresso machine has a steam wand, then you can manually make any espresso-and-milk-based drink.
Is a good grinder important for quality espresso?
When we make coffee, extraction takes place when soluble substances from the coffee beans are mixed with water. The extraction process reveals the properties of the drink, the aroma, and the taste that we love so much. For perfect extraction, you need the perfect grind size, so it’s important to have a quality grinder.
We just explained the top espresso machines. We hope that this list will help you to buy the best espresso machine for your needs.
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments. We will answer every question.
And finally, we leave you with this wisdom: A good espresso machine is only part of creating the best espresso. The Italians reflected the main components of this espresso in their famous 4 M’s: miscela (using the correct coffee blend), macinazione (using the correct grind), macchina (the espresso machine), and mano (the barista).