Most true coffee fiends are partial to a strong shot of espresso.
Roasted coffee contains over 700 compounds and espresso is the only brewing method that can fully optimize them all.
To enjoy this thick, concentrated coffee, you’ll need a suitable espresso machine so you can force pressurized water over your grounds and filter for the perfect morning pick-me-up every day.
5 Best Espresso Machine Reviews
We’ll get directly into our espresso machine reviews then we’ll give you the lowdown on what to look out for when you’re buying one.
First up in our espresso machine reviews is the legendary Rancilio Silvia, a staple in many households the world over.
While no decent espresso machine is cheap, the Silvia is currently up for grabs at an aggressive discount so move swiftly and you’ll get yourself a true bargain.
Encased in stainless steel and packing brass components, the Silvia can handle a few knocks. Lifespan is exceptional so consider this an investment that will deliver a fantastic return.
This commercial-grade espresso machine is ideal for the home but also man enough for duty in a small coffee shop. The single boiler gives you all the power you need for lip-smacking espresso at the push of a button. Extraction is smooth and consistent so you can enjoy gourmet coffee without stressing yourself about getting the variables right.
If you like longer drinks as well as your espresso, the steam wand helps you expand your repertoire by topping your drinks with froth. For a heavy-hitting espresso machine at a great price from a brand you can trust, the Rancilio Silvia is a must-try if you’re a real coffee hound.
Breville have long produced capable appliances at affordable prices and the Infuser is no exception.
Water pressure starts out low so you won’t run the risk of overextraction. You can relax knowing the temperature will remain constant thanks to the auto-purge in place.
Get single or double shots of espresso with the programmable volumetric or override and take control yourself giving you a great deal of freedom with your espresso.
The effective 15-bar pump regulates water temperature and there’s a gauge for easy monitoring. You can adjust the temperature in 2 degree increments to help you achieve that golden cup of coffee.
You’ll get filter baskets, a scoop, a frothing jug, water filter and cleaning accessories thrown in making quite a generous bundle considering the low price point.
If the regular burnished steel look is a touch too stark for your tastes, the Breville is also available in a vibrant red.
The best espresso machines are never cheap but the Breville Infuser is the next best thing – it’s at least affordable. If you fancy gourmet espresso at home, why not give this nifty espresso maker a try?
One of the significant drawbacks of brewing coffee at home is the way appliances and paraphernalia can take over precious kitchen real estate.
The Miele CM6350 is a compact super-automatic espresso machine that gives you all you need in one commanding package.
This fully automated bean-to-cup machine is feature rich while also very user-friendly. The onboard grinder is effective if noisy.
Alongside espresso, there are shortcut keys for latte macchiato and cappuccino and then a range of other long drinks accessible through the menu. There’s even an option for hot chocolate so you’re spoiled for choice.
The premade drinks all hit the spot but you can hit manual override if you prefer exercising a little more control. Add your hot water, shots and treated milk separately and you’ll dial things in to your exact taste.
Build quality and performance are first-rate but speed is most certainly not of the essence with the Miele. If you’re looking for the quickest espresso machine, look elsewhere. If, however, you demand top-notch short and long coffee and you’re prepared to wait a few minutes for the privilege, you can’t go wrong with the Miele.
If you’re looking for an espresso machine for less than 4 figures, you don’t have a great deal of choice but the DeLonghi Magnifica should certainly be on your shortlist. You’ll get a great bargain without needing to compromise on quality.
You obviously can’t expect the rugged and heavy-duty nature of a commercial machine at this price point so be aware of your intended usage and expect 2 to 3 years of service before encountering any meaningful problems.
There’s a conical burr grinder onboard with 13 grind settings or you can switch to using pre-ground coffee when the fancy takes you. There’s no substitute for grinding your own beans but there’s also a place for pre-ground.
With both rotary and push buttons, the Magnifica is a classic given a modernist tweak. You alter the intensity of your drink using the main dial while surrounding buttons allow you to choose between long and short shots along with attending to various other settings.
Programming your Magnifica is a breeze. With dual output, you can save time and effort by pouring a pair of espresso simultaneously.
If you enjoy longer drinks, the manual steam arm will help you conjure up the perfect froth.
For a compact, pocket-friendly espresso machine from a household brand, the DeLonghi Magnifica is of one of all-time favorites.
To finish up our espresso machine reviews, we’ve got a surprisingly inexpensive offering from the legendary Gaggia.
Although there’s a lot of steel, the plastic diminishes the Brera somewhat. Rest assured, though, build quality doesn’t suffer and the overall feel is solid rather than cheap.
Another bean-to-cup machine, you’ll get a ceramic burr grinder allowing you to adjust the grind to suit your palate. This type of grinder prevents too much heat and friction which can scorch and spoil your beans.
Make no mistake, you’ll get perfectly drinkable coffee using the grinder although results are rather disappointing. If you bypass this and pop in some pre-ground, though, the Brera returns a genuinely excellent espresso so we recommend this approach.
You’ll get automation and tech without usability suffering.
If you want to branch out beyond espresso, you can top your longer drinks with some first-rate froth.
There’s a double-up option if you insist on your espresso super-strong.
If you’re looking to buy an entry-level super-automatic espresso machine and you don’t want to be stiffed in terms of quality, check out the Gaggia Brera and you’ll be visiting Starbucks less and less!
Now you’ve seen a broad cross-section of assorted espresso machines, you might be scratching your head, torn between which type would work best.
We’ll briefly walk you through the options at your disposal while highlighting the factors to consider if you want the best espresso machine.
What To Look For In The Best Espresso Machine
There are 3 broad categories of espresso machine:
- Single Boiler – Dual-Use: This type of machine has 1 boiler controlled by thermostats. This allows you to regulate the temperature of both water and milk. You won’t be able to simultaneously brew and steam with these machines
- Dual Boiler: You’ll get either 2 boilers or a Thermablock with the more expensive dual boiler machines. You can brew and steam at the same time for maximum efficiency
- Single Boiler – Heat Exchanger: A coiled tube as a heat exchanger and single main boiler give you these mid-range machines. Like using a dual boiler, simultaneous steaming and brewing is no issue
The best espresso machine is never cheap so it pays to look closely at build quality and durability.
Most machines in this price range are finished in stainless steel or aluminum. They come with varying degrees of plastic components.
As with most things in life, you normally get what you pay for. If you’re buying in at the lower end of the market, you can’t expect an espresso machine fit for a commercial coffee shop so keep your expectations reasonable or dig a little deeper.
If you consider an espresso machine as a labor-saving device, the last thing you want is an appliance that’s a bind to use and ends up costing time or even worse, discarded and unused.
Think hard about controls and how easy it is to navigate menus.
Whether you want a tech-driven super-automatic or a more basic push-button bean-to-cup machine, it’s got to be a pleasure to use.
Although super-automatic espresso machines certainly have many advantages, being forced to rely largely on pre-sets is one of their chief drawbacks.
Many straight-up automatic models will afford you much more leeway. You’ll be able to manipulate the water temperature and coffee strength as well as the type of drink. Many machine also offer you a frothing feature for longer coffees.
If you’re looking for ease of use, a super-automatic is hard to beat. For maximum customization, go for an automatic.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Let’s be honest, cleaning espresso machines can be a mucky, tedious business.
Most of the best machines will offer at least some degree of auto-cleaning to take the sting out of things.
Look for machines with detachable parts that simplify cleaning. If it’s important to you, check that the unit is dishwasher-friendly.
Most of the popular and effective espresso machines on the market demand relatively minimal upkeep.
Choice of Drinks Available
If you’re a died-in-the-wool espresso fan, it makes sense to get a machine that caters for this type of coffee only. It’s senseless to pay out for things you won’t use.
If, on the other hand, you have a larger family and everyone takes their coffee a different way, look for a multipurpose machine that serves up latte and cappuccino alongside your favorite short shots. Many machines even offer hot chocolate and with hot water on demand functionality you’ll also be able to enjoy tea or infusions.
Think closely about what drinks you need on your home coffee menu and choose accordingly.
Price and Intended Purpose
Price should always be a factor in any buying decision but should never be the determining factor.
Imagine what you plan to do with your espresso machine. If it’s just for occasional use at home, you’ll have wildly differing needs from someone looking to kit out a small coffee shop. Some crossover models are designed for residential use but rugged enough to serve in a light commercial setting.
As with all elements of your purchase, double down on your specific needs and buy in line with these.
A Final Word
With any luck, you’ve now lasered in on the espresso machine of your dreams.
Whether you want a daily treat at home or you have a small coffee shop, great espresso machines make a fantastic investment.