I don’t know why, but every time someone asks for a good espresso machine recommendation, people go crazy with “Get a $1500 double boiler machine…”. Even if you’re really specific about what you want – like when you want a simple, average and not very expensive machine, you’ll still be getting these same answers.
I mean, everyone knows that $1500 espresso machine is a good machine. But, if you’re a beginner, the chances are that you don’t need one.
Nice small espresso machine that makes good espresso, allows you to make milky drinks (latte, cappuccino) and is really simple to operate is a perfect fit. Learn the basics, play with different recipes. Then if you like the concept, you can upgrade or buy something advanced and expensive. If not… Well, you’ll not be sorry for spending way too much money on a machine that you’re not even using.
The best part: you CAN get a good starter espresso machine at a reasonable price.
Please note, not all machines are good enough. Some have serious leaks, are not very durable or they simply make poor espresso. Choose the brand/model that you really like, but I suggest to look for these things: a pump driven machine – instead of steam driven espresso machine; simple operation is always an advantage; steam wand is a must (if you want to make lattes and cappuccinos).
And, here are my 3 top picks.
DeLonghi EC155, $90.00
This machine is sooo popular. It has a plastic case and 35 oz removable water tank but everything else about this machine is just great. A stainless steel boiler. 15 bar pump pressure. Nice and small steam wand that can fit larger pitchers (and works pretty nice). It comes with a built in tamper, even though you don’t need one since it uses pressurized portafilter. The portafilter works with espresso pods without any adaptations, which is great if you want to keep things simple & clean. In overall, great little espresso machine. Dimensions: 7.5″ x 13.25″ x 11.45″.
Philips Saeco Poemia , $179.00
Poemia has a stainless steel boiler, 42 oz removable water reservoir and a 15 bar pump pressure. The case is made of stainless steel and plastic. It comes with a pressurized aluminum portafilter. It has a cup warmer & the portafilter works with espresso pods without adaptations. It has a steam wand which lets you make lattes and cappuccinos. The steam wand doesn’t swing out so it can’t fit larger pitchers, but it still works great. The good thing about Poemia is that you can upgrade the machine, like, you can switch to non-pressurized portafilter later. And it’s just too simple to operate. You have steam and brew button, and you’ll have a great cup of espresso and crema on top – every time! I love this machine. Dimensions: 11.7″ x 10.4″ x 7.9″.
Philips Saeco Aroma , $300.00
If you want to get a good cup & good quality, I recommend Saeco Aroma. It has a 15bar pump pressure, stainless steel boiler and also a stainless steel case. It has a huge 88 oz removable water thank! so you won’t be filling it all the time . Of course, there’s a steam wand and a cup warmer on top. It uses pressurized portafilter but you can also find a non pressurized version for this machine to upgrade. The portafilter is pod friendly, without any adaptations. Dimensions: 10” x 8″ x 11.8″.
*Pressurized portafilters can make a small mess, but they will give you a good cup of espresso every time & you don’t have to worry about the proper grind or the tamp.