Be it your coffee of choice is latte, cappuccino, americano, or macchiato, it will all be based on a shot, or shots, of espresso. Maybe that is very obvious, or it isn’t, but anyhow, I think the time is now to get your very own espresso maker. Yes, it’s time to put a stop to spending more than you really should on average cups of coffee, and instead spend less to get the very best there is. The only smart, sensible way to do this is to start making your own.
- Espresso Machine Top Picks
- Best Espresso Machines Under $200
- Best Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine – Rancilio HSD-Silvia
- Best Value Semi-Automatic Espresso Maker – Breville Express BES870XL
- Best Entry-Level, Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine – Gaggia Classic 14101
- Best Automatic Espresso Machine – Nespresso Citiz
- Best Budget Automatic Espresso Maker – Nespresso Inissia
Best of all, it’s not only smarter and fun to do it yourself, but there is a sense of accomplishment you get when you brew quality shots which are the result of your own making. When you control the many variables in the coffee making process, such as water temperature, water pressure, and ground coffee fineness to pull the shot your way. Of course, you don’t have to be that involved in the process every time you want a drink. There will be different espresso makers requiring different levels of involvement for different needs.
Click here to learn about the different types of espresso makers available, and read on to quickly learn the best one to get.
Best Espresso Machine Reviews 2017
It isn’t easy picking a new espresso machine with all the options on the market, so I’ve done most of the groundwork for all of you. My Top Picks list has the best espresso machines the market has to offer. I took the liberty of including a Best Espresso Machines Under $200 list to cater to all of you who are looking for budget friendly options.
As a coffee aficionado, I strongly believe that everyone deserves the luxury of having an espresso machine at home so go forth and reclaim your caffeine fix!
Espresso Machine Top Picks
Best Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine – Rancilio HSD-Silvia
Ms. Silvia (as she is widely known) has graced the homes of coffee brewers and coffee lovers for years. Those who have had her swore by her, as she has consistently been enabling quality shot after another. Only in some rare cases will she fail to deliver, and it’s in her reliability where she shines best.
Much of this can be largely attributed to how well-built Ms. Silvia is, particularly her group head and portafilter which are of commercial-grade quality. Also very talked-about is her ability to maximise the use of steam through her remarkable steam wand. Only thing you want to change out of the box though is her plastic tamper. After all said and done, it’s not the many things that Ms. Silva do that make her well known but how well she does those few things.
Get this best espresso machine here.
Best Value Semi-Automatic Espresso Maker – Breville Express BES870XL
The Express is widely recommended by experts due to its ability to pull quality shots that are comparable if not better than high-end machines. Of course in order to achieve this, the right variables must be at play with the right settings, as with any machine, but many have found the Express to be more accommodating. This is reinforced in the single and dual wall filters it offers that are suitable for both novice and competent users looking for different levels of brew control.
For me, what I particularly like about the Express is that is allows me to promptly make espresso shots for a group. With its 25-shot capacity, wait time is gradually reduced. And how about the way it looks with stainless steel chassis accentuated by a circular pressure gauge? If you’re looking to get good bang for your buck in a semi-automatic machine, then I think this will quite possibly match what you need.
You can get it here on Amazon
Best Entry-Level, Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine – Gaggia Classic 14101
Ever since its release, the Classic has received rave reviews by critics. In fact, it is one of the few machines that has gained quite a cult following. The Classic has seen many iterations since then, but many agree that the 1401 is still the one to get. With its classic-good looks enabled by its stainless-steel housing, it’s considered the maestro in three key components crucial to creating the perfect cup namely temperature stability, brew pressure, and water distribution.
The brew group and portafilter are chrome-plated brass, commercial-sized, and commercial-weight. They also have a sizeable diameter, which means they have a larger surface area of coffee to be exposed to the water, allowing for optimum extraction. After all these years, the fact that the 1401 is still very much in conversation among experts and users alike is simply a testament to how well put together this machine really is.
You can get it here on Amazon.
Best Budget, Super-Automatic Espresso Machine – DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM3300
If there is an accurate way to describe the Magnifica is that it has gotten its name right, which means magnificent in Italian. That’s because this small, super-auto machine is one that is enveloped with amazing, thoughtful features—with two even patented. Chief among them are the cappuccino system that enables any milk size container to be placed on the slot, the adjustable-height spigots that do the same but for cups, and the removable reservoir and boiler that are easy to refill and clean.
With regard to the quality of shots it makes, much has been said about the Magnifica’s ability to make cream-infused drinks. Thick froth and creamy texture has been consistently created via its steam wand. Only blemish is that its build-in grinder makes too much noise. Optionally, should you choose to get an external grinder, you can get it here.
Get the Magnifica here
Best Automatic Espresso Machine – Nespresso Citiz
While Nespresso Citiz, a pod espresso machine, does not aim to replace ground espresso machines, it certainly has found its niche with its award-winning compact design, high-performance pump, and user-friendly features. And who can fault those who love it, especially when it means doing away with the messy process and calibration of the grinders, usually associated with espresso preparation via ground makers?
Simple is the name of the game with this machine. You pop in your pod, press a button, and you are good to go. But don’t get me wrong, simple by no means it is simplistic, as under the hood, the 19-bar, high-performance pump works reliably well to create a decent espresso. To froth milk for your milk-based espresso drinks, you can also achieve that with the manufacturer’s version of a milk frother, known as the Aeroccino.
You can get this best espresso machine here
Best Budget Automatic Espresso Maker – Nespresso Inissia
The first thing to notice about Nespresso Inissia as compared to Nespresso Citiz is that it’s made of plastic as opposed to a mixture of metal and plastic. As a result of this, the price tag gets proportionately slashed, too, making this model ideal for the budget-conscious shopper. Another major difference is that this model does not come with a milk frother. But aside from this, everything else is more or less identical with the Citiz, with the 19-bar pump intact, which is once again essential for creating the hallmark crema of the Grand Crus, Nespresso’s range of capsules. As an espresso machine that does not take itself too seriously, as reflected in the product design, the Inissia comes in four playful colours: white, black, red, and cream.
Best Espresso Machines Under $200
Looking for a cheap espresso machine to fit your budget? Here are some of the best espresso machines under $200. These are considered very affordable for pump espresso machines which can be priced up to $1500 with a more durable build, higher quality parts and extra features. But who cares about extra features if good espresso can be made at home with less than $200?
Best Semi Automatic Espresso Machine Under $200
This is the best 15-bar pressure pump espresso machine that beats all others in its price range. It is easy to use, makes delicious espresso that is dark and rich with crema, and the new frother design makes a good foam for cappuccinos and lattes. Granted, it’s small and not very attractive, but for the price? There’s no competition.
Best Automatic Espresso Machine Under $200
The Pixie is a very compact automatic espresso maker that makes espresso and lungo from capsules. The Nespresso machines are known for their convenient, one-button operation. Although the Pixie does not come with a milk frother, you can buy an automatic milk frother to go with the Pixie and still come up to less than $200 in total. The Pixie is great for people who are always on the go as it takes very little time to make a cup of espresso and there’s practically nothing to clean up afterwards.
Other Good Espresso Machines Under $200
This espresso maker works just like the EC155 and makes great espresso but is designed with a more appealing and modern look. If you buy any of these cheap semi automatic espresso machines, make sure to spend a few bucks for a decent tamper as the tamper that comes with these doesn’t tamp very well. If you prefer a full stainless steel construction you may want to look at the ECP3630 which is the same design as this one.
The Inissia espresso maker has 19-bar pump pressure to extract all the goodness from the bean, or rather, capsule. Coupled with the Aeroccino milk frother you can make anything from a quick espresso to a creamy latte, all for less than $200. The Nespresso capsules are available in many flavors and you can choose intense dark roasts or aromatic light ones. The Inissia is one of the cheapest automatic espresso makers you can buy, and yet it is good enough to earn wide popularity and good ratings.
Also, check out my reviews on the best espresso machines according to their brands:
- Gaggia espresso makers
- Delonghi espresso makers
- Nespresso espresso makers
- Breville espresso makers
- Capresso espresso makers
- Jura espresso makers
- La Pavoni espresso makers
- Mr. Coffee espresso makers
How to Choose the Best Espresso Maker
There are two main types of home espresso machines, namely the steam espresso machine and the pump espresso machine. This is based on how the espresso maker works to extract the coffee out of the ground coffee beans.
Do read on to find out what these espresso makers do.
Steam Espresso Makers
I personally do not think that the steam espresso maker is a true espresso machine, considering that what it produces usually doesn’t have the body of the espresso produced by a pump espresso maker.
I would say that the steam espresso machine makes very strong coffee instead of true espressos.
Anyway the steam espresso machines are really cheap; you can easily get one for less than $50. The best steam espresso machine you can get is the Mr. Coffee ECM160. It is priced below $50 and it’s a really cheap way to get decent coffee that is espresso-like.
Pump Espresso Makers
The pump espresso maker is the best home espresso machine. This type of espresso machine uses a pump with high-bar pressure, usually above 15-bar, to extract coffee out of the beans quickly. The power of the high pressure is able to create a better coffee out of the same beans compared to a steam espresso maker.
Pump espresso machines come in several forms (manual, semi automatic, automatic, super automatic), from the most hand operated and controlled machines to the most automated ones.
If you already know how to pull a shot of espresso, or perhaps worked in a cafe before and enjoyed being a barista, you may like the manual espresso machine.
Manual Espresso Makers
These espresso makers let you control everything from temperature to timing the shot, so you have to be skilled, or at least willing to learn, to use them.
The manual espresso machines are not cheap. The cheapest ones are around $300 and the price goes up to $1500.
The best manual espresso machine is the Italy-made La Pavoni Europiccola EPC-8 that espresso enthusiasts will love. With this machine you can make the tastiest espresso and be satisfied in the knowledge that you made it yourself.
Another type of manual espresso maker is the stovetop espresso maker. This portable espresso maker can be used anywhere, while you travel, at home on your stove top, or as a camping espresso maker over the campfire. The best stovetop espresso maker is the Bialetti Moka Express.
However, if you are getting your first espresso maker or don’t know a lot about espresso making, you’ll be better off with the more automated espresso machines.
Semi-Automatic Espresso Makers
A semi automatic espresso machine can be a good choice for people who care to experiment with different grinds and tamp pressure for their espressos. The semi automatic is also what most people buy as it can be found for as little as $100 and less than $1000, and it’s not difficult to make a good espresso with it.
If you want any pump espresso machine that is affordable, go for a budget semi automatic espresso machine. The Delonghi ECC-155 is the the best espresso machine under $100 you can find.
For the best value semi automatic espresso maker with a hardier build that’s also good for first time buyers, try the Gaggia Classic. A good entry level espresso maker, Gaggia Classic gives good value for the money and is also the best espresso maker you can get under $500.
Going all in for the best semi automatic espresso machine you should check out Breville Barista Express BES870XL. This is the best espresso machine for home users and it can make an espresso much better than your regular Starbucks.
No espresso making skill will be needed if you go for automatic or super automatic espresso machines as all the work would be done for you by the machine itself. The main difference between these two is that automatic espresso makers use only capsules or pods, while super automatic ones often use coffee beans but some models do allow you to use pods as well.
Automatic Espresso Makers
The top advantage to having automatic espresso machines is a no-mess operation. Using coffee capsules with ground espresso in them, you can get espresso with a consistent taste by just pressing a couple of buttons.
The automatic espresso machine will even keep several used pods in it until you empty the compartment. Imagine the convenience! This is why I recommend people who are getting espresso makers for their office to get an automatic espresso machine. The automatic is the best espresso machine for office use. Some automatic espresso makers like Nespresso machines are only priced between $100 and $300 too.
The best automatic espresso machine is Nespresso Citiz which comes with a milk steamer and frother so that you can make other types of espresso drinks like cappuccino and latte. You can get a cheaper automatic espresso maker without the milk frother if you only drink it black.
Equally effortless to use is the super automatic espresso machine, although you will have to fork out more money for it.
Super-Automatic Espresso Makers
The super automatic espresso machine is often found in establishments like hotel restaurants, so I’m sure most people would have used them before.
These machines come with a built-in coffee grinder, so you can buy your favorite coffee beans and just put them in the espresso machine. When you need an espresso, just press a button and the machine will grind, tamp and brew your espresso in matter of seconds.
You can easily expect a high end espresso maker like that to cost more than $500. In fact, the top range ones can cost as much as $3000. For the office or for home use, the best super automatic espresso machine is the Jura-Capresso Impressa J6.
Tips for Finding the Best Espresso Maker
I like to look at new espresso machines even though I have quite a few already, and there’s no stopping me examining the espresso makers my friends bought. To me, a good espresso machine is not just something that makes good espresso, it should also be durable, user-friendly, easy to clean and safe to use.
When determining those points, you’ll need an eye for quality parts that make up the espresso machine. Are they sturdy or flimsy? What material are they made of? Metal is certainly better than plastic. Look at the boiler too. A copper boiler is better than a stainless steel boiler and the latter is better than an aluminum boiler. Two boilers are better than one.
Aside from the parts, look at the design of the machine. Is it easy to fill up with water? Are parts removable for cleaning? Are the spouts adjustable so that you can make a long black as well as an espresso shot?
Even if you’re buying online, you can find out all this information in espresso machine reviews.
More Best Espresso Maker Reviews
Remember to check out my blog for my latest best espresso maker reviews. I will be updating it with related articles as well, such as more tips for choosing the best espresso machine, how to make espresso drinks, how to maintain your espresso machine and so on.
Hopefully you’ll be able to find the espresso maker that makes you great espressos and saves you hundreds of bucks a year for not going to Starbucks!