Espresso Machines: Ratings of Sources
CNET editors continually update their coffee maker reviews (which include espresso machines), and few sites do as through a job. Testing is exhaustively documented with photos and videos, and some machines are even ranked and rated against others. Espresso machines are given both a star rating (out of 5) and a numerical rating (out of 10), that includes scores for performance, design, features and maintenance.
Although this guide is aimed at helping beginners set up a home espresso making system, several espresso machines are recommended at a variety of price levels and for various levels of experience. Cale Guthrie Weissman is a former barista who consults with experts and performs hands-on testing to make her picks.
Editors of Cook's Illustrated test three manual espresso machines for flavor, cleanup and function. One is Highly Recommended, one is Recommended, and one is Not Recommended. In a separate report, editors test seven moka pots -- also known as stovetop espresso makers -- for ease of use and performance; only one is recommended. Although these are older tests, all of the products are still on the market and have undergone no changes -- and are still highly rated elsewhere as well.
SeattleCoffeeGear.com is dedicated to all things coffee and contributed to by serious coffee lovers. In addition to feedback from users, editors often weigh in on the espresso machines for sale, rating them for ease of use, performance and value. This site also hosts a number of helpful articles and videos by coffee expert Gail Williams that walk you through learning about and using the machines.
This very helpful site details all things espresso-related, from how to guides, to in-depth forum discussion, to detailed reviews. Its rating system is done on a 5-star scale. Although there are not as many reviews as elsewhere, those that are featured are very detailed and include testing and historical data, as well as the editors' many years of experience with the various machines. However, it tends to feature only expensive, high-end espresso makers.
This retail site for coffee lovers not only hosts unusually detailed reviews from users, it also gives a thorough overview of all espresso machines that are available for sale, including technical specs, features and settings. Elsewhere on the site -- and on YouTube -- are helpful and informative videos of new and existing products. There are also articles and a community for questions and answers about all things espresso.
Amazon.com sells hundreds of espresso machines, and many have hundreds or even thousands of reviews. There's an excellent representation of popular brands and models here, from super inexpensive steam machines (which we do not recommend) to pump machines in all price ranges. Many products have reviews that date back for several years, offering a unique and useful insight into how some of these products have changed over time -- for better and for worse -- and into long-term durability and user satisfaction.
While BestBuy.com carries far fewer espresso machines than some of our other retails sources, it is a good destination to see reviews of some of the more common home espresso makers. Some of these, like Breville, DeLonghi and Nespresso, get dozens of reviews. Reviewers can also say if they would recommend the product.
Editors test five espresso machines ranging in price from $100 to $1,800, but leave significant manufacturers out of their review. This also seems to be a very old review based upon the dates of the user feedback that's posted. There's very little insight into testing, although editors say the machines are evaluated based on taste, convenience and frothing.