The Best Home Espresso Machines in 2023 — Buyers Guide, Review, and ComparisonWouldn’t it be amazing to enjoy a great espresso whenever you felt like one? A home espresso machine is as close as you’ll get to that utopia. You can think of these machines as mini commercial coffee makers. They’re made to be as efficient and durable as their industrial counterparts, but without the hassle of operating a full-scale machine. They’re compact, and suitable for both beginners and serious coffee crafters alike.
- Burr grinder
- Automatic temperature and pressure regulation
- Pre-infusion for even extraction
- Micro-foam texturing
- Grind size control
Automatic Coffee Machines Information
Espresso Machines Comparison Table
|Check Price At Amazon Barista Express Review|
|Check Price At Amazon Breville Oracle Review|
|Check Price At Amazon De'Longhi EC702 Review|
|Check Price At Amazon Cuisinart EM-100 Review|
|Check Price At Amazon Rancilio Silvia Review|
Best Home Espresso Machines Buyer’s Guide
Coffee enthusiasts will agree that one of the best things about our favorite drink is how easy it is to enjoy. It’s served and sold almost everywhere, and you can relish it at any given moment and no one will bat an eye.
The problem is that even though coffee is available from every convenience store, good espresso is not so simple. There is an important distinction between it and generic coffee, and it makes all the difference when it comes to flavor and quality.
Basic filter coffee is made by slowly flooding grinds (ground coffee beans) with hot water, which extracts the flavor as it passes through. Espresso, on the other hand, is made by rapidly shooting pressurized hot water through densely packed grinds. The force is what extracts the concentrate, leaving you with a thicker, more potent coffee.
It goes without saying that this isn’t exactly a matter of simply boiling water and adding instant coffee and sugar and milk to taste.
Thankfully, we no longer live in the dark ages, and espresso machines aren’t confined to professional settings. The best home espresso machines have the same power as commercial models but are compact and simplified for your convenience.
They’re must-have tools for connoisseurs who find that instant, pour-over, or pod coffee just isn’t strong enough. If you want to save money by cutting cafes out of the equation — without sacrificing flavor or quality — a personal espresso machine is the answer.
Not to mention that they’re the perfect starting point if you want to become a barista, craft coffee artisan, or latte artist. Steam wands, which allow you to texture milk, come as standard in espresso machines but are often missing from ordinary coffee makers.
Regardless of why you want a personal espresso machine, what’s important is that you invest in a great one. When shopping for top espresso machines, look for the following:
Automatic pressure regulation
Automatic temperature control
Grind size control
Brew size or strength options
Types of Home Espresso Machines
Before we get to our best espresso machine reviews, there’s a bit of ground to cover to ensure you make the right choice. After all, you don’t want to be saddled with a home espresso machine that doesn’t suit your lifestyle or worse, satisfy your coffee needs.
Here are the types of espresso machines you’ll encounter:
Manual Espresso Makers
As the name implies, manual espresso machines have no (or few) automatic functions, so a modicum of skill and/or patience is required to operate them.
When using a manual unit, you retain control over almost every aspect of your brew, and can therefore make your espresso exactly as you see fit. They’re not the most convenient though and a potential drawback is that there’s a learning curve.
If you’re looking to experiment with manual brewing, the Rancilio Silvia may just be the best home espresso machine for you. Check it out, it’s one of our top picks.
Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines
A semi-automatic espresso machine is one that has some automation but still leaves room for you to control your brew. Most of these machines regulate temperature and pressure for you, but can’t make espresso without manual input from you.
They’re an excellent choice for enthusiasts who aren’t interested in the complexities of DIY brewing, but still want to experience the practical or craft side of espresso making. The DeLonghi EC702 is the perfect example of a semi-automatic home espresso machine.
Automatic Espresso Machines
If you have no interest in craft brewing but want excellent coffee nonetheless, choose an automatic model. They’re often one-touch machines with programmable preferences. Automatic espresso machines brew according to pre-programmed settings with no further input from you.
You’ll find that automatic espresso machines are considered high-end models and often have high-end prices to match. If top-notch coffee and minimal effort sounds good to you, take a look at the Breville Barista Express — our choice of the best home espresso machine overall.
Advantages of Home Espresso Machines
I’m willing to bet you’re looking into the best home espresso machines because you’ve heard espresso is superior to standard, drip coffee. It’s true, and here’s why:
Espresso Tastes Better
Objectively speaking, espresso has a more complex flavor profile than other coffee types because it has a much higher coffee to water ratio. Since it’s not as diluted, espresso has a bolder, well-rounded flavor.
Espresso Is Healthier Than Coffee
On average, a single shot of espresso contains 63 milligrams of caffeine. By comparison, standard coffee averages approximately 16 milligrams of caffeine per ounce.
You’re probably thinking that if espresso has higher caffeine content it can’t possibly be the healthier choice, but here’s the thing: most people don’t limit themselves to a single ounce of coffee.
With this taken into account, Consumer Reports approximates that one coffee contains up to 128 milligrams of caffeine, almost double what you get with an espresso. So, it’s perfectly valid to argue that espresso is better for your body — coffee addicts rejoice!
Espresso Machines Are More Versatile
Ordinary coffee machines can’t make espresso, but an espresso machine could whip you up a latte, Americano or cappuccino in no time.
Take a look at the home espresso machines for sale right now. You’ll notice that they feature either an integrated steam wand or a manual frother for milk texturing — another thing that standard or pod machines can’t do.
How to Choose the Best Home Espresso Machine
One more thing before we get to our home espresso machine reviews, what makes a good espresso machine? Here’s what you should look out for:
Build and Durability
Espresso makers use high temperatures and pressure to brew, so they have to be extra-durable. The best home espresso machines are typically constructed from metal, usually stainless steel.
Most will have a couple of plastic components, but for the best quality, and to make sure your machine will last, double-check that it’s made of a material that won’t overheat, deteriorate or break easily.
Simpler machines may not include everything you’ll need to brew craft espresso. The steam wand (or milk frother) is most important in this regard, though you’ll have to check if it’s suitable for microfoaming if you’re interested in latte art.
Other cool additions to look for are a built-in grinder (preferably a burr grinder), water filters, a warming tray, and pod compatibility if you’d like to use both pods and grinds.
If you can invest in a machine that includes extras, do so. You’ll save money and hassle and your brewing journey will be much easier. Add-ons will differ according to the model or make, but look out for cleaning tools and a tamper (if it’s not built in to the machine). Some machines will come with other handy accessories like manual frothers and milk jugs.
How much are you willing to learn before you start brewing? Automatic machines should have an interface that’s easy to navigate, understand, and program.
Manual machines usually have fewer switches, buttons, and dials, but they should still be easy to work with. The Rancilio Silvia, for example, produces excellent coffee and is regularly named among the best espresso machines — but it’s somewhat confusing to get the hang of at first. Sometimes simply designed units take more time to master.
As with any coffee maker, how you take care of it matters. Proper maintenance will prolong its lifespan, so you don’t want to struggle whenever it’s time to give it some TLC.
Removable components are always a plus, as are the cleaning accessories I mentioned earlier. Any kind of automated flushing mechanism is also a handy addition.
Try to find out what buyers have to say about a machine’s upkeep and maintenance requirements before you make a purchase. If you’re a busy parent, for example, you probably don’t want a home espresso machine that takes a hefty toll on your time when it comes to cleaning.
There’s a common misconception that because espresso machines are modeled after commercial equipment, they use as much energy as heavy duty units. This is not true at all though. In fact, the best espresso machines have surprisingly low power ratings and some use less power than other coffee makers.
This won’t always ring true, but it’s wise to keep in mind. Energy-efficient machines are better for the environment and save you some bucks when your power bill comes. Look out for features such as automatic shut-offs.
Our Pick of the Best Home Espresso Machines
~ Best Semi-Automatic
Our Rating: 4.7/5
- Hands-free operation
- Grind size control
- Single or double shot espresso
- Thermocoil, pre-infusion, and an automatic purge
- Sleek brushed stainless steel finish
- Integrated tamper
- Removable reservoir and spill tray
- Accessories included
When it comes to espresso, control is everything and this machine has perfected it. Everything you need is either integrated or included as an accessory, so you can start your home cafe as soon as you plug in your new Barista Express.
This brushed stainless steel unit features a 67-ounce reservoir and a 1.5-pound bean hopper. A 1600-watt Thermocoil and an automatic purge function regulate water temperature while pre-infusion controls the pressure for more precise extraction.
As for customization, the machine offers control over your grind size, milk froth texture, and shot concentration. There is a learning curve when you first get started but for the most part, the Barista Express is user-friendly.
It’s designed for serious home baristas, so if you’re just after speedy morning coffee or convenience, it might be excessive. If you’re dedicated to the bean though, it’s a worthy investment that’s sure to up your coffee game.
~ Best Programmable
Our Rating: 4.5/5
- Triple Heat system
- Over-pressure valve
- Programmable milk froth settings
- Grind control
- Accessories included
Taking home espresso makers to the next level, this machine is best suited for those looking for the full cafe experience at home. It’s a high-end unit comparable to its industrial counterparts.
A triple heating system regulates heat distribution while pre-infusion and an over-pressure valve mean precise extraction for the best flavors possible. The machine is finished with brushed stainless steel and includes a stainless steel double boiler.
The Oracle features a half-pound bean hopper and an 84-ounce water reservoir. It includes a timer, grind control, and programmable milk and froth settings. You also get choice over a single or double shot, plain hot water, or long black espresso. A bundle of handy accessories is also included.
If you’re looking for an affordable, basic home coffee maker, this probably isn’t for you. But if you’re a serious coffee connoisseur who deserves the best, look no further.
~ Best Starter Machine
Our Rating: 4/5
- Two thermostats
- Water level indicator light
- Accepts pods and grinds
- Removable components
- Manual milk frother
Though this machine has a few revolutionary tricks up its sleeve, its true value lies in its user-friendly simplicity.
To start off with, it’s self-priming, so you don’t have to worry about set-up and preparation. When it comes to making a brew, choose between a single or double shot espresso. For lattes and cappuccinos, use the manual milk frother to prep your milk how you like it. You can also choose between using coffee pods or grinds.
Its mechanics are a highlight. A unique two-thermostat system means you can control your water and steam independently of each other. De’Longhi’s EC702 maintains optimal temperature so there are no waiting times in between cups.
A 44-ounce removable reservoir holds enough water for several shots. The spill tray is also removable for easy clean up.
If you’re after an excellent espresso machine without a steep learning curve, this is the unit for you. Perhaps it’s a little too simple for serious aficionados and espresso connoisseurs, but it always turns out reliably good coffee.
~ Best Compact
Our Rating: 4/5
- Brews grounds and pods
- Frothing cup included
- Warming tray
- Removable components
- Lockable portafilter holder
- Accessories included
Don’t let the minimalist appearance of this espresso maker fool you. Its versatility puts it in league with high-end machines, and its functionality suits a variety of needs.
Powered by 15 bars of pressure, this compact espresso machine can brew one or two cups at a time, either from grounds or pods.
It also features a 53-ounce removable reservoir, removable drip tray, warming tray, and a lockable portafilter holder.
Included with your purchase, you get a handy tamping tool, measuring spoon, and a stainless steel milk frothing cup to match the espresso maker’s build.
While it’s not the best choice for those who would like to program their coffee to perfection, it is a flexible, affordable, and compact machine that produces excellent espresso all the same.
~ Best Manual
Our Rating: 4/5
- Fully articulating steam wand
- Commercial quality build
- Energy-saving insulation
- Accessories included
- Pressure control dial
- Ergonomic portafilter
It’s not often that home coffee makers match the specs of their industrial counterparts, but this machine does exactly that. Featuring a commercial-grade group head, and a professional, fully articulating steam wand for precision pressure and texturing, this unit is a home barista’s dream.
At 13.4 inches tall and weighing 30 pounds, this stainless steel espresso machine is surprisingly compact for such a sophisticated model. Its removable water tank holds 67 ounces, and it’s equipped with a 12-ounce brass NSF boiler — the largest of its kind.
One favorite feature of this model is its warming tray, which has enough room for a full set of mugs. It has all of the features you’d expect from a home machine too, including a removable spill tray and a handful of helpful accessories.
Its biggest drawback, however, is that it’s not easy to operate. The unintuitive design could confuse the best of us, so this machine is best left for those who don’t mind a steep learning curve when getting started.
Espresso machines may seem intimidating at first glance, but that doesn’t mean that they are once you learn the ins and outs of bean mastery. They’re practical machines for practical connoisseurs and are the perfect choice for coffee lovers after a barista-worthy experience at home.
Though you’ll have to put more effort in than with a drip coffee maker or an automatic pod machine, your efforts are rewarded with superior and true espresso.
Bear in mind that although home espresso machines simplify professional brewing, they are particular in their operation and aren’t ideal for coffee drinkers who prioritize convenience over flavor. They won’t serve you in a hurry, and if you have no interest in well-crafted coffee, an automatic pod unit might be the better choice.
For true connoisseurs, home espresso machines are absolutely worth the investment. They produce espresso like no other home coffee makers can, and save you tons of money and trips to the cafe.
There’s no better way to get started in home brewing. The best home espresso machines cover all bases, from flavor to aesthetic and everything in between.
Best Espresso Machines FAQs
What’s the Difference Between Pod Coffee Machines and Capsule Coffee Machines? Can I Use Regular Coffee Beans In An Espresso Machine?
Yes you can. Espresso is not made from any specific bean, rather it’s a method of extracting coffee from grinds (ground coffee beans). Some home espresso machines accept both pods, such as K-Cups, and beans, but most are compatible with coffee beans alone.
Can I Make Espresso Without An Espresso Machine?
If you want to get technical, no. Although many claim there are ways to brew espresso with a french press, it isn’t true espresso. Likewise, moka pots (aka stovetop espresso makers) can produce something like espresso, but lack the pressure needed to get the full flavor.
Can I Use My Home Espresso Machine for Commercial Purposes?
It depends on the scale of your business. Home espresso machines aren’t made to meet high demand and risk overheating or breaking with excessive or continuous use. It’s much wiser to invest in an industrial machine if you’re expecting to make coffee after coffee.
Can I Make Regular Coffee With An Espresso Machine?
It depends on the machine you buy. Generally speaking, you won’t be able to brew regular, drip coffee because it’s not made the same way that espresso is, and home espresso machines are only equipped to brew the latter. However, some machines are pod coffee compatible or have a hot water function that you can use for your instant coffees, pour-over devices, or french presses.