Not many people know this; but one of the best ways you can start saving some cash every month is by grabbing one of the best home espresso machines, and let your inner budding barista flourish. When we looked for the best home espresso machine, we considered features like what kind of pump system the machine used, how many bars of pressure it could maintain, whether it was semi-automatic or full, and whether or not it carried its own internal grinder.
With all these factors in mind, the Breville BES870BSXL Barista Express took the #1 spot on our list for including all these pieces to the puzzle and many more, but how do you really know which is the best home espresso machine to take up a spot on your kitchen counter? By reading on in our guide below, obviously!
Table of Contents:
- #1 Editor’s Choice – Breville BES870BSXL Barista Express
- #2 Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista
- #3 Gaggia 14101 Classic
- #4 Nespresso Inissia
- #5 Breville BES920XL Dual Boiler
- 1 Best Home Espresso Machine
- 2 How We Choose the Best Home Espresso Machine
- 3 Why You Should Buy a (New) Home Espresso Machine
- 4 #1 Pick Breville BES870BSXL Barista Express – Editor’s Choice
- 5 #2 Pick Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista
- 6 #3 Pick Gaggia 14101 Classic
- 7 #4 Pick Nespresso Inissia
- 8 #5 Pick Breville BES920XL Dual Boiler
- 9 Key Factors and Features to a Best Home Espresso Machine
- 10 Mistakes to Avoid
- 11 Which Best Home Espresso Machine is Right For You?
Best Home Espresso Machine
|Breville BES870BSXL||Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista||Gaggia 14101 Classic||Nespresso Inissia||Breville BES920XL|
|Rank||#1 - Editor's Choice||#2||#3||#4||#5|
|Price (as configured)||$599.95||$154.00||$369.98||$99.00||$1,220.00|
|Buy Now||Buy Now||Buy Now||Buy Now||Buy Now|
How We Choose the Best Home Espresso Machine
To narrow down which home espresso machines we thought deserved to be called “the best” among the rest, we laid out a specific set of features that we wanted to see on every candidate we considered during our research.
Several of the more important add-ons included the relative ease of use in super-automatic machines, as well as the number of temp/pressure gauges present on semi-automatics. Other factors that helped these five choices stand out from the crowd were the addition of a separate steamer wand to help you steam your milk while the espresso pulls, as well as the warranty on each machine (whether it only covers parts, or labor as well).
Espresso machines can be prone to breakage due to overuse, so build quality was of the utmost concern, as well as the size of the water tank/whether the system can be hooked up to a separate water line. We researched the top picks from around a dozen other sites with expert reviews, as well as those models which received high scores with Amazon reviewers who had owned their machines for a number of years, and could report back they were still functional way past their original purchase date.
Why You Should Buy a (New) Home Espresso Machine
While the upfront cost of some of these espresso makers may seem on the high side, one only has to go through their annual bank statements and search the word “Starbucks” to see how quickly drinking coffee at cafes can add up.
The same way you don’t eat every one of your meals out at a restaurant like Chipotle, you shouldn’t be paying so much for coffee that you could just as easily make at home for a fraction of the price. A new espresso maker not only saves you cash in the long run, but it’s also a great way to start learning about the craft, everything from how to select your beans to how to get the perfect grind for a delicious cup every time.
A new espresso maker lets you open up your creative side with coffee and encourages you to slow down a bit, and take the time to understand just what good espresso really tastes like. And perhaps even more importantly, about the kind of love that can go into crafting the perfect cappuccino with just the right amount of foam on top.
#1 Pick Breville BES870BSXL Barista Express – Editor’s Choice
Price: $599.95 | Features: 15-bar Italian pressure pump, 1600W Thermo-coil heater, dual-wall filters
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The Breville BES870XL is the premium choice for mid-range espresso machine buyers.
Although that sticker price may come as a bit of a shock; as far as home espresso machines go the Breville BES870BSXL holds on tightly to the top spot thanks to its superior build quality and long list of premium features.
The semi-automatic BES870BSXL comes with its own internal fine-burr coffee grinder, saving you from the mess of transferring grounds from one place to another, while ensuring that you never overfill your tamping cask to the brim. This also gives you the ultimate fresh espresso, due to the on-demand option to only grind the exact amount of beans you need for any size espresso, one cup at a time.
Other notable add-ons include an intuitive, clean interface which gives you precise control over the shot volumes, filter size, and extraction pressure, as well as a 360-degree steaming wand and its very own internal water filter.
The Breville BES870BSXL guarantees you the best cup of coffee you’ll taste from a machine under $1,000, thanks in large part to its combination of mid-tier pricing and top-tier features. The next level up is the Breville Oracle, but what if you’re only looking to get started in the world of espresso, rather than dominate it straight out of the gate?
#2 Pick Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista
Price: $154.00 | Features: Automatic milk steamer, one-touch control panel, separate milk reservoir
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: If you want the ultimate super-automatic one-touch experience, go with the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista.
Of all the brands listed here, Mr. Coffee (and Mr. Radar) is undoubtedly the most well-known of the bunch. Mr. Coffee has been making coffee machines for decades, a pedigree of quality and excellence that stretches back to a time before many of us were even born.
When it comes to the debate of super-automatic vs. semi-automatic, the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista system is about as “super” as they come. Nearly every single part of the process on this machine is automated, save for actually pushing the “Start” button yourself and choosing whether you want your milk steamed or not.
That said, for the price it still brews a heck of a good cup of coffee. It’s not going to have the full flavor profile you’d get from the Breville, but will reliably pump out lattes and mochas that are on par (if not slightly better) than what you’d get at a Starbucks. For $154, this is a solid entry-level pick for the budget espresso lover who isn’t sure they want to commit to a bigger system just yet.
#3 Pick Gaggia 14101 Classic
Price: $369.98 | Features: 17-bar electric pump, 72-ounce reservoir, brass portafilters
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: The Gaggia 14101 hasn’t changed in 25 years for one reason: it’s so good, it doesn’t need to.
The Gaggia 14101 doesn’t care how good it looks on your marble countertops or have the same fancy accents like you’ll find on some other machines here – all it cares about is making a great espresso. The 14101 has been the company’s best-selling model for 25 years, and has barely changed at all since it was first introduced all the way back in 1991.
With its ultra-simple operation and compact footprint, the Gaggia 14101 takes a no-frills approach to the art of espresso, insisting that the owner should only care how a machine performs under the 17 bars of pressure the 14101 puts out. If you want a machine that’s reliable and will last you long into the future with little chance of breaking down along the way, this is the model to get.
#4 Pick Nespresso Inissia
Price: $99.00 | Features: Accepts Nespresso coffee pods, one-touch operation, 24-ounce water tank, 19-bar pressure pump
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: It doesn’t get better than the Nespresso Inissia for espresso hounds on the go.
From a machine that was literally designed in the 90’s to one that looks like it’s straight out of the future, the super-automatic Nespresso Inissia is another great home espresso machine that’s made for the super-automatic lovers in all of us.
The Inissia really takes the whole “automatic” part to a new level, though. Instead of finding the perfect beans, grinding them to the perfect blend granularity, tamping them down just right, getting your water temperature dialed in or any of that nonsense, the Inissia is a one-pop stop for espresso on the go.
Using the controversial “DRM-locked” Nespresso coffee pods, one only needs to slide a pod into the machine, plop down a cup, and let the Inissia do the rest. For espresso people who need their boost immediately and don’t have the time to wait around or extra money to spend, the Nespresso Inissia the perfect cash-saving solution that will help you break your Starbucks spending habit for good.
#5 Pick Breville BES920XL Dual Boiler
Price: $1,220.00 | Features: OPV pressure-limiting valves, PID temperature control, stainless steel dual-boilers
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: With its dual-boiler system, the BES920XL creates a perfectly crafted cup every single time.
Last up, this wouldn’t be a “best of” list if we didn’t include the absolute best home espresso maker out there, regardless of the initial investment needed to own it.
The BES920XL is the gold-standard in home espresso makers, with every bell and whistle you could imagine strapped to its chromed-out $1220 chassis. Thanks to its dual-boiler feature (a requirement in any professional-level machine), the BES920XL heats the water for your steam and espresso independently of one another, at the same time. This means you can pump out the perfect espresso and fluffy milk simultaneously and have your cappuccino poured out to perfection in just a matter of minutes. Other standout features include the dual-shot spout capable of producing four shots of espresso at a time, as well as a PID display which tracks your temperature and pressure in realtime.
Using the Breville BES920XL will have no problem creating coffee at a quality level that’s higher than what you’d see a major chain of roasters, and with enough practice and determination, will get you pulling espressos better than any professional barista on the street.
Key Factors and Features to a Best Home Espresso Machine
Type of Espresso Machine
- From a mechanical standpoint, there are two different types of espresso makers: steam-driven and pump-driven.
- Most afficionados in the space agree that for your money, pump-driven machines are superior to steam-driven in pretty much every way.
- That said, steam-driven machines can also be considerably cheaper, given that not as much machinery is needed to create pressure on the beans.
Semi-automatic vs. Super-automatic
- Within the pump category there are another two types of machine: semi-automatic vs. super-automatic.
- The name pretty much says it all, however there’s a bit more nuance to it. On the one hand, semi-automatic machines give you more control over the final flavor profile of your espresso, but take longer to use and require a skilled hand.
- On the other, super-automatic espresso machines are a “set it and forget it” deal, which are easier for novice espresso connoisseurs to handle but also don’t give you any control during the pressing process.
- Making the best espresso takes patience, time, and training to get just the right mix of pressure and temperature lined up every single time.
- Having an accurate, reliable temperature and pressure gauge on a semi-automatic machine ensures that your espresso never gets too hot or forced through the grounds too quickly, resulting in the absolute perfect cup of coffee every single time.
- The milk steamer wand you see on many of the machines in this list isn’t exactly a necessary feature – but it’s still nice to have around.
- Lower-end machines can tend to have underpowered wands that don’t deliver enough rapid heat to get a solid froth, so unless you’re dropping $400 or more on your machine, don’t expect it to give you the same kind of pillowy cloud milk you get down at the local barista.
Number of Drip Spouts
- An often overlooked feature of espresso makers is the number of spouts that it has, and what kind of production each can put out at a time.
- While most coffee drinkers should be fine with a single spout, there are also many who need more than two shots at a time to really give them the boost they need when they’re slogging in the morning or near the end of the day.
- Because espresso only lasts a number of seconds before going bad, you want to have all the shots ready for your drink at once. This means if you have a serious coffee habit, it’s smarter to invest in a machine that can handle at least two cups at a time with a dual-spout setup.
Mistakes to Avoid
Don’t buy a super-automatic to learn espresso: If you’re investing in an espresso machine and want to actually learn how to make a good cup of the stuff, semi-automatic is the way to go. Super-automatics don’t have any “manual” mode you can turn on with the flip of a switch, but some semi-automatics can go super-auto if you set them up right. For the budding barista, only a semi-automatic will do.
Don’t skimp on a coffee grinder: Of all the different ways you can make coffee and the different grind levels your beans need for a proper brew, espresso is easily the most finicky of all. For good espresso you need an incredibly fine, even grind of beans, which means that only a true espresso grinder will do. Personally we like the Krups GX5000, which is priced fairly enough to give you breathing room on your espresso machine, but still puts out a professional-level grind every single time.
Which Best Home Espresso Machine is Right For You?
In the war of which best home espresso will be the best fit for you, it all comes down to how much you love coffee and the amount of time you have to devote to it every day.
If you have dreams of being an all-star barista one day, the only way to train is on semi-automatic machines like the Beville BES870BSXL, or if you really have some extra coin to spend, the BES920XL. If you’re on a more conservative budget but still want a quality cup, the Gaggia 14101 is a reliable choice, while super-automatics like the Nespresso Pixie and Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista round things out for someone who just wants their caffeine fast with as little hassle as possible.
For every type of coffee lover, there’s a machine that’s right for you. Making espresso at home instead of dropping $5 a pop at the local cafe is a great investment, not only for your finances but also for any craftsmen (or women) who need a new hobby and want to learn what it takes to make a truly great cup o’ Joe. So choose wisely, and we’ll see you on the other side of flavor town!