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Whether you work from home or you’re looking to curb your Starbucks addiction on the way to the office, an excellent way to stick to your routine is by starting your day with a homemade coffee drink. And though there is nothing wrong with a typical cup of drip coffee, sometimes you’ve just got to treat yourself. Espresso is a great way to capture coffee’s earthy and nutty flavor, but it can also be customized into a variety of hot and cold beverages. The best espresso machine makes it easy to whip up your own lattes, iced americanos, cappuccinos or for the truly caffeine-obsessed, a red-eye.
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So whether you want to sip espresso solo or use it as a base for macchiatos, cappuccinos and other concoctions, you’ll need a home espresso machine at your disposal. Unfortunately, the best espresso machines for homes are famously expensive, so you want to make sure you choose the right appliance.
Keep reading for the complete SPY guide to choosing the best espresso machine for your kitchen (or workplace).
Read More: SPY Guide: The Best Coffee Makers
What Is Espresso?
Espresso is made from the same plant as regular coffee but it is more concentrated and has more caffeine. According to the roasters at Kicking Horse Coffee, a typical 1-ounce shot of espresso contains 40 mg of caffeine (compared to 12-16 mg of caffeine per ounce of coffee.) However, that estimate is actually on the low side, as Consumer Reports cites Department of Agriculture data that shows the average shot of espresso has up to 63 mg of caffeine.
That’s why, instead of serving espresso in a regular old mug as you do with coffee, you enjoy it as a “shot” in a smaller, specialized cup. Alternatively, you can mix the espresso with milk, ice water, chai tea and other bases to create espresso drinks. Whether you chose to grind your own beans with a coffee grinder or buy coffee grounds, espresso is a more delicate ground that should be stored in an airtight container in a cool place.
How To Find the Best Espresso Machine For Home Use
Finding the right espresso machine is key because good espresso doesn’t just happen; it is something you create. In that vein, consider your coffee-drinking needs. Do you enjoy fancy lattes with lots of steamed milk? Or are you a purist who doesn’t need a milk frother attached to your coffee maker? Will you be making large batches of espresso and need a machine with a double spout? Or will a single-spout with a built-in grinder suit you just fine?
You’ll also want to consider your price point. There are so many types of espresso machines on the market, and some of them are incredibly expensive. But for the regular espresso consumer, you don’t have to invest an entire paycheck to enjoy that smooth, creamy, complex taste. Here, we’ve rounded up the best espresso machine options (complete with pros and cons) that can help you to find the perfect at-home espresso machine.
1. De’Longhi Arte Espresso Machine
We’ve put this De’Longhi Arte espresso machine to the test and we have to say it’s worth every last penny. It comes with all kinds of accessories to brew up the perfect cup (eight different grind settings, temperature control, and a steam wand to create your own java art) but it’s also straightforward and easy to use, which is always a plus on those bleary-eyed mornings. We love how the detachable parts are dishwasher safe to make cleaning a breeze, and overall it’s not a giant machine, which makes it a practical addition to smaller kitchens. This isn’t a commercial espresso machine, but it has similar features such as a pressure gauge and stainless steel milk frother.
Plenty of accessories
Steam wand for java art
Hefty price tag
Only some parts are dishwasher safe
2. Philips 3200 Series Espresso Machine w/ Milk Frother
This Philips espresso machine is fully automatic and features a built-in milk frother. Choose from four different kinds of coffee beverages with easy-to-navigate touchscreen buttons. Users can adjust the strength and quantity, and unlike cheaper machines, it can brew up to 5,000 cups without needing to descale, thanks to its AquaClean technology. Buyers describe it as “pure and fresh” with a less watered-down effect than the Nespresso devices. Though the price tag is a little higher, it’s worth the investment if you want the absolute best espresso.
Built-in milk frother
Brews 5,000 cups before descaling
3. Cuisinart 1-Cup Espresso Defined Black Espresso Machine
This one-cup espresso machine is one of the most handsome pod-compatible espresso makers on the market. From cappuccinos to lattes, choose from adjustment options like brew temperature, froth volume, and flavor strength. It’s a step up from cheaper Nespresso machines, and ideal for those who prefer a stainless steel look and want to customize their coffee order a little more precisely. A built-in frother allows you to make cafe-quality drinks every time.
Quick brew time
Pods can be costly
Only makes one cup at a time
4. Smeg Espresso Machine
Smeg’s conversation-sparking espresso machine has a charming 1950s retro look, but its vintage aesthetic isn’t just what makes it stand out. It has a slim profile and makes tasty espresso each and every time. This simple-to-use machine is ideal for espresso beginners and looks like a piece of art wherever you put it. If you’re not ready to splurge on the more advanced and expensive models for home baristas, which can cost over $1,000, this is a valid at-home espresso machine choice.
Built-in milk frother
May not fit with all decor
Costly model is still more than $500
5. Hamilton Beach Espresso & Cappuccino Maker
EASIEST TO USE
Whether you like to use coffee grounds or capsules, the Hamilton Beach Espresso & Cappuccino Maker has you covered. This machine is perfect for those who have struggled with espresso machines in the past when locking a portafilter into place. Hamilton Beach uses a slide and lock mechanism that helps to secure the filter so anyone can utilize their machine. It offers 15 bars of pressure so that it steams quickly and froths the milk just right for making cappuccinos. The only suggestion when frothing milk is to make sure that your milk is cold.
Quick brew time
Included milk frother
Large water tank
Strong price point
Machine drips longer than some other models
6. Breville Bambino Espresso Machine
Even though the name implies small (bambino means baby in Italian) the Breville Bambino Espresso Machine offers big flavor. Its Thermojet technology heats up the machine in three seconds but is still able to keep the temperature balanced. It easily whips up lattes, cappuccinos and Americanos. The only thing you need to worry about is whether you are going to have one or two shots.
Quick brew time
Fewer customizable features
7. Primula Stovetop Espresso and Coffee Maker
You don’t need a fancy machine to brew some of the best kitchen espressos around. Whether you have a small kitchen or a small budget, this top-reviewed stovetop model on Amazon will save space and money while still giving you a delicious cuppa. It comes in several sizes so you can grab a model that fits your particular needs, and your coffee comes together within minutes. Stay safe with the temperature-resistant knob and the water pressure control valves, then give it a quick and easy clean with a rinse of warm water in the sink until you’re ready to brew up your next cup.
Makes several cups at once
No milk frother or grinder
No automatic functions
8. Keurig K-Cafe Single-Serve K-Cup Coffee Maker
Sometimes you want a coffee, sometimes you want an espresso and sometimes you want a cappuccino. And, if you want to take your pick any time of the day with as little muss and fuss as possible, this Keurig does it all. Simply pop in the appropriate pod for what you’re craving and you’ll have a steaming cup in a matter of minutes, cutting down on brew time while maximizing flavor. It’s also an affordable option, and these days many k-pods are recyclable too if you separate the components.
Quick brew time
9. Mr. Coffee Café Barista
EASIEST TO CLEAN
We all have heard and know the name Mr. Coffee but who knew the brand had upped its game and stepped into the espresso sphere? Well, they did, and we are glad because this three-in-one espresso, cappuccino, and latte maker is easy to fill, clean and use. Plus its 15-pump system creates a brew that will leave you feeling satisfied.
Easy to use
Louder than some other machines on the list
Read more: The Best Keurig Coffee Makers
10. De’Longhi Bar Espresso and Cappuccino Machine
A big issue with some espresso machines is the cleaning process. The De’Longhi Bar Espresso and Cappuccino Machine’s removable water tank and drip tray make cleaning easy. Still, though that is essential, taste is paramount, and this sleek machine uses 15-bar professional pressure to bring oomph to single or double espresso, cappuccino or latte. The frother isn’t automatic, allowing you the ability to control how thick, silky or creamy you want your milk. Plus, you can brew cup after cup with little to no waiting.
Single or double brew
Control over milk frother
Large water tank
Frothing pitcher sold separately
No built-in grinder
11. Breville Oracle Touch Fully Automatic Espresso Machine
BEST AUTOMATIC MACHINE
If you’re on the hunt for the best at-home espresso machine with a built-in grinder and you don’t mind dropping some serious coin, Breville has your back. This expensive but fully automatic espresso machine does it all from start to finish, without you having to exert any brainpower. The dual boiler and water pressure valve ensure the perfect temperature and water pressure with the press of a button, the built-in grinder will produce perfectly coarse grinds and the automatic milk texturing wand is flavor-enhancing and self-cleaning. Whether you want a flat white, a latte, a cappuccino or any other specialty coffee, this one does it all and more with the simple touch of a button.
Does a variety of drinks
Built-in grinder and self-cleaning frother
High price point
12. IMUSA Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
BEST NO-NONSENSE PICK
This espresso machine is made for a no-nonsense kind of person. It isn’t complicated, and you get a nice cup of espresso from its five-bar working pressure. The IMUSA is like the little engine that could, except, in this case, it can and does brew four servings of espresso. And, even though it is small, it can froth milk so that you can also make cappuccinos, macchiatos and lattes.
Low price point
Brews up to four servings at a time
Some users say it makes better Americanos than espressos
Hard to clean
13. Calphalon Temp IQ Espresso Machine
MOST BELLS & WHISTLES
If you are serious about your espresso and want to up your game, the Calphalon Temp IQ Espresso Machine can help you get there. It has a conical burr mill grinder with 30 settings, so you can be as particular as you want about getting the right grind size. Plus the 15 bars of pressure will help you get the right amount of flavor every single time. There are pre-programmed settings for single and double shots and the ability to select steam or hot water. In addition to keeping the temperature balanced so that you have the right amount of heat to produce great espresso, it also has a warming tray. And yes, the steam wand will froth your milk so that you can make beautiful cappuccinos, lattes, macchiatos, or any other beverage where milk is required.
Various settings for the perfect cup
Includes warming tray
Built-in grinder and frother
Can be complicated to learn
14. Breville Duo Temp Pro StainlessSteel Espresso Machine
BEST STAINLESS STEEL PICK
This handsome stainless steel espresso machine is amazing — it extracts flavors in an even and balanced way, automatically adjusting acidity and sweetness for the ultimate sip, every time. You can also manually control microfoam and practice latte art, while a unique auto-purge feature purges the heating system after steaming, setting your next espresso up for a better extraction. One buyer calls it a “nice upgrade from a De’Longhi,” and we agree. That said, you should know your stuff if you’re going to dance with this device. This definitely isn’t an espresso machine for complete beginners.
Automatic and manual controls
Included milk frother with manual control for latte art
Complicated for beginners
15. De’Longhi All-in-One Combination Coffee Maker & Espresso Machine
De’Longhi does sell a machine that exclusively makes espresso, but why limit yourself when you can make practically anything with this combination machine that doles out cups of coffee and espresso whenever you’d like? It even has an adjustable milk frother and comes with an attractive 10-cup coffee pot made out of glass. While it’s not the most space-saving option on the market, this machine does it all for a reasonable price.
Dual coffee-espresso function
Adjustable milk frother
Built-in clock and programs
No built-in grinder
16. Espresso Works Espresso Machine
BEST POP OF COLOR
If you want a pop of color on your countertop, these European-inspired espresso makers come in unique shades like purple and red. Make a double or single shot and easily view how much water there is left with the transparent removable tank. Multiple five-star reviews praise its small footprint, adequate pressure and easy-to-clean features, with one customer commenting, “ I drink espresso straight, with a little sugar, so I can definitely taste the difference between good and bad espresso. This machine is excellent.”
Large, transparent water tank
Easy to clean
Takes a minute to heat up
Tamper and grinder not included
17. illy Y3.3 Espresso & Coffee Machine
If you’ve ever visited Europe, then you know that illy coffee is ubiquitous there, which makes this a natural choice for espresso lovers. The illy Y3.3 Espresso & Coffee Machine was designed by renowned architect Piero Lissoni to fit in the room of your choice. This espresso machine stands out because while it’s slim, it is capable of producing espresso and drip-style coffee all with one touch. Grab one in white, black or red and hit the road if you like because it’s definitely small enough to take on a weekend away.
Makes espresso or drip coffee
Affordable price point
No customizing options
18. Portable Black Espresso Machine with Filter
BEST PORTABLE PICK
If you have no counter space or you just like your espresso on the go, consider the Simpresso portable black espresso machine. For under $80, this machine will take up no space at all in your kitchen, and yields a balanced espresso that even features a little crema. This hand-powered machine is compatible with Nespresso pods and can also be used with ground beans, providing anything from a single shot to a lungo.
Compatible with Nespresso pods
Can be unsturdy during constant use
Hard to clean
19. Nespresso by De’Longhi VertuoPlus
BEST POD-COMPATIBLE PICK
Nespresso’s VertuoPlus machine offers a more decadent and versatile espresso experience than the original, and while it’s not a classic espresso machine per se, it offers a competitive flavor that even beginners can achieve. Each capsule features a barcode that helps deliver precise ratios with each brew, with delicious crema in espressos, gran lungos, coffees or other drinks paired with milk. Whether you’re making an iced caramel macchiato or a black Americano, the Vertuo Plus hits the spot every time.
Cold and hot brews
Requires specific pods
Only makes one cup at a time
Updates: This article was last updated on Monday, June 6, at which time we selected a new “Best Overall” espresso machine. After testing and reviewing the De’Longhi Arte Espresso Machine, we now believe it’s the best espresso machine for the money. We have also added additional FAQs and information about the caffeine content of espresso.
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