Espresso Machine Reviews

Home espresso machines are increasingly popular among serious coffee lovers. These machines can turn even the most tech-adverse into a home barista, or, if you prefer a high level of control, you can get the perfectly customized shot every time. We found the best espresso machines for anyone, regardless of skill level or budget.
 
Breville BES870XL Barista Express
Best Reviewed
Best home espresso machine
Breville BES870XL Barista Express

We can't ignore the positive buzz around the Breville BES870XL Barista Express. Hundreds of happy owners say that the integrated burr grinder results in the freshest espresso possible outside your local coffee house. Loaded with features, the Breville BES870XL is easy to use, but is also highly "tweakable" for the pickier home barista, with an integrated steam wand that makes it a one-stop shop for lattes and cappuccinos.
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Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine
Best Reviewed
Best semi-automatic espresso machine
Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine

A long-time favorite of both amateur and experienced home baristas, the attractive, stainless-steel Rancilio Silvia is a high-performance espresso machine that delivers impressive flavor and is built to last. You'll also want to invest in a high-quality coffee grinder as, when used with perfectly ground, fresh coffee beans, the semi-automatic Silvia brews a delicious espresso that users say rivals what you'd get at coffee shops.
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DeLonghi EC155 Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
Best Reviewed
Best cheap espresso machine
DeLonghi EC155 Espresso and Cappuccino Maker

The DeLonghi EC155 packs an impressive punch for a low-cost espresso machine, say experts and owners. It's simple to use, compatible with either fresh grounds or pods, and produces great-tasting espresso, cappuccino or latte. Reviewers particularly praise its self-priming feature and great frothing. Owners love the small footprint, modern, attractive styling and ability to pull eight consecutive shots in a fairly short time frame.
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DeLonghi ECAM22110SB Compact Automatic Espresso Machine
Runner Up
Super-automatic espresso machine
DeLonghi ECAM22110SB Compact Automatic Espresso Machine

The DeLonghi ECAM22110SB gets raves from coffee lovers for its big performance in a relatively compact size. Just choose the temperature, coffee strength and cup size, and enjoy delicious espresso, cappuccinos and lattes with the touch of a button. Even the latter types of drinks are plenty hot, reviewers say, thanks to the adjustable temperature control. The integrated coffee grinder is a top performer as well, and is reported as very quiet.

Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker
Runner Up
Pod-style espresso drink maker
Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker

While it's not, technically, an espresso machine, the tiny, pod-style Nespresso Pixie Espresso Maker gets a lot of love from those who like convenience and speed. In about 25 seconds, the Pixie brews a 1.35-ounce or 3.7-ounce cup that reviewers say is hot and delicious. Unlike some pod-style coffee makers, Nespresso capsules are recyclable, and owners say there is enough variety to satisfy anyone.

ROK Presso Manual Espresso Maker
Best Reviewed
Best manual espresso maker
ROK Presso Manual Espresso Maker

Experts and users say the ROK Presso Manual Espresso Maker is easy and intuitive to use, producing excellent espresso with a rich, velvety crema. You'll need a bit of practice, but once you master the technique, the results are very consistent, and you can tweak the brew to suit your specific taste preferences. Owners say this espresso maker is very attractive and well-built, and most say it's highly durable.
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ROK Presso Manual Espresso Maker
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Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Espresso Maker
Best Reviewed
Best stovetop espresso maker
Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Espresso Maker

This 6-cup stovetop espresso maker is the darling of both experts and users -- especially die-hard espresso fans. Yes, technically, it's not an espresso machine, but everyone agrees that the Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Espresso Maker produces a rich, dense, flavorful brew. It's fully hands on, which coffee aficionados love, and yet easier to use than even some semi-automatic machines. It's available in five sizes and will last forever with proper care.
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You can make perfect espresso at home, regardless of budget or skill level

Espresso machines designed for home use are popular with coffee lovers who love a perfectly personalized shot of espresso. Espresso is also the base for other specialty coffee drinks like cappuccino, latte, Americanos and other concoctions that add water or warmed milk to the espresso shot. However, you may need additional equipment, such as a milk frother or stainless steel frothing jug for that expanded repertoire.

Most espresso machines use ground beans, and one of the most important things to know about an espresso machine is that unless you opt for an espresso machine that includes a grinder, you MUST have a top-quality coffee grinder, and we cover some great choices in a separate report. Experts and users all agree that this is important because the best espresso is made from the freshest beans and using the correct grind. For those willing to sacrifice espresso perfection for convenience, some espresso machines use pods (pre-measured, pre-ground and pre-packaged coffee), however, either exclusively or in addition to ground beans.

The main types of espresso machines

All of the espresso machines in this report are pump-driven machines -- the only type that make real espresso. Steam-driven units are less expensive, but can't brew true espresso because water is forced through coffee grounds at only one to three bars of pressure, far less than the minimum nine bars required to make espresso (one bar is equal to the air pressure at sea level). With a steam-driven machine you are brewing concentrated coffee, rather than espresso.

Semi-automatic home espresso machines are the most popular and are widely considered to be the best type of espresso machine for most users. They have some automated features, like a pump, temperature controls for the boiler, and switches to activate the pump. You control when the pump is turned off and on, which means you can decide when to pause the brew to adjust the strength and flavor of the final product. A few include a grinder, most don't.

Super automatic espresso machines are much easier to use because, as the name implies, they are fully automatic from the beginning of the process to the end. They grind the beans, dose (transfer the ground beans to the basket), tamp (compress the ground coffee), extract (the process of mixing the coffee with the water to get your beverage), and, finally, eject the waste. Purists don't like fully automatic machines, preferring some degree of hands on brewing, but a good super automatic espresso machine can make great espresso without much hassle.

Manual espresso makers. These lever-style machines are hands on from start to finish. They can be difficult to learn and to use, because they require quite a bit of tweaking, and you can't expect much consistency unless you're a pro or until you've had a lot of practice. This is the choice of true espresso aficionados who like to control every step of the brewing process for the ultimate in customized brews.

Stove top espresso makers also called moka pots, are not, technically, considered espresso machines, but they make a strong, complex coffee that is close to espresso. They're sometimes referred to as "the poor man's espresso machine" because they're inexpensive and easy to use.

Do you need a coffee maker instead?

Espresso is not really a type of coffee, rather, it refers to a special preparation of coffee beans for a small, concentrated shot of coffee. You then consume it over a fairly short period of time. Think of it more as a snack, rather than a full meal. Making espresso can also be a hassle, quite frankly, and requires time, dedication, patience and, often, a good chunk of change. We read many a lament by people who were hoping to be able to make espresso at home and found it was not as easy as their local barista makes it look -- even with a high-end machine. Those who don't have the time and patience will need a super automatic machine.

Also, an espresso machine is not a coffee maker. If you're the type who likes to sip coffee all morning, or are making coffee for a crowd, see our report on coffee makers. If you like a cup of fresh coffee whenever you feel like it and like a high degree of variety with each cup, see our report on single cup coffee makers.

Finding the best espresso machines

There are few professional roundups or tests of espresso machines. Those that exist tend to focus either on the most expensive, top-of-the-line machines, or the most basic manual espresso makers. However, we found a few professional tests, most notably from Cook's Illustrated and ConsumerReports.org, though the latter has become rather dated. We also looked at reviews of individual machines by knowledgeable editors of coffee-oriented sites like Home-Barista.com, SeriousEats.com and WholeLatteLove.com. Most important, we evaluated hundreds (sometimes thousands) of owner reviews to evaluate how each of these machines work in real-life situations. The results of our research are the best espresso machines available, from high-end (and high-priced!) machines that do all the work for you, to the best, manual, hands on models that allow you to customize every sip.