Espresso machines take coffee brewing to the next level. A lot of coffee drinks concocted at coffee shops are made with espresso, so an espresso machine is ideal to have if one is a frequent visitor at these shops, or if one simply wants to express his inner barista.
Making espresso requires quality coffee beans, then brewing them to extract their intense flavor. Crema is the luscious foam on top of the espresso that makes the drink look even more exquisite. Mixing the espresso with other ingredients will produce popular espresso drinks, not different from the ones ordered from coffee shops. It would be worth considering buying an espresso machine if one wants to enjoy a good cup of espresso in the comforts of home.
Factors to Consider When Buying an Espresso Machine
Ease of use will greatly influence the choice of espresso machine. Some coffee drinkers want full convenience in making espresso, while some want to make it more personal. Espresso machines can go from manual to super automatic.
If an espresso machine is easy to use, it should also be easy to clean. Machines that are hard to clean take away points for convenience since cleaning is essential before making more batches of brew.
With the wide range of choices in espresso machines today, it is easy to find one that will strike a balance between cost and desired features. Higher-end models usually come loaded with features and are made from higher quality materials. It would be perfectly fine to pay extra for models that will save time and money in the long run.
The espresso machine’s warranty plays a part in determining its durability. Longer warranties are usually offered by reputable brands, so they are relatively safe choices when looking for long-lasting machines. Metal espresso machines will also tend to last longer, not to mention maintain heat better.
A machine’s size should match the kitchen size. It wouldn’t do well to have a large machine dwarfing a kitchen with limited space. Bigger machines are usually those that can make two espresso shots at once, so if that is not a big deal, then it would be better to get a smaller machine.
The extra features offered by espresso machines are highly variable, and will depend on the user’s preferences. More features will give more flexibility and greater convenience in brewing an espresso shot.
Here is a list of some of the best espresso machines that coffee drinkers can use as a guide.
Best Espresso Machine Overall – Breville BES870XL Barista Express
This powerhouse is the ultimate in espresso machines. Breville BES870XL has a solid, top-class build that can last for years to come, and has all the features an avid coffee-lover could ask for in an espresso machine. It may be pricier than other espresso machines, but it already comes well stocked with features that other machines don’t offer.
Consistent brews are made each time with its stainless-steel burr grinder, an easy-to-use frother, a 54-mm tamper, and a pannarello wand. Multiple settings are available, allowing the user to control the coarseness of the grind. The Breville espresso machine even adjusts water temperature automatically after steam, making sure to extract the most flavor out of the coffee beans.
The Breville BES870XL is also easy to clean and even includes a storage compartment to stow away cleaning tools. A removable tray drip easily catches any excess coffee.
– suitable for beginners and experts alike
– easy to experiment with various coffee preparations
– grinder is top-quality
– top and bottom of the machine are made of plastic
– regular cleaning and descaling is needed
Best Espresso Machine Under $400 – Gaggia Classic Semi-Automatic Espresso Maker
The Gaggia Classic Semi-Automatic Espresso Maker may not be as high-end as other espresso machines, but it certainly looks the part. With its classic Italian design, it is neverthess made from first-rate materials, including stainless steel, and chrome-plated marine-grade brass 58mm grouphead and portafilters.
The espresso machine already comes with a 7-gram measuring scoop and coffee tamper, but an additional purchase is needed if a milk frothing pitcher or coffee grinder are desired. Still, the built-in Pannarello steam wand does a decent job of frothing milk. Steaming, brewing, and power can all be controlled with various switches on the machine.
– classic design
– easy to use
– makes superb crema
– tricky to clean
– built-in frothing steam wand makes inconsistent milk foam
– no built-in grinder
Best Espresso Machine Under $100 – De’Longhi EC155 15 BAR Pump
The De’Longhi EC155 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker is a great choice for those who are looking for a more affordable without sacrificing quality. This espresso machine not only gets the job done, but also makes a delicious cup of brew. The classic design of the machine is made by one of the most reputable Italian makers of coffee machines.
Included among the features of De’Longhi EC155 15 are a tamper and a manual milk frother. It’s also a 15-bar espresso machine with a self-priming function that will be sure to create great tasting shots. The boiler is stainless steel and the dual-function filter holder allows the use of either pods or ground coffee.
– simple to use
– makes good espresso
– no built-in grinder
– may be challenging to clean
– built-in tamper and frother are not remarkable
Best Capsule Espresso Machine – Nespresso Inissia
The best thing about capsule espresso machines is perhaps the convenience of brewing a satisfying cup of coffee in no time at all. There are a ton of different flavored pods that are available today, and there is no need to run to a coffee shop to enjoy a different-flavored brew every tiem. The Nespresso Inissia is the best capsule espresso maker today because it provides the ultimate convenience when it comes to brewing coffee from a pod.
Pre-heating time is a mere 25 seconds, and there is a choice between Lungo and espresso. A total of 9-11 pods may be used, and the water tank can be filled with up to 24 oz of water.
– light and compact
– offers value for money
– easy to clean
– limited water capacity
– capsules by Nespresso should be used
– needs practice to operate
Best Portable Espresso Machine – Wacaco MiniPresso GR
The Wacaco MiniPresso GR Espresso Maker is fantastically portable and makes it possible to brew espresso with crema on the go. It’s a great way to enjoy fresh coffee even when out of the house and on the road. All it takes to make a shot of espresso is hot water and some ground espresso beans.
The Wacaco MiniPresso GR does not need a pump nor electricity to work, and it’s very lightweight. The filter basket is simply pressed down to level the grounds, them when hot water is added the cap may be closed. The piston is then unlocked and pumped a few times, and this will extract the espresso from the grounds.
– very compact
– temperature of water can be controlled
– a bit tricky to clean
– small serving size
– tamping too hard can damage it
Best Super-Automatic Espresso Machine – Jura Giga 5 Automatic Coffee Center
This top-rated super-automatic espresso machine can store 19 programmable coffee profiles, and has separate grinders and brewing chambers to facilitate making 2 cups of coffee at the same time. It has a self-cleaning and descaling feature that makes it less of a hassle to maintain. The stylish design of the Jura Giga 5 makes a great addition to any contemporary kitchen with its aluminum plating and plastic sides.
The machine’s foam technology makes it possible to make exceptionally creamy froth from milk. The ceramic grinders are highly durable, and are controlled using an electronic sensor that automatically adjusts itself, depending on the desired strength of the coffee.
– multiple coffee choices
– can make 2 cups of coffee at the same time
– water tank has no level indicator
– brew group not removable
Best in Craftsmanship Espresso Machine – La Pavoni PPG-16
This professional espresso machine is a real beauty with its classic lever design and solid brass tank. It can make up to 16 cups of good espresso, and has a built-in milk-frothing feature. An internal thermostat in already included, and heat times are quick with its 38 oz. boiler.
The La Pavoni espresso machine piston uses steam pressure—perfect for making a cappuccino or latte using dual frothing systems. The machine requires a bit of manual work though, and is ideal for the more experienced aficionados.
– espresso shots are more personalized
– satisfying to use
– does not have grinder
– steep learning curve
Best High-End Automatic Espresso Machine – Krups EA9010
The Krups EA9010 can make any imaginable coffee drink in about three minutes. It can perfectly reproduce coffee shop drinks, without the long wait. Thanks to the machine’s two-step frothing process, milk is preheated and frothed directly in the cup.
It even has a Claris water filter and anticalc kit that makes sure water is clean and tasty. The Krups EA9010 easily makes basic and specialty coffee drinks with just the press of a button. And to make life even easier, it has a self-cleaning feature that activates after each brew.
– lots of options
– self-cleaning feature
– superb milk foam feature
– may require some practice
Best Non-Automatic Espresso Machine – DeLonghi EC680
For the more hands-on of aficionados, the DeLonghi EC680 espresso machine gives the chance to infuse some skill and personality into every drink.
The water tank can be filled to make about eight espressos, and two cups can be concocted each time with the machine’s dual nozzles. There is a dial that is used to adjust froth levels, and three filters to control the amount of ground coffee. Excellent espresso drinks are finished in just under one minute.
– very stylish
– not ideal for casual coffee drinkers
– water sometimes leak
– not for hard water
Best Compact Espresso Machine – Jura Ena Micro 1
The Jura Ena Micro 1 takes up only a small kitchen space and creates a no-fuss fresh cup of coffee directly from freshly ground beans.
The machine is very simple, yet durable. A cup of coffee is ready in about five minutes. Espresso lovers will appreciate this machine for its ease of use, producing only three kinds of drinks: espresso, Americano, and ristretto.
– convenient one-press system
– has burr grinder
– no frother
– high maintenance