There are coffee lovers, and then there are espresso lovers. For those who fall into the latter camp, we sifted through reviews, polled friends, family, and espresso enthusiasts, and compared models across beloved brands to determine the best espresso machine in the above five categories, factoring in budget, size, capabilities, and ease of use. Here are our top recommendations.
Bialetti Moka Express
If you’re looking for a basic stovetop model, Bialetti's Moka Express is well vouched for—just take a look at the 7,000+ reviews Amazon users have written about it (74 percent of which are five-star!). The aluminum vessel is shaped like an octagon so as to distribute the heat evenly. It's very easy to use—fill the base with water to the water line, spoon ground coffee into the funnel, twist on the top, and heat it over the stove (electric or gas). This is a good intro to espresso, as well as a solid low-budget option. Buy it in a 1, 3, 6, 9, or 12-cup size. If you're regularly making espresso for two people, buyers suggest the 6-cup size.
Mr. Coffee Café Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
If you sometimes want a plain espresso, but are also likely to drink a latte or cappuccino, a multi-function machine will no doubt be useful. With this dual machine, you can easily make all three. Another Amazon favorite, the Café Barista has more than 1,700 five-star reviews and has the fastest prep time of the Mr. Coffee options. It automatically froths milk, giving you a coffee shop-like layer on top without having to hand froth it yourself. For espresso, there are single and double shot filter options. Despite its multiple functions, reviewers call it "idiot proof," which is a pretty good endorsement if I've heard of one.
Nespresso Pixie Original
Best for Pods
Some will say Nespresso is not truly espresso, and that's fair. Wirecutter describes Nespresso drinks as "ultra-concentrated espresso size coffee drinks." But for people who prioritize convenience and consistency, Nespresso machines make sense—there's a reason they are hugely popular, even if the taste is slightly different than what you'd get with other machines. Of Nespresso's models, we like the Pixie. It takes up minimal kitchen space and pours espresso in around 25 seconds. You can make two size pours: an espresso, which is 2.7 ounces, or a lungo, which is 5 ounces. As for the environmental factor, Nespresso makes it easy to recycle, giving customers postage-paid bags to send capsules back in.
Breville Barista Express
Best High Speed
If you’re addicted to the taste of café-quality espresso, this is how you recreate it at home. Breville's Barista Express is a professional piece of equipment meant for home use, meaning it can be used back to back to back, so it's ideal for large families or people who regularly have guests over. It has dose control grinding, so beans are ground each time you want to make a drink, resulting in a fresher tasting pour. The machine also comes with a micro-foam steam wand which can be used to make velvety lattes. It does take up a bit of counter space, though—the dimensions measure 13.25 x 12.5 x 15.75 inches.
Saeco PicoBaristo Automatic
While most people can't afford to spend $1,500 on a coffee machine, if you have the means, Saecos will last quite a long time—customers note having their models for up to 15 years. The PicoBaristo Automatic has a wide range of one-touch functions, including 11 preset drink options from espresso shots to lattes, cappuccinos, caffè crema, and more. It also has an adjustable grinder with 10 settings so you can get the texture you like best. With its AquaClean Filter system, a relatively new feature from Saeco, you can clean it less often—the machine should be descaled every 5,000 cups. To note, only standard or short coffee mugs will fit under the dispenser, so if you usually make your morning drinks to-go, you'll have to transfer it into another mug should it be taller.
Brewsly 15 Bar Espresso Machine
Best Compact Machine
The 15 different bars of pressure allow for every cup to be high quality and in line with your preferences. It also comes with an adjustable milk frother that gives you options for the level of froth and steam. The compact design is one of the biggest selling points of this machine, especially if you live in a smaller space or want to display it on your countertop with ease. The Brewsly 15 Bar Espresso Machine takes up nearly half the space of a traditional espresso machine at only six inches wide with a removable tray if you want to use a bigger cup.
Keurig K-Cafe Special Edition
Best For Coffee Amateurs
Keurig machines are a great place to start if you're new to coffee because of their extremely intuitive design and this K-Cafe appliance is no different. It features simple button controls where you can decide what kind of coffee you want and can make speciality drinks or shots with the use of K-Cups. The K-Cafe Special Edition also has a smart start function that makes it heat and brew in one simple process so you don't have to wait for it to warm up.
Hanchen Super Automatic Espresso Machine
Best Smart Appliance
The touch screen of this Hanchen machine makes brewing your espresso easier than ever. You can of course choose between cappuccino, americano, and lattes when you'd prefer a different drink, too. It comes with a commercial-grade water pressure that helps every coffee more fragrant and has an automatic cleaning process. When you turn the machine on or off it will start a cleaning program to clean the internal circulation system which saves you time and makes the machine as hygienic as possible.
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