You want to make espresso at home, but you don’t know what the best machine is.
The market for home espresso machines has exploded in recent years and it can be hard to find a good one that’s affordable and easy to use.
Solution: We happen to be the biggest espresso nerds around, so we’ve gone ahead and rounded up our favorite picks for the best home espresso machine for a variety of uses and skill levels.
Here’s the short of it: the best espresso machine is the DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica. It’s competitively priced, it’s a super-automatic espresso machine, and you can make a wide variety of coffee drinks with it.
As for the runner ups for best espresso machine from other categories, here they are:
- Best budget espresso machine: DeLonghi EC155
- Best semi automatic espresso machine: Breville BES920XL
- Best manual espresso machine: Flair espresso machine
- Best portable espresso machine: WACACO Minipresso
In this roundup of the best espresso machines, we’ll be looking at machines from every category.
How we determined the best espresso machines
Ease of use
Some espresso machines have a mind of their own, taking far too long to heat up or cool down. Others require a perfect grind for the best results, and others still leave you at the mercy of dark art variables like tamping pressure.
We cut from the herd those machines that don’t live up to being user friendly before we even get started with taste tests.
It’s possible there are other great tasting models out there that demand an elevated level of effort from the user, but these top five deliver both convenience and excellent tasting results without any fuss.
Cleanup is also important- if it takes you more than two minutes to rinse or empty a portafilter after brewing then it’s not going into our machine roundup. We looked for machines that were straightforward and took no more than a few minutes to clean after use.
Espresso machines range from under $50 for something very basic up to the price of a cheap used car for commercial grade models, so it’s important we set some parameters on what makes one machine better than another.
These espresso machine reviews only cover models in the consumer category- anything less or more is not gong to cut it in terms of testing or results.
Ultimately, this roundup is focused on a machine’s ability to deliver a great shot.
We spent a good deal of time looking at user feedback and owner reviews from across the web, as well as attending live demonstrations and taste tests to find the models that consistently produce quality coffee with minimal fuss.
While espresso is the main focus, having a machine that can also produce quality specialty coffee drinks is important. All of the machines we’ve chosen here produce great steamed milk.
Best Home Espresso Machine
1. DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica Espresso Machine
When it comes to the best home espresso machines, you can’t go wrong with the DeLonghi ESAM3300 machine. The ESAM3300 is a super automatic espresso machine that does everything for you at the touch of a button thanks to the built-in grinder.
It is a double-boiler espresso machine that can rapidly pull a shot of espresso and froth milk.
There are dials to adjust the grind size and amount of coffee, so while the ESAM3300 is super automatic, it still allows you to control some variables.
On the whole, it’s very easy to use and consistently produces coffee-shop quality coffee.
The removable water tank and bean container are easy to clean and maintain.
One drawback of this machine is the plastic exterior. While some manufacturers opt for stainless steel finishes, the ESAM3300 looks really old school.
Still, don’t let that deter you: the ESAM3300 automatic machine is one of the most budget-friendly picks you’ll find, period.
The ESAM3300 has been around for a while, and the fact that DeLonghi is still making them shows how good they are.
2. Jura S8 Fully Automatic Espresso & Coffee Machine
Next up on our list of the best home espresso machines for home is the Jura S8.
Let’s get this out of the way: the Jura S8 is a powerhouse. It’s a super automatic espresso machine that only needs you to put in beans, water, and milk(optional).
The touch screen display lets you choose what kind of drink you’re preparing, and that’s really all there is to it.
Just tap the screen and the Jura S8 will dispense the coffee beans into the built-in burr grinder, grind them, tamp them, pull a shot of espresso coffee, and dispense it neatly into your cup.
If you want to make a milky coffee like lattes and cappuccinos, just choose that option from the screen and the Jura S8 will kick in the milk frother and dispense steamed milk along with your espresso shot.
The Jura S8 is the pinnacle of the automatic espresso machine, and the price tag shows it. It will put a huge dent in your wallet, but it will make a statement like no other.
If budget is not an issue and you’re looking for a coffee maker that can consistently deliver great espresso and coffee drinks, the Jura S8 will do the job like a boss.
You don’t have to fiddle with any filter baskets, grind settings, tampers, or change the brewing process to make quality espresso.
However, those of us who want more control over their coffee and espresso may find that the Jura S8 does not quite hit the mark.
3. DeLonghi Dedica Espresso Machine
The DeLonghi Dedica espresso machine is a fantastic machine for those of us who want high qulaity espresso but don’t have much counter space. At just 6 inches wide, the Dedica will fit in even the tightest spaces.
Disclaimer: You’ll need some room to maneuver a cup for frothing milk, so if you just have 6 inches of space, it may be difficult!
Even though it’s fairly small, it still has a decently-sized 35 ounce water tank.
Because of the way the heating system is positioned, you can place your cup on top of the machine to get it warm by the time you’re ready to pull your shot.
The DeLonghi Dedica is a semi automatic machine. It comes with 3 types of filter baskets: a single shot and double shot size for ground coffee, and one special basket for coffee pods.
The steam wand is pretty well built, and the stainless steel milk jug it comes with makes it quite straightforward to froth milk and even make latte art if that’s your thing.
There are three buttons on top to make espresso and other drinks. One for a single shot, one for a double shot, and one for steaming milk.
The drip tray is removable for easy cleaning.
Even though the Dedica is a single-boiler machine, the rapid heating system ensures that there is enough heat to start steaming milk right after dispensing your shot.
4. Breville Barista Express BES870XL
The Breville Barista Express is one of the best espresso machines in its class. It very elegantly straddles the line between budget and high performance.
Even though it’s a semi-automatic, it has a built-in grinder for perfect dosing before every shot. Just add coffee beans into the hopper and you’re good to go.
Breville has put a lot of thought into this coffee maker and it really shows.
The front of the machine has everything you’ll need to make a good shot of espresso.
You take the portafilter and push it into the flap below the burr grinder to get a dose of espresso, then tamp it with the built-in tamper, and finally attach it to the brew head.
A PID controlled loop ensures that your espresso is brewed with consistently hot water, and the resulting shot is thick and delicious.
If you want to froth milk for other espresso drinks, the milk frothing wand on the Barista Express is very easy to use and you can get smooth microfoam in your milk texture of almost coffee shop quality.
The stainless steel exterior gives it the look of a commercial espresso machine.
Overall, the BES870XL makes the entire espresso brewing process very straightforward.
A 15 bar pressure pump provides the pressure needed to extract good espresso.
If you’re looking for something that has the best of super-automatic machines but still allows you a degree of manual control, the BES870XL is the best espresso machine there is.
5. Breville Bambino Plus
The Breville Bambino Plus is Breville’s answer to the DeLonghi Dedica. Sporting a brushed stainless steel exterior but just over 7.5 inches wide, it can fit almost anywhere.
Even though it’s small, the Bambino Plus will get you hot water in just 3 seconds.
Like it’s bigger brother the Barista Express, the Bambino Plus has a very easy-to-use steam wand for frothing milk. You’ll be able to steam milk to a very smooth texture.
A PID loop ensures the temperature is just right for perfect coffee extraction.
Even if you’re new to making espresso, the Bambino will help you produce great-tasting coffee and espresso every time.
6. DeLonghi EC155: Best budget espresso machine
If you have to go the budget espresso machine route, then you want to stick with a brand that you know delivers every single time.
DeLonghi is one of the best-known brands in the espresso machine world and their machines are just unbeatable when it comes to brew quality, durability, and ease of use.
The EC155 is pretty basic but will get the job done. One of the best features is a removable 32 ounce water reservoir, which means it is a lot easier to clean and store, especially if you have not used it for a while and have to descale it.
It has a self-priming feature that keeps the water moving inside it, which is good – and there is a simple steam wand which will do the job well enough.
Since this is a simple machine there is no built-in grinder or steaming jug – you will have to buy those two separately. If you don’t want to go through the trouble you can just steam in a regular mug and buy pre-ground espresso beans, too.
7. Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso Maker: best budget espresso machine
When it comes to the best budget espresso machine, the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista is easily one of the top picks.
Weighing in at only 9 pounds, it’s also one of the lightest espresso machines. For the user that is seeking a small espresso maker that won’t take up much counter space, this one is perfect.
The Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista comes built with a one-touch control panel to let you choose a one-shot or double-shot of espresso, lattes and cappuccinos.
As the name insists, the machine comes built with an automatic milk frother. There are both advantages and disadvantages to this. It’s easy to froth milk with the automatic milk frother.
You can make specialty coffees with a single press of a button.
However, as there is no steam wand, you won’t be able to steam milk by hand.
Overall, it is easy to use and easy to clean. The drip tray pops out and the removable water reservoir makes storage very easy, too.
8. Nespresso Creatista Pro Espresso Machine with milk frother
The Creatista Pro is an amazing Nespresso machine that brews superb espresso and lungo shots, and it has a steaming wand built in that does 11 types of frothed milk.
Nespresso machines have a signature 19 bar high-pressure pump, making every espresso shot as if you are the barista. A shot with the perfect flavor, temperature, and aroma is ready in under 25 seconds.
The removable water tank is also really easy to clean. With the Nespresso, you can make ristretto, espresso, and lungo shots.
The milk frother lets you make specialty drinks like cappuccinos and lattes, too. There’s no steam wand here – the milk frothing is all automatic.
One of the biggest advantages (and disadvantages depending on who you ask) of Nespresso machines is the pods!
Some people love them, and some people hate them. There’s no doubt that pod brewing is convenient, but the cost can add up over time.
The reason we’ve added pod machines to our list of the best espresso machines is that some people may not wish to go through all this trouble to make coffee, so simply popping in a pod and brewing makes life much easier.
9. DeLonghi Nespresso Latissima Touch Espresso Machine
The Latissima Touch is one of the most beautiful pieces of technology. With numerous flavors from the Nespresso capsule line, every single shot from this machine is bound for greatness.
Built with a 19-bar pressure pump, every single espresso that is made from this machine will be of the quality of a barista.
This machine offers 6 different options for the user: latte macchiato, hot milk, long, espresso, ristretto, and cappuccino.
DeLonghi has mastered the temperature and heating times with the Latissima. Each shot will be ready within 25 seconds.
Simplicity was the theme for this machine. With one-touch technology, your favorite drink is only one touch away.
The Latissima has milk frothing built-in, so you don’t need to buy anything extra if you opt for this machine.
Overall, the Latissima is mess-free and easy to clean. With capsules and pods, you will never have a mess. All you need to do is throw away the capsules and rinse out the milk reservoir.
While some may balk at the fact that we’ve included two capsule machines in our roundup of the best espresso machines, we do understand that for some folks, convenience will be more important than everything else.
10. Flair Espresso Maker: best manual espresso machine
The Flair was recently on Kickstarter and now they’ve gone into full production and are easily available. The Flair is a manual espresso machine, which means you control the entire shot from start to finish.
Using a manual espresso machine means you have full control over every variable in making your shots of espresso: normally, the actual length of the shot is determined by the machine. Here, you do it yourself using the lever.
The Flair is easy to use and disassembles very easily into something you can pack into a case.
Compared to other manual machines, the Flair is very competitively priced and there’s no competing with it in that respect.
There is no heating element built in, though, so you’ll have to use your own hot water. Just place coffee grounds in the portafilter, fill the brew tank with water, put everything together, and pull!
Also, there’s no milk frothing in the Flair, so you’ll need to pick up a separate milk frother if you want to make cappuccinos and lattes.
If you can learn how to properly pull a shot with the Flair, you’ll have enough coffee knowledge to start your own coffee shop!
11. Wacaco Minipresso: best portable/compact espresso machine
The last model on our list of the best espresso machines is the Wacaco Minipresso, a delightfully compact espresso machine that can fit in the umbrella compartment of your backpack for espresso on the go.
At its heart, it is a super simple machine: just pump to pressurize the semi-automatic piston, and press the button to pull a shot of espresso with a thick layer of crema.
Since the Wacaco is so small, you’ll need a lot of accessories: something to heat water, something to grind and measure ground coffee, but you don’t need something to drink from as the cap doubles as a cup!
Get the Wacaco if you need shots of espresso in places where there is no counter space!
What is the difference between espresso and drip coffee?
One of the most common questions that people ask in coffee shops around the world is: What is the difference between espresso and coffee?
First and foremost, one of the main differences between espresso and coffee is the way it is made. If you did not know, there is no such thing as “espresso beans.” Both espresso and regular coffee are made from ground coffee.
The only difference is that espresso is made from very finely-ground coffee, and other coffees require varying grind sizes depending on how you are brewing it.
In that, the process to make espresso involves an intense amount of pressure to compact and produce a thick and concentrated form of coffee.
On the other hand, drip coffee involves hot water dripping over the coffee ground. Unlike espresso, drip coffee utilizes the pressure of gravity to create a fresh cup of coffee.
What you need
In order to get started, there are two important products that you will want: a top-rated burr grinder and a top-rated home espresso maker. Now, there are lots of top-rated espresso makers that come built with a grinder; however, the price is adjusted accordingly.
While learning to use your espresso machine may take some time, the time spent is more than worth it.
To be truthful, the time spent learning is more about exploring what your taste buds like and what your preferences are. Exploring this will teach you how to use your espresso machine!
To really level up, there are lots of accessories you can also pick up like a tamper and a knock box.
Types of Home Espresso Machines
Super Automatic/Fully Automatic Machines
The elite machines in the industry are more than likely super-automatic.
Super automatic or fully automatic espresso machines are all-in-one espresso suites that do everything for you at the push of a button.
This includes frothing, steaming, grinding and extracting. All you have to do is press a button and you’ll get excellent espresso.
Semi Automatic Machines
A semi-automatic espresso machine is one of the most common and affordable types of espresso machine, and gives you a degree of control over your shots.
The machine comes with a boiler, a portafilter, and a switch for extraction.
With these machines, the user must grind the beans themselves and froth the milk by hand with the steam wand.
You have more control over the time and strength of the shot as you’re able to set exactly how much coffee to use, how finely it should be ground, and how long it should be pulled.
Some semi-automatic machines have programmable features too, like remembering your preferences for how long to pull the shot.
Semi-automatic machines work great both for beginners and pros as beginners will appreciate the relative simplicity and pros will appreciate the relative control afforded to them.
Manual machines require you to pull the shot yourself. There may or may not be a water tank, depending on the type of machine.
You tamp your grounds, add water, and use a lever to manually pull the shot.
Manual machines require quite a lot of elbow grease to use properly, and the key is dialing in your grind size and pulling consistenly to get the exact kind of coffee you want.
Pod Espresso Machines
Capsule or Pod Espresso Machines are relatively new to the market, and the top of the line are Nespresso machines.
These machines are actually made from pre-packaged capsules of different aromas and flavors of coffees and espressos.
These machines function based on specific capsules and often are easier to use than other machines.
However, the cost of buying so many pods can really add up and some coffee purists will say that these are not “true” coffee machines.
Portable Espresso Makers
If machines in general are not your cup of coffee but you still want to enjoy espresso, there are still other alternatives.
Perhaps you’re a road warrior that lives on the go. You love espresso but you’re not able to lug around a huge machine everywhere you go.
There’s a solution for you, too. Espresso has been around for a long time so while the automatic espresso machines are relatively new technology, as long as you can generate enough pressure, you can brew a shot.
Commercial Espresso Machines
Commercial espresso machines are the powerhouses you see in coffee shops. These espresso machines are designed to pull shot after shot of espresso.
That means having super-fast heating, easy cleaning, and comparatively lower maintenance issues.
How do I choose the best espresso maker for my home?
Not all espresso machines are the same – even though at their core, they all perform the same functions, there are some small albeit significant differences between machines that product great or ok espresso shots.
Steam powered vs pump powered
The core of a good espresso brew is pressure.
Cheaper espresso machines tend to be steam powered, where steam is pressurized and forced through the coffee grounds in the portafilter.
Higher end machines tend to be pump powered, where the temperature is controlled to a much more ideal 185-195 degrees Fahrenheit and a pump is used to generate the pressure.
Pump powered machines usually brew espresso with richer flavor and thicker crema.
Manufacturers like to inflate the pressure rating of their machines to make them seem more appealing. For example, Nespresso advertises their machines to generate 19 bars of pressure!
The reality is that you only need 9 bars of pressure to produce espresso, and anything more than that is unnecessary.
What about the steam wand?
Budget machines have cheap looking plastic steam wands for frothing milk. These are flimsy and produce some steam.
A good steam wand will swivel to get the best steaming angle, have multiple holes, and will just look and feel a lot more solid and robust.
If you’re into cappuccinos and want deliciously thick and foamy milk with coffee, get a machine with a good steam wand.
However, some machines don’t use a steam wand for milk frothing and instead have an automatic milk frother.
This is usually a milk reservoir connected to a pipe that draws up milk, steams it in the guts of the espresso machine and dispenses it.
These are good options if you’re not too keen on steaming milk but still want to get decently textured cappuccinos and lattes.
Most espresso machines have just a single boiler for pulling the espresso shot and steaming milk.
In this case, you’ll have to wait between the shot being brewed and getting steamed milk, since the steam can only go in one direction at a time(that’s just how the machines are built since the temperature needs to be controlled).
Frequently Asked Questions
What is tamping?
Tamping is the art of compressing the espresso grounds in the portafilter so they’re packed tightly enough for intense flavor extraction, but not too tightly so as to restrict the flow of water around them.
How you tamp is a matter of personal preference. You’ll get the hang of it as you practice, brew, and notice differences in your coffee.
What are the best espresso machine brands?
A few names pop up every time you look for espresso machines: DeLonghi, Gaggia, and Rancilio are authentic Italian manufacturers that make truly authentic machines.
Recently other companies have also popped into the espresso machine market, and they’re doing a pretty good job: Nespresso, Mr Coffee, Hamilton Beach, Cuisinart, and Breville also make very good machines – especially in the mid-range(think semi-automatic).
Making espresso can seem quite daunting, but the machines we’ve listed here make the process much easier. It’s easy to get caught up in superfluous details like whether a machine has a stainless steel finish or not, but the important thing to consider is how much work you’re willing to put into brewing your coffee.
Depending on that and your budget, you’ll be able to find an espresso machine that suits your preferences.
Check out the best espresso machines for specific budgets:
Once you’re addicted to espresso machine coffee, of course, you can always get a bigger machine :).
Last update on 2021-11-04 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API