Best Espresso Machine

The perfect espresso is easy to taste but can be hard to make. We have picked the best espresso machines that make a great cup of coffee and won’t cost you thousands of dollars.

#1

Breville the Barista Express – BES870XL

Breville Barista Express
Most popular with built-in grinder, simply makes great coffee.

#2

Delonghi Magnifica – ESAM3300

Delonghi Magnifica
is a great second choice, but has some reliability concerns.

#3

Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker

Mr. Coffee Espresso Maker
provides lower cost but produces good espresso.

Esresso Machine Buyers Guide

Only one thing is certain about life—coffee is the best pick-me-up. Around 50 million cups of espresso are being consumed annually all over the world. And behind every great cup of this elusive brew is an espresso machine.

There’s a machine that will make a decent espresso from almost any price range, but as the paradox of choice dictates—having too many options makes it harder to choose.

You can make an espresso using a traditional stovetop maker; all you need is freshly-ground coffee and water. But you are not just anyone. You are a coffee aficionado. You live and breathe coffee. You are always in pursuit of that perfect cup. So, sit back and read on because this guide is for you.

Why make your own espresso?

Coffee makers have become ubiquitous a long time ago. Now the big question is do you really need an espresso machine?

Espresso is a short black shot of coffee extracted using an espresso machine. The taste of espresso is distinct from other brewing methods. The most appreciated characteristics of this coffee cuisine are its creaminess, body, and exquisite aroma. It is the basic ingredient of many coffee recipes the world has grown to love.

For many people, that first shot of espresso is the only way to start the day. But they usually spend an insane amount of money for their morning cuppa Joe. If you buy lattes from popular coffee shops five times a week, you’d be spending over $1000 in a year.

Supporting your local coffee stand is not a bad idea, but wouldn’t it be nice to cut back a little when money is tight? And let’s face it, great coffee is not always available locally. With the right machine, you can bring the espresso bar right into your home.

Understanding the different types of espresso machines

Brewing a perfect cup of this 1 oz goodness requires careful attention. If you don’t mind putting some work into your craft, you should invest in a machine that allows you to control every part of the process.

If ease-of-use is your priority, there are automated machines at a wide price range. Of course, the machine that does all the work for you doesn’t come cheap. Furthermore, some convenient models may also fail to produce a remarkable cup.

For those who want to master the art of making espresso, there are four types of machines available at your disposal.

Manual Espresso Machine

A manual or piston machine has a long handle for controlling espresso extractions. This type is definitely not for beginners. The potential to mess up a cup is very high but when you get it right (after a lot of practice), it will produce an authentic espresso shot.

In many cafes, these levered machines have been replaced by modern automated models. It is unlikely that you’ll want one for everyday use. One of the most important aspects of coffee extraction is pressure and you will be in control of that in a manual machine. A steep learning curve is involved and it can be frustrating if you don’t want to waste a number of shots before pulling a good one.

Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine

The machines in this group offer a wide range of features and prices. They are equipped with a pump to drive the brewing water to the finely ground coffee. There’s a bit of manual work involved before brewing including grinding, tamping, and attaching the portafilter to the machine.

While it still requires some skill to use, it is user-friendly and the brewing process is easy to learn. Semi-automatic machines are great for home use if you want something easy to use but also allows a high level of control. High-quality machines start at $250 but can go as high as $1000 for a more polished look and additional features.

Fully Automatic Espresso Machine

Like a semi-automatic machine, it has an electric pump to ensure proper pressure in every brew. However, it eliminates the possibility of experimentation. If you are particular about how you like your espresso, this is not for you.

No barista skill is required here. Just press the button and you’ll get your daily shot. The smart controls will figure out the right configurations for you. The Nespresso capsule machine is an example of a fully automated machine. It’s perfect for home and office use. The downside? You are limited by the number of available capsules for your machine.
Super Automatic Espresso Machine

It’s the do-it-all machine. With these automated brewing systems, you don’t need to worry about grinding. Every coffee aficionado knows that the proper grind is crucial in order to achieve the perfect shot.

Not only do you not have to grind the beans, but you also don’t have to measure the water and tamp your coffee. Some models even have an integrated milk frother–perfect for a creamy cappuccino or cafe latte.

Factors to consider when buying an espresso machine

Once you have established the need to have a more complex contraption than a regular coffee maker, the next step can be daunting: choosing the right type of machine for your home. Now that you already know the available levels of automation for espresso machines, it is also important to consider the following:

Installation Site

Where do you plan to install the machine? Whether you wish to keep it on a dedicated shelf or on the kitchen counter, it’s important to know the footprint of the machine or you might end up with a piece of equipment that does not fit into the desired installation site. Also, pay attention to the accessibility of the water tank and bean hopper, as you would need to fill and clean them regularly.

Durability

If you drink coffee several times a day, it makes sense to consider how long the machine will last. Most models come with a manufacturer’s warranty that can give you a fair idea of the machine’s longevity. Brand reputation and customer reviews are also worth checking to get a picture of the durability of specific models.

Performance

There’s a set of brewing requirements that define a true espresso from other coffee brews. The characteristic of the ground coffee, water temperature, pressure, and percolation time are all essential.

But in order to make that perfect shot, you have to consider a lot of factors such as the number of boilers in a machine, the highest temperature it can reach, and whether it can stay stable at that temperature. The ideal brewing pressure should be about 9 bars. While machines that can exert more than 15 bars are available, it does not mean they will produce a better brew.

Espresso purists may not be satisfied with the capability of less expensive machines and may wish to acquire a model that approaches commercial use in terms of quality but is still affordable for home use.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Convenience is an important factor among many consumers. Since frequent cleaning is required to preserve the flavor of the brew, you need a product that is easy to clean and maintain.

If a machine has several features and components, it may probably take more time to clean it than a standard machine. Machines designed for convenience, like the Delonghi Magnifica, is pretty easy to clean. The more expensive semi-automatic and super-automatic machines will also involve more cleaning.

Budget

If your budget restricts your prospective machine’s features, you should evaluate your needs and wants critically. Identify your must-have features and look for models in your price range. You can find a single-cup espresso machine for less than $100. The popular feature-packed espresso machines will be in a $500 – $1000 price range.

Extra Features

High-end models are often equipped with a number of special features that are worth checking out, especially if you are fond of espresso-based mixes.

  • Integrated coffee grinder
  • Dual boiler
  • Frothing wand
  • Programmable setting
  • Water reservoir
  • Large portafilter
  • Espresso Machines FAQ

Q: What is the difference between an espresso machine and a coffee maker?
A: Espresso refers to a type of brew extracted by boiling water under pressure through finely-ground coffee. You can’t make a regular drip coffee in an espresso machine unless it has a dual function. Likewise, you can adjust your coffee maker to create different types of coffee, but it won’t be able to produce a concentrated espresso shot.

Q: How long will an espresso machine last?
A: Entry-level machines can last for a couple of years. Superautomatic machines could last over five years. Commercial espresso machines are built to last up to 10-15 years.

Q: What types of coffee drinks can I make in an espresso machine?

A: There are a variety of espresso-based drinks you can make from an espresso machine. Many of the popular drinks at coffee shops are made using espresso, which includes macchiato, cafe latte, cappuccino, americano, and mocha.

Q: What’s the difference between steam and pump espresso machines?
A: It’s easier to pull a consistent cup of rich and balanced espresso with a pump machine. Steam-powered machines can only generate around 3 bars of pressure and produce a rather bitter coffee.

Q: Are espresso machines cost-efficient?

A: This versatile appliance can make a variety of coffee drinks. If you visit coffee shops on a daily basis, ordering blended coffee like cappuccino and cafe latte, you could save over $1000 in a year.

Our full list of Espresso Machines for 2019

Sort: Editor’s Choice

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Our full list of Espresso Machines for 2019

#1 Nespresso Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Maker
Product Highlights
  • A good espresso machine at an affordable price range
  • Packed with great features to make espresso your way

Overview

Editor's Choice: The Nespresso Vertuo
  • A good espresso machine at an affordable price range
  • Very popular "pod" brand that makes coffee making easy
  • Packed with great features to make espresso your way

Pros

  • Many useful features to help towards making the best coffee
  • Manufactured by one of the most trusted brands in kitchen appliances

Cons

  • Suffers from problems with heating the water to the right temperature 
  • Delivers a flat flavor at times

bottomlinelogoBottom Line

While it makes beautiful, smooth coffee that comes in delicious flavors, the Nespresso Vertuo Machine is let down by its negligence towards temperature control and disappoints customers with water that's not even lukewarm. However, if the manufacturers get around to fixing this issue, then we are going to be in the presence of truly amazing coffee. 

In conclusion, the Nespresso Vertuo Machine would have been the perfect espresso buddy, if it took the chance to look over its product before release. By missing out on perfecting such a critical part of coffee making, it missed out on the opportunity of being the best thing in our kitchens. It came close to achieving perfection and becoming the only coffee-related appliance that we would ever need but narrowly missed that chance. 

#2 Breville the Barista Express – BES870XL
Product Highlights
  • Best espresso machine you will find within its price range
  • Packed with features that are used in a commercial coffee house
  • Get full-flavored coffee with the push of a button

Overview

Breville the Barista Express
  • Best espresso machine you will find within price range
  • Packed with features used in a commercial coffee house
  • Get full-flavored coffee with the push of a button
  • Plenty of accessories included

Pros

  • Many useful features to help towards making the best coffee
  • Precise temperature control for perfectly hot espresso with each use
  • Complete with all the accessories you need to be your own barista
  • Manufactured by one of the most trusted brands in kitchen appliances

Cons

  • May have a few inconsistencies when making coffee
  • Parts may breakdown, and the grinder tends to stop working

bottomlinelogoBottom Line

Breville's the Barista Express - BES870XL espresso machine does so many things right and delivers the perfect coffee that we long for. It takes away all the time wasted on lining up at large coffee shop crowds, spending money every day, and having the barista mess up our order for the 10th time.

However, it isn't perfect, and it has obvious design flaws that prevent it from being the best espresso machine we can purchase, but it is the best that we can get our hands on right now. And despite its shortcomings, the Barista Express - BES870XL delivers what it promised to do, which is to brew the tastiest, creamiest, perfect tasting coffee that we can drink inside our own homes.

#3 Delonghi Magnifica – ESAM3300
Product Highlights
  • Make your favorite espresso, coffee, cappuccino, latte, and more.
  • All units carry a one-year warranty
  • Beautifully designed with many features to quickly make coffee every day

Overview

Delonghi Magnifica ESAM3300
  • Patented "Cappuccino System" frother that mixes steam and milk
  • Great design with space saving footprint
  • Easy to clean and simple operation

Pros

  • 13 adjustable settings to choose from
  • Helpful features to get the perfect cup of coffee
  • Manual frother to get silky smooth milk for your creations
  • Easy to use and easy to clean

Cons

  • Beans can get stuck in the grinder
  • Compromised quality may lead to the product breaking sooner than expected

bottomlinelogoBottom Line

While it is named Magnifica after magnificent, I'm sorry to say that it's anything but. Sure, it does a great job at making coffee, latte, espresso, you name it. However, its potentially costly repairs can set you back a couple of hundred dollars — which is pretty much the same price it goes for.

Of course, we can't discredit the fact that it gives us so many features and settings to enjoy, but the fact that it has such significant system issues is more of a factor when buying a kitchen appliance worth more than $500. Even with all the fancy tricks, having to repair the product if it malfunctions consistently is enough to convince once-loyal customers to leave the Delonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica Super-Automatic Espresso/Coffee Machine forever.

#4 Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
Product Highlights
  • Easy to use, with a one-touch function
  • Much lower price tag compared to others of the same performance level

Overview

    Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
  • Semi automatic functionality
  • Lower priced than others
  • Inconsistent foam

Pros

  • Make your favorite drinks at the push of a button
  • The powerful pump extracts flavor to give you a bold taste
  • Semi-automatic 3-in-1 espresso, latte, and cappuccino maker
  • Free recipe book to provide you with ideas for your next favorite drink

Cons

  • Can have a short lifespan
  • May deliver an inconsistent performance with giving out coffee and foam

bottomlinelogoBottom Line

While the Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker - BVMC-ECMP1000-RB certainly poses an advantage for those looking for a low-budget alternative to the expensive brands and models, it may not be the best idea to always opt for the cheaper choice. Consumers shouldn't have to sacrifice quality coffee by making a purchase that you might regret a few months down the road.

But if you want to be optimistic about it, then the Mr. Coffee Espresso and Cappuccino Maker can be a good addition to the kitchen, provided that it doesn't encounter any problems. It is capable of making tasty coffee, perform tasks without needing much help, and even comes with a recipe book for you to experiment with. For its price, it's not the worst thing to use for your next cup of coffee.

#5 Sowtech Espresso Machine
Product Highlights
  • Comes with a price that anyone can afford — perfect for students
  • Makes excellent espresso, saves you the time going to a coffeehouse

Overview

Sowtech Espresso Machine
  • Simple minimalistic design
  • Low priced offers strong value
  • Only 3.5 Bar strength

Pros

  • Simple, minimalistic design for smooth operation
  • Small and compact which saves space in smaller kitchens
  • Beautifully made espressos, perfect for mornings

Cons

  • Steamer tends to fail and may not heat milk at times
  • May malfunction at times, staying on when being turned off

bottomlinelogoBottom Line

Making an espresso should be a delight with the Sowtech Espresso Machine in your kitchen. It delivers excellent tasting beverages with just a few simple steps, it is a well designed and compact machine for anyone who has limited kitchen space, and it's easy to use. However, these three things aren't perfected, which makes us think of how trivial they are compared to the technologically advanced espresso machines we see in markets.

It's quite a shame that a product which offers so little doesn't at least get those small things right for everyone. Perhaps it's better to save up for a machine that will be able to do more with better quality. But if you are willing to look past the flaws that the Sowtech Espresso Machine has, it is capable of giving great espressos for as long as it functions well. And if you're really on a tight budget, then the Sowtech Espresso Machine is the best choice you have in the meantime until you can buy another machine in the future.

#6 Mr. Coffee 4-Cup Espresso System
Product Highlights
  • Unbeatable price compared to other products that offer the same function
  • Multi-purpose functions to deliver all your favorite beverages

Overview

Mr. Coffee 4-Cup Espresso Machine
  • Entry level espresso machine
  • Makes up to 20 oz per brew
  • Pros

    • Most affordable coffee maker worth investing on
    • Serves up to 4 shots with just one use
    • Make delicious lattes, cappuccinos, and other beverages
    • Get the perfect brew with the Steam Heat feature

    Cons

    • Product has some minor design flaws
    • The steamer has issues and may lead to complications

bottomlinelogoBottom Line

In the end, the small cost it takes to purchase the Mr. Coffee 4-Cup Espresso System - ECM160-RB doesn't do much to compensate for the failures that it is capable of. In the end, you're better off saving money and investing in a better model or brand.

And while it can give the results that we look for — rich and creamy cappuccinos, lattes, and espressos, we deserve to have a product that goes above and beyond when it comes to coffee. After all, coffee has become such an essential part of our morning routines, so the machine we purchase to make it should be just as important. Sadly, the Mr. Coffee 4-Cup Espresso System just doesn't cut it.

Buyers Guides

Infographic: Here’s the Difference Between Espresso and Coffee

Lisa Belluck

We here at FindReviews looove a delicious cup of fresh strong coffee in the mornings. (Or in some cases,...

Read More

How Much Do Espresso Machines Cost?

Graham Cook

You’ll often overhear people in coffee shops saying, “I wish I had an espresso machine at home!” or “I...

Read More

How Does An Espresso Machine Work?

Graham Cook

The consumption of espresso has increased significantly in the past two decades. In fact, it’s no surprise that in...

Read More

Did you know?

Espresso Machines

Espresso machines came into being as a way to serve café customers faster in the 19th century. Back then, it could take up to five minutes to brew a single cup of coffee. Yikes! European inventors began looking for ways to use steam to reduce the amount of time it took to brew coffee.
Although there were many prototypes from all over Europe, it was the Italian inventor, Angelo Moriondo that was granted a patent for “new steam machinery for the economic and instantaneous confection of a coffee beverage” in 1884. And so, the first espresso machine hit the market.

But it’s Luigi Bezerra and Desiderio Pavoni who are credited with being the inventors of the single-shot espresso brewer in 1906. This gave café owners a way to brew coffee correctly into a cup, instead of making an entire pot of coffee, which allowed for custom coffee creations that were fresh and hot.
From that point on, espresso makers have been a staple of coffee shops everywhere, which led to the introduction of machines for the home brewer in the 20th century. We can now enjoy delicious coffee concoctions in our own kitchens, thanks to impatient coffee drinkers and smart café owners in the 1800s.