The 14 Best Home Espresso Machines

Close-up-of-espresso-pouring-from-coffee-machine

When you’re trying to choose the best home espresso machines, everything hinges on what you want from your coffee, and how much effort you’re prepared to put in making it.

Espresso is an intense and concentrated form of coffee served in a short shot. Water is channeled through a puck of coffee grounds at high pressure to yield the drink Italians adore.

If you think the time is right to bring the coffee shop into your home kitchen, there are some simple pointers you should consider, starting with the type of espresso machine that makes the best fit.

  • Type of espresso machine: Semi-automatic espresso machines are perhaps the most popular of all. You decide how much coffee to add to the filter basket, you tamp the grinds, and you finish by starting and stopping the pump to control the amount of water used during extraction. While there is a learning curve involved with these espresso machines, you benefit with complete control over all aspects of the brewing process. A super-automatic espresso machine offers you push-button programmability and an integrated grinder so you get bean-to-cup coffee the easy way. While you won’t get quite the same quality of espresso as from a semi-automatic machine, you get convenience without sacrificing too much taste and aroma. Manual espresso makers do not need electricity, so make a great travel option. You use levers to create the requisite pressure for your espresso. We review a couple of manual examples today. Finally, you could opt for a pod-based or capsule-based espresso machine. These offer the ultimate in convenience, but at the cost of authentic espresso like the Italians make it
  • Portafilter: The portafilter is where you put your ground coffee. Commercial espresso machines use a standard size of 58mm, and the best home espresso machines replicate this. That said, the size is not crucial unless it gets too small. Cheaper espresso machines often feature small and pressurized portafilters
  • Pressure gauge: You should brew espresso under a pressure of between 6 bars and 9 bars. Machine featuring pressure gauges baked in allow you to keep tabs on this
  • Water source: Espresso machines for home use typically come with water reservoirs. Look for a tank that is removable for ease of refilling and cleaning. On some bigger espresso machines, the tank is likely to be fixed. Use bottled or filtered water for best results
  • Form factor: Last but not least, make sure you have the space on the kitchen counter to accommodate any of the best espresso machines on your shortlist

If you keep these elements in mind when you’re shopping, you should have no problem at all finding the right espresso machine for your needs. To help you, we break down all the leading models up for grabs, so dive in!

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I. The 14 Best Home Espresso Machines

1. Our #1 Pick: Breville Barista Express

Breville-BES870XL-Barista-Express-Espresso-Machine

Features

  • Style: Super-automatic
  • Weight: 23 pounds
  • Dimensions: 12.5 x 12.6 x 13.1 inches

Our overall favorite in today’s bumper collection of all the best home espresso machines comes from the legendary Breville, the first of several models we review from this powerhouse brand.

The Barista Express delivers a bean-to-cup experience. Get your espresso started the right way with dose control grinding. The conical burr grinder baked in saves you from needing a third-part grinder and allows you to blitz up some beans directly before brewing.

One of the key selling points on this model is the low pressure used during the pre-infusion stage, combined with the optimum pressure for espresso during extraction. The result is a rich yet balanced espresso you would be happy to receive in a coffee shop from the comfort of home.

Extraction is further enhanced through PID optimizing the water temperature.

If you’re looking to use your espresso as a base for longer, milkier coffees, you’ll appreciate the manual steam wand. Froth up those lattes like a barista with hand-textured microfoam to die for.

This is not the cheapest espresso maker out there, but you’ll benefit from a robust stainless steel build with an attractive brushed finish, so you should get years of faithful service from this thing.

While almost all user reviews of this espresso machine are positive, we found some scattered complaints about the quality of customer service.

If you want complete convenience when you’re making espresso and you don’t mind the slight loss of control associated with super-automatic machines, the Breville Barista Express is arguably your best bet in a crowded market segment.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Dosed grinder onboard
  • Digital temperature control
  • Rugged brushed stainless steel
  • Customer service issues flagged

2. Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine

Rancilio-Silvia-Espresso-Machine

Features

  • Style: Semi-automatic
  • Weight: 8 pounds
  • Dimensions: 9.2 x 11.4 x 13.3 inches

Rancilio make some highly effective commercial espresso machines, and they bring this expertise to bear on the Silvia, an upscale espresso maker perfect for the home kitchen. How does this model stand and fall, then?

The first thing you’ll appreciate is the number of commercial-grade components Rancilio rolls out on this machine, including the efficient group head.

Another notable component borrowed from Rancilio’s hard-hitting commercial line is the 58mm portafilter, designed with optimum extraction in mind.

This is a semi-automatic espresso machine, giving you total control over the brewing process. In return, you’ll need to master the simple learning curve of pulling the perfect shot of espresso and then you’ll be playing barista at home.

Use the articulating steam wand to create delicious espresso like a barista, even if you’ve never used one of these machines before.

While the primary draw of this machine is the control you exercise while brewing, you can also pick up an optional pod and capsule kit for any occasions when you feel like single-serve convenience.

The sleek and clean lines of this machine make it a smooth fit in both modern and traditional kitchens, and the footprint is reasonably compact, too.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Many commercial components
  • Scoop and tamper bundled
  • Pod and capsule kit available
  • Customer services concerns reported

3. Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine

Gaggia-RI9380/46-Classic-Pro-Espresso-Machine

Features

  • Style: Semi-automatic
  • Weight: 20 pounds
  • Dimensions: 9.5 x 8 x 14.2 inches

Gaggia is a name that needs no introduction, and the Classic Pro is an affordable entry point to this outstanding line of espresso machines.

Choose from 6 bold colorways to coordinate with your kitchen and you’ll benefit from a brushed stainless steel chassis that’s built to last.

This brand, just like Rancilio, is a powerful presence in the commercial espresso machine space, so you’ll benefit from pro-grade parts on this pocket-friendly espresso machine. The group head, portafilter, and articulating steam wand are all sourced from commercial machines, giving you great performance and enviable lifespan rolled into one.

The oversized water reservoir helps cut down on refilling. Always use bottled or filtered water to get the best espresso. After all, each cup is composed of more than 90% water, so make it count!

Easy to use by the standards of semi-automatic espresso machines, manipulate the simple rocker switches and master the art of pulling the perfect shot to start enjoying gourmet coffee at home this holiday season and beyond.

If you’re using freshly ground espresso beans, you can pour yourself a single or double shot just like the Italians. Alternatively, use the pressurized basket when you feel like using pre-ground coffee or ESE pods.

This iteration of Gaggia’s enduringly popular entry-level model has been overhauled and upgraded in many areas, from the pump mounts through to the stainless steel frame.

Steam-ready in just 30 seconds and fully brew-ready in no more than 5 minutes, you’re getting a convenient and highly effective contender for the best home espresso machine out there.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Elegant aesthetics
  • Neat rocker switches
  • Commercial-grade steam wand
  • Quite costly

4. Breville Infuser Espresso Machine

Breville-BES840XL-Infuser-Espresso-Machine

Features

  • Style: Semi-automatic
  • Weight: 17 pounds
  • Dimensions: 11.5 x 13.7 x 13.25 inches

Another entry from the inimitable Breville up next in the guise of the Infuser. What do you get for your money with this espresso machine, then?

The first thing that elevates this model above the crowd is the low pressure generated during the pre-infusion stage. This gets extraction off to the ideal start.

Volumetric controls allow you to create the coffee of your dreams at the push of a button, even if you’re a total newcomer to pulling shots of espresso.

The right water temperature is vital if you want authentic espresso like the Italians drink it. Flexible and digital PID controls ensure the H20 comes out just the way you want it for those short, bold shots.

The powerful heating element is rated at 1650 watts, streamlining super-swift steaming and delivering the best microfoam for your breakfast espresso.

Pour a single or double shot at the push of a button, or opt to pour manually if you want an off-size shot.

While the vast bulk of user reviews for this espresso machine are positive, we found a few gripes about the fairly steep learning curve.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Seamless shot control
  • Pre-infusion technology
  • Thermocoil heating system
  • Quite tricky to use

5. Mr Coffee CoffeeHouse Espresso Maker

Mr.-Coffee-One-Touch-CoffeeHouse-Espresso-Maker

Features

  • Style: Semi-automatic
  • Weight: 23 pounds
  • Dimensions: 13 x 10.6 x 14.3 inches

Mr Coffee has a hard-won reputation for producing cost-effective coffee machines that don’t stiff you when it comes to performance or lifespan.

We’ll lead off with the one major flaw to this otherwise excellent espresso machine: there are no available spare parts. Take care when using the carafe as you won’t find a new one that fits if you break it.

Navigating the push-button interface couldn’t be easier, and you can choose from the following beverages:

  • Single espresso
  • Double espresso
  • Latte
  • Cappuccino

The longer coffees use espresso as a base. You then use the attached milk reservoir to whip up the requisite foam and froth for your recipe. This is removable for ease of cleaning and filling. You can also store any unused milk in the refrigerator.

An adjustable cup tray accommodates a variety of different coffee cups, making this one of the most versatile machines on our shortlist, and it’s also one of the cheapest.

The only other minor gripe we could find from customers concerning the CoffeeHouse concerns the amount of plastic in display. We feel you need to make some concessions at this price point, though. Overall, you’re getting one of the best cheap espresso machines that won’t let you down in terms of build quality.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • 19 bars of pressure
  • Straightforward interface
  • Removable milk reservoir
  • No replacement parts available

6. Flair Espresso Maker

Flair-Espresso-Maker-Classic:-All-manual-lever-espresso-maker

Features

  • Style: Manual (lever)
  • Weight: 9 pounds
  • Dimensions: 12 x 6 x 10 inches

As we near the midpoint of our home espresso machine reviews, we have something slightly different in the form of the Flair manual espresso maker.

The design of this unit makes a real conversation piece, the first question from visitors usually, “What is it?”

The answer to that question is a surprisingly effective espresso maker that allows you to maintain total control while you’re brewing. If you demand instant delivery and push-button ease, explore some of the many alternatives on our shortlist. If, however, you appreciate that great espresso should be made with love and attention, get hands-on with the Flair.

Despite the commanding and unusual appearance, using this thing couldn’t be easier. Dose up to 18g of ground coffee and add 60ml of off-boil water and you’ll be rewarded with a rich 40ml shot of espresso. To achieve the pressure you need for espresso, use the lever to generate from 6 to 9 bars.

With no need for electricity, this manual espresso maker makes a great travel choice, ensuring you don’t need to sacrifice your morning espresso on the road. You even get a neat travel case thrown in.

The brewing head and the press stand are both warrantied for 3 years, giving you complete confidence at the point of purchase. For espresso with a difference, try the Flair.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Striking design
  • Travel case provided
  • Take full control of brewing
  • Requires some physical effort

7. Nespresso Vertuo Plus Espresso Maker

Nespresso-Vertuo-Plus-Coffee-and-Espresso-Maker-by-De'Longhi

Features

  • Style: Single-serve
  • Weight: 72 pounds
  • Dimensions: 5.59 x 16.88 x 12.79 inches

At the halfway stage of our collection of the best espresso machines, we have a single-serve classic from the legendary Nespresso.

The Vertuo Plus is one of the newer generation Nespresso machines. The Vertuo Plus uses capsules from the Vertuo Line. Barcode recognition locks you into using only these capsules. Fortunately, you have a choice of over 30 different gourmet blends, so you’re spoiled for choice. You also get a welcome pack of 12 capsules thrown in to get you going right out the box.

As an aside, it’s typically cheaper to pick up the capsules online directly from Nespresso. The Vertuo Line are not often stocked in stores, and you pay more from third-party sellers when it comes to capsules.

In return for being compelled to use these proprietary pods, you get each coffee optimized thanks to that barcode system.

Choose from this iteration of the Vertuo Plus with the machine only, or dig deeper for the model bundled with a milk frother called an Aeroccino.

You can enjoy both single and double shots of espresso at the push of a button, and this machine also allows you to make longer coffees (5oz and 7.7oz). Whether you love americano or you want to add some milk for a creamier long coffee, you have no shortage of options with the Vertuo Plus.

While you may not achieve the same results as with the best semi-automatic espresso machine, you won’t need to pay as much for the privilege. For anyone prioritizing ease of use and looking for bold, rich espresso at the press of a button, give Nespresso machines a try and you might be pleasantly surprised.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Makes both espresso and coffee
  • Super-simple to use
  • Great variety of coffee blends
  • Limited to Vertuo Line capsules

8. Breville Barista Touch

Breville-BES880BSS-Barista-Touch-Espresso-Machine

Features

  • Style: Super-automatic
  • Weight: 8 pounds
  • Dimensions: 12.7 x 15.5 x 16 inches

Breville has a wide range of espresso machines in a variety of styles and at varying price points. How does the Barista Touch shape up?

Firstly, this espresso machine isn’t cheap. If you can justify digging deeper, though, you’ll benefit from super-automatic convenience and the ability to enjoy bean to cup coffee without leaving home.

Slip your favorite espresso beans into the conical burr grinder onboard, and blitz them to your preferred level to get your coffee off to the strongest start. This grinder could be easier to use and you don’t get as much control as with a third-party burr grinder, but the end result is serviceable.

PID temperature control ensures the water temperature is optimized without you needing to lift a finger.

The Barista Touch delivers as promised, allowing you to rustle up coffee like a pro at the press of a button. Navigate the seamless interface and choose from espresso, latte, cappuccino, flat white, americano and more.

This machine gets up to temperature in seconds flat, and you benefit from low pressure during the critical pre-infusion stage.

Although some purists prefer the control a semi-automatic espresso machine provides, this super-automatic can’t be beaten if you’re shopping with convenience uppermost in mind.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Integrated conical burr grinder
  • Heats up in just 3 seconds
  • Low pressure for pre-infusion
  • Issues with water temperature

9. DeLonghi Magnifica Espresso and Coffee Machine

De'Longhi-ESAM3300-Magnifica-Super-Automatic-Espresso-&-Coffee-Machine

Features

  • Style: Super-automatic
  • Weight: 12 pounds
  • Dimensions: 11 x 15.3 x 14.4 inches

The DeLonghi Magnifica is another fine example of super-automatic convenience. If you already have a great grinder and you prefer taking control over shot pouring, semi-automatics deliver the best experience. For anyone who wants everything they need onboard, though, and a beginner-friendly approach to making espresso, super-automatics are unbeatable.

The grinder baked in allows you to choose from 13 different grind settings. This is much more capable and flexible than the grinder on the Breville above.

If you have some pre-ground coffee – decaf, for instance – you can also use this when desired by taking advantage of the second chamber provided for the purpose.

A manual cappuccino system comes into its own if you get the taste for long, creamy coffees. Both latte and cappuccino come out especially well, and you won’t need to fuss around too much either.

The self-adjusting brew head will pour single or double shots of espresso, and it’s also removable for ease of cleaning and maintenance.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Bean to cup experience
  • 13 different grind settings
  • Also makes longer milk-based coffees
  • Some snags with under-extraction

10. Gevi Espresso Machine

Gevi-Espresso-Machine-15-Bar-Coffee-Maker

Features

  • Style: Semi-automatic
  • Weight: 57 pounds
  • Dimensions: 14.75 x 13.75 x 10.5 inches

Gevi might not be the first name that trips off the tongue when you’re shopping for the best espresso machines, but this understated and compact machine is well worth popping on your shortlist.

This is a semi-automatic, so you’ll need to grind your beans before brewing. Ceramic conical burr grinders make the best bet for this.

The pump onboard delivers up to 15 bars of pressure, more than enough for authentic espresso every time.

Perhaps the primary draw on this machine is the dual thermostat, with the temperature of the espresso extraction and the milk-frothing controlled separately.

Benefit from the control afforded by a manual steam wand and top off your espresso with the perfect microfoam. The wand rotates fully through 360 degrees for your convenience.

Despite such robust performance, you don’t need to sacrifice too much kitchen counter space for this machine. The compact footprint makes it an excellent choice for anyone with space constraints in the kitchen.

The only real downside to this machine is the fact you cannot pick up any replacement parts, so take great care with the carafe to avoid needing to replace the whole machine.

The oversized water tank is removable to simplify refilling and cleaning, completing a winning package from a lesser-known brand.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • 15 bars of pressure
  • Pair of thermostats
  • Double-volume boiler
  • No replacement carafe available

11. Breville Bambino Plus

Breville-BES500BSS-Bambino-Plus-Espresso-Machine

Features

  • Style: Super-automatic
  • Weight: 1 pounds
  • Dimensions: 12.5 x 7.6 x 12.2 inches

Nearing the end of our best home espresso machine reviews, we have yet another offering from Breville in the shape of the Bambino Plus.

As the name makes clear, this machine is small and compact, the baby of the line. Ideal for apartments, dorm rooms, or bedrooms, the Bambino Plus also works well in small kitchens.

The tiny machine gets the water up to temperature in no time, making this one of the most convenient espresso machines for busy kitchens.

Use a grinder to blitz up some espresso beans finely, and then take advantage of the 58mm portafilter to guarantee the optimum dosage for your short shots. This model uses 19g of coffee, the gold standard for espresso.

Like all Breville espresso machines, the process starts under low pressure. Extraction is then quick and easy, with a rich and rewarding espresso delivered near instantly. If your idea of semi-automatic espresso machines was a hulking unit riddled with levers, this space-saving model gives you a user-friendly alternative.

PID temperature control and automatic milk texturing takes all the sting out of making espresso without diluting the quality of the coffee in your cup.

If you’re looking for one of the most convenient espresso machines on the market from an industry specialist, you can’t go wrong with the Breville Bambino Plus. Let us know what you think if you treat yourself to this little gem.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Very rapid heating time
  • Rich flavor with lots of body
  • Slimline footprint
  • Quality control concerns

12. Flair Signature Espresso Maker

Flair-Signature-Espresso-Maker-An-all-manual-espresso-press

Features

  • Style: Manual (lever)
  • Weight: 09 pounds
  • Dimensions: 13.39 x 10.35 x 3.98 inches

Another fantastic manual espresso maker is next in line, again from Flair. If you thought manual espresso makers were cheap, you’ll wince at the Flair’s price tag. And if you thought manual espresso makers were ineffective, you’ll be blown away when you use this thing.

To kick off, you’ll need to be prepared to put in a little time and effort. The Flair is the antithesis of single-serve coffee at the push of a button. That said, not everyone wants to make coffee that way, and not everyone enjoys the slightly artificial taste of pod-based coffee. The Flair bridges the gap between an intricate commercial semi-automatic and a French press, but with the addition of pressure to generate espresso.

The lever allows you to produce between 6 and 9 bars of pressure, perfect for that elusive golden cup.

Not only does the Flair turn out deceptively good espresso, but the elegant design means it makes a striking addition to the kitchen at home. These espresso makers also work well as a statement piece in a commercial setting.

As long as you can square away paying this much for a manual espresso maker, you won’t be disappointed with the crema-rich espresso the Flair produces.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Control brewing process completely
  • Commanding design
  • 6 to 9 bars of pressure
  • Expensive manual espresso maker

13. Gaggia Brera Espresso Machine

Gaggia-Brera-Super-Automatic-Espresso-Machine-in

Features

  • Style: Super-automatic
  • Weight: 22 pounds
  • Dimensions: 10 x 15.5 x 11.5 inches

We have time for one more Gaggia before we round out today’s curated selection of the best espresso machines.

The Brera sits at the lower end of the Gaggia line, although it still can’t be considered cheap.

This is another super-automatic machine, so you enjoy bean-to-cup coffee with push button ease.

You can choose to brew using either the conical burr grinder built in or pre-ground coffee through the bypass doser. Using fresh beans ground directly before brewing is the most effective way of improving your espresso game.

Convenience is uppermost when it comes to access, too. You can reach both the dreg box and the water tank from the front of the machine, widening your options for installation.

You can remove the brew group entirely to streamline cleaning and any maintenance required.

Push-button controls and a digital interface complete a crowd-pleasing espresso machine from one of the most reputable brands in this vertical. You can rely on Gaggia.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Programmable brewing
  • Frothing wand for creamy coffees
  • Front access for drawer, tray, and tank
  • Some complaints about lifespan

14. Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Machine

Nespresso-BEC220BLK-Essenza-Mini-Espresso-Machine-by-Breville

Features

  • Style: Single-serve
  • Weight: 95 pounds
  • Dimensions: 8 x 4.3 x 12.8 inches

Our final offering in today’s rundown of the best home espresso machines is another entry from the Nespresso stable.

The Essenza Mini is one of the most popular machines from the Original Line. These earlier generations do not use barcode recognition, giving you wider options when it comes to the capsules this machine uses. You get a welcome pack of 12 pods from Nespresso thrown in.

This model features only the machine, but there is also an iteration available that comes with a milk frother to help you create longer creamy coffees.

At the push of a button, this machine fires up with the water up to temperature in 25 seconds, ideal if you’re hungry for your morning shot of espresso.

Choose from a single 1.35oz shot, or opt for a longer 5oz lungo if you want something more.

The space-saving form factor makes the Essenza Mini a smooth fit in smaller kitchens.

User reviews for this model are mixed. While many users praise the ease of operation, we also encountered some complaints about issues with consistency.

Things We Like Things We Dislike
  • Compact footprint
  • Makes espresso and lungo
  • Gets up to temperature quickly
  • Not the most consistent espresso maker

II. FAQs

1) What is the difference between a single boiler system and a double boiler system on espresso machines?

A single-boiler espresso machine uses one boiler to generate hot water for both espresso and milk. The vast bulk of semi-automatic espresso machines are single-boiler, so you’ll need to first pull your shot of espresso, and then steam the milk. Some super-automatic espresso machines come with a double-boiler system, so you can perform both these tasks at the same time.

2) What is the purpose of the steam wand on an espresso machine?

If you want to make latte and cappuccino, you’ll need a steam wand to froth up some milk. Some wands are operated by button, while others force you to twist a knob to control the amount of steam produced. You’ll find some espresso machines equipped with milk-frothing systems that pull milk in through a valve, heating it as it passes through. You then pour the milk directly into your drink.

3) What is a tamper and why should I care?

You need to evenly compress your espresso grinds in the portafilter, and this is where an espresso tamper comes into its own. The best espresso machines typically bundle a tamper, but if not you should pick one up separately if you’re committed to making authentic espresso.

4) Is it necessary to have a milk frother?

This depends on the type of drinks you’re planning to make. If you have no interest in anything but espresso, lungo, or americano, you have no need to consider a milk frother at all. If you plan to make longer creamy coffees like latte, cappuccino, and macchiato, however, you’ll need to consider how to make some frothy, steamy milk.

5) Are pod-based espresso machines any good?

Pod-based or capsule-based single-serve espresso machines allow you to make short shot and other coffees at the push of a button. While these machines are often quite cheap to buy, the cost of the pods and capsules can mount up. If you’re thinking of investing in a single-serve machine, price up ongoing costs first. You should also consider the environmental impact of using pods. Single-serve coffee involves a great deal of packaging. While these machines can make serviceable espresso, they do not produce shots as rich and flavor-packed as you achieve with a super-automatic espresso machine. As with all aspects of choosing the best espresso machine, though, all that counts is finding what meshes best with your needs. For sheer convenience, you can’t beat pod-based espresso machines like the Nespresso range offers.

6) What are the best beans for making espresso?

Espresso is typically made using dark roasts. These beans have the least acidity and the highest levels of natural oils. This helps to promote the crema that characterizes authentic espresso, the thick and golden foam present in all the finest shots. You should take the trouble to store your coffee beans correctly, and you should grind the beans directly before brewing for best results.


III. Conclusion

Choosing the best home espresso machine is not a decision to take lightly. We very much hope today’s concise buying guide clears up any confusion about the various types of espresso machine at your disposal.

Some espresso machines require a little physical effort, others involve nothing more taxing than pushing a button, and the most popular semi-automatic machines fall somewhere in between, allowing you to take control of the brewing process without needing to strain yourself.

We have a very busy content calendar here at Madiba for the coming holiday season. Whether you’re looking for gift idea or you want to kit out your own home kitchen, we have something for everyone, so make sure you pop back soon!

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