Best Espresso Machines

UPDATED AUGUST 2018

Thanks to new espresso machines, you can make all your favorite coffee drinks at home.

BEST ESPRESSO

MACHINE 2018

BOTTOM LINE

Make the same coffee drinks you buy from a shop at home with the Barista Express, which stores beans for future use and grinds those beans to the perfect texture. It also has a purge function that adjusts the water temperature for different drinks.

PROS

Thanks to its purge function, the Barista Express with automatically adjust your water to the perfect temperature for any type of coffee drink. It comes with both a bean hopper that blocks out odors and conical burr grinder for grinding beans.

CONS

As this espresso machine is a professional model, you may find that it takes some time before you feel comfortable with it. Customers also complained that it failed on them after the warranty ended.

BOTTOM LINE

The Magnifica from DeLonghi takes up less space in your kitchen than comparable models but still gives you access to all your favorite coffee drinks. It features push buttons for adjusting recipes and settings. You can use the rotary button to choose drinks too.

PROS

DeLonghi designed the Magnifica to provide all the coffee making power you need but in a small size that won’t take up valuable counter space. The rotary button on the front turns to help you pick the drink you want to make, and you can use the push buttons to adjust the strength of the brew.

CONS

This machine has a maximum temperature of 135 degrees Fahrenheit, which may not get the water hot enough from you. You may need to send it back to the manufacturer too for repairs.

BOTTOM LINE

Mr. Coffee offers an affordable way to make coffee drinks at home with this espresso maker. It features a milk carafe for frothing and steaming milk and reservoirs that hold both milk and water, which you can remove for cleaning.

PROS

Make the perfect espresso or cappuccino with this Mr. Coffee model, which lets you froth milk or cream for topping your coffee. This one is also easy to use and is suitable for all types of users.

CONS

This model lacks some of the features and recipes found in more expensive coffee makers. You may find that it doesn’t last as long as others also.

BOTTOM LINE

Designed for just one user, this Hamilton Beach model is great for singles and homes where only one person loves coffee. You can make a traditional espresso or use the steam wand to froth milk for a cappuccino. Both the drip tray and the water reservoir come out for convenient cleaning.

PROS

The tray on the front of this machine lifts off for cleaning, and the machine comes with a 15-bar pump that produces a rich aroma from your coffee. An included steam wand works with a separate container of milk for turning an espresso into a cappuccino.

CONS

As this model only makes one cup at a time, it’s not the best option for homes with multiple coffee drinkers. It also runs a little slower than some of the other machines we found do.

BOTTOM LINE

Designed to work with the coffee capsules or pods from Nespresso, the Inissia offers a convenient way to make specialty drinks. It uses 19 bars of pressure to extra as much flavor as possible from those capsules and can make nine drinks from its removable water reservoir.

PROS

It takes only 25 seconds for the Inissia to bring your water up to temperature. You can make up to nine cups of coffee and specialty drinks with a full water reservoir and nine coffee capsules.

CONS

Some users don’t like that this machine will only work with the coffee capsules that Nespresso makes. Other customers found that it didn’t get the water as hot as they wanted.

Shopping Guide for Espresso Machines

Stopping by the coffee shop on your way to work even once or twice a week can really add up and leave you spending hundreds of dollars every month on coffee drinks. Investing in one of the best espresso machines helps you save time and cash.

When you watch a barista whipping up drinks behind the counter, you might wonder just how he or she does it. Thanks to the best espresso machines 2018 models that we found, you can now make all those same drinks yourself and from the comfort of your own home.

The top espresso machines 2018 models do more than just make espresso though. You can also use one to make a rich cappuccino with a thick and creamy layer of foam on top or a layered drink with a thick layer of foam sandwiched between two dark layers of espresso. With a little time, you can feel as comfortable using one of these machines in your kitchen as a barista does on the job.

Espresso is a classic Italian coffee drink with a rich and slightly bitter taste. Many of the top machines we found help you tone down that flavor with the addition of milk or cream. You’ll surely find a model on our list that appeals to you.

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Espresso Machines Shopping Guide

Selection Criteria​

We do not believe that there is one espresso machine that will fit the needs and lifestyles of all coffee enthusiasts. That is why we looked at the top features of each one to determine who it’s best for and who will like each one. We also looked at ease of use because we know that you may not have much time first thing in the morning. Some of the machines we added to our list are easy to use when you head into the kitchen just after waking up.

Our list includes espresso machines at different price points too. While you may feel confident spending a few hundred dollars on a new machine because you love coffee, others will want one that costs less.

Each machine on our list ranked highly in all the categories we identified, including ease of use, top features and drink recipes. You’ll find machines that let you whip up drinks to impress your friends and machines that rely on coffee capsules and pods you can store in your pantry. Read through our shopping guide to find everything you need to know about the top espresso makes.

Espresso Machine Selection Criteria

Espresso Machine Types

The espresso machines that you see available for sale today fall into one of four categories.

Super automatic machines

Super automatic machines come with a hopper that holds beans and will automatically grind those beans before brewing your coffee. These machines also have other automatic features that do most of the work associated with making espresso and other specialty coffee drinks.

Semi-automatic machines

Semi-automatic machines do many of the same things that automatic machines do. Most use a high amount of pressure in a bar system to pull flavor from beans.

Manual machines

With a manual model, you need to do more of the work yourself. These machines are popular with serious coffee drinkers and enthusiasts

Capsule machines

Also called pod machines, these espresso makers use a pod or capsule filled with ground coffee. You insert the pod in the top, and the machine will push water through the pod to brew the coffee.

Espresso Machine Types

Best of the Best

The ultimate choice for those who want to make espresso and other coffee drinks at home is the Breville Barista Express. Designed to help you save time when making one or more cups, it comes with a pump that uses 15 bars of pressure to extract as much flavor as possible in just a few seconds. The thermal heating system inside comes up to temperature quickly to help you brew drinks just seconds after filling the water reservoir.

As a semi-automatic machine, the Barista Express comes with both a bean grinder and a bean hopper. The hopper has a sealed edge that stops odors from permeating inside and changing the flavor of the beans. Its grinder uses a conical design to ensure that every bean meets the coarseness or fineness setting that you selected.

The hopper can hold up to eight full ounces of beans, which lets you make multiple cups of coffee. You can also fill the water reservoir with up to 67 ounces of water. This tank pops out easily for cleaning and filling and pops back into place just as easily. Breville also added a purge function to keep the water from overheating.

Best of the Best

Best for the Money

Though the Breville Barista Express took our top spot, we think the DeLonghi Magnifica is worth your money and that it offers the best value for its price. As a super automatic coffee machine, the Magnifica is so easy to use that you can just press a few buttons and enjoy the perfect cup in minutes. It comes with a number of built-in recipes that you can access via the main menu. The touch buttons along the sides of this menu help you navigate through those recipes and all the different settings available.

An adjustable coffee spout on the very front allows you to brew two cups simultaneously or fill a single cup faster. Next to the spout is a steam wand that also acts as a mile frother. This wand will steam milk to bring it up to temperature and create the froth or bubbles necessary for use on top of a cappuccino.

It also features a bean hopper that holds up to 8.8 ounces and a conical burr grinder that grinds the beans down to the texture you prefer. You can call DeLonghi directly with any questions or concerns that you have.

Best for the Money

Best for Cappuccino Lovers

The best espresso maker for cappuccino lovers who want to save some money is the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista. Unlike other machines that have a steep learning curve, this one is so easy to use that you can set it up and make your first cappuccino just minutes after taking it out of the box. It comes with three built-in recipes that let you make one or two cups of espresso, cappuccino or a latte with one press. If you want to change the water temperature, the amount of coffee used or any other setting, just click the custom button. This lets you enter the main menu and make any changes you want.

Cappuccino lovers will also like that the Cafe Barista comes with a milk container that they can put right in the refrigerator to keep the milk cold in between brews. This container pops right back inside the machine and connects to a spout. The spout automatically streams and froths the milk before adding it to your cup. Mr. Coffee also added a cleaning setting that keeps the interior components clean and free from coffee residue.

Best Cappuccino Lovers

Best for Classic Espresso Drinkers

Many machines come with a number of bells and whistles that you might like and those you would never use. Hamilton Beach made its 40792 for those who love the classic taste of espresso. Though it mimics the look of manual machines, it comes with automatic features that make this one easier to use. The tamping tool on the front slides out easily for adding your ground coffee. You can slide the tamping tool right back in place and pull down on a lever located on the side to lock it in place. This keeps the tool from moving as your espresso brews.

A small panel on the top made from stainless steel allows you to store several cups on hand. Ridges running through this panel keeps the cups from sliding off. As the espresso machine runs, the heat inside rises to increase the temperature inside each cup. This keeps your coffee from cooling down too quickly.

Though the 40792 is more of a traditional espresso machine, it can still help you make a cappuccino when the mood strikes. The steam wand on the front works with the rotary knob in the center. You can turn this knob to produce steam to froth your milk.

Best for Classic Espresso Drinkers

Best for Pod Users

Coffee pods, also called coffee capsules, are small plastic containers that have ground coffee inside. When you love espresso but want a convenient way to make your daily drink, we recommend the Nespresso Inissia. It relies on individual pods and allows you to make coffee faster. You simply add one of these pods to the machine, make sure you have enough water in the reservoir and click the espresso button. The Inissia comes with a 24-ounce water tank that snaps onto the back. That tank can make nine drinks before you need to refill it.

This model comes with other convenient features like a removable drip try. The tray sits beneath your cup and catches any liquids that come off the machine or over the rim of your mug. It also has an automatic shut off mode that shuts the machine down after nine minutes of inactivity.

Though designed for making espresso, this machine will work with any pod, including traditional coffee and hot chocolate pods. You even get a welcome set of pods inside the box. The Inissia will make both espresso and a coffee lungo in two different sizes.

Best for Pod Users

Espresso Drinks

A traditional espresso uses just coffee and water. If you find that the drink is too strong or bitter for you, you can use your machine to make any of the following drinks that start with an espresso base.

Espresso Macchiato

A macchiato is essentially just an espresso with a small amount of cream on top. The cream helps tone down the rich flavor of the coffee.

Cappuccino

To make a cappuccino, you’ll use equal parts espresso, steamed milk and milk foam. A dry cappuccino uses twice as much milk foam as steamed milk.

Cafe Latte

When making a cafe latte, you’ll use two parts hot milk to one part espresso. Add a thin layer of milk foam to the very top.

Coffee Lungo

Many use the terms coffee lungo and Americano to describe the same drink. You’ll make a shot or a double shot of espresso and add twice as much hot water to the glass. Some people prefer this drink with even more hot water.

Mocha

A mocha uses both chocolate and coffee. It usually has two shots of espresso mixed with milk foam, steamed milk and unsweetened cocoa.

Espresso Drinks

Serving Espresso Drinks

Coffee shops and restaurants use demitasse cups, which look like smaller versions of traditional coffee mugs. These cups are often glass and have a small metal holder that wraps around the base with a handle on the side. This keeps your hands away from the heat of the coffee. Some believe that glass is a better insulator and that it will keep the espresso hotter for longer. Demitasse cups also come in ceramic options. Ceramic mugs look like tiny coffee mugs and have a handle that will remain cool to the touch. Many of the demitasse cups available today will hold a full two shots and the crema from the espresso.

Serving Espresso Drinks

Cleaning Your Machine

Thoroughly cleaning your machine is important because scale can build up inside the machine from your water supply. Any coffee grounds trapped inside can burn and stick to the sides, which will significantly change the flavor of the beans that you use. Many companies now make liquid products that you can pour into the water reservoir. When you run a cleaning cycle, the machine will use that liquid to clean all the internal parts. We created a list of other things you can do too.

Soak the tamping tool to remove any stuck-on coffee residue.

Remove, rinse and wipe down the inside of the drip tray to remove dried coffee and other liquids.

Wash the water reservoir and the milk container with soap and water to remove odors and stains.

Take the bean hopper off or out of the machine. Clean the container with a little dish soap and rinse with fresh water. Let this container dry overnight before putting it back in the machine.

Wipe down the exterior of the machine with a damp cloth or metal polish. If you use polish, you’ll want to run a dry cloth over the sides to give the metal a good shine.

Cleaning Your Machine

Tips for Using an Espresso Machine for the First Time

We highly recommend reading the included instructions and doing a trial run before experimenting with new coffee recipes. Reading the instructions ensures that you know what each part does, and doing a trial run lets you see if you like the standard drinks brewed by your machine or if you want to experiment with its settings.

If you have a semi-automatic or super automatic coffee machine, you must first fill the hopper with beans and then add water to the reservoir. You may want to fill the milk canister with fresh milk too. Use the buttons located on the front of the machine to select the type of drink that you want to make. Automatic machines will move the beans from the hopper to the grinder and then send the ground beans to a container that mixes the grounds with hot water.

For manual models, you need to add your coffee grounds to the tamping tool. Also called a tamper, this piece slides into the front and allows the hot water to pour over the grounds before it reaches your cup. Manual models often let you turn a knob to increase or decrease the temperature of the water too.

Tips for Using an Espresso Machine for the First Time

Steam Wand Basics

Most espresso machines now come with a steam wand. You’ll usually find this on the front or on the side of the machine. It produces the steam needed to create milk foam or froth and to heat milk before adding it to coffee. We compiled some basic tips to help you steam milk like a pro.

Use the right amount milk at the right temperature

You’ll want to use cold milk that comes right out of the refrigerator to produce the perfect amount of foam. Add just enough milk to fill the container halfway.

Let the wand run for a few seconds

When you first turn on the steam wand, let it run for a few seconds to eliminate any air trapped inside.

Place the wand on the surface of the milk

Using the wand right on top of the milk creates thick froth and foam. If you push the wand below the surface of the milk, it will take longer to get that foam.

Use a circular motion

Using a circular motion helps you reach the edges of the container and use all of the milk available.

Shut it down

Make sure that you turn the steam wand off via the right knob or button on the machine to keep it from overheating.

Steam Wand Basics

Espresso Machine Prices

Buying a professional or commercial espresso maker like you see in restaurants and coffee shops can easily cost $1,000 to $1,500 or more. These machines have larger water and coffee reservoirs that can make dozens of cups of coffee and other specialty drinks in an hour or less. Those designed for home use often cost less. We found that you can get a solid machine for between $100 and $600. You can see just how much each of those models costs before you spend your money.

  • The Barista Express from Breville retails for around $600.
  • DeLonghi sells its Magnifica for around $530.
  • You’ll spend around $200 to bring home the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista.
  • With a retail price of $150, the Nespresso Inissia is one of the more affordable espresso makers on the market.
  • Hamilton Beach offers its 40792 for around $130.

Don’t forget to factor in the cost of your coffee. Nespresso and other machines use capsules that cost more per serving than ordinary coffee beans do. Other machines will use ordinary ground coffee or coffee beans.

Espresso Machine Prices

Frequently Asked Questions

A: An espresso shot is essentially a single-size serving. A standard serving is usually one ounce, while a double shot is two ounces. Espresso typically has a small layer of crema on top, which is the foam naturally produced as the coffee brews.

A: Iced coffee usually features traditional black coffee poured over ice cubes inside a glass and topped with a shot of espresso. You can make this same drink with an espresso machine, but you may want to use several shots of espresso and some hot water to tone down the rich coffee flavor.

A: Starbucks is the largest coffee chain in the world and now holds a large share of the market for home products too. Next on the list is Seattle’s Best, which started in the same region that Starbucks did. Peet’s Coffee and Dunkin’ Donuts are other top brands.

A: When you purchase an espresso maker that comes with a dedicated hot water spigot, you can make more than coffee drinks with that machine. You can use the hot water for tea and hot chocolate.

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