10 BEST ESPRESSO MACHINE REVIEW
Espresso is one of the most authentic Italian drinks that you can buy today, but instead of handing over your money to a coffee shop, why not invest in a machine of your own? Many of these machines can make a single or double shot as well as cup of coffee and a cappuccino, and some of the newest models can even make those unique specialty drinks that a barista pours every morning. The problem with espresso machines is that they come in such a wide range of prices. While you can get a basic model for around $300 to $500, the best machine that money can buy costs a little more. To make sure we found machines for all budgets, we tracked down the best all around machine, the best for those on a budget and the top model that money can buy.
The Excellent Model That Money Can Buy
The top model that you can buy when money is no object is the Breville BES980XL Oracle in Silver (View on Amazon.com), which comes with some of the same features that the machines used in your favorite coffee shop have.
This is an example of a super automatic model, which means that it comes with a bean hopper and a bean grinder. A locking seal on the bean hopper blocks out odors in your kitchen that can impact the flavor of the beans, and the attached chute moves the beans directly into the grinding chamber.
Perfect for those who like hotter cups, the Oracle has a temperature range with a minimum of 190 degrees Fahrenheit, or you can increase the temperature up to 205 degrees Fahrenheit to get the piping hot coffee that restaurants serve.
Two Italian pumps work with the two boilers for brewing and other drinks to your exact preference, and those dual designs also let you create two completely different brews for sharing with a friend. With its hands-free milk feature, you can program the type of milk foam you want and the temperature of the milk and let the machine add it as the final step.
Ideal Model on a Budget
Why spend hundreds of dollars on an espresso maker that you’ll only use a few times a week, when you can get delicious coffee from the Nespresso Inissia in Black (View on Amazon.com) at a fraction of that price? The Inissia is part of the Nespresso line that use simple capsules filled with coffee.
In just a few easy steps, you can make a single shot that has all the crema you want, but the Inissia also comes with a second button for making a coffee lungo. Though one capsule makes just one cup of espresso, you press the lid on the front to remove that capsule to make a second cup, and a dedicated reservoir will hold your older cups until you empty the reservoir.
A folding tray on the front can accommodate a traditional coffee cup, but this tray folds down for using the machine with a taller lungo cup. Other models can take minutes to heat and come up to temperature, but the Inissia reaches the optimum temperature in just 25 seconds. The 24-ounce water tank, which pops out for rinsing and filling, holds enough water for making up to 12 standard shots.
Outstanding All Around Model
The best all around model is the Espressione-DeLonghi of Italy 1324 Cafe Minuetto Professional Die-Cast in Silver (View on Amazon.com), which works well for your own home or as a gift for any coffee enthusiast. Made by DeLonghi, this is a good introductory model for those who want to experiment with making it at home.
As it lacks a lot of the confusing features and buttons found on other machines, it’s also easy to use. A 1.1-liter water tank holds more than 37 ounces and can make nearly 20 single shots or almost 10 full double shots from a single fill, and you can easily remove the tank to fill it again or when you need to rinse it out.
Its built-in error control setting keeps you from making common mistakes that can give it a slightly burned taste, and its overheating protection keeps the pressure and temperature from rising too high when making espressos.
As a DeLonghi Italy 1324 can work with standard ground coffee or espresso pods, though it does not give you the option of grinding the beans yourself. The water tank comes with a level indicator that helps you see when the tank is low, and it has a standard coffee cup warmer built-in on top.
Top Rated Models on the Market
With digital controls and a built-in bean grinder, the Breville BES980XL Oracle in Silver is the type of espresso maker that works just as well in any cafe or restaurant as it will in your home. Though it has a professional look, this model is much easier to use than you might think, and you can change most settings via the eye-catching steel buttons on the front.
Pressing those buttons will let you pour a single shot, a double shot or a simple cup of hot water. Another button functions like a temperature control and lets you adjust the temperature to as high as 205 degrees Fahrenheit or as low as 190 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a solid choice for homes where coffee lovers have different temperature preferences.
You also have the option of changing that temperature setting to Celsius. A one-touch feature makes and pours the perfect Americano into a waiting cup, though you can also opt for one of the three standard drink settings available.
While there are a number of reasons to love the Breville BES980XL Oracle in Silver, it gets positive reviews because of features like:
• two Italian pumps that work together to extract the ultimate of flavor
• a conical burr grinder that cuts down on waste
• settings for making iced and frozen coffee drinks
• an integrated hopper that keeps beans fresh and works with the grinding system for better extraction
• double boilers that work together for making it at different temperatures and strengths
With a name like the Infuser, you know that the Breville BES840XL will help you get more out of your coffee grounds, but this machine can also help you get the ultimate flavor from the cheapest grounds too. It uses a process called a pre-infusion process that takes the grinds you add, mixes the ground coffee with hot water and slowly increases the temperature to infuse that water with more flavor before actually brewing a cup.
This process causes it to slowly expand to get more flavor than you ever thought possible. To keep the water temperature setting, Breville added a purge features, which causes the machine to automatically adjust that temperature after you use the steam wand attachment to help you immediately make a second cup.
Using the steaming wand on the top lets you increase and decrease the steam produced for frothing milk or improving the crema on an espresso. Preset controls let you make drinks based on the manufacturer’s recommendations, but you can also override those settings based on your preferences and reprogram some of the settings based on how you use the machine.
Breville places an insert inside the bowl on the filter that keeps rapid temperature changes from breaking the internal components and keeps hot water from splashing inside. The manufacturer also includes a number of accessories designed for making coffee drinks, including a stainless-steel milk jug that works with the steam wand and two filter baskets for making single and double shots.
With a built-in bean hopper, the Gaggia Brera Superautomatic in Black helps you save even more space in your home while still delivering rich and delicious flavor. This model puts the bean hopper inside instead of placing it on top like other companies do, which lets you put this on any counter without worrying about the bean hopper rubbing against that cabinet.
While you can change the grinding adjustments and other features for using it with beans, it also has a bypass door that lets you use it with standard coffee grinds, which is great for guests or loved ones who drink decaf. An internal filter system delivers richer and bolder flavor without the taste of hard water hitting your mouth.
This system uses four different stages that remove even the smallest of impurities while also keeping calcium and other hard water properties from leaving scale build up behind. To help you save on energy, Gaggia added a low energy feature that forces the machine to enter standby mode after approximately 60 minutes of inactivity.
Much more compact in size than some of the other top models, it features a digital screen that automatically notifies you of errors and problems like a lack of beans in the hopper, a lack of water in the tank or when it needs cleaning. It also comes with a simple knob that tells the machine when you want coffee and when you want to use the attachment for frothing or steaming.
Though Breville makes expensive espresso machines like those that professionals use at home, it also makes models like this Duo Temp Pro in Stainless Steel that will better suit those shopping on a budget. PID temperature control keeps the machine from running at too high of a temperature, which can affect the pressure produced and make coffee taste burnt or weak, and its 1600W thermo coil offers some protection against overheating too. Those controls give each cup poured the right balance and combination of sweet, bitter and acidic.
It uses a unique process that forces cold water through the inside after you brew a cup to bring the temperature down before you brew your next cup, which keeps the temperature from climbing so high that it affects the overall flavor. The 15 bars of pressure used in its pump push more water into the coffee grinds and allows that water to mix with the grinds to pull out more flavor.
With an easy to use and modern design, the Duo Temp Pro has one selection knob that fills a mug with hot water or creates steam from the hot water inside. It can produce enough steam for frothing an entire canister of hot milk for topping cappuccinos.
Breville gets some of the best reviews from shoppers of all espresso machines out there, and its BES870XL Barista Express, which can turn any coffee enthusiast into a barista, is one of its most affordable options. Though the Barista Express costs less, it comes with a dedicated bean grinder that features different coarseness settings for those who like coarser or finer grinds and a bean hopper that preserves those beans in between grindings. A built-in alert will even inform you when the bean hopper is running low, which is important because the machine will not operate without enough beans.
A 1600W heating element inside uses thermal coils to keep the temperature at the appropriate setting and to ensure that the temperature remains constant across all brewing cycles. The Italian pump uses 15 bars for additional pressure to get every drop of flavor out of each bean, and it has a purge function that helps you change the temperature setting. The purge feature will automatically increase or reduce the temperature after you use the steam wand to make perfect shots at the optimum temperature.
As it grinds the beans to order each time, it produces a thicker and richer layer of crema on the top of an espresso, and both single wall and double wall included filters let you taste the pure flavor of the coffee and not your hard water. The Barista Express comes with clear buttons for automatically adjusting the grind setting, using the built-in recipes and checking the pressure.
Espressione-DeLonghi of Italy 1324 Cafe Minuetto Professional Die-Cast in Silver (View on Amazon.com)
The Espressione-DeLonghi of Italy 1324 Cafe Minuetto Professional Die-Cast in Silver is an authentic Italian espresso maker that is the best all around model because it’s suitable for those who want to try making espresso at home as well as those who want authentic Italian espresso drinks at home.
Compact in size, it features just two buttons that turn the machine on and off as well as adjust the temperature. The front knob turns in two different directions for using the steam wand attachment or pouring a cup of espresso.
With a 1.1-liter water tank that comes out for refilling, you can make almost 10 double shots and more than 15 single shots of on a full tank. It comes with filters that work with any type of ground coffee as well as a separate filter that you can install for making espresso from the newer pods available from DeLonghi and other companies.
Those pods make it more convenient to make and reduce the need for a separate grinder. Two of its top features include an overheating protection feature that keeps the temperature at a stable level and an error prevention feature that alerts you of any errors that keep the machine from operating properly.
Though this is a fairly small model, it can still make great espressos and cappuccinos. Its built-in cream system uses the steam wand to produce the thick layer of cream that cappuccino usually has.
Anyone looking for a traditional espresso maker that features Italian engineering and design will like the machines made by DeLonghi like its EC680M DEDICA 15-Bar Pump in Stainless Steel. Though it does not feature its own grinder, it measures just six-inches wide and takes up less space to give you more room for a separate grinder. Once you turn the DEDICA on in the morning or afternoon, its thermo block technology lets it come up to temperature in 40 seconds or less.
Its stainless-steel finish highlights the black accents around the base and handle, and the buttons are also black to help you more easily pick the number of cups you want to make and whether you want steam. Pressing the steam button will push steam out of the wand on the side, which lets you froth milk in a separate container or increase the crema on it. As with other DeLonghi models, the DEDICA comes with a lasting warranty and customer service support that you can reach over the phone.
The included filter operates in three different ways for making double and single shots as well as working with the pods available from select manufacturers, and patented flow stop technology keeps the machine from over-pouring a shot. When using the DEDICA with ground espresso, you can use the tampering attachment to further push down those grinds to get out more flavor. DeLonghi also added a cup warmer that helps you store and keep cups warm before pouring.
The DeLonghi EC702 15-Bar Pump is easy to use and just as easy to set up, and if you encounter any problems, you can call the DeLonghi customer service hot line to reach qualified workers ready to assist you with everything from using it for the fist time to making custom drinks. Its unique designed filter lets you make selections to pour a single shot or a double shot, but that filter can also accommodate coffee pods and capsules. Using capsules allows you to make drinks faster without grinding beans first.
Made from stainless steel, the frothing attachment has a cover that is easy to clean and works with the frothing knob that controls that attachment for frothing milk you add to your cup or milk poured in a canister for using in multiple drinks. Called an Easy Serve Espresso (ESE) maker, the EC702 lets you choose the number of shots you want to pour and whether you want frothed milk for turning an espresso into a cappuccino via dedicated push buttons. Some of the features that enthusiasts will love include:
• a rapid cappuccino system that regulates the temperature for making multiple cups in a row
• an easy to remove water tank that can hold more than 40 ounces
• a removable drip tray that is dishwasher-safe
• a durable boiler heating element made from all stainless steel
• a dedicated chamber that mixes steam with milk for making a creamier and richer milk froth
The most affordable model from Breville that will knock your socks off is its ESP8XL Cafe Roma Stainless that makes drinks similar to those you might find in a cafe in Italy. Don’t let its unassuming design fool you though because the Cafe Roma makes stiff espressos that can almost stand up on their own.
It features a removable drip tray on the front for catching any spills and a grid that sits on top of that tray to keep the liquid locked inside to prevent further messes. A locking spout makes it easier to fill your cup to the right level without the liquid splashing over the side or the marker shutting down before it fills your cup.
The 15-bar thermo block technology pump inside uses more pressure and moves quickly and firmly across your ground coffee to extra every bit of flavor possible. It also features an easy to use switch that you simply turn one way to make coffee and turn in the opposite direction to control the steam wand.
When you use older grounds, you may notice that your espresso doesn’t develop a very thick layer of crema, but with the steam wand on the Cafe Roma, you can use the combination of hot air and water to produce steam to increase that crema. This model comes with a built-in top cup warmer and accessories like a tamping tool that also functions as a measuring spoon and cleaning tool, a stainless-steel frothing pitcher and extra cups and saucers.
Buying an espresso machine shouldn’t cost you thousands or even hundreds of dollars. For fresh and delicious espresso that you can make daily at home without going over your budget, there is the Nespresso Inissia Espresso Maker in Black. If you spend just a few dollars on it daily, this machine can start saving you money in just one month of regular use.
Unlike expensive models that come with a lot of bells and whistles that you might not need like a built-in grinder, this one uses the coffee capsules and pods available from Nespresso. You pour water in the removable 24-ounce reservoir that pops out of the back, lift the front, insert a capsule, close the lid and press a button. In just a few simple steps, you can have the perfect cup of espresso.
Compact and lightweight to give you more counter space, the Inissia comes up to temperature in just 25 seconds, and it comes with a 19 bar pump that uses more pressure to extract more flavor and get your espresso ready faster. This model comes with a Class A energy rating that can help you save on electric usage too because it actually turns itself off after going nine minutes without registering any activity.
The cup tray that supports your cup on the bottom folds down to give you more room for the taller cups associated with a coffee lungo, and it has a dedicated coffee lungo button. The Inissia has a separate container on the side that can hold up to 11 used capsules before it needs emptying.
Why is the Oracle the Best?
As you look at the Breville BES980XL Oracle in Silver and compare it against some of our other reviews, you may wonder what sets it apart. This is the only home espresso machine capable of making frozen coffee drinks like an affogato or an iced coffee without requiring a lot of different steps, and it comes with more grinding settings and a conical burr grinder that cut down on bean waste.
With a one-touch Americano setting, the Oracle can make this classic drink and pour it right in your cup without requiring you go through a lot of steps. It’s the model for anyone who loves coffee.