espresso-machines-breville-postMacchiato. Cappuccino. Latte. Ristretto. Mocha.

It doesn’t matter which of those espresso drinks is your favorite… nothing beats the taste of really good espresso.

Now:

You know you can get that flavor with a home espresso machine… but the cost, maintenance, or counter space of the huge machines in coffee shops might have stopped you from buying one.

But check this out:

There actually are great, low-maintenance, even cheap espresso machines to fit your budget and your kitchen counter.

…And so I decided to put together a list of the 10 best espresso machines… each with a mini espresso machine reviews (prices, benefits, and features of each one for you). Use this list (and thorough buying guide) to find the right espresso machine for you!

What You Should Look for in an Espresso Machine

These are the top, most important factors to look for in your new espresso coffee machine.

I included all of these factors in the quick-glance boxes for the top 10 machines, and put together this guide to explain why these particular factors are so important to consider.

And PS: For you guys who want to know more about how to make espresso before you buy, check out our complete guide here.

The Price

You want an espresso machine to make your life better/easier, not to put you in debt, right?

Well, some espresso machines can put you in debt over $10,000… but each machine on this list is below $1000 (some even just $100), to fit almost everyone’s budget.

The Size

Like any kitchen appliance, size mattersbecause you only have so much counter space. Check the dimensions of each machine (in the quick-glance boxes) to make sure it will fit in your kitchen.

…And don’t forget to check the water tank size… and remember that a bigger tank will make multiple cups of espresso faster (since a larger amount of water will be already heated).

The Type

There are 4 types of pump espresso machines: manual, semiautomatic, fully automatic, and super automatic. How they work is pretty simple:

Manual machines give you more control over the variables of your espresso… and each automatic machine gives you increasing convenience by controlling more of those variables for you (for example: a super automatic espresso machine does pretty much everything).

Click the Read More tab to learn about each type below:

Manual/Lever Espresso Machines

Read More

What manual machines control: heating the water

What you control with a manual machine: grinding/tamping the grounds, reaching and maintaining temp, how long you pull the shot

Manual machines (sometimes called lever machines) let you control every step of the espresso process:

You grind the beans, tamp them, add water to the boiler, wait for it to heat, and decide when exactly to pull the shot, and for how long to pull it.

And since manual machines have those overly complex operations, they’re best-suited for experienced baristas.

Semi Automatic Espresso Machines

Read More

What semi automatic machines control: reaching and maintaining temp

What you control with a semi automatic machine: grinding/tamping the grounds, how long to pull the shot

With a manual machine, you’ll pull the shot when you think the water is hot enough, and make your machine maintain that temperature…

…but semi automatic machines maintain that temperature for you (usually at 200oF, the ideal temperature for brewing). source

This automation gives you a more consistent cup of espresso every time, by removing the human error of pulling the shot at the wrong temperature.

Fully Automatic Espresso Machines

Read More

What fully automatic machines control: reaching and maintaining temp, how long to pull the shot

What you control with a fully automatic machine: grinding/tamping the grounds

These machines determine how long to pull the shot, ensuring that water flows a perfectly consistent amount of time over the espresso.

Now check this out:

Some fully automatic machines have adjustable settings for temperature and shot duration… putting the control over those aspects back in your hands, and becoming fully automatic or semi automatic (depending on if you adjust the settings yourself).

Super Automatic Espresso Machines

Read More

What super automatic machines control: grinding/tamping the grounds, reaching and maintaining temp, how long to pull the shot

What you control with a super automatic machine: putting beans in the grinder

These machines control everything!

All you have to do is add whole beans, and push a button.

The super automatic machine makes espresso as convenient and consistent as it can be… at the cost of you having more control over your espresso.

The 10 Best Espresso Machines

Now that you know the factors to consider when you buy an espresso machine (and hopefully have decided on the right price, size, and type for yourself)…

…here are the 10 best espresso machines on the market (broken down by price, lowest-highest… but they all have different features that make them unique!).

For each, you can reference the quick-glance boxes for the most important information, and/or read the descriptions for an in-depth explanation of what makes each machine so valuable.

#10: The De’Longhi EC155

espresso machines-delonghi ec155

Price:

$89 @ Amazon

Type:

Semi Automatic

Water Tank Size:

35 oz. tank

Physical Size:

8”H x 11”W x 10”D (7 lb, small)

Best Features:

It’s great for small apartments, and brews espresso fast.

Not only is the EC155 the lowest-priced machine on this list…

…but it also has some of the highest reviews, and greatest number of purchases (in other words, it’s not a cheap espresso machine). Here’s why:

It fits the quality standards you expect from the highly-respected De’Longhi brand, but in a compact, affordable package (unlike some of De’Longhi’s larger machines).

It’s the perfect size for small apartments, plus the small tank heats water quickly, producing espresso and steam for milk in as little as 30 seconds. Pretty cool, right?

Now… there is one caveat to a small machine:

You’ll have to buy some small espresso cups… because regular-sized coffee mugs won’t fit under the small spout (luckily, you can get some really cool ones like these for around $20). 

PS: this is the best espresso machine under $100.

#9: The Nespresso Inissia

espresso-machines-nespresso-inissia

Price:

$100 @ Amazon

Type:

Fully Automatic

Water Tank Size:

24 oz. tank

Physical Size:

12”H x 10”W x 12.5”D (5.3 lb, small)

Best Features:

It doesn’t require beans, and has an incredibly small energy footprint.

There are several reasons that could be why Inissia is the highest-rated espresso machine on our list:

  1. Its modern design
  2. Its compact size (less than 6 pounds!)
  3. Its low energy footprint and power-saving automatic shutoff source
  4. Its ease of use… there’s no grinding required with Nespresso Inissia

Nespresso, like Keurig, uses pre-packaged pods instead of loose coffee grounds… which removes the human error from grinding/tamping, meaning more consistent cups of espresso.

Just insert the pod, press the button, and get espresso in a few seconds.

Now:

Inissia is the only electric machine on our list that doesn’t come with a steam wand for milk… but you can get a frother wand and stand for less than $20 (like this one).

#8: The De’Longhi Dedica

espresso-machines-delonghi-dedica

Price:

$217 @ Amazon

Type:

Fully Automatic

Water Tank Size:

20 oz. tank

Physical Size:

13”H x 6”W x 13”D (9 lb, small)

Best Features:

It provides a full café experience, and lets you choose to take control of your espresso… or let the automated functions do it.

The Dedica is only 6 inches wide, but it uses every bit of that space to create the perfect custom cup of espresso for you.

Here’s how:

It can be fully automatic (you can just press a button to pull the shot)…

…or semi automatic (you can customize the shot button, pulling each shot for as long as you like).

And here’s the best part:

The top of this small machine is a built-in cup warmer. Espresso cups are often too small to protect espresso from the cold air… but a cup warmer keeps your espresso nice and hot.

Here’s the bottom line:

If you want more control over your espresso, or if you just want something hot and delicious with no hassle (and at a low cost), Dedica is the best espresso machine for you.

#7: The UniTerra Nomad

espresso-machines-uniterra-nomad

Price:

$295 @ Amazon

Type:

Manual

Water Tank Size:

N/A

Physical Size:

6.5”H x 6.5”W x 6”D (2.6 lb, very small)

Best Features:

It’s completely hand-operated (your muscles generate the power, not wires or batteries), making it completely portable.

I’ll be honest… I got pretty excited about the Nomad when I discovered it.

It looks a little funny (and not at all like an espresso machine), but the high reviews and rating on Kickstarter made me curious.

Here’s what I found:

This very small, hand-powered machine is completely portable (uses no electricity). You just add espresso grounds, pour in boiling water (which you can make almost anywhere, even over a fire), pump the handle back and forth, and espresso comes out. It’s that easy.

The Nomad is the travel accessory for a guy who needs espresso, no matter where he is.

Here’s a YouTube video of the Nomad in action.

#6: The Breville Die-Cast

espresso-machines-breville-die-cast

Price:

$319 @ Amazon

Type:

Fully Automatic

Water Tank Size:

75 oz. tank

Physical Size:

15”H x 16”W x 13”D (26 lb, large)

Best Features:

It’s designed to pack a commercial-grade espresso experience into your kitchen.

The Die-Cast really has every feature of a cafe espresso machine:

It’s made from die-cast steel (most home espresso machines are just aluminum), which is amazingly durable.

It takes up a shockingly small amount of room, considering it holds more water than any espresso machine on our list. That means you get more cups of espresso (about 50 shots) before you have to refill it.

There’s even a cup warmer and enough room for regular-sized coffee mugs, plus a hidden storage container for filters, cleaning tools and accessories.

In short:

The Die-Cast has every function that a frequent café-goer expects from their favorite café.

PS: this is also one of the best cappuccino machines.

#5: The Gaggia Classic

espresso-machines-gaggia-classic

Price:

$342 @ Amazon

Type:

Semi Automatic

Water Tank Size:

72 oz. tank

Physical Size:

14”H x 8”W x 9.5”D (17 lb, medium)

Best Features:

It’s a simple, classic model from a top brand that was designed to last for years.

This is one of the best-sellers from Gaggia, a top Italian espresso machine brand

…and it’s called The Classic for a reason:

Its timeless, simple design doesn’t add extra frills or automation to the espresso process. It’s semi automatic, meaning it will maintain water pressure and temperature, but leaves the rest to you.

This model has been around for over 30 years, and it stays popular (due to its classic easy-to-use design). It’s also the only model on our list that’s all metal construction (besides the wand and tamper), meaning it’s guaranteed to last for years with proper care.

Here’s the takeaway:

The Gaggia Classic is ideal for whoever wants to invest in a simple machine that will last.

#4: The De’Longhi/Nespresso Lattissima

espresso-machines-delonghi-nespresso-lattissima

Price:

$405 @ Amazon

Type:

Fully Automatic

Water Tank Size:

32 oz. tank

Physical Size:

10.8H” x 7.6W” x 13D” (13 lb, medium)

Best Features:

It creates your entire drink automatically (steaming milk and pumping it into your cup).

If you drink espresso drinks often, you know the difference between a latte, cappuccino, macchiato, etc. … and how the steamed milk/foam in those drinks makes espresso taste delicious.

Now check this out:

You can make these drinks at home by only pushing one button on the Lattissima touchscreen.

It’s incredibly simple:

Just choose one of the six drink options, insert the Nespresso pod, and Latitissima steams and layers milk with espresso in your cup in seconds.

PS: the most versatile, best espresso machine under $500.

#3: The Breville Barista

espresso-machines-breville-barista

Price:

$578 @ Amazon

Type:

Semi Automatic/Fully Automatic

Water Tank Size:

67 oz. tank

Physical Size:

13.2”H x 12.5”W x 16”D (23 lb, large)

Best Features:

It’s the most flexible espresso machine on the list, and comes with a grinder (usually a $400+ separate purchase).

The Breville Barista gives you as much or as little control as you want over espresso.

It lets you control the fineness of the grind, how long to pull the shot, the temperature of the water, and how long to steam the milk…

…or not. You can use any of the pre-set settings to do it.

And the best part:

With almost any other semi/fully automatic espresso machine, you’d have to buy a separate grinder… and the Barista includes one.

#2: The De’Longhi Magnifica

espresso-machines-delonghi-magnifica

Price:

$637 @ Amazon

Type:

Super Automatic

Water Tank Size:

60 oz. tank

Physical Size:

17”H x 13”W x 18”D (28 lb, large)

Best Features:

This is by far the best super automatic espresso machine (meaning it does everything!)

If you want high-quality espresso quickly, without a lot of fuss over the process, check out the Magnifica.

It offers the most convenient espresso you can get at home (other than machines that use pods… meaning this machine is ideal if you prefer freshly-ground beans). How is it so convenient?

Well, it’s the only super automatic machine on our list, and it honestly does automate everything for you:

  • Grinds fresh beans for each cup
  • Tamps them evenly each time
  • Pulls each shot for the exact right amount of time
  • Heats your mug
  • Even cleans itself automatically

All those features make using the Magnifica just as easy as buying coffee from a shop.

#1: The La Pavoni Europiccola

espresso-machines-la-pavoni-europiccola

Price:

$860 @ Amazon

Type:

Manual

Water Tank Size:

20 oz. tank

Physical Size:

12”H x 7”W x 11”D (14 lb, medium)

Best Features:

It’s manual, meaning you get complete control over every aspect of your coffee. The most expensive machine on our list of the top espresso machine and requires the most work from the user…

…but that won’t stop espresso artists.

With the Europiccola, you control every step of the process… how to grind/tamp your beans, how hot the water gets, and how long water extracts flavor from the coffee.

The Europiccola is made in Italy, the birthplace of espresso, and is very picky about the beans, grind, and pressure you use. Only an expert barista should invest in this machine…

…but those who do invest won’t be disappointed in the high-quality espresso they can create. 

How Espresso Machines Work

espresso-machines-process
I recommend everyone learn how espresso machines work before buying one, so you’re sure to use it the right way (especially if you’re buying a fully manual machine).

Now:

Good espresso starts with grinding the beans.

They quickly lose flavor and aroma immediately after grinding, so the best espresso usually comes from freshly-ground beans.

Finely grind them in a grindermuch finer than you would grind regular coffee. source Here’s why you do that:

An overly coarse grind makes the water flow over the grounds too fast, not catching onto the delicious fats and oils released by grinding, and produces weak coffee with no crema (the sweet, red-brown foam on top of really good espresso).

But be careful:

An overly fine grind makes water clog up, hovering too long on the grounds and burning them. You’ll have to experiment to find the perfect grind for your machine.

Next:

You have to tamp (press down) the grounds in the portafilter.

Fill the portafilter with a heaping scoop of fresh grounds, then press them down with the tamper (most coffee espresso machines include one)… enough to where the grounds look like one solid piece.

Now… just like the way you grind, the way you tamp is incredibly important to make good espresso:

Tamp too loose and water flows right through the grounds without extracting any flavor… tamp too tight and water gets trapped in the grounds, meaning no espresso comes out the spout.

Finally:

After tamping, you pull the shot: pump hot water from the boiler through the grounds, extracting the flavors, and the resulting espresso flows through the spout, into your cup.

Pulling a longer shot can drastically alter the flavor of the grounds… ideally, you pull long enough to extract the flavor (the recommended time is 25 seconds), source but not too long or the espresso will burn.

Now… look:

I think you can see how every step of this complex process affects what ends up in your cup.

But if having so many variables in your control worries you, remember… you can just buy a fully automated espresso machine. It can control every variable listed above.

In Conclusion

A home espresso machine is a wonderful purchase for men who truly love espresso… but it’s not a purchase you should rush into.

…So use our expert breakdown of why each of these 10 machines deserves a spot on our list to find the best espresso machine for you!