- 1 Top 7 Best Espresso Machines Compared
- 1.1 #1 De’Longhi EC155 Espresso Machine – Top Pick
- 1.2 #2 Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso Machine – Honorable Mention
- 1.3 #3 Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine – Best Cafe Alternative
- 1.4 #4 Sowtech Espresso Machine – Best Budget
- 1.5 #5 DeLonghi Super Automatic Espresso/Coffee Machine – Best Quality
- 1.6 #6 Nespresso Original Espresso Machine – Best Pod Machinemodel
- 1.7 #7 Nespresso Vertuo Evoluo Espresso Machine – Fastest
- 1.8 How We Decided
- 2 Best Espresso Machines Buying Guide
Great espresso machines deliver fast, strong espresso shots without having to learn too many new buttons or configurations. Our top pick is easily the friendly – and versatile – De’Longhi EC155. We found that this powerful espresso and cappuccino maker can switch between capsules or ground beans effortlessly, and makes a great choice for any home (or office).
We really like the automation features of the De’Longhi EC155, which allow for swift results without too many choices. However, we also have options for those who like to control everything, along with machines that give a more cafe-like experience. Take a look at the full list and find out why we love these models to make your own pick! These machines are the perfect wine and bar accessories for entertaining.
Top 7 Best Espresso Machines Compared
#1 De’Longhi EC155 Espresso Machine – Top PickWHY WE LIKE IT: This powerful espresso machine can switch between capsules or beans as needed, and keeps temperatures high for frequent use. An excellent model for demanding coffee lovers – without being difficult to use.
De’Longi’s espresso machine is remarkable – and not just because of the delicious espresso it creates. This model can easily handle capsules or ground beans with a simple switch, and has two separate thermostats for its water and steam functions, assuring that you can get ideal steam for milk frothing and cappuccinos, while also making sure your espresso doesn’t burn. Options are available for different cup sizes and the 15-bar pressure pump makes sure the espresso is authentic.
It’s also surprisingly affordable and compact for its capabilities, excellent for those looking for quality espresso pours on a budget. The efficient heating system allows you to pour multiple cups in a row, and the design makes it much easier to clean than many rivals. Bottom line: It combines usability with delicious results, and you won’t find another machine like it.
#2 Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso Machine – Honorable MentionWHY WE LIKE IT: A powerful 15-bar pump backs up this versatile machines that still remains easy to use. Overall the best for a variety of households with a demand for various espresso drinks.
Few other espresso machines have the combination of features that this Mr. Coffee model does. High on the list is the excellent 15 bar pump pressure for espresso cups that are as close to cafe-quality as is possible at home. The water and milk reservoirs are spacious and hold enough liquid for plenty of lattes and cappuccinos, both of which can be programmed with the simple set of one-touch button controls.
The machine also allows you to choose between single and double shot sizes when making drinks, and will automatically froth milk into the drink when necessary. There’s nothing like this model when it comes to ease of use. However, note that you will need to grind and scoop your own coffee grounds. Compare this to the best coffee maker list.
#3 Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine – Best Cafe AlternativeWHY WE LIKE IT: The feel of a commercial espresso machine at home, with options to control grinding and control milk frothing effortlessly. Baristas and fans of the experience will love how capable this model is.
Breville’s masterful machine does it all. You can control grinding, texture in micro foam milk with the attached frother, choose between single and double shots (as well as filter size), and tamp like you’re a professional barista. The indicator lights are also especially helpful, showing you when to clean and when steam options are available.
While this is easily one of the best automated espresso machines we’ve seen, keep in mind that so many different features – grinder, espresso, frother, etc. – do take a lot of maintenance to keep clean and working properly. Fortunately, Breville includes a kit with both varying filter options and cleaning tools to help tend to things. If you are debating between an Espresso machine and a pod machine, read our best Keurig coffee maker list.
#4 Sowtech Espresso Machine – Best BudgetWHY WE LIKE IT: A single knob quickly switches between settings to brew espresso exactly the way you want it. Perfect for those with limited counter space who know how to make the espresso shot they love.
Both compact and affordable, this machine is ideal for those short on space, looking for a minimalistic espresso maker for their perfect cup. Despite the small size, this unit manages to fit a frother for milk – and can make up to 4 cups of espresso at one time. The carafe can be used to pour water as well as make a small pot of coffee when necessary.
Controls are also pleasantly simple. One large knob at the top controls everything, from frothing to processing end/pause to making coffee. At 3.5 bars of pressure, it’s not really comparable to the larger machines, but it’s an incredibly good option for small-time and occasional latte needs. Some people will prefer this over the best single serve coffee maker.
#5 DeLonghi Super Automatic Espresso/Coffee Machine – Best QualityWHY WE LIKE IT: This model dominates with 15 different grind settings, five coffee strengths, temperature settings, and everything else you would want to adjust. It’s a dream machine for those who want a fully automated experience with attention to detail.
If you enjoy tinkering with settings, you’ll love the 13 different grinder settings on this machine (pre-ground is also an option). Other settings include coffee strength, cup size, and even temperature adjustment to create the exact cup that you want. The adjustable system can also be quickly adjusted to the right steam levels depending on just how frothy you want your milk. Like our top pick, it also has very powerful 15-bar pressure, and backs this up with a double-boiler system that can be ready extra-fast.
That makes this model a dream come true for espresso lovers who want to customize their exactly perfect drink and don’t mind experimenting along the way. It also has more automation than any other machine on our list. However, some may find it a little too complicated for their tastes. If that is you, you may want to look at the best whole bean coffee and the best coffee maker with grinder.
#6 Nespresso Original Espresso Machine – Best Pod MachinemodelWHY WE LIKE IT: This compact capsule-based model has a 19 bar pressure pump and great heat-up time. It’s perfect for those who want to grab a quick cup of espresso in the morning without any hassle.
There are a lot of espresso machine brands out there, but Nespresso is one of the best for capsules – these are like Keurig cups, but specifically designed for espresso machines, and extra fast ease of use. In addition to a water tank that can heat up in around 25 seconds, the Nespresso model can exert an amazing 19 bars of pressure while working.
You can adjust between single or double cups, and an energy mode will make sure the model is powered down after use to save electricity. There are very few extra features here, but it’s the best compact model for delivering fast results. Speaking of compact, you can also check out the best drip coffee maker.
#7 Nespresso Vertuo Evoluo Espresso Machine – FastestWHY WE LIKE IT: Not only is this one of the fastest machines, it comes with a separate milk frother to help make lattes. Fans of capsule-based machines – who may want some coffee on the side – should check it out!
Looking for a Nespresso model that does a bit more? Here’s the machine for you. In addition to the speedy-capsule based performance, this machine includes a milk frother accessory and the ability to make coffee as well as espresso. It also has a large 54-ounce water tank that makes it one of the better choices for frequent use. The water can heat up in only around 15 seconds, wait times are extra short.
This model also contains the ability to automatically identify what a capsule is intended for, so all you have to do is choose the cup size without worrying about changing between coffee and espresso settings. It is as easy to use as the best blender, maybe easier.
How We Decided
Settings are incredibly important for the best espresso machines: They define how easy the machine is to use, what size it can pour, if you can control the temperature, and generally how much time you have to spend at the machine.
We chose machines that offered excellent settings – preferably strength options and at least two different size options, along with coffee/latte settings if possible. Even the simplest machines on our list are surprisingly flexible, able to switch between different tasks as needed. Bar pressure – how much pressure the machine can exert on the water to get maximum flavor out of the beans at speed – is also very important, so we favored machines that had 15 bar pressure or more. You can compare it with the best Hamilton Beach coffee maker.
Also important is ease of use. Some espresso lovers don’t have a lot of time, and some just aren’t interested in learning about a bunch of different buttons on their quest for a perfect cup. We also awarded points for simpler machines that used capsules for quick brewing but still offered stellar quality, as well as especially compact models that could be used in any kitchen space. Burr grinders were an added plus since they can save even more time and deliver excellent grounds. For those who don’t want to mess with tamping down grounds to the right density (something that can take some practice), machines that do this for you are also great.
Milk frothing options are also very important: Many espresso machine buyers base their decisions on this! So we also favored models that had some kind of milk/frothing setup that allows people to create lattes, cappuccinos, and similar drinks. This can variety a lot (more on this below) but we liked to see some kind of option even on more compact espresso makers.
Best Espresso Machines Buying Guide
The Most Important Features to Consider
Capacity refers to how much the espresso carafe/water tank can hold without needing to be refilled. Some espresso machines have both water and milk reservoirs, while others have only water. While the size of these carafes doesn’t matter as much as it does for a traditional coffee maker (size less water is used and fewer drinks are typically created), it’s still an important consideration for machines in frequent use. While capacity numbers are rarely provided for espresso machines, look for tanks that are larger and can be easily removed if you’ll be using them often, especially when making multiple cups in one session. Likewise, you may also want to consider grinder/bean holder size for bigger needs.
- Settings and Automation
Automation for espresso machines can vary greatly. Fully automatic versions allow you to adjust grind, size, milk froth, coffee strength, and more. Semi-automatic versions may only allow you to adjust a few settings. While no personal espresso machine is truly manual, some do make you do quite a bit more work for your cup, or at least offer fewer options. Note that while some few personal espresso machines offer temperature control, it’s not very common even with plenty of setting choices. Generally, internal sensors are better at picking the right temperature for espresso than the average at home user, so this is rarely included. If you’re experienced and picky, look for options that allow for temperature adjustment.
- Pump Strength
Espresso pump strength is measured in bars of pressure, which is how much pressure is exerted on the beans as the water is pushed through them. Higher pressure yields faster espresso cups and stronger results. Lower pressure makes slower cups and usually aren’t as good at extracting the full strength of the grind. Our top pick has a 15 bar pump strength, which is excellent for a home model. However, smaller and lighter versions will necessarily have lower pump strength, but they can still be some of the best espresso machines.
Look for how long it takes the espresso machine to warm up before it’s ready to pour your cup. Pouring the cup itself never takes long, but warmup times can vary. Top line models will take less than half a minute to warm up and get ready to pour, while less expensive versions may take several minutes.
- Steam, Milk, and Frothers
Milk and steamer accessories are very important if you want to create lattes, etc. with your machine. Espresso machines have many different ways of dealing with this, so it’s important to pay attention. Some don’t offer milk or frothing options at all. Some have the frother built right into the process to produce lattes or at least frothed milk on demand. Others have an external steamer built in that you must use yourself to froth milk. Still others have frothers as an optional accessory that you can use along with your machine if you wish. With so many options, make sure you find the arrangement that works for you.
- Beans and Grinding
Some espresso machines make you grind your own beans separately and measure them out, but this is relatively rare among the best models. Instead, most of these machines either grind the beans immediately before making espresso, or use pre-ground capsules that copy the Keurig Pod approach. The best choice depends on whether or not you like to deal with coffee beans. For some espresso fans, this is part of the fun! Others would rather not if they could avoid it.
Espresso Machines FAQs
I’ve Never Made Espresso Myself, Can I Use These Machines?
Fully automatic espresso machines are very easy to use and you can program even more complex creations just by turning dials and pushing buttons. However, semi-automatic and other machines will require a little skill. If you’ve never frothed and poured milk, for example, this will take practice to get right (and there’s a chance of getting burned in the process). Other things, like understanding the quality of pour, the right tamp for compressing the grind, and the right temperature ranges take even longer to learn. It’s not impossible by any stretch, but it’s a very different game than making coffee.
Are Espresso Machines Difficult to Clean?
Espresso machines must be cleaned much more often than coffee machines - they are more complex, and in some ways more delicate. You should rinse out your machine with a chemical cleaner (some of these are designed for espresso machines) at least once a month. For a machine that includes a milk frother, you probably need to clean at least certain components after every use. Some machines include cleaning kits to help with this process.
How Do I Tell When An Espresso Shot is Good?
It takes practice, and personal espresso machines can vary greatly in the type of shots they produce. Generally, research and taste buds are both your best friends. The easiest way to tell the quality of a shot at a glance is to gauge the amount and color of brown foam after the pour is finished - not too much, and not too light, is a general rule.
Are Beans or Capsules Better for Espresso Quality?
Capsules are made to be easy. The machines that use capsules are very good at extracting flavor from them, and even alter their settings based on the type of capsule. But ultimately, the very best quality will come from an experienced brewer using their preferred beans and preferred grind with a machine they are familiar with...which of course takes time. If you are concerned with environmental footprint, beans are also the way to go.