The Best Espresso Machine to Buy in 2019 – 2020. Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

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As Espresso coffee is becoming more popular in homes and workplaces, espresso machines are also available in all sorts of shapes and features. 

There are semi automatic and superautomatic espresso machines, with grinder and milk frother, best for home or office use, not to mention the range of price that may go from 50$ up to over 4,000$.

best espresso makers

That is really confusing!

To help you understand what is the best espresso maker for you, at SoloEspresso we have narrowed down the best options available and have prepared an in depth guide to help you make an educated purchase.

Here are the 10 best espresso machines on the market in 2019 .

Our Top 3 Espresso Maker Picks

If you are in a rush, here are our top 3 Espresso Maker picksBreville Barista BES870XL, Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro  and  DeLonghi ECAM28465M Prima Donna.

These espresso makers are very popular, so if they meet your budget, you can't go wrong.

Product
Best Overall
Breville the Barista Express Espresso Machine, BES870XL
Best Semi Automatic
Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine, Solid, Brushed Stainless Steel
Best Super Automatic
DeLonghi America ECAM28465M Prima Donna Fully Automatic Espresso Machine with Lattecrema System
Image
Breville the Barista Express Espresso Machine, BES870XL
Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine, Solid, Brushed Stainless Steel
DeLonghi America ECAM28465M Prima Donna Fully Automatic Espresso Machine with Lattecrema System
Prime
Best Overall
Product
Breville the Barista Express Espresso Machine, BES870XL
Image
Breville the Barista Express Espresso Machine, BES870XL
Prime
Best Semi Automatic
Product
Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine, Solid, Brushed Stainless Steel
Image
Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine, Solid, Brushed Stainless Steel
Prime
Best Super Automatic
Product
DeLonghi America ECAM28465M Prima Donna Fully Automatic Espresso Machine with Lattecrema System
Image
DeLonghi America ECAM28465M Prima Donna Fully Automatic Espresso Machine with Lattecrema System
Prime

The Best Espresso Coffee Machines Compared - Top 10 Reviews

Here is our top 10 list of highest rated espresso machines on the market in 2019. They all have different features, price points and specs. We have reviewed them considering also for what use or feature they are top rated. Over to you now to pick the espresso maker that best meets your needs.  

Product
Top Pick
Breville the Barista Express Espresso Machine, BES870XL
Best for Home
Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine, Solid, Brushed Stainless Steel
Best for Office
DeLonghi America ECAM28465M Prima Donna Fully Automatic Espresso Machine with Lattecrema System
Best with Milk Frother
Ninja Single-Serve, Pod-Free Coffee Maker Bar with Hot and Iced Coffee, Auto-iQ, Built-In Milk Frother, 5 Brew Styles, and Water Reservoir (CF112)
Best with Grinder
DELONGHI ESAM3300 Super Automatic Espresso/Coffee Machine
Image
Breville the Barista Express Espresso Machine, BES870XL
Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine, Solid, Brushed Stainless Steel
DeLonghi America ECAM28465M Prima Donna Fully Automatic Espresso Machine with Lattecrema System
Ninja Single-Serve, Pod-Free Coffee Maker Bar with Hot and Iced Coffee, Auto-iQ, Built-In Milk Frother, 5 Brew Styles, and Water Reservoir (CF112)
DELONGHI ESAM3300 Super Automatic Espresso/Coffee Machine
Weight
23 pounds
20 pounds
26.5 pounds
12 pounds
31.1 pounds
Dimensions
13.2 x 12.5 x 15.8 inches
8 x 9.5 x 9.5 inches
9.4 x 17.4 x 13.6 inches
12.2 x 11 x 16.3 inches
15.3 x 11 x 14.4 inches
Prime
-
Top Pick
Product
Breville the Barista Express Espresso Machine, BES870XL
Image
Breville the Barista Express Espresso Machine, BES870XL
Weight
23 pounds
Dimensions
13.2 x 12.5 x 15.8 inches
Prime
Best for Home
Product
Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine, Solid, Brushed Stainless Steel
Image
Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine, Solid, Brushed Stainless Steel
Weight
20 pounds
Dimensions
8 x 9.5 x 9.5 inches
Prime
Best for Office
Product
DeLonghi America ECAM28465M Prima Donna Fully Automatic Espresso Machine with Lattecrema System
Image
DeLonghi America ECAM28465M Prima Donna Fully Automatic Espresso Machine with Lattecrema System
Weight
26.5 pounds
Dimensions
9.4 x 17.4 x 13.6 inches
Prime
Best with Milk Frother
Product
Ninja Single-Serve, Pod-Free Coffee Maker Bar with Hot and Iced Coffee, Auto-iQ, Built-In Milk Frother, 5 Brew Styles, and Water Reservoir (CF112)
Image
Ninja Single-Serve, Pod-Free Coffee Maker Bar with Hot and Iced Coffee, Auto-iQ, Built-In Milk Frother, 5 Brew Styles, and Water Reservoir (CF112)
Weight
12 pounds
Dimensions
12.2 x 11 x 16.3 inches
Prime
-
Best with Grinder
Product
DELONGHI ESAM3300 Super Automatic Espresso/Coffee Machine
Image
DELONGHI ESAM3300 Super Automatic Espresso/Coffee Machine
Weight
31.1 pounds
Dimensions
15.3 x 11 x 14.4 inches
Prime
Product
Best For the Money
Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker | Café Barista , Silver
Runner Up Overall
Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine with Iron Frame and Stainless Steel Side Panels, 11.4 by 13.4-Inch
Runner Up for the Money
The Keurig Rivo Cappuccino and Latte System
AICOK Espresso Machine, Cappuccino Maker, Latte Coffee Maker, Moka Maker, Espresso Maker with Milk Frother, 15 Bar Pump, 1050W, Stainess Steel
Hamilton Beach Espresso, Latte and Cappuccino Machine with Milk Frother, 15 Bar Italian Pump, Black and Stainless (40792)
Image
Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker | Café Barista , Silver
Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine with Iron Frame and Stainless Steel Side Panels, 11.4 by 13.4-Inch
The Keurig Rivo Cappuccino and Latte System
AICOK Espresso Machine, Cappuccino Maker, Latte Coffee Maker, Moka Maker, Espresso Maker with Milk Frother, 15 Bar Pump, 1050W, Stainess Steel
Hamilton Beach Espresso, Latte and Cappuccino Machine with Milk Frother, 15 Bar Italian Pump, Black and Stainless (40792)
Weight
10.37 pounds
30.8 pounds
17 pounds
10 pounds
9.37 pounds
Dimensions
11.2 x 8.9 x 12.6 inches
9.2 x 11.4 x 13.3 inches
11.4 x 10.8 x 11.4 inches
11 x 8 x 11.5 inches
12 x 9.6 x 11.6 inches
Prime
-
-
Best For the Money
Product
Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker | Café Barista , Silver
Image
Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker | Café Barista , Silver
Weight
10.37 pounds
Dimensions
11.2 x 8.9 x 12.6 inches
Prime
Runner Up Overall
Product
Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine with Iron Frame and Stainless Steel Side Panels, 11.4 by 13.4-Inch
Image
Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine with Iron Frame and Stainless Steel Side Panels, 11.4 by 13.4-Inch
Weight
30.8 pounds
Dimensions
9.2 x 11.4 x 13.3 inches
Prime
-
Runner Up for the Money
Product
The Keurig Rivo Cappuccino and Latte System
Image
The Keurig Rivo Cappuccino and Latte System
Weight
17 pounds
Dimensions
11.4 x 10.8 x 11.4 inches
Prime
Product
AICOK Espresso Machine, Cappuccino Maker, Latte Coffee Maker, Moka Maker, Espresso Maker with Milk Frother, 15 Bar Pump, 1050W, Stainess Steel
Image
AICOK Espresso Machine, Cappuccino Maker, Latte Coffee Maker, Moka Maker, Espresso Maker with Milk Frother, 15 Bar Pump, 1050W, Stainess Steel
Weight
10 pounds
Dimensions
11 x 8 x 11.5 inches
Prime
-
Product
Hamilton Beach Espresso, Latte and Cappuccino Machine with Milk Frother, 15 Bar Italian Pump, Black and Stainless (40792)
Image
Hamilton Beach Espresso, Latte and Cappuccino Machine with Milk Frother, 15 Bar Italian Pump, Black and Stainless (40792)
Weight
9.37 pounds
Dimensions
12 x 9.6 x 11.6 inches
Prime

Breville BES870XL Barista Express Coffee Machine

Top Pick

Breville the Barista Express Espresso Machine, BES870XL

Having a strong espresso coffee every morning is what most of us want, at least on workdays. You may think that you have to splurge in order to get the best quality and consistency, but that’s not always the case.

The Breville Barista BES870XL is our first choice overall. It combines high-quality parts with a top level brewing experience, without breaking the bank. 

It’s also important to note that the longevity of Breville products is usually superior.

The Breville Barista BES870XL comes with both single-wall and dual-wall filters. There are 4 filters in all for you to experiment with coffee of different beans 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 espresso is brewed in record time.

Breville the Barista Express Espresso Machine, BES870XL

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 a best fit in any small office or home kitchen.

The water tank has a capacity of 67 ounces. 

The best espresso maker in our list has to come with all the accessories you need. The Breville Barista BES870XL gives not only volumetric controls and a built in grinder for the beans 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 espresso maker 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. 

Based on our findings, the Breville Barista BES870XL is a serious contender as best espresso maker for home.


Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine

Best for Home

Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine, Solid, Brushed Stainless Steel

The Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine is a must-have for those who not only like to drink a delicious cup of espresso, but want to learn how to make it. Being a semi-automatic machine, it allows you to make your coffee the way you like it.

 The espresso machine has a large water reservoir with a capacity of 72 ounces. It also has a commercial-level portafilter which extracts just the right amount of flavour from the coffee grounds to make a perfectly concentrated brew.

This Italian espresso machine is designed to make a barista-level coffee in the comforts of your home. Apart from the professional portafilter, it comes with a commercial steam wand to steam and froth the milk. This milk can then be used to create latte art.

The best feature of this Classic Pro Espresso Machine is that it is very easy to operate. The only controls present in this machine are three rocker switches- the on/off switch, the “brew” switch and the “steam” switch.

However, you have to do a lot of work to make your coffee and to maintain the machine. The machine does not have an in-built grinder and thus either you have to use pre-ground coffee or buy a grinder. Also, you have to clean the machine yourself.

 Thus, if you are looking for a delicious espresso-making machine,and don’t mind bit more of work for it, then you might find nothing better than the Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine.
Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine, Solid, Brushed Stainless Steel

The Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine is actually an upgrade to the Gaggia 14101 Classic Coffee Maker, which is no longer available in the market. The Classic Pro is much quieter than the 14101 Classic, the pump is better, and the steam wand forms lesser bubbles in the frothed milk.


DeLonghi Prima Donna S Super Automatic Espresso Machine

Best for Office

DeLonghi America ECAM28465M Prima Donna Fully Automatic Espresso Machine with Lattecrema System

This machine takes brewing coffee to a whole new level. The superautomatic DeLonghi Prima Donna S is our choice as best espresso maker for the office environment.

It can good for home use too if you’re able to splurge on such items. The main reason this Italian espresso machine is best suited for semi commercial use is its endurance. It can handle brewing shots of espresso coffee 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 home 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 espresso coffee brew and the durability of a DeLonghi deluxe product… only that it is the best to-go espresso maker for office use.


Ninja CF112 Coffee Bar

Best with Milk Frother

Ninja Single-Serve, Pod-Free Coffee Maker Bar with Hot and Iced Coffee, Auto-iQ, Built-In Milk Frother, 5 Brew Styles, and Water Reservoir (CF112)

Does the espresso maker you choose have to come from one of the big brands? If you ever thought so you should definitely expand your horizons 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 espresso coffee texture that you just can’t get out of traditional espresso machines.

And a good to have is that 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 maker 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 maker. It also comes with a recipe book designed around its unique features, just in case you need some new ideas. As discussed, maybe not the best espresso machine in our round up but it is definitely worth considering.


DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica

Best with Grinder

DELONGHI ESAM3300 Super Automatic Espresso/Coffee Machine

What makes this arguably the best choice 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 DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica also has automated programs for rinsing and de-clogging. What makes this even sweeter is the Rapid Cappuccino System that’s well known among DeLonghi users. 

Another reason you might enjoy this espresso coffee 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.

DELONGHI ESAM3300 Super Automatic Espresso/Coffee Machine

The consistency of the brew is what you would expect from a DeLonghi product. It’s almost on par with their deluxe line of its category, which is great considering the budget friendly cost of this model. 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 coffee blend, this feature shaves off precious minutes every morning.


Mr. Coffee Café Barista

Best for the Money

Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker | Café Barista , Silver

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 more than anything else.

However, just because you want one that has a great price quality value, doesn’t mean you can’t find one that brews an espresso quite well.

The Mr Coffee Café Barista is semi automatic and can make espresso coffee, 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.

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 maker but considering its affordable price, it could be worth it. 

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.

All the accessories and especially the milk frother make a strong argument that the Café Barista could be one of the top picks as best affordable espresso machine.

Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker | Café Barista , Silver

Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine

Runner Up

Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine with Iron Frame and Stainless Steel Side Panels, 11.4 by 13.4-Inch

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 espresso coffee brewing quality and efficiency rather than eye catching features.

That being said, the Rancilio Silvia espresso maker is aesthetically pleasing. The iron framework gives it enough durability to stand up to even the best in its category 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 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 coffee machine on our list.

The Silvia model fits at best in between home 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 runner up and not competing as best espresso maker 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. Should this change we will check our verdict. 


Keurig Rivo Cappuccino and Latte System

Runner Up for the Money

The Keurig Rivo Cappuccino and Latte System

Another alternative for home use is the Keurig Rivo. It’s not the best espresso maker 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 winner on this list.

The design is not as compact as you would expect as it is bulkier than the average machine. The Rivo is our alternative pick for the best choice for the money. It will serve you well with care and regular maintenance.

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 alternatives on the market in terms of durability due to its extensive use of plastic parts.


Aicok Espresso Machine

AICOK Espresso Machine, Cappuccino Maker, Latte Coffee Maker, Moka Maker, Espresso Maker with Milk Frother, 15 Bar Pump, 1050W, Stainess Steel

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 preferences about what their best coffee is.

The Aicok Espresso Machine also has LED indicators for power and for when it’s ready to brew.

Despite its affordable price tag, it has a full stainless steel body. It doesn’t look as fancy as the Mr. Coffee Café Barista, but it can brew a rich shot of creamy espresso nearly just as well.

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.


Hamilton Beach 40792 Espresso and Cappuccino Maker

Hamilton Beach Espresso, Latte and Cappuccino Machine with Milk Frother, 15 Bar Italian Pump, Black and Stainless (40792)

Hamilton Beach 40792 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 one of 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 holds proudly its position as one of the best espresso maker options 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 may 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.

Hamilton Beach Espresso, Latte and Cappuccino Machine with Milk Frother, 15 Bar Italian Pump, Black and Stainless (40792)

How to Choose an Espresso Coffee Machine - Buying Guide

Types of Espresso Machines

Not all espresso machines are created equal.

That’s why there’s always a best 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. There are several reasons to pick a quality machine and choosing an espresso maker that suits your needs starts with knowing what each type of machine offers.


Manual Machines

Is a manual espresso maker the best choice? 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 coffee brewing pressure.

In terms of pricing, manual espresso coffee 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 coffee 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 coffee on the go. If you want to know more check out our best portable espresso maker reviews article.

Semi Automatic Machines

Semi-automatic espresso machines are perhaps the most popular for home and commercial use. They can be programmed or manually assisted, depending on the user’s mood or necessities. 

What does a semi-automatic espresso maker do on its own? Usually, it extracts the preset amount of espresso or coffee. Some of the best and 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 helps 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.

Superautomatic Machines

Superautomatic 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 maker 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 superautomatic machines also have temperature controls (not just displays) and self-cleaning programs, like the Jura Impressa C65 or the DeLonghi Prima Donna.

There are usually even more accessories included in a superautomatic espresso maker. If you enjoy more than just the traditional espresso coffee and like to have a varied palette of warm brews, then a superautomatic espresso maker might be more your speed. We have a dedicate article on best superautomatic espresso machine reviews you can check out.

How to Choose an Espresso Machine

Know Your Needs

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, grind your beans 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 maker. 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 maker. 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 perfect 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 and Performance - Make your life easy!

Ease of use can sometimes be tied in with performance and here’s why. Let’s say the best espresso maker you can afford has simple one push buttons and a steam wand. Find out more in our article focusing on the Nespresso machines reviews. 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 coffee maker based on the number of buttons it has is not always the best decision. 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 perfect espresso maker in terms of ease of use?

These two go hand in hand, and in order to be the ideal one for you, 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 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 practice to get used to each one 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.

Extra Features - the Goods to Have

This is usually how most people decide the top rated espresso coffee 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 the top commercial espresso machine available on the market such as those used in Coffee Shops.

Having single shot and double shot filters as part of the package is always great as not every espresso maker 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 machine. That will let you know when the coffee is done or even when it’s time to clean it. 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 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.

Durability

Gauging an espresso coffee machine’s durability can be tricky. Even the best manufacturers sometimes produce duds and people end up returning items.

That being said, you have a better chance of getting a working espresso maker 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 in a while you won’t find high quality products from unknown brands.

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.

Maintenance Required

Some will try to trick customers into believing an espresso coffee 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 maker 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.

Brewing Speed and Capacity

Sure, these days almost every espresso maker can be called the best performer 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 or to prepare espresso based drinks like cortado. 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 maker. 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.

Your Budget

Last but not least, the budget always plays a major role in the decision to buy any big or small kitchen appliance. This is true for espresso machines as well.

For long term use and especially for a residential setting, a middle to top tier espresso maker 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 coffee 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. We have an article with a bunch of reviews where you can choose among the best budget espresso machines the one you like most. 

Espresso Machine Common FAQ

How do I clean my espresso machine?

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.

When to clean espresso machine?

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. For makers using capsules you don't need to clean the machine every 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.

When to backflush espresso machine?

When 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.

How long does it take to heat up?

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 of the best 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.

How does an espresso machine work?

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.

How to descale an espresso machine?

First, to descale an espresso machine, you fill the reservoir with water and then add the descaling solution

Descaling an espresso machine can be a lengthy process. 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 superautomatic 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.

How much pressure do I need?

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.

When was the first espresso machine invented?

The first espresso machine was invented 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. 

Can espresso machines make latte?

Yes, most espresso machines if not all espresso machines can make latte. They 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.

Can espresso machines make cappuccino?

If your espresso machine has a steam wand, it can make 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.

Some modern machines can do that, such as the DeLonghi Prima Donna S reviewed above. 

Can espresso machines make hot chocolate?

Yes, espresso machines can make hot chocolate. 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.

How do you grind coffee for an espresso machine?

When using an espresso machine, you have three choices to grind coffee. 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.

How long will an espresso machine last?

How long an espresso machine lasts usually depends on the manufacturer. 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 or if you have chosen for a cheap espresso 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. Sometimes some easy tips to troubleshoot the espresso machine can help as well.

Can espresso machines make regular coffee?

The short answer is espresso machines cannot make regular coffee. 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 or on combo coffee makers.

For more information on different coffee brewing methods and guides click here.

Conclusions

Buying the perfect 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 best pick, 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.