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If you’re an avid coffee drinker, you know that having the best espresso machine makes all the difference in taste. But knowing which brands and models are worthy investments can be a challenge. With so many to choose from, where do you start?

It pays to thoroughly research any potential purchase so that you can better determine which one is right for you. We’re here to alleviate some of your searching and make things easier on you. We have reviewed and ranked 10 of the best-performing machines from our tests.

We had a lot of fun trying each one out. We hope the information presented assists you in your quest for the perfect cup of espresso. But before we move on, here are two of the highest-scoring entries for your consideration.

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When it came down to the best overall, Breville’s Barista Express stole the show. It’s a beautiful unit that makes a great addition to any kitchen. It’s pretty pricey and can take some getting used to if you’re new to espresso machines. But its benefits and coffees are well worth your patience.

Even if you’re not looking to spend a whole lot, you can still enjoy quality espressos. Nespresso’s VertuoPlus amazed us with its ease-of-use. This affordable entry might be missing some customization features, but it delivers some truly fine coffees.

Top 10 Best Espresso Machines

Now for the good part. Here, we’ll talk about why we chose to include each model. We have quite the selection of espresso machines, from high-end to budget-friendly. We’re sure there is just the right one for your needs.


1. Breville Barista Express Review "Best Overall"

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  • Great build-quality
  • Excellent coffee
  • Auto-clean
  • Attractive
  • Pretty pricey
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Breville is a trusted name in coffee machines. We were expecting nothing short of excellence, and that’s exactly what we got. It is well-built, attractive, and makes great-tasting espresso.

We love that you can control grinding to best suit your preferences. You get just the amount grounded for your cup, and it sure tastes great. Breville uses precision extracting methods to ensure that the water is just the right temperature for delivery.

And if you want to add milk, the Barista Express comes ready with a steam wand. Now you can foam milk whenever you like for a bevy of drinks.

We’re big fans of the way this one looks. This espresso machine will fit right into any setting. Whether it’s for your home, coffee shop, or office, the Barista Express looks professional and classy.

Features

  • 12 x 11 x 13.5 inches
  • 67-ounce water tank
  • 0.5-pound hopper
  • Stainless steel
  • 23 pounds

Ease of Use

If you’re new to making espressos for yourself, this may not be the best machine to start with. There’s a lot of learning involved if you want to get the most out of it.

That being said, if you have a solid understanding of how these units work, you will be plenty pleased with what it has to offer. There are lots of options to fine-tune your espresso just the way you like it.


2. Nespresso VertuoPlus Review "Most Budget-Friendly"

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  • Excellent coffees
  • Easy to use
  • Affordable
  • Compact
  • Stylish
  • Can’t customize settings
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If you’re not looking to spend a small fortune on an espresso machine, there are still some really great options. Our favorite model out of all the budget-friendly ones we tested is easily the VertuoPlus.

It’s sleek, compact, and stylish. It comes with a 60-ounce water tank so you can make several cups at a time. As small as the VertuoPlus is, you can easily serve many family members or guests.

This unit operates much like a Keurig. You use Nespresso’s special pods to prepare each cup. The big difference here is VertuoPlus’ unique barcode scanner. It reads each pod to ensure that the machine uses the proper extraction method for each blend.

A simple press of a button delivers fine-tasting coffees that are packed with flavor. It may be inexpensive, but its performance is top of the line.

Features

  • 16.23 x 5.59 x 12.81 inches
  • 20- to 25-second heating
  • 60-ounce water tank
  • 12 pounds
  • Plastic

Ease of Use

As a budget model, you won’t find the type of customization that you see in premium units. But don’t let that deter you. This is one of the easiest machines to use, and its scanning system makes all the proper adjustments for you.


3. Capresso Ultima Pro Review "Best Value"

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  • Heats quickly
  • Easy to use
  • Affordable
  • Attractive
  • Messy delivery
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If you want more control over your coffee on the cheap, Capresso’s Ultima Pro is a fine choice. It costs more than the VertuoPlus, but is still quite affordable compared to the rest of the competition.

We like that you can program your desired amount for each serving. And the inclusion of a milk frother further expands your drink options. And that’s what makes the Ultima Pro such a great model. It delivers excellent espresso, lattes, and cappuccino.

It’s a very attractive unit and makes a fine addition to any kitchen. While it is mostly made of plastic, it features stainless steel accents that give it a lot of class. The lower build-quality doesn’t detract from its performance in any way. It’s lightweight and easy to transport.

With this kind of value, it’s hard to beat what the Ultima Pro has to offer. Sure, it’s a bit messy in its operation. But it makes great-tasting coffee at an affordable price.

Features

  • 10.5 x 12.25 x 14 inches
  • 34-ounce water tank
  • 11.97 pounds
  • Self-tamping
  • Plastic

Ease of Use

Espresso is easy enough to prepare, and it sure tastes great. But the Ultima Pro isn’t the cleanest of machines. It likes to expel quite a bit of coffee when filling up your cup. We eventually just started putting paper towels around the machine to combat the mess.


4. De'Longhi La Specialista Review "Best Features"

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  • High build-quality
  • Compact design
  • Excellent coffee
  • User-friendly
  • Expensive
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If you like to have total control over nearly every aspect of your espresso, the Specialista is the perfect machine for you. You can set the grinder’s coarseness; adjust the espresso or coffee to best suit your tastes; even control the milk texture for the perfect froth.

And although the Specialista lets you customize your drink, it’s very easy to set up and use. We like the user-friendliness De’Longhi incorporated into the interface. It’s not confusing in the least, and just about anyone will be able to start making the perfect cup of espresso.

Other notable additions include a separate hot water spout for things like tea or hot chocolate. And the milk frother makes excellent cappuccinos and lattes.

The Specialista is an attractive espresso machine. It’s also quite compact considering everything that it does. You won’t find any corners cut here. It’s made of beautiful stainless steel and is built tough. It’s solid, sturdy, and made to last.

Expect to pay a pretty penny for this unit. It’s one of the most expensive we reviewed. But if you want your coffee without any compromises, the Specialista is the best choice.

Features

  • 14.48 x 12.48 x 13.98 inches
  • Frothing system
  • 2-year warranty
  • Stainless steel
  • 29.7 pounds

Ease of Use

The Specialista is a complex machine, but that doesn’t mean it’s hard to use. In fact, it sports a very user-friendly setup that nearly anyone can use.

There are lots of individual pieces that can make cleaning rather tedious. But you get a cleaning brush and descaling solution to make things easier on you.


5. Breville Bambino Plus Review "Best for Busy Mornings"

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  • Excellent microfoam
  • Heats up fast
  • No waiting
  • Compact
  • Shallow drip tray
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For those of you who are in a hurry, Breville has the answer to your busy lives. The Bambino Plus is one fast espresso machine, heating up in just three seconds. You get great-tasting coffee without any waiting.

We absolutely love the steam wand that comes with this unit. It makes some truly delicious microfoam, and it too is very quick with its delivery. We also really appreciate the large water tank. With its 64-ounce capacity, you’ll save even more time by having plenty handy for your next cup.

If you’re pressed for counter space as it is, the Bambino Plus won’t take up much room. Its compact design and attractive body will fit in nicely just about anywhere.

We wish there were a larger drip tray, as the one included is quite shallow and tends to spill over far too often. But aside from this one caveat, we can’t complain about anything else. Breville once again delivers a worthy contender for your countertop.

Features

  • 12.5 x 7.6 x 12.2 inches
  • Plastic/stainless steel
  • Included steam wand
  • 3-second heating
  • 12 pounds

Ease of Use

The Bambino Plus heats up in just three seconds. If you’re on the lookout for an espresso machine that delivers quickly, you won’t find much better. This is the perfect solution for those who have rushed mornings and need their coffee right away.


6. Nespresso Essenza Mini Review "Best Budget Runner-Up"

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  • Heats quickly
  • Lightweight
  • Affordable
  • Compact
  • Limited options
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It’s small, compact, and affordable. And it makes a really fine cup of coffee. The Essenza Mini is easy to use, too, making it a great machine for those who are new to espresso. We love the handy one-touch operation of this model.

Anyone can plug it in and start using it. The only options are what cup size you need filled. The Essenza Mini uses Nespresso’s special pods to make its unique coffees. It heats up in just 25 seconds, so there’s very little waiting around.

As a single-serve machine, this is one of our favorites. There’s very little maintenance involved, and cleanup is a breeze. You should have no trouble finding a home for it along your countertop. Its narrow design takes up very little room.

You’re limited on options, as there are only two buttons that you’ll be using. But if you’re not interested in customizing your coffee, the Essenza Mini is right up your alley.

Features

  • 12.9 x 3.3 x 8 inches
  • 25-second heating
  • Single-serve
  • 5.95 pounds
  • Plastic

Ease of Use

Thanks to its convenient pod-based system, getting a cup of espresso is quick and painless. This machine heats up quickly, making it a fine companion to your busy morning routine.

You won’t find much in the way of customization, as cup size is the only thing you have control over. But if you’ve been looking for something less complicated, the Essenza Mini is about as easy as it gets.


7. Nespresso Gran Lattissima Review "Best Frother"

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  • One-touch controls
  • Beautiful design
  • Tasty froths
  • Well-built
  • Expensive
  • Limited options
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When it comes to getting an excellent milk-based espresso drink, nothing makes it quite as easy as the Gran Lattissima. With the tap of a button, you get delicious coffees without all the fuss. There’s no need to make adjustments or change settings.

The Gran Lattissima does it all for you automatically. Just insert your favorite Nespresso pod, fill up the milk container, and tap a button. You’ll soon have some of the best lattes you’ve ever had in the comfort of your own home.

We love the design of this machine. You can choose either black or white. Both look stunning and add a lot of sophistication to your kitchen. If you want class, the Gran Lattissima is the way to go. It’s very sturdy in its construction, with excellent craftsmanship throughout.

The capacitive touch interface on the top of the unit is easy to use, with a built-in cleaning option for further convenience. A button is assigned to each of the nine drink settings. Selecting your favorite one takes just a simple tap. Nespresso makes it user-friendly and easy to learn.

The only real downside to the Gran Lattissima is its price. While it’s not the most expensive model we reviewed, it’s certainly not cheap. And although it is very easy to use, some may be disappointed by its lack of customization.

All that being said, if you love frothy coffees but don’t like all the fiddling involved, this is the machine for you. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll never want to manually make lattes again.

Features

  • 17 x 14.1 x 10.4 inches
  • Backlit touch controls
  • Glass/stainless steel
  • One-touch operation
  • 14.37 pounds

Ease of Use

It’s nice being able to tap on a button and go. There are no confusing settings to mess with, as the Gran Lattissima takes care of it all. For simplistic but delicious espressos and lattes, you won’t find a more efficient machine.

And when it comes to cleanup, this thing is an absolute pleasure. We love not having to fight with different parts. The solid and smooth materials are easy to maintain, adding even more value to this entry.


8. Espressione Concierge Review "Best Design"

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  • Easy to clean
  • Nice controls
  • Great design
  • Attractive
  • A bit pricey
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Espressione’s Concierge is one sharp machine. It sports LED lighting, a stainless steel body, and precision craftsmanship. We love the user-friendly interface. It uses touch controls that are backlit for easy accessibility.

It has a built-in grinder that can be adjusted to your liking. It’s a breeze getting your espresso just the way you like it. The rich, flavorful delivery of every cup makes this unit worth the price of admission. We were impressed by how quiet it operates, too.

We also really like the included milk frother. It’s nice having variety to choose from. Just tap a button to get cappuccinos and lattes whenever you want.

We can’t say enough good things about the overall design of the Concierge. It is both attractive and convenient. Our only gripe is that it takes longer to start up than other entries we reviewed. But when you consider the excellent taste of this machine’s coffees, it’s a small price to pay.

And speaking of which, the Concierge is a bit on the pricey side. But it’s gone down in its cost in recent months. This may be the perfect time to pick one up.

Features

  • 7 x 15.6 x 12.4 inches
  • Plastic/stainless steel
  • Touch controls
  • 20.6 pounds
  • Backlit LED

Ease of Use

Once the Concierge has finished its startup cycle, espresso delivery is fast. In about 20 seconds, you can enjoy fine-tasting coffees with just a simple button tap. And the slick user-interface is straightforward and a breeze to learn.

Espresso machines can sometimes be a pain to maintain. But the Concierge’s solid design makes cleaning a cinch.


9. Cuisinart EM-100 Review "Best for Beginners"

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  • Great for beginners
  • Large capacity
  • Easy to use
  • Affordable
  • Limited features
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If you’re new to the espresso scene, we recommend that you give Cuisinart’s EM-100 a look. This machine takes a no-nonsense approach to delivering gourmet coffees. The operation is about as straightforward as it gets.

There aren’t any confusing settings to concern yourself with. And the interface is an absolute breeze to use. Just a power button and a couple of dials is all you control. The built-in water container is nicely-sized at 53 ounces. It’s removable, too. So refilling and cleaning is quick and convenient.

You’ll appreciate the built-in frother. You can have cappuccinos and lattes any time you like. We were quite pleased with the rich taste of coffees that the EM-100 produces. While they aren’t quite up to the same level as premium machines, we found them to be just fine.

If you drink espresso often, you’ll likely want to steer clear of this one. It’s lacking a lot of customizable features that veteran drinkers will miss having around. But if you’re just starting out, this is the perfect model for your needs.

Features

  • 9.5 x 12.5 x 14.75 inches
  • Uses pods or grounds
  • Plastic/stainless steel
  • 53-ounce water tank
  • Built-in milk frother

Ease of Use

The EM-100 is a very easy machine to operate and maintain. We had no trouble making espresso, and were quite pleased with the taste. If you’re new to espresso, this is a great unit for learning the ropes.


10. KRUPS Deluxe One-Touch Review "Most Innovative"

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  • Great-tasting coffees
  • Nice controls
  • Clear display
  • Compact
  • Expensive
  • Quality-control issues
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KRUPS delivers the most technologically-advanced unit on our list. It sports an easy-to-use interface with a digital display. From here, you can readily see your selections and easily tell when your drinks are ready.

We really like this aspect of the Deluxe One-Touch. The interface’s panel uses capacitive buttons, much like a smartphone. If you’re at all familiar with your mobile device, you’ll feel right at home with this setup.

Commands are easy to enter, and you always know what you have selected thanks to the clear OLED screen. You have full control over the customization of your drinks. You can adjust things like strength, flavor, size, and more.

KRUPS used a combination of plastic and stainless steel in the construction of this machine. We would have liked it if there were more stainless steel used, especially considering the high price. Perhaps they were trying to reduce its weight as much as possible.

For everything that it does, the Deluxe One-Touch is pretty compact and lightweight. It looks nice, regardless of its mostly-plastic body. It’s fairly narrow in design, so you should have no trouble finding a home for it along your countertop.

It would appear that the Deluxe One-Touch has it all. Espresso, cappuccino, and lattes all taste fabulous. We wish we could rate this unit higher, but there are too many quality-control problems that have been reported. Hopefully KRUPS fixes these issues soon, because this machine performs too well to pass up.

Features

  • 15 x 11.3 x 19.06 inches
  • Plastic/stainless steel
  • Touch controls
  • OLED display
  • 18.48 pounds

Ease of Use

As its name suggests, operations are performed with a single button tap. The interface is sleek and easy to learn. You get plenty to customize and entering commands is a cinch.


Espresso Machine Buyer’s Guide

Every consumer fears being overwhelmed with choices. The problem with espresso machines is that there are thousands of different models. Each of them might not do what you want it to. And, plenty of them might not cater to your standards.

Useful Espresso Terms

espresso coffee machine

If you are new in the espresso world, then consider learning the following terms.

  • Crema: Tan-colored foam you see on top of a fresh shot of espresso. It is a sign of a properly brewed espresso.
  • Brew group: Part of an espresso machine that holds the group head, portafilter, and filter baskets.
  • Portafilter: Part of the espresso machine that holds the ground beans. Hot water runs through it to extract the flavor from the beans.
  • Spout: Exit part of a portafilter through which brewed espresso pours out.
  • Group head: Permanent attachment that releases the water out of an espresso machine. Commonly known as brew head.
  • Burr grinder: A type of grinder used in espresso making. It features a stationary disk and a rotating disk, which grind the beans into fine particles.
  • Steam wand: It is an external pipe that froths and steams milk.
  • Tamper: A device used to compress the ground beans into a portafilter. It helps the water extract more flavor from the beans.
  • Boiler: It is made of stainless steel, brass, copper, or aluminum. It is used to heat the water.
  • Hopper: Part of the machine that holds the beans before they are used in a portafilter.
  • Puck: The bed of coffee grounds after being used to brew espresso.
  • Drip tray: A tray that sits underneath the brew group. Its use is to catch any spillage.

Types of Espresso Machines

There are four types of espresso machines on the market. All of them have their pros and cons, so choosing the right one depends on your needs.

Manual Espresso Machines

Manual espresso machines were a revolution when they appeared. They provided the pressure necessary to brew excellent espresso, by utilizing a lever.

Nowadays, lever (manual) espresso machines are being replaced with all-in-one solutions. But, if you want to take your time to handcraft a perfect brew, then a manual machine could be what you need.

Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines

Semi-automatic espresso machines come with many quality of life improvements: pre-grinding, temperature control, digital display, programmable buttons, and more.

These machines allow you a certain amount of control, but they make it harder to make a mistake. If you want to act like a barista, but you want to avoid any problems, then a semi-automatic espresso machine could be for you.

Automatic & Capsule Espresso Machines

Automatic espresso machines are a perfect choice for people who want to avoid errors almost entirely. The only thing that you need to do is to make sure that the machine has water and coffee. After you have made sure that the machine is not empty, you simply press a button and wait for your coffee.

Capsule machines make an easy job even easier. You don’t need to worry about coffee. Simply put the capsule into the machine, and press a button. The only problem with capsule espresso machines is that you are limited to using the capsules that fit your machine.

Automatic & capsule espresso machines can be a perfect choice for anyone interested in brewing espresso with little to no effort.

Prosumer Espresso Machines

Prosumer espresso machines are professional-grade machines that you might notice in a local café. These machines are complex, but they give you the freedom to control all of the espresso parameters.

Prosumer espresso machines allow you to release your inner barista. They let you control the tamper pressure, regulate the grinder, specify the amount of ground coffee, and more.

While it takes a lot of time to become good at using them, we think that it is worth it. On the other hand, if you only want a quick drink without any hassle, then a prosumer espresso machine is not for you.

Which Espresso Machine is Best for Me?

making espresso coffee

You can easily figure out which espresso machine is the best for you by answering a couple of questions.

Do you want to keep things simple? Do you want to drink espresso without spending more than a few seconds making it? If your answers are “yes,” then an automatic or a capsule espresso machine could be what you need.

Do you enjoy working to make your espresso perfect? Would you like to pretend that you are a barista without all the tedious work? Are you interested in brewing good espresso without a lot of hassle? If your answers are “yes,” then a semi-automatic espresso machine might be good for you.

Do you enjoy the coffee-making craft? Do you yearn for the days of old? Do you enjoy taking the less-traveled road if it means that the rewards are greater? Would you like to learn more about brewing espresso? If you have answered “yes,” then a manual espresso machine could be the right product for you.

Do you enjoy having as much control over the brewing process as possible? Are you a barista, or would you like to learn what it takes to become one? Are you in a serious relationship with espresso? If your answers have been “yes,” then a prosumer espresso machine could satisfy your needs.

Final Words

Now you know why many people consider espresso brewing as an art. It isn’t easy, but it is a craft worth pursuing. While a barista is an important part of the equation, a machine is the mind behind the operation.

Fortunately, now you know more on the topic of espresso machines than an average person. We hope that we have given you all the necessary information to make a satisfying purchase. Have a brewtiful day!