From just under $30 to a bit of a splurge at $1000, I’ve narrowed down the best espresso machines you can buy this year. Whether you love user-friendly capsule machines or you’d rather learn barista skills, here you’ll find my picks for the best espresso machine that fit any home and any budget.
1. stovetop espresso maker ($30)
Although it doesn’t technically make real espresso, Moka pot is one of the most popular little brewers. It doesn’t require counter space, it’s affordable and it’s hard to mess up. Moka pot can’t produce good crema, but what you’ll get is a very nice concentrated brew very similar to espresso. It’s perfect for occasional espresso drinks, recipes that call for espresso, or for those who like strong morning coffee. I recommend the Bialetti 6 cup Moka pot.
2. Affordable espresso machine: Delonghi EC155 ($80-$100)
A nice small espresso machine with a steam wand can be a good place to start. Not the most durable option but it’s good if you want to learn the basics and make espresso at home without breaking the bank. DeLonghi EC155 is one the most popular machines from this category. It has a plastic case, 35 oz removable water, stainless steel boiler and 15 bar pump pressure. The steam wand works pretty nice and fits larger pitchers. It has a pressurized portafilter which is perfect if you’re just starting out.
3. Capsule espresso machine: Nespresso ($120-$200)
If you want a machine that will do all the work for you, capsule espresso machine is ideal. No grinding, dosing or tamping – just insert the pod and press the button. There are several different brands, but I would recommend Nespresso. They have a very nice choice of pods (you will need to order them online) and they make the best crema. You can get a model that makes only espresso like Inissia, or VertuoLine which makes both, espresso and regular coffee.
4. Quality and performance at a reasonable price: Breville Infuser ($499)
Good quality and performance, at a reasonable price?! You might like the Breville Infuser. This machine makes really good shots, but it’s compact and won’t take up lots of counter space. The Infuser has a stainless steel case, a stainless steel boiler, 61-ounce water reservoir, 15 bar pump pressure, built-in PID which keeps the water temperature stable, single and double shots and programmable shot volumes. It works with pressurized and non-pressurized portafilters and you can swivel the steam wand for easy frothing. The machine automatically adjusts water temperature after steam for optimal brewing temperature. All these options will help you make constantly good espresso at home, no matter what your level of experience is. This machine comes with a huge number of accessories: a portafilter, milk jug, cleaning tablets, backflush disc and water filters.
5. Espresso machine with built-in grinder: Breville Barista Express ($699)
Complete solution from bean to cup! The Breville Barista Express has a built-in grinder and makes seriously good espresso in just a few steps. This machine has a significant number of features: stainless steel boiler, 15 bar pump pressure, built-in burr grinder, 67-ounce water tank, built-in PID, single and double shots and programmable shot volumes. It has a water temperature control (4 degrees up or down from the factory settings) and auto-purge function which returns the machine to an optimal temperature after steam. The machine works with pressurized and non-pressurized portafilters. Barista Express comes with a 54mm portafilter, filter baskets, a tamper, milk jug, cleaning tablets and disc, a cleaning brush and water filters.
If you want simple controls and espresso machine that makes great shots, the Barista Express is perfect. It’s a great choice if you’re a newbie. It’s beautifully built, and the price point at which these features are offered is really good. You just keep it nice and clean and it should serve you perfectly for many years.
6. Commercial-grade espresso machine: Rancilio Silvia ($685)
Rancilio Silvia is perhaps the most well-respected home espresso machine on the market. This machine is sturdy, reliable, powerful and it can be modified. Rancilio uses a lot of the same parts in this machine that they use in their commercial machines at that’s why it’s so good. Commercial-grade features include stainless steel casing, brass boiler (lead-free), removable heating element, 67-ounce water tank, 58 mm heavy-duty portafilter (non-pressurized), super powerful steam wand, hot water on demand, 3-way group solenoid valve which dries the portafilter for easy cleaning. This is a great machine to learn your Barista skills on. There is nothing automatic about it. It will take a few tries to get a consistent shot, but after you figure it out it will work great. To get the most out of this machine, you really need a good burr grinder ($250-$350). Overall, Rancilio Silvia is a great espresso machine for home. It makes excellent espresso shots and microfoam and is well worth the price.
If you want a serious home espresso setup for under $1000, and you want equipment that’s built to last, Rancilio Silvia ($685) and Rancilio Rocky grinder ($350) are a good bet.