Are you looking for the best espresso machine for your home use? Then you’ve come the right place. Today, I will walk you through my little buying guide to help you purchase the wanted espresso machine. So now here we go…
Choosing The Best Espresso Machine
There are three main types of espresso machine, each with different price points and all with their own benefits / disadvantages. Generally speaking, most people look for a semi or fully automatic espresso machine for their first purchase, that’s exactly what I did – purchasing a Gaggia 14101 Classic Espresso Machine several years ago that is still working well to this day.
- 1 Choosing The Best Espresso Machine
- 2 Best Espresso Machines in 2017 with Reviews
- 2.1 Nespresso A+C40-US-TI-NE Inissia Espresso Maker with Aeroccino Plus Milk Frother, Titan
- 2.2 Breville BES840XL – The Infuser Espresso Machine
- 2.3 Nuova Simonelli Oscar Pour Over Espresso Coffee Machine (Best for small Office)
- 2.4 Jura Ena Micro 1
- 2.5 Gaggia Baby Class 12300
- 2.6 Gaggia 14101 Classic Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel
- 2.7 Breville BES920XL Dual Boiler Espresso Machine (Best for coffee Connoisseurs)
- 2.8 Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso Maker with Automatic Milk Frother
- 2.9 Nespresso VertuoLine (Black)
- 2.10 Rocket Evoluzione V2 Giotto
- 3 5 Things to Look Out For When Purchasing the Best Espresso Machine
Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines
Price Range: $300 – $3000
These machines feature many of the time saving devices a fully-automatic espresso machine has. Generally you’ll get an automated pump, temperature controls (Unless it’s a budget version) and switches to operate the pump on and off.
It’s the fact the pump switches off and on manually that make these machines semi-automatic.
The great thing about semi-automatic machines is the lower price point, making them ideal for people getting started with espresso coffee for the first time. They also tend to have fewer moving parts which keep maintenance costs down.
The downside to this of course is the fact you’ll need to perform more tasks to obtain your freshly brewed coffee. Many coffee aficionados either move on quickly from semi-automatic machines or learn to love the coffee making process. Some machine are even built with semi-automatic functions to appeal to connoisseurs.
Steam Espresso Machines
Price: $100 – $1200
A steam driven espresso coffee machine operates by pushing water under steam pressure through the coffee. Typically, the coffee is held in place with a handled press fit cup which the user has to screw into place.
The very first espresso machines were steam driven and many low-cost espresso devices for the consumer market operate this way too. This is because they contain fewer moving parts, allowing for cheaper manufacture and easier maintenance.
These machines have an extremely low price point and ease of use, partly where the main problem lies with them. Consumer grade steam espresso machines have made many a Christmas / Birthday present – ending up unloved and unused in kitchens up and down the country.
If you’re in the market looking for a cheap espresso machines, consider its everyday operation and make sure you enjoy freshly ground coffee enough to make grinding and prepping the machine worth it. If you’re serious about drinking fresh coffee then consider waiting to purchase a semi or fully-automatic version instead.
Super-Automatic Espresso Machines
Price Range: $500 – $5000
These are frequently the most expensive machines on the market, although you can get some really good super-automatic espresso machine in the $500 – $750 price range.
These machines perform every task required to make an espresso coffee. From grinding the beans, tamping them down and finally brewing the perfect cup. These are typically the machines you’ll see in busy cafés and although expensive, some consumer oriented versions get snapped up by coffee aficionados quickly.
The main issue with these machines is price, putting them out of reach for many households. They are however the best machines you can get and often something coffee lovers will actively save up for.
As well as the different types of machine above, there are a few different types of way the machine produces steam under normal operation. This has a huge effect on the speed of the device and how well it will work when dealing with brewing multiple cups of coffee, something to think about if you invite guests to your home frequently.
Single Boiler Machines
For more budget units, the single boiler is what will most likely be fitted. Typically, the machine has two thermostats, one at a lower temperature for brewing coffee and another set to a higher temperature for heating milk / steam.
As the machine brews coffee, the boiler will switch from one thermostat to the other as it moves from boiling water and brewing coffee to heating and frothing the milk and steam.
The positive to this method is price, most consumer grade and budget systems will operate using a single boiler. The negative is the time taken for the boiler to switch, change temperature and continue with its operation.
For average consumer use this is fine but if you’re planning to entertain at home or purchase a machine for any type of commercial / office setting, then you’ll need to think about upgrading to at-least a single boiler with heat-exchanger set-up.
A Single Boiler with Heat Exchanger
An upgrade from the single boiler setup, this system operates with one boiler set to a high temperature of 110 degrees, allowing the water within the boiler technically be capable of brewing water and heating milk / steam.
As the machine brews, the super-hot water is used to brew coffee and create steam, whilst water for heating milk is sent through a heat exchanger – cooling it down to a temperature perfect for heating and frothing milk.
The positive to this type of boiler is speed, it’s faster than a single boiler set-up because there’s a shorter waiting time between the coffee brewing and milk heating process. This shorter speed does come at a price however, a typical single boiler espresso machine with heat exchanger will cost $400 and upwards.
It’s worth noting that many single boiler with heat exchanger systems are almost good enough for light commercial work with the technology underpinning the design coming on leaps and bounds over the past few years.
Dual Boiler Machines
These are the gold standard when it comes to semi-automatic and fully-automatic espresso machines. They tend to be expensive, the lowest cost machines costing about $850 like the Breville Bes900xl or the Ascaso Steel Duo.
The great thing about these professional espresso machines is the speed of operation. One boiler is dedicated to super-hot water for coffee brewing and the other to producing lower temperatures for heating milk. This speeds up the operation markedly and many coffee lovers swear that the quality of brew produced with a dual boiler system is much better.
With these systems you can also steam and brew at the same time, saving even more time when making multiple cups at the same time.
Best Espresso Machines in 2017 with Reviews
Nespresso A+C40-US-TI-NE Inissia Espresso Maker with Aeroccino Plus Milk Frother, Titan
Light and compact, the nifty Nespresso A+C40-US-TI-NE Inissia Espresso Maker is a coffee lover’s dream and is available in a variety of colors, allowing it to fit right in with any interior.
The Inissia represents simplicity at its best, encompassing highly functional design objects that are smart and fun while uniting progressive technology, heaps of convenience and intelligent design. Its programmable features and ease of use ensure it delivers the perfect cup each and every time. Although the Inissia is an entry-level machine in the Nespresso range, it comes packed with features and performs just as well as larger and more expensive machines.
The innovative design of the Inissia won it the prestigious Red Dot Award for Product Design in 2014, adding to the long list of awards for Nespresso.
Additionally, it comes with a standalone Aeroccino Plus Milk Frother which prepares cold or hot milk froth with one touch of a button. The Aeroccino extends the range of drinks the Inissia can produce, allowing for cappuccinos and lattes as opposed to just espresso and lungos.
Its pocket-friendly price makes it ideal for college students, young couples on a budget, or a small office environment.
Overall, The Nespresso Inissia really is a great purchase because it’s lightweight, easy to use and energy efficient. It’s budget-friendly without compromising on features and produces great-tasting coffee. It’s perfect for anyone who wants to enjoy a good cup of coffee without having to break the bank on a high-end, state-of-the-art machine.
Check Price Of The Nespresso A+C40-US-TI-NE Inissia Espresso Maker
The Breville “Bes840xl” is our top recommendation for the best affordable home espresso machines. Unlike many similar machines, the 840 is designed to incorporate the key technique baristas use to produce optimal espresso shots at your local coffee shop.
The best espresso and crema are not produced by simply blasting espresso grounds with a wave of sudden pressure. Instead, as any competent barista will tell you, it is critical to start with low pressure to saturate and condition the grounds. More pressure should then be added to produce a full body of flavor from the grounds. This approach also produces a more consistent result every time you brew a shot with the same beans. Consistency is the Holy Grail for espresso lovers, which makes the Breville Bes840xl a fantastic find.
The Breville Bes840xl also has a great programming mechanism. Modern espresso machines have become far too function-oriented; it can often feel like you need an engineering degree just to program a latte recipe. With the 840, programming is reduced to a two-button process. Set up your shot, push the programming button, brew your shot, and hit the programming button again. This professional espresso machine records the process and assigns it a number. Select that number the next time you need an espresso and the machine will repeat the process. It’s simple, effective and a nice detail which further supports the value of the Breville Bes840xl.
The specifications for the Breville BES840XL Infuser:
- Tiered pressure allowing for better extraction
- 1600w thermocoil stainless steel heating system providing consistent water temperature
- Single and dual water filter baskets
- Steaming available immediately after finishing shot brew
- 15 bar pressure
- 41 inch cord for convenience
- 1 year warranty
Check Price Of The Breville Bes840xl
The Nuova Simonelli espresso machine heat exchanger system is a great introduction to higher end coffee making. It has a single boiler with heat exchanger set-up, easy to use heating and front fill tank – handy for everyday use. After using the machine we’d be pretty comfortable fitting the machine in a small office or commercial setting too. It’s a pretty well made machine with all dials and buttons sporting a quality feel.
It’s finished in a polished black, quite a good choice for office use and as with all heat exchanger systems, it features the ability to steam milk whilst brewing coffee – perfect if you’re planning on making 3 or more cups of coffee at one time.
We found the taste okay, nothing more. However, the quality of the machine is definitely something to consider if you’re purchasing a machine for office space.
Commercial-quality espresso machines are usually superior to home versions because of the quality of the materials used. That makes perfect sense; a home unit might be required to make a couple of shots a day while a commercial unit will have to make hundreds. Many espresso lovers eventually make the move to a higher-quality commercial machine for the simple reason that they want a durable machine which will last for a long time. If you feel the same way, the Oscar is an excellent option.
Nuova Simonelli primarily manufactures commercial-grade espresso machines for use in coffee shops. The Oscar is made from the same quality materials, but with a less expensive design. While you won’t get fancy programming options with this home version, you will get a classic espresso machine which will last ten years or even longer – a lifespan unheard of in the home espresso machine market.
When you move up to the big time with a machine of this type, it is important to understand the complete brewing process. The Nuova Simonelli espresso machine does not use espresso pods or any other modern “convenience.” The assumption of the manufacturer is that you understand how to grind beans, tamp and time your shots. If you are not comfortable with this process, then the other espresso machines on this list are probably better options for you.
However, if you are ready to move up to the big leagues of espresso you are going to love one particular feature of this espresso maker. Because it is commercial-grade, you don’t have to brew grounds and froth milk at different times. The Nuova Simonelli espresso machine will do both simultaneously – just like in a real coffee shop.
At the end of the day, the Nuova Simonelli is the best classic espresso machine which produces an amazing shot of espresso. While it has few features or fireworks, the Oscar will brew you the same high-quality espresso shot, day in and day out, for the next decade. In a world where quality has seemingly been devalued, the Oscar provides it in spades.
Highlights of the Nuova Simonelli Oscar Pour Over Espresso Coffee Machine:
- Brew espresso and steam milk at the same time.
- Siphon heat circulation system
- Direct water line connection [optional]
- Heat-siphon circulation heating for consistent temperature control.
- High-quality manufacturer
Check Price Of The Nuova Simonelli espresso machine
Jura Ena Micro 1
The Jura espresso machine is what’s known as a “Bean to Cup” system. This means that all you need to do is add beans, water, milk and the machine will combine all three to create the perfect barista style brew.
This Jura espresso machine has to be the smallest one on the market right now. We measured it to be no more than a 40cm cube, possibly the first time an authentic bean to cup system has been available for counter-top use at home.
We were impressed by the quality of the system, less so with the lack of programming ability – the Jura espresso mchine has been overtly designed for simplicity which not all coffee lovers will like!
However, the system does produce a hot, strong coffee with a lovely frothy head on it. The tap is actually one of the only parts that’s truly adjustable, ensuring that at-least the froth of your coffee can be changed to your liking.
Overall, I liked the simplicity of the set-up, something that I believe quite a few general coffee drinkers will love too. Build quality is top-notch and the time the machine takes to make a brew is quite short.
Check Price Of The Jura espresso machine
Gaggia Baby Class 12300
A frequent best in class coffee maker, the Gaggia Baby is a single boiler system that focuses on producing a quality cup of espresso for the consumer market. The Gaggia Baby espresso machine comes with a number of interesting features:
- Water filter add-on, handy for those in a hard water area.
- A different type of valve, designed to avoid burning the coffee as it brews.
- Ability to use both ground coffee and ESE Coffee Pods.
- A steamer wand.
Being a single boiler system, the Gaggia Baby Class can’t cope easily with making multiple cups of tea at one time. So if you regularly entertain or are considering this machine for an office setting then you’ll likely be disappointed. However, it’s a great espresso maker for those who want barista quality coffee and don’t need to worry about the speed of operation.
Check Price Of The Gaggia Baby Class
Gaggia 14101 Classic Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel
The Gaggia 14101 Classic Espresso Machine is a machine made for espresso lovers who want to control the brewing process to the greatest extent possible. Achille Gaggia is the father of the modern pressurized espresso brew process, patenting the process in 1938 in Italy. Gaggia then launched this company under his name, and it has been creating espresso machines for home and commercial use ever since. With the 14101 Classic, you are essentially getting the same quality of commercial grade espresso machine found in your local coffee shop.
So, why is the Gaggia 14101 Classic Espresso Machine not listed at the top of these recommendations? It’s because it is very much an “old world” espresso maker. You must manually select every setting, from the grinding of the beans to the brew time and ideal tamping. This process is perfect for an espresso traditionalist, but less so for someone preferring a simple cup of high-quality espresso. If you love the brewing process, this is the machine for you. If you could care less about how it all works, then the other espresso machines on this list probably are better choices.
Key specs for the Gaggia 14101 Classic Espresso Machine:
- Made in Italy
- 5 bar pump pressure
- 72 ounce water reservoir
- Single and double shot filter basket
- High-voltage boiler for quick warm-up times
- Marine-grade brass with chrome plating for portafilters
- 14-1/4 by 8 by 9-1/2 inches
Check Price Of The Gaggia 14101 Classic Espresso Machine
Breville BES920XL Dual Boiler Espresso Machine (Best for coffee Connoisseurs)
If you’re something of a connoisseur when it comes to espresso, the Breville BES920XL is the perfect espresso machine. You can control temperature, brewing times and although it doesn’t come with a grinder, it seems to be part of the overall way the Breville has been packaged. Ensuring you have a say over every part of the coffee making process.
Of course, this amount of control is a bit much for many people; newcomers to espresso making might not understand all the settings and get bored constantly tweaking. However, if you’re a coffee geek you’ll delight in this amount of control!
Personally, we liked the control, creating coffee the exact way we wanted to – something not many other systems could offer. It might not be for you, but Breville have obviously identified a target market that enjoys the fuss when making a decent cup of espresso. The only reason I choose to put the Breville BES920XL instead of the BES900XL on this list is because I see some reviews on Amazon saying you will need to send back the machine to have it serviced every year leaving you without an espresso maker for couple weeks.
Check Price Of The Breville BES920XL
This Mr. Coffee Café Barista espresso machine provides you with pro-quality espresso and espresso drinks without the difficult brewing process. Designed for the novice espresso enthusiast, the Mr. Coffee Café Barista can be used to make espressos, cappuccinos, long espressos and lattes, as well as mochas and other exotic coffees.
We love this espresso maker because the design deftly combines control over the brewing process with ease of use. Control is provided through the manual tamping and pressure applied to the espresso grounds, but the system is still convenient to use because of the single-button brew process.
The milk frothing process is particularly well-thought-out. Once you fill the container, you place it on a raised stand which is sealed to the bottom of the control panel. This inventive design feature prevents spray during the frothing process, a design detail that makes so much sense that you have to wonder why other manufacturers haven’t thought of it. If your primary espresso drink involves milk, this design aspect alone warrants purchasing the Mr. Coffee Café Barista.
Important specifications of the Mr. Coffee Café Barista Espresso Maker:
- 15 bar pump pressure
- One touch control system
- Fully contained milk froth system
- Single and double cup option
- Removable drip tray and water tank for easy cleaning
- One year limited warranty
- 12 x 14 x 12.2 inches
Check Price Of The Mr. Coffee Café Barista Espresso Maker
We were in two minds about the Nespresso VertuoLine espresso machine and even whether to include it in the review. Why? Well, it’s not a traditional “espresso” machine – using ESE Coffee Pods to create a cup.
Instead of standard beans, the Nespresso VertuoLine espresso machine operates by passing hot water through the coffee pod, creating strong coffee – rather than a creamy espresso.
Some people swear by the Nespresso VertuoLine espresso machine and cite the fact it works well for people who don’t want to get into the finer details of creating a decent cup of coffee. There is also an argument that using a Nespresso system could be easier in day to day use than making instant coffee with fewer kettles, jars and mess. With the ESE Coffee Pod system all it takes is one pod, the machine plus milk and sugar to taste.
There are multiple models of Nespresso VertuoLine espresso machine, far more than we could mention in this guide. Personally we wouldn’t recommend them, even though the costs of the machine are relatively cheap, the cost per capsule is prohibitive and during our taste test we were not impressed by the strength or quality of coffee produced.
Check Price Of The Nespresso VertuoLine espresso machine
Rocket Evoluzione V2 Giotto
The Rocket Evoluzione V2 is a very serious piece of kit. It features a single boiler with heat exchanger and a rotary pump, ensuring the machine is quiet during daily operation. The main boiler is also well insulated, handy if you tend to keep your machine on during the day for a quick cup whenever you want it.
The machine comes with a highly polished stainless steel finish befitting a device within the price range with quite a decent build quality to boot!
We loved the quality of coffee the Evoluzione made, a creamy head and full flavour with no burnt taste. The only prohibitive thing about the V2 is the cost, firmly entering this machine into the $1000 and upwards price bracket.
Depending on your view point though the Rocket Evoluzione V2 Giotto is actually quite the bargain!
Check Price Of The Rocket Evoluzione V2
Specialty Guide Written For You
- How To Clean An Espresso Machine With Care
- What Makes A Good Espresso Machine?
- How To Use An Espresso Machine To Make All Type Of Coffee
5 Things to Look Out For When Purchasing the Best Espresso Machine
- The Size
Before the coffee quality, beans or ESE Coffee PODS, the main issue that matters most is the space you’ll have for your new machine. Most quality espresso machines take up at-least 25cm in terms of width and those machines with grinding or bean to cup capabilities will take up even more space.
Make sure you’re kitchen has the required space to place an espresso machine on the counter-top and also ensure you’ll be left with a kitchen that works for you afterwards.
Many an espresso machine has been resigned to the back of a cupboard due to space requirements. Making sure yours won’t get in the way during everyday life will make a huge difference!
The only time when this doesn’t apply is when buying a fully integrated system. However, if you’re considering fitting this to your existing kitchen you should consider daily usage and given the cost implications of fitting and plumbing an integrated system; getting expert help is a great idea.
2. Water Storage & Loading
To give modern espresso machine manufacturers credit, almost all machines on the market today feature front loading of water, beans, and capsules – making them easy to operate and use.
Even so, look at the user reviews for your machine and double check it’s not been marked as “tough to use” with flimsy catches, tanks or release valves.
Another important aspect, often forgotten about during the purchase is the water tank capacity. Too low and you’ll be topping up for everything apart from the occasional cup; too tight means you might struggle to fill your machine, especially if you’re old, infirm or small framed.
Check the water capacity for all machines you consider and think of the capacity in terms of cola bottles. For example, a 2 litre storage capacity is equal to one 2 litre bottle of cola. If you can carry that and lift it to counter-top height you should be fine if you cannot you’ll need to find something smaller and accept you’ll have to make more frequent top ups.
Another option, of course, is to have a fully built in the system like the Siemens above. These have they own dedicated water supply meaning no more top-ups! This level of integration and fitting will prove expensive, however, something you might only consider as part of a full kitchen restoration.
Most budget systems plus many in the medium price range ($500 – $1000) will not have a self-cleaning function. This is not a huge problem once you ensure your machine is easily dismantled and all catches are designed for ease of operation. In the vast majority of modern machines, ease of cleaning is a high priority, however, some of the more budget machines may skimp on this level of care in design.
Check with your retailer that the machine you eventually purchase is easy to clean. Back this research up with online user reviews or even take a trip to a local appliance shop to see the machine in action.
When washing your new machine, ensure you don’t use too much soap and rinse thoroughly, nothing tastes worse than fresh espresso tainted with washing up liquid!
Whilst on the subject of cleaning fluid, almost all manufacturers should produce machines cleanable with nothing more than a damp cloth and perhaps a little soap. You shouldn’t expect to have to purchase cleaning solution for your machine unless it’s a highly specialized system.
Not all machines will come with a grinder, partly due to cost but also due to a design choice made by the manufacturer. This can best be seen in our review of the Breville, a high-quality machine designed for people who want to spend time grinding their own coffee and tamping the resulting granules.
Decide from the outset what type of coffee drinker you are. A lazy sipper who just want it all taken care of, a connoisseur who wants to experience everything from the first grind to the last drop and the newcomer – who might want to test the market with a budget focused machine to see if they’ll really notice the difference.
Coffee grinding is actually a huge part of the coffee making process and something that coffee connoisseurs could spend hours waxing lyrical about! We’re not suggesting to take your knowledge to geek level; having a reasonable level of knowledge to understand your new machine and the quality of coffee it’s expected to make is a pretty good investment of your time though.
An espresso machine typically pushes high-temperature steam at 10 – 15 bar through a high-pressure valve. This in itself is a safety issue, all espresso machines have to be tested to ensure they work for a number of years in a safe and durable way.
Of course, whilst this might be true for high-quality brands like Breville or Gaggia, it might not be quite so high up the list of priorities at cheaper brands.
Checking the quality of an espresso machine can be hard. The fit and finish is often a great indicator but we would be a great advisor of reading message boards, social media comments and online reviews when looking for a machine.
The great thing about these reviews is the sheer number of them in the case of established brands, some going back a few years. It’s these reviews that are helpful when establishing build quality as many consumers will report a faulty machine, particularly if the manufacturer has been unhelpful when rectifying the issue.
My Top Picks By Types
- Best Commercial Espresso Machine
- Best Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine
- Best Super-Automatic Espresso Machine