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Espresso machines are becoming more popular in homes and workplaces.
Even manual espresso machines don’t take long to brew a shot, unlike having to boil a pot of coffee or wait for the drip filter to do its job.
Of course, because they are so popular there are hundreds of models to choose from.
If you have no experience working with them or actually making espresso, how do you decide what’s the best espresso machine?
It may not be the easiest decision to make but with the information in this article and the reviews provided, we hope that your next purchase will be the most satisfying one.
Having a strong shot of espresso every morning is what most of us want, at least on workdays.
You may think that you have to splurge in order to get quality and consistency, but that’s not always the case.
The Breville BES870XL is our first choice for the best espresso machine overall.
It combines high-quality parts with a top-level brewing experience, without breaking the bank.
It’s also important that the longevity of Breville products is usually superior.
The BES870XL comes with both single-wall and dual-wall filters.
There are 4 filters in all for you to experiment with coffee of different types and roasts.
It is equipped with stainless steel burr grinder and a steam wand that rotates 360 degrees.
The 1600W boiler uses Breville’s thermo coil heating system to ensure that your shot of espresso is brewed in record time.
The machine is a bit heavy at 23 pounds but that’s mainly due to its top-tier components.
The overall dimensions of 12.5 x 13.25 x 15.75 inches (LWH) should make it fit in any small office or home kitchen.
The water tank has a capacity of 67 ounces.
The best espresso machine has to come with all the accessories you need.
The BES870XL gives not only volumetric controls and a built-in grinder but also all the trinkets such as a milk jug, filter holder, a dose trimming tool, and a cleaning kit.The one downside of the BES870XL? It requires regular maintenance. But then again, what best espresso machine doesn’t? That is, if you want it to last. Even this drawback has an upside as the BES870XL is equipped with a sensor that notifies you when it’s due for a cleaning. You may want to check out our review of the Breville BES870XL for more detailed information on this espresso machine.
This is perhaps the best espresso machine for a family with varied tastes in coffee.
This is perhaps the best espresso machine for a family with varied tastes in coffee. Why? The Gaggia Classic Semi-Automatic Espresso Maker can make both espresso and coffee.
Although it is smaller than some models on this list, it’s not very light. Its 20 pounds of weight is due to the high quality stainless steel components. While the visual aspect is nothing overly impressive the robust construction ensures a longer lifespan of the machine.
The water container holds 72 ounces. The machine also has a commercial-grade chrome-plated brass portafilter, a frothing wand, and a high-voltage boiler with 17.5 bar pump. It also has settings for a single- or double-shot pouring.
The LED display is nothing too complicated to work with. It shows the water temperature, when the steam is ready, and also the classic on/off indicator.
The wand also acts as a hot water dispenser which is how you’re able to please the coffee enthusiasts in the household.
Although the 14101 is the best espresso machine for home use, there are two things missing from the package. The absence of a stainless steel milk jug is not a deal-breaker, but it is noticeable.There is also no built-in grinder in the Gaggia 14101, which may be obvious from the price. This won’t matter too much if you already have a favorite blend of ground coffee or if you have a separate grinder. However, it may affect the convenience rating for some people.
This machine takes brewing coffee to a whole new level.
The super automatic DeLonghi Prima Donna S is our top pick for the office environment.
It can be the best espresso machine for home use too if you’re able to splurge on such items.
The main reason this machine is more suited for semi-commercial use is its endurance.
It can handle brewing shots of espresso and lattes for hours and hours.
Hence the higher price and why it’s not too many people’s first choice for home use.
DeLonghi equipped this model with a full digital display and stainless steel housing.
There is also a memory feature that makes it easier to make things happen during a busy office day.
The water tank is not that much bigger than that of a residential espresso machine as it only holds 67 ounces.
The Prima Donna S has an integrated burr grinder which you can adjust according to consistency or concentration preferences.
The milk frother has its own container equipped with a dispenser.
This makes up the LatteCrema system which pours long-lasting foam every time.The design is quite compact for how many features it has packed in.
The only real downside is that it’s not a budget-friendly option for most households.
Apart from this, there’s nothing negative to say about the consistency of the brew and the durability of a DeLonghi deluxe product… only that it is the best espresso machine for office use.
Does the best espresso machine for you have to come from one of the fancy manufacturers?
If you ever thought so you should definitely expand your horizons some when looking for small kitchen appliances.
The Ninja Coffee Bar doesn’t just sound cool, it has some great features to back up our claim.
The specialty brew is due to the hand creamer, otherwise known as a milk frother. This lets you create a creamier texture that you just can’t get out of traditional espresso machines.
The maintenance is super easy.
All the parts come apart with ease and there’s also an internal self-cleaning feature that keeps the Ninja Coffee Bar from clogging up.
Although most may not regard it as fancy, this espresso machine does have three distinct brew settings.
You can brew a single shot or use a regular drip brewing setting with the cup on a hot plate.
There are also a couple of different brew sizes.
The Ninja Coffee Bar is adjustable and can fit a regular cup, an XL cup, a travel mug, or a multi-serving of XL cups.
It comes with the Ninja XL hot and cold tumbler.The Ninja Coffee Bar is certainly more versatile than a more expensive traditional espresso machine. It also comes with a recipe book designed around its unique features, just in case you need some new ideas.
What makes this arguably the best espresso machine with grinder?
It’s obviously the superior burr grinder. It’s small and very quiet.
It is also adjustable so that you can use both coffee beans and ground coffee.
Of course, there’s more to it than just a superior grinding result.
The double boiler is made from stainless steel and it’s completely removable.
This makes maintenance by hand a lot easier. The ESAM3300 Magnifica also has automated programs for rinsing and de-clogging.
Another reason you might enjoy this espresso machine is its small footprint.
Even with a compact design there is still room for the DeLonghi patented cappuccino system.
There’s also adjustability for the coffee spigot which means you can use more than just an espresso cup.
The memory function is also great if you don’t want to punch in a bunch of buttons every morning.
The consistency of the brew is what you would expect from a DeLonghi product.
It’s almost on par with their deluxe line of espresso machines, which is great considering the budget-friendly cost of this model.What makes this even sweeter is the Rapid Cappuccino System that’s well-known among DeLonghi users.
This ensures that the water temperature stays at optimum levels, so you can brew cup after cup.
If everyone in the family drinks the same blend, this feature shaves off precious minutes every morning.
Not everyone is a stickler for taste; some of us drink coffee for the boost of energy in the morning and that’s that.
If you’re like that, you may appreciate a lower price tag on an espresso machine more than anything else.
However, just because you want one that’s under $300 doesn’t mean you can’t find one that’s the best espresso machine for that price.
The Café Barista is semi-automatic and can make espresso, latte, and cappuccino.
It has a 15 bar pump and it heats up the water pretty fast for a 1040W boiler.
There’s even a milk frother attached to help you get consistent creamy foam in each cup.
Both the milk and water containers are easily removable for refilling and maintenance.
The control panel is highly intuitive and lets you switch between drinks with one press of a button.
Virtually no experience is required to use the Café Barista.
The cup tray is also adjustable and can fit most travel mugs.
You also get plenty of accessories such as a measuring scoop, tamper, and single and double-shot filters.Although the Café Barista isn’t made with high-end components, its lifespan is nothing to sneeze at. It may require more maintenance than a top-tier espresso machine but considering its affordable price, it could be worth it.
All the accessories and especially the milk frother make a strong argument that the Café Barista could be the best espresso machine for under $300.
The Rancilio Silvia is the embodiment of simplicity and quality.
The settings panel is simple and it’s what a lot of people prefer over tons of customization settings.
The emphasis is placed on actual brewing quality and efficiency rather than eye-catching features.
That being said, the Rancilio Silvia espresso machine is aesthetically pleasing.
The iron framework gives it enough durability to stand up to even the best espresso machine out there.
The finishing touch of the stainless steel panels is always good to have.
There’s also something to be said about its durability.
The Silvia model fits right in between residential and commercial espresso machines.
It heats up the water as fast as any other machine in its price range and its rotating steam wand helps create the texture you want for your foam.
The water tank and the drip tray are removable for quick maintenance.
The reason this is only a best espresso machine runner-up would have to be the price.
It’s slightly more expensive than the Breville by the time we write this review, while delivering fewer features.The three thermostats carefully monitor steam, boiler, and espresso temperatures. The brew quality is there and if you don’t care much about fancy extras you’ll probably enjoy the Rancilio Silvia as much as any other espresso machine on our list.
Another alternative for home use is the Keurig Rivo.
It’s not the best espresso machine overall, but that’s probably because it does more than focus on just espressos.
The included frother might already make this an interesting choice for those that have a hard time making perfect foam.
With 15 bars of pressure, the brewing process takes about a minute which puts it on par with even the best espresso machine on this list.
The design is not as compact as you would expect as it is bulkier than the average machine.
That’s because Keurig chose to fit the water tank on the side for easier access than back-loaded tanks.
There’s also a milk reservoir under the included frother with three settings.
The factory-set espresso sizes are 1.4 oz. and 2.8 oz.
The focus may be on foamy shenanigans and affordability, but the ratios are spot on. However, the durability of the Rivo is debatable.
While it’s not made from cheap parts, it’s hard to think that the Rivo could compare with the best espresso machine on the market in terms of durability due to its extensive use of plastic parts.The Rivo is our alternative pick for the best espresso machine under $300. It will serve you well with care and regular maintenance.
The Aicok espresso machine may be a 2-in-1 espresso maker but it certainly packs plenty of extra features in a compact design.
The pump reaches 15 bars of pressure which extracts the entire flavor you need from your grounds.
It also helps create very aerated milk foam for your cappuccino.
The heater runs on 1050W which isn’t much, but it does manage to fill up your espresso cup in a minute and a half.
The water reservoir is smaller than those on most units as it has a 51-ounce capacity; however, that should still be enough to satisfy a medium-sized family with different coffee preferences in the morning.
The Aicok espresso machine also has LED indicators for power and for when it’s ready to brew.
The steam wand rotates 180 degrees and has a rubberized handle to make it more convenient to use.
Switching between coffee and steam is done with a simple switch and you can control the pressure from the operation knob.
Overall this Aicok model is nothing we haven’t seen before, but it does everything it advertises to do with ease.Despite its affordable price tag, it has a full stainless steel body. It doesn’t look as fancy as our top-rated Mr. Coffee Café Barista, but it can brew a rich shot of creamy espresso nearly just as well.
Hamilton Beach is a company quite familiar with quality small kitchen appliances.
You can count on them to offer cool budget options regardless of the niche.
The 40792 is hands down the most budget-friendly option on this list.
It comes with minimal features and a compact design which may come in handy if you move a lot. It’s easy to carry with you and you don’t have to worry about counter space.
It might be the best espresso machine for the money.
The pump operates at 15 bars of pressure which is already on par with high-end models.
It also features the slide and lock filter that the manufacturer is known for.
The steam wand is placed close to the brew head to make the Hamilton Beach as compact as it is.
Of course, in its price range there are some things that you obviously don’t get.
The 40792 is mostly plastic which will affect its long-term durability.
That being said, if you just want your shot of espresso and not much else, this is certainly a viable option.
Not all espresso machines are created equal.
That’s why there’s always the best espresso machine for a particular task that doesn’t necessarily excel at others. For someone who has never owned one, it may seem like too much to take in, but understanding the differences between the three main types is important.Each has its own pros and cons. These impact not only the quality of the espresso but also the ease of use and of course the price. Picking the best espresso machine for your needs starts with knowing what each type of machine offers.
Is a manual espresso machine the best espresso machine?
Probably not. However, this type of machine will likely give you more joy as it directly involves you in the brewing process.
A manual espresso machine can reach a pressure of up to 10 bars which is great for espresso shots.
At the same time, some of them may only get up to 8 bars of pressure.
That’s 1 bar short of the recommended espresso-brewing pressure.
In terms of pricing, manual espresso machines have both affordable and high-end price tags.
It’s a common misconception that all manual machines are stripped down to the bare essential features.
Of course, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and this applies to manual espresso machines as well.
On the one hand, the coffee enthusiast might get a kick out of putting in the effort to brew. But those that drink just for the pick-me-up effect and nothing else might not find a manually driven machine very convenient even at a discount.
Manual espresso machines are often used to brew espresso on the go.
Semi-automatic espresso machines are perhaps the most popular for residential and commercial use.
They can be programmed or manually assisted, depending on the user’s mood or necessities.
What does a semi-automatic espresso machine do on its own?
Usually, it extracts the preset amount of espresso or coffee.
Some of the newer machines may also be equipped with a milk frother that doesn’t require manual control.
Needless to say, these tend to produce cappuccinos and lattes with a better consistency.
There are also semi-automatic machines that are more customizable. Some allow you to stop the pouring process whenever you like. Others have a rotating steam wand that requires you to make your own foam with the machine’s assistance.Another reason why some espresso machines are called semi-automatic is because they don’t have a built-in coffee grinder. You’ll have to grind the coffee beans in a separate machine and manually load the ground coffee.
Super automatic espresso machines are all about ease of use.
This is a bit weird since some of them are so packed with features, buttons, and displays that it may seem hard to use them without consulting the manual thoroughly.
Oftentimes, a super automatic espresso machine will have pre-grinding and pre-brewing features.
It will also have a few programmable systems for brewing specific recipes and quantities. Many of the newer super automatic machines also have temperature controls (not just displays) and self-cleaning programs.There are usually even more accessories included in a super automatic espresso machine. If you enjoy more than just the traditional espresso and like to have a varied palette of warm brews, then a super automatic espresso machine might be more your speed.
This sounds redundant, but it really isn’t.
The best espresso machine is not the same for everyone because not all people like the same things.
If you’re the ultimate coffee enthusiast, you probably want to get a manual machine and be a part of the process.
If you don’t have time to even check the weather in the morning, then you’ll want a super automatic espresso machine.
That way you press one button and in a few seconds your shot is ready and perfectly brewed to your taste.
But if you’re on a tight budget you may just want the bare minimum of features on an espresso machine.
And, if it doesn’t break the bank but wakes you up in the morning and leaves a pleasant taste in your mouth, it may feel like the best espresso machine to you.
Figuring out precisely why you need one is the first thing to do.
After that, you can focus on what you want it to do and how it does it. This thought process may very well help you save some cash on your next purchase.
Ease of use can sometimes be tied in with performance and here’s why.
Let’s say the best espresso machine you can afford has simple one-push buttons and a steam wand.
It’s easy to program it to make your shot, but what if you have to twirl with the skill of a master barista to get the foam you like?
Judging an espresso machine based on the number of buttons it has is not always ideal.
After all, one quick glance over the instruction manual can often be enough to figure it out.
However, if its performance is lacking despite your best efforts to customize the brewing process, would you still call it the best espresso machine in terms of ease of use?
These two go hand in hand, and in order to be the best espresso machine, the appliance needs to balance both aspects.
Just because a machine has fewer buttons doesn’t mean it will be easier to work with, especially if it’s a manual espresso machine or a semi-automatic espresso machine.
Ease of use also ties in with the maintenance aspect. If it needs a thorough cleaning after every three or four shots of espresso, it’s not that easy to use overall.Also, if you enjoy a hands-on approach to brewing espresso it might not be easy. Manual espresso machines require some getting used to and no two models are alike. You have to get a feel for the amount of pressure you use and how fine you have to grind your own beans.
This is usually how most people decide the best espresso machine for them.
The extra features can cover everything from an included stainless steel milk mug to memory settings for 10 recipes.
If you generally enjoy espresso and all its variants and don’t drink it just for the after effect, the more features the better.
Memory settings let you customize recipes and have them saved for a later date or for others to try out.
This feature works especially well in commercial or semi-commercial espresso machines such as those used in offices.
Having single-shot and double-shot filters as part of the package is always great as not every espresso machine comes with them.
Something as simple as a rotating steam wand can become a deal-breaker. If it doesn’t spin 360 degrees and stops at 180, it might not be good enough for everyone’s needs.
If you’re a busy person, then you might need some notification features on your espresso machine. That will let you know when the coffee is done or even when it’s time to clean the machine. An auto shutoff feature might also be of some use if you have a tendency of leaving appliances on.
Dual containers for both milk and water are even more important for some people. In an office environment, it can save a lot of time if all you have to do is press one or two buttons to make a quick latte or cappuccino.Does the espresso machine have a milk frother? Not everyone likes foam made with a simple steam wand. If that’s the case then you might be inclined to go with a model that has this feature instead of something else you don’t care about, say a temperature display.
Gauging an espresso machine’s durability can be tricky.
Even top manufacturers sometimes produce duds and people end up returning items.
That being said, you have a better chance of getting a working espresso machine back after sending it in for service if you’re dealing with one of the top names in the business than a small-time manufacturer.
The brands everyone knows and loves like Brevile, Hamilton Beach, DeLonghi, etc., have stood the test of time.
That doesn’t mean that every once and a while you won’t find high quality products with an unknown label.
Some focus more on creating highly durable machines rather than implementing a lot of customizable settings.
That’s why it’s not hard to find an espresso machine that lasts even 15 or more years with proper maintenance.
Some will try to trick customers into believing an espresso machine requires zero maintenance.
If you thought that manufacturers would stop with this false advertising, you were wrong. No matter how little maintenance an espresso machine requires, you still have to care for it.
Periodic cleaning and the occasional descaling to remove unavoidable deposits are recommended. Those who say that manufacturers don’t make anything ‘like they used to’ just don’t pay as much attention to their appliances.
You shouldn’t base your decision on how much maintenance an espresso machine needs. The only thing that matters is how the parts are assembled. That determines how easy or hard it is to access every orifice once you take it apart.
Sure, these days almost every espresso machine can be called the best espresso machine when it comes to brewing speed.
It seems like all of them take 1-2 minutes including warm-up to produce a quality shot of espresso.
However, once you are familiar with the pressure specifications, it’s not that black and white anymore, is it?
Some manual machines may only reach a pressure of 8 bars. That’s enough to make espresso but not top-quality espresso; 9 bars is the minimum you should accept on your new espresso machine if you care about taste at all.
The capacity of the water tank is not too important for small shots of espresso. It is important in terms of how the reservoir is set up. For example, you may not want to splurge on a self-cleaning espresso machine.
If that’s the case, you’ll want a decent-sized water tank that’s easy to remove and clean.Maybe you want two separate tanks for water and milk. That will usually cost you more, but you should note that the capacity may sometimes be displayed as a sum instead of individual numbers.
Last but not least, the budget always plays a major role in the decision to buy any big or small kitchen appliance.
For long-term use and especially for a residential setting, a middle- to top-tier espresso machine may not be as expensive as you think.
If the only reason you’re raking up bills from coffee shops is because you can’t make your own at home, then even an expensive espresso maker can help you reduce your monthly expenses.
Does this mean you should get the priciest one out there? Of course not.
Once you’re familiar with all the features and the types of espresso machines, it becomes easier to understand when you should or shouldn’t pay for something. Take for example the DeLonghi Prima Donna S.
This is a deluxe espresso machine that doesn’t come cheap but not because of its extra features. This machine is designed to withstand a high usage rate.
If you’re buying it for your home, you shouldn’t really care about paying extra for endurance. Chances are you won’t be using it 10 or 12 hours a day continuously.Don’t need memory settings or a built-in grinder? Then it shouldn’t be a problem to still get high quality espresso with one of the stripped down versions. These will cost significantly less, and they usually don’t compromise on durability either.
The best way to clean your espresso machine is usually by following the instruction manual that came with it. For general maintenance, you may want to consider cleaning the portafilter and filter basket by hand. The brew head is also important, and you might want to take a brush to it to be thorough. If you want to clean the inside of the machine, the occasional descaling is recommended. The frequency depends on how often you use the machine and how hard the water is. This involves running a chemical cleaning agent through the machine to remove mineral deposits. You can also apply the standard vinegar or citric acid cleaning cycle, although after that it will require running a lot of water through the boiler and brew head to remove the smell.
Espresso machine maintenance is not hard, but it is time-consuming. First of all, you should clean the machine daily or even after each use. If you’re using a residential espresso machine, cleaning it after each shot is simple enough. Commercial espresso machines require a full cleaning at the end of each day. A deep chemical clean is required once a week for commercial espresso machines. Residential machines that don’t see too much use can do with one every two or so weeks. Descaling is recommended every three or so months. This helps remove mineral deposits that build up over time in the machine.
Backflushing an espresso machine differs from one model to another. The owner’s manual should specify after how many shots the procedure is mandatory. Keep in mind that backflushing can also be a part of your regular cleanup routine to make sure you’re as thorough as possible.
The amount of time it takes for an espresso machine to heat up depends on operating power of the boiler and the group head placement. The closer it is to the boiler, the faster it heats up. Generally speaking, most modern espresso machines are ready to brew after one or two minutes of warm-up. Some designs that use thermo-block technology can heat up the water needed for a shot in just seconds.
Despite having quite an intricate mechanism, an espresso machine revolves around a simple principle. It forces pressurized hot water (about 1.5 ounces) through ground coffee in one or more filters. This creates much more concentrated and thicker version of regular coffee. It’s important to remember that espresso grinds are finer than traditional coffee grinds for drip machines.
Descaling an espresso machine is a lengthy process. First, you fill the reservoir with water and then add the descaling solution. The amount of time it takes to dissolve will depend on the brand of commercial descaling agent. The second step involves running the solution through the machine’s steam wand. You need to hold a container under the wand to avoid damaging the espresso machine’s exterior. Fill one cup through the wand before you turn off the machine. After about 20 minutes, run the descaling agent through the steam wand and group head (except for super automatic espresso machines). After letting it sit for another 20 minutes, you can run the remaining solution through the machine and then flush it with a full reservoir of water.
A good shot of espresso only needs 9 bars of pressure. However, the pumps of most modern espresso machines operate at 15 or even 20 bars. That’s especially useful for frothing milk. More than that, high pressure makes for good sales pitch to consumers.
The first espresso machine was patented in 1884 in Turin by Angelo Moriondo. On the other hand, the first espresso machine to see commercial production was based on a series of patented improvements made by Milanese engineer Luigi Bezzera. However, it wasn’t until 1905 that espresso machines became a consumer product. At the time the rate of production was just one per day. Read this article if you want to know more on the history of espresso.
Yes. Most if not all espresso machines are equipped with the required accessories for lattes. As long as they have a steam wand and decent pressure settings, you should have no problem making foamed milk for your latte.
If your espresso machine has a steam wand, it can be used for cappuccino. A cappuccino only requires around 0.8oz of espresso and around 2.8oz of milk. However, most machines won’t pour both the espresso and the milk in the same cup for you, even if it has an automatic steamer or frother. But some modern machines can do that, such as the DeLonghi Prima Donna S reviewed above. We have a detailed guide you may want to check out.
Yes. If you want a more consistent hot chocolate, you can add powder to the milk and start working the steam wand. Given you rotate it constantly, you can have a hot chocolate with an almost pudding-like consistency. If you don’t want that, you can adjust the steam pressure for the wand on some espresso machines so that it doesn’t thicken the drink.
When using an espresso machine, you have three choices of grinds. You can buy already fine ground coffee, use your own grinder, or use the built-in burr grinder if the machine has one. However, even in the burr grinder you can’t use large coffee beans. Checking the manual should offer clear indications as to what size is recommended for optimal performance.
The longevity of your espresso machine usually depends on the manufacturer’s experience. Some machines may only last about 5 years while others last up to 15 or 20 years. Whether you have a commercial or a residential machine is also important. Even though they feature heavier-duty build quality, commercial machines tend to have a lower lifespan due to their increased usage rate. However, there’s nothing to prevent you from getting a commercial-grade machine for home use. It might last longer in your kitchen than regular consumer-grade machines – that is if the upgrade bug doesn’t hit you first.
The short answer would be no. The closest thing you can get to regular coffee from an espresso machine is an Americano. The water is forced with increased pressure through the grinds. This makes both the process and the result entirely different from drip-brewed regular coffee. It is worth mentioning that some espresso machines have a drip feature also, but this is usually only found on large commercial machines.
Buying the best espresso machine for your needs may be tricky.
There’s plenty of information to take in but we feel that it’s worth the research. No one wants to be bothered with returning products after testing them and waiting for their money back, or worse, being forced to exchange for something else.
An espresso machine will most likely be the first thing to make you smile in the morning. That’s why it’s important that you choose one that suits all your needs. You may not be able to influence the decision-making process for the new office espresso machine, but you can at least make sure that your kitchen is equipped to your liking.
Our top pick for the best espresso machine, the Breville BES870XL, was an easy choice. It has almost every setting and feature you could need for traditional high-quality espresso, as well as for experimenting with other recipes. It has a good balance between price, performance, and quality.