Best Espresso Machines – Top Picks & Reviews

Are you looking for a way to brew the perfect cup of espresso? Then you need the best espresso machine!

If you want to achieve the holy grail of espresso making you have to invest in not only a top-notch coffee blend, but also a decent machine.

Espresso machines typically fall into several specific categories, such as a pump espresso maker, or a capsule or pod machine. Capsule machines are built to give the ultimate in convenience. They are quick to brew and very easy to operate, while the pump espresso maker is more involved and built with a wide range of practical and adjustable features.

Best Espresso Machines of 2019

Here are the 5 best espresso machines that have been conveniently compared side-by-side to hopefully help you decide the right model for your particular home setup.

 
Nespresso Inissia
Nespresso Pixie
DeLonghi EC702
Breville BES870XL
Ninja Coffee Bar
Nespresso InissiaNespresso PixieDeLonghi EC702Breville BES870XLNinja Coffee Bar
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Coffee Type
Capsules
Capsules
Ground/Pods
Ground
Pod
Presure (bars)
19
19
15
15
-
Adjustable Water Temp.
No
No
Yes
Yes
No
Built-in Grinder
No
No
No
Yes
No
Adjustable Cup Height
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Auto Shut-Off
Yes
Yes
No
No
No
Finish
Black/Silver
Aluminum/Electric Titan/Titan
Stainless Steel
Stainless Steel/Cranberry Red/Black Sesame
Black-Stainless Steel
Dimensions (in.)
12.6 x 4.7 x 9
4.4 x 12.8 x 9.3
11 x 9.1 x 11.6
12.5 x 13.25 x 15.75
11.02 x 12.2 x 16.34
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Browse our honest reviews and use our buying guide, tips and frequently asked questions to find the perfect machine for you:

Nespresso Inissia1. Nespresso Inissia Espresso Machine by De’Longhi

Easy to use and space saving, the Nespresso Inissia Espresso Machine is your one-touch solution to deliver high-quality barista-style coffee. It is feature-rich with a fast-heat action, automatic switch off and foldable drip tray to accept the taller glasses.

Performance: the Inissia Espresso Machine is exceptionally easy to use – simply pour in water and active the machine using the one touch control and wait a mere 25 seconds for the water to reach the desired temperature. It is built to make up to 9 espresso shots per heat cycle (tank size is 24 oz.)

Quality of espresso: the espresso made in this machine is very smooth with a great taste. However, there is only the option to use the Nespresso capsules for your coffee enjoyment.

Design: the Inissia is built to be compact, lightweight and small in size to take up minimal space on the countertop. Plus, with a choice of color schemes, this espresso machine is certain to fit perfectly with your home decor.

Features

High pressure pump: the Inissia has the ability to give reliable and consistent results time after time. Its patented extraction system and one-touch operation is built to deliver up to 19 bar pressure.

Energy saving: the energy saving mode on this espresso machine will switch the machine off after 9 minutes of inactivity to avoid wasting energy at home.

Nespresso capsules: this machine relies entirely on the Nespresso capsules that deliver high-quality coffees with unique aromas and exceptional taste. Also, this Delonghi made machine is packaged with a nice sample selection of capsules to get started immediately.

Multiple cup sizes: the folding drip tray gives the practical option to use both small shots and tall glasses.

Bottom Line

Overall, the Nespresso Inissia makes hot and great tasting espresso. You aren’t likely to have any issues with the temperature (very hot) and its fast heating action (25 seconds) means your espresso will be ready in no time.

Pros

  • Great-tasting coffee
  • Feels quality, clean appearance and looks
  • Small footprint for use in virtually all kitchens
  • Very quick warm up cycle
  • Relatively cheap pods
  • Doesn’t leak

Cons

  • Only works with pods from Nespresso
  • A little noisy in operation – but not loud enough to wake anyone in the morning

Nespresso Pixie2. Nespresso Pixie Espresso Machine by De’Longhi

Espresso perfection, the Nespresso Pixie is built with the high-end technology expected from Nespresso with plenty of advanced features to create a very streamlined and efficient coffee maker. It operates solely with Nespresso capsules that include many different delicate flavors.

Performance: the all-round functionality of the espresso Pixie by De’Longhi is designed to be user-friendly with one-touch control for the two capacities (lungo and espresso) which is easy to reprogram with a preferred custom volume.

Quality of espresso: the quality of the espresso produced is very authentic; it is rich in flavor and great tasting. Also, with the choice of capsules, there are plenty of options to find the perfect coffee taste for you and your family.

Design: the Nespresso Pixie is elegantly designed at only 4.33 inch in width which makes it small enough to easily fit the most compact of urban kitchens. Also, it weighs just 8 lbs to make it a very portable appliance.

Features

High pressure pump: the high-pressure 19 bar pump is very effective in forcing the hot water through the Nespresso capsule to fully extract its delicate flavor and aromas. Also, the brewing process is fast acting with the water heated to just the right temperature in 25 seconds.

Water tank alert: in the event of the water tank running dry, a convenient red back-light will give a useful alert to say the tank needs a refill.

Automatic switch-off: the automatic power-off function of the Pixie will activate after the machine has been left idle for 9 minutes; this is certain to be appreciated to save and consume less energy.

Folding drip tray: the folding drip tray is a practical extra that makes it possible to use multiple cup sizes to match the needs of both the milk coffee and espresso lovers.

Bottom Line

The quality of the espresso produced by the Pixie is excellent with no real reason to have any gripes in this area. The compact nature of this machine means it has a few minor inconveniences, such as small water reservoir. But, for those where space is at a premium, this espresso machine is certain to make one of the most attractive options.

Pros

  • Compact size
  • Easy to use
  • Very quick startup (just wait 25 seconds for a cup of espresso)
  • Virtually no maintenance
  • Sleek and stylish design

Cons

  • Regular need to refill the water reservoir
  • Occasional coffee spray during use

DeLonghi EC702 15-Bar-Pump3. DeLonghi EC702 15-Bar-Pump Espresso Maker

Excellent espresso machine for the price, the DeLonghi EC702 15-Bar-Pump is a high-quality brewing machine that makes a delicious espresso or cappuccino. It is able to deliver on all-round versatility with the option to brew E.S.E (Easy Serving Espresso) pods or ground espresso which makes the entire preparation process convenient and simple.

Performance: using ground coffee or pods to complete the brewing process as straightforward as possible. It is entirely possible to enjoy a cappuccino or espresso at the perfect temperature without needing to rely on two separate thermostats. Plus, the self-priming action helps to remove virtually all start-up preparation.

Quality of espresso: this machine is really able to satisfy your taste in coffee and save oodles of money that would otherwise be spent at the coffee shop. A bag of medium roast bean will deliver a very rich tasting espresso with rich crema and great color.

Design: the stainless steel finish of this machine is certain to look stylish in any modern kitchen environment. This full featured brewing machine isn’t the smallest – it measures 11 x 9.1 x 11.6 inches – but, it is certain to appeal to the espresso lovers with space in the kitchen.

Features

Brew to your preference: whether you prefer a single or double espresso, latte or cappuccino, this machine is built to brew the most authentic beverage that is comparable to your local coffee shop.

Easy to use: this De’Longhi branded espresso machine is built to be easy to use with plenty of convenient features, such as the automatic flow stop which will dispense the perfect amount of liquid while maintaining the perfect temperature of the espresso.

15-bar pressure: this machine makes it relatively easy to tailor the brewing to match your personal taste, and with the professional 15-bar pressure the quality results are achieved every time.

Three-in-one filter: the three-in-one filter system helps to create a very versatile machine with a holder for an easy-serve espresso pod, a one shot espresso or two shots.

Bottom Line

Overall, the Delonghi EC702 is a wonderful first machine for someone that is just starting out with espressos or lattes at home. It is relatively easy to use with plenty of settings to get familiar with and there is a useful tamper in place. The machine is made to be easy to clean with several parts that easily come apart. For instance, the basin that catches excess grounds is easily cleaned with a quick wipe.

Pros

  • Easy to clean
  • Great tasting espresso; great crema; perfect milk froth
  • Heats up very quickly
  • Simply to prepare and use
    Large water reservoir

Cons

  • Not entirely automatic so will need a degree of user input
  • Only works with pre-ground espresso (it isn’t designed to accept beans)

Breville BES870XL Barista Express4. Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine

Simply make coffee with consistent quality, the Breville BES870XL Barista Express is a very highly rated espresso machine with a built-in burr grinder that delivers a fresh brew at remarkable speed.

Performance: whether you are a complete beginner or an aspiring barista, the Barista Express is your go to solution that takes you from coffee grounds to hot espresso in less than a minute. If you are just starting out with espresso at home, this machine is built with pressurized filters to help control pressure and optimize the extraction. However, for the barista, there are several extras such as non-pressurized filters to give the option to control the output, so you have the opportunity to experiment with the tamping pressure, ground amounts and grind sizes.

Quality of espresso: the Breville BES870XL has absolutely no issue in making good tasting espresso. The simplicity of this machine is want makes the entire brewing process so effective and will deliver perfect results with both ground and whole beans.

Design: This espresso machine is built with a stylish stainless-steel finish that is certain to look appealing and timeless in virtually any kitchen. It has a useful non-slip based to ensure there is no movement, even when the burr grinder is active. Also, it has a useful removable drip tray for ease in cleaning and a nice hideaway storage drawer to accept cleaning tools.

Features

In-built grinder: the Breville BES870XL Barista has an in-built conical grinder to simplify the brewing process. You can control the grind amount and it lets you manage the volume that falls into the portafilter. Also, there is the option to adjust the grind dose and size to specifically tailor the taste.

54mm tamper: enjoy complete tampering control with magnetic storage, as well as the ability to remove the tamper for ease of use.

Volumertric control: set the machine to match the desired shot volumes, preset for 1 or 2 cup volumes, and over-ride automatic operation.

Accessories included: this espresso machine is packaged with all the accessories you need, including a cleaning kit, water filter holder, filter baskets (single and double), and precision dose trimming tool.

Bottom Line

Overall, the Breville BES870XL Barista is a high quality machine that is not only able to brew fantastic espresso, but also to feed your coffee hobby with the option to experiment with a variety of tastes and coffee beans. Plus, it has plenty of very good features and is certainly worth the money. P.S We love the Breville espresso machine!

Pros

  • Great built in grinder
  • Frother action is amazing
  • Easy to clean with useful clean me light
  • Stylish design in stainless-steel
  • Very effective pressure gauge

Cons

  • Certain sections of the housing are plastic (top, bottom sides)
  • Water tank needs regular refills

Ninja Coffee Bar (CF111) 5. Ninja Coffee Bar (CF111) Single-Serve System

Perfect coffee, the Ninja Coffee Bar is a single-serve system with the option to brew a variety of sizes and types, including an espresso-like ‘specialty’ brew. It is a highly versatile system with ground or pod-free brewing action and a built-in frother with cold and hot capabilities.

Performance: the Ninja Coffee Bar is built with unique flavor extraction technology that makes it easier to extract and vary the flavor of a favorite ground. Using the classic brew option, the coffee is well balanced and smooth, the rich brew is great for flavorings, creamers and milk, while the over ice brew is your option for a refreshing iced coffee. Additionally, there are the specialty options, which include the espresso-like brew.

Quality of espresso: makes great tasting coffee in many different styles, iced or hot. The coffee is flavorful with no bitter taste, and the frothing action is amazing. Also, it is packaged with a variety of coffee recipes to let you get really creative at home.

Design: the design of the Ninja Coffee Bar is sleek, stylish and packed with useful features. It is super easy to use with all controls well marked and the non-drip is very effective on this machine. Plus, the filter housing is easy to remove which makes cleaning that much easier.

Features

Pod-free brewing action: this single-serve coffee machine is built to operate pod-free and will accepted most brands of coffee grounds. Also, there is the option to adjust the volume for greater control over the end product.

Built-in frother: the frother on this machine gives the option to quickly transform cold or hot milk to a silky topping for your coffee.

Auto-iQ One-Touch: this useful technology will ensure just the right amount of water is extracted from the water tank based on the brew type and brew size.

Multiple cup settings: the Ninja Coffee Bar System can easily accept travel mugs and cups are various sizes.

Bottom Line

Overall, there is no reason not to be happy with the Ninja Coffee Bar. It is perfect for daily use and makes a great-tasting cup of coffee. The built-in frother and specialty modes are nice to make an espresso or latte.

Pros

  • Great brewing options at different sizes
  • Controls the water release rate
  • Choice of regular or strong brews
  • Drip stop to avoid any mess
  • Frother built in

Cons

  • No digital display with on/off/clock
  • Mostly made in plastic

Espresso Machine Buyer’s Guide – Things to Know

There are several key elements that determine the all-round quality of an espresso machine, including:

Quality boiler

An espresso machine can have one of three types of boiler to brew the water: brass, stainless-steel and aluminum.

Brass: likely to the best possible material for the boil because it resists breeding bacteria and unlikely to corrode (corrosion relates to the chloride in tap water). But, it is inclined to result in a higher price for the espresso machine.

Stainless steel: this is a material that is quite bacteria-friendly, but able to withstand corrosion.

Aluminum: A low-cost option but the risk of corrosion over the long-term is high.

Replacement parts

An espresso machine built with sturdy or replaceable parts means it has the ability to last that much longer. The majority of espresso machines in the mid-range bracket have replaceable parts which are generally easy to source online.

User-friendly

The ease in which you can operate an espresso machine can vary drastically. For the majority of espresso lovers, the option to have an easy to use appliance is certain to benefit. The super-automatics are one of the most user-friendly options, while the semi-automatics are more complex to use, and the fully manual machine even more so.

Easy to maintain

The majority of modern kitchen appliances are built to be relatively easy to clean and maintain. Make sure to inspect a preferred model to ensure it is intended to clean stress-free.

The lowdown on features

All espresso machines are created to achieve the same thing: brew up a dark, rich coffee. However, the specific machines can vary in their all-round quality and the amount of control given to users in the process of brewing a perfect at-home espresso.

Let’s take a look at a few of the most common features:

Water tank size

The water tank size is certain to influence the total number of espressos you can prepare at once. The water tank (also referred to as water reservoir) can range from relatively small on the most compact espresso machines intended to use in small urban kitchens to the large units on the multi person appliances. Plus, it is possible to find machines that have a built in filter to help with removing impurities from the tap water.

Bean requirements

Plenty of today’s espresso machines have the ability to accept regular ground beans, while others are built to solely accommodate pods or capsules. For instance, a series of espresso machines by De’Longhi accept specialty capsules. Also, there are the dual-function machines that can accept both ground beans and pods.

A further point of consideration is the espresso machines that are designed to automatically grind coffee beans, while others require more work and require the grinding process to take place before placing in the machine.

Heating time

The heating element inside the espresso machine will determine the time it takes to achieve the desired temperature. For the busy, on the go person, there are many espresso machines that are built to brew at a very fast rate – certain compact models are able to achieve the desired water temperature within 25 seconds. However, for the high-end machines from manufacturers like Keurig and Breville the ideal water temperature is typically reached in about 8-10 minutes.

Other useful features

The best espresso machines can have a wide range of useful feature that are worth considering before making a purchase. A few of the other pleasing features include removable drip trays, cool-touch handles, decanters with measuring marks and frothing aids.

The Basics: Making espresso

The most desirable espresso is strong, velvety, rich and smooth. Creating a dark, rich espresso time after time can be an art form, but with practice and the right machine, it will become a lot easier to recreate the favorite coffeehouse beverage at home.

While the general steps are slightly different, the most basic process to brew up a hot espresso is achieved as follows:

  1. Invest in the best dark-roasted coffee beans you can find. There are plenty of top varieties with many hailing from Italy.
  2. Use a coffee grinder to grind the beans to a powder-like consistency (this is only required if the espresso machine does not have a built-in grinder).
  3. Pour the prepared coffee grounds (small, fine grind is best for espresso) into the machine and lock the portafilter in place.
  4. Start the water heating process. It is worth remembering the water quality can impact the taste. Tap water that contains unwelcome minerals, scale, or sediment will impair the taste, so it can help to use a water filter or even invest in an espresso machine with a built-in filter system.
  5. Leave the machine to run through the cycle of heating the water (varies from seconds to many minutes, which depends on the size of the machine and total number of cups it can prepare)
  6. Once completed, a rich, dark espresso will start to slowly pour out.

Frequently Asked Questions

We have put together a few of the most frequently asked questions related to espresso coffee machines and related topics-

Q. Is a cup of espresso stronger than a regular coffee?

A. Despite what many believe, the caffeine amount is typically higher in a cup of drip coffee. However, the strength of the brew will vary when comparing the concentration amount and the serving size.

On average, a shot of espresso (single) is likely to have about 40mg per ounce of caffeine, whereas a cup of drip coffee will have about 10mg per ounce. If you solely look at the concentration, the espresso will have the highest volume of caffeine. But, when you look at serving size/cup size, the traditionally brewed coffee will technically have more caffeine because you will likely be drinking more at once.

Q. What type of coffee is accepted by an espresso machine?

A. Espresso shouldn’t be seen as a fancy type of roast, or a type of coffee bean. Espresso is basically a method of brewing coffee. Simply, this means it is possible to use virtually an type of coffee ground to brew a perfect espresso. However, it is important the coffee is ground into small, fine pieces before pouring into the machine.

Q. How to take care of an espresso machine?

A. After completing a brewing cycle it can benefit to run water through the appliance to help keep it clean. Over time there is a high risk of sediment buildup. Also, for the machines that give the option, you may want to perform back-flush using clean water every 10-12 shots. This action is achieved by placing a stopper in the portafilter to redirect the water flow.

Q. Should I buy a manual, semiautomatic, fully automatic, or a super automatic?

There are several major types of espresso machines that are worth considering: manual, semiautomatic, fully automatic, and super automatic. Additionally, there are those that work solely with Nespresso capsules.

In the process of identifying the right machine, make sure to look for one that is able to match your lifestyle in relation to both personal budget and convenience.

How the different machines work is pretty simple:

The manual gives complete control over the brewing process and other variable of making your espresso, while the semi-automatic, fully automatic and super-automatic slowly increase in the amount of conveniences included and the control of the espresso making process.

Manual

The manual machine (also referred to as lever machine) lets you take full control of the espresso making process. You take on the process of grinding the coffee bean, tampering them, adding water, waiting for the water to heat, deciding when to pour the shot, and the length of time to pull it. Overall, this can make the process a complex operation so these machines are best suited to skilled or knowledgeable baristas.

Semi-automatic

The semi-automatic machine starts to take more control of the brewing action, such as maintaining the preferred water temperature (usually 200° Fahrenheit). This is certain to mean the more consist and reliable cup of espresso with less to be concerned about wrong temperature.

Fully automatic

The fully automatic machines are effective at determining the length of time to pull the shot, which is certain to mean the right amount of time over the ground or pods. Also, there are certain units that include adjustable settings for the shot duration and temperature.

Super automatic

The intention of the super-automatic machine is to literally take control of everything. Your input is simply to add the grounds and active the machine for the very consistent and convenient option. However, this isn’t likely to appeal to those that want to maintain a degree of control over the espresso.

Final verdict

An at-home espresso machine is a perfect addition to the kitchen for those that truly love a cup of espresso, but this isn’t a purchase that should be rushed. So, it will benefit to read through our expert breakdown and choose the best espresso machine that matches your specific needs.

Stay tuned for our picks and reviews of commercial espresso machine and latte machines.

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