best espresso makers
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The 7 Best Espresso Machines for Coffeehouse-Quality Drinks at Home

The Breville Bambino Plus is our favorite because it can be used by espresso novices and aficionados alike, without taking up too much counter space.
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The thought of making espresso at home might be daunting, but dedicated fans of those small shots of concentrated coffee (and gateways to all sorts of specialty drinks including lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos) find it super satisfying. Making your own espresso drinks can help you avoid an extra stop in your morning routine, and it's also much cheaper in the long run than regularly paying cafe prices. 

We researched dozens of different home espresso machines, evaluating their size, price, efficacy, and reliability. We also asked Jiyoon Han, co-owner of Bean & Bean Coffee and a Coffee Quality Institute-certified Q grader (basically, a sommelier for coffee), for her advice on how to take care of an espresso machine. Charlie Eisenstat, head roaster at Edda Coffee, also weighed in on how espresso machines work and what to look for when you're shopping. 

Eisenstat says that if you're not familiar with espresso machines, the prices might come as a shock. But he notes that most espresso machines are designed to last a lifetime, provided you keep up with regular cleaning and maintenance—unlike your typical drip coffee maker, which might hold up for a few years at most. That's because very few espresso machines have plastic components or other parts that can degrade over time. 

We named the Breville Bambino Plus as our best overall pick, because it's an affordable, compact machine that you can program to make one or two shots of espresso at once. 

Here are the best espresso machines for home use, followed by expert tips on how to buy the best espresso machine for your needs and skill level. 

Our Top Picks

Best Espresso Machines
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Best Overall Espresso Machine: Breville Bambino Plus Espresso Machine

View at Amazon ($500)

Also available at Williams Sonoma, Sur la Table, and Bed Bath & Beyond

Who it's for: Beginner and intermediate-level espresso fans looking to stretch themselves in the kitchen. 

Who it's not for: Expert-level home baristas. 

This easy-to-use machine makes one or two shots of espresso at once. The stainless steel portafilter holds 18 grams of freshly ground beans, and the machine has a fast heat-up time, promising the correct water temperature for espresso in just three seconds. It also offers three different milk texture options and three adjustable milk temperatures, and the milk heating process can be done automatically so you don't have to give it your full attention. Plus, you can fit a large mug right under the portafilter, so your espresso shot can go right into whatever vessel you're using for your drink, rather than a smaller espresso cup. 

The exterior is made of stainless steel, and there are a variety of color options available if you're looking to match other decor in your kitchen or coffee bar. The simple care instructions make cleaning and maintenance pretty easy. The filters, filter holder, and drip tray should be hand-washed, and the exterior can be wiped clean with a damp cloth. Make sure to wipe the steam nozzle clean after each use. The manufacturer recommends avoiding harsh detergents, since they might damage the machine. If you've never used an espresso machine before, there will be some trial and error involved to get the process down, but we think it will be well worth the effort. 

Product Details:

  • Type: Semi-automatic 
  • Materials: Stainless steel 
  • Dimensions: 7.6 x 12.5 x 12.2 inches
  • Weight: 11 pounds
  • Water Tank Capacity: 64 fluid ounces

RELATED: The 11 Best Coffee Makers for Every Household's Needs

Best Espresso Machines
Credit: Amazon.com

Best Budget Espresso Machine: Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso Machine

View at Amazon ($250)

Also available at Walmart and Target.  

Who it's for: People who want a simple, easy-to-use machine for limited drink options. 

Who it's not for: People seeking an espresso machine without plastic components.  

This semi-automatic machine makes espresso, lattes, and cappuccinos. You'll need to grind your own beans, add them to the portafilter, and tamp them down, but after that you just need to press a button. This machine comes with a removable milk reservoir that can be stored in the fridge, or fully emptied and cleaned after every use.

This is a simple machine great for people on a budget, or for using in an office space or vacation home. It doesn't have the bells and whistles that high-end machines offer, and due to the plastic components it may not last as long as more expensive espresso makers. 

Product Details:

  • Type: Semi-automatic 
  • Materials: Plastic, stainless steel 
  • Dimensions: 11.2 x 8.9 x 12.6 inches
  • Weight: 10.4 pounds
  • Water Tank Capacity: 54 ounces
Best Espresso Machines
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Best Splurge Espresso Machine: Breville Oracle Touch Espresso Machine

View at Amazon ($2,800)

Also available at Williams Sonoma and Bed Bath & Beyond

Who it's for: People looking for an automated, full-service machine with self-cleaning functions. 

Who it's not for: People with limited counter space. 

This Breville model gets you whatever espresso drink you'd like with a minimum of fuss. Just ensure there's water in the 84-ounce tank, use the touchscreen to input your preferred drink and settings, and watch the magic happen. There are eight personalized settings, so the machine can remember exactly how you like your cappuccino.

Plus, there's an integrated burr coffee grinder, so you can pour half a pound of coffee beans directly into the machine rather than grinding them separately (and pick from 45 different grind sizes, too boot). No need to measure out the grounds or tamp them into the portafilter either—it's done automatically. 

Count this machine as a permanent fixture on your kitchen counter or at your coffee bar—it weighs in at over 37 pounds and 17 inches wide; it's not an ideal pick for small spaces. Cleaning and upkeep are a breeze—just press a button to run an automated cleaning or descaling cycle, and change the water filter every three months. 

Product Details:

  • Type: Super-automatic 
  • Materials: Stainless steel
  • Dimensions: 14.5 x 14.7 x 17.8 inches
  • Weight: 37.3 pounds
  • Water Tank Capacity: 84 ounces
Best Espresso Machines
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Best Small Espresso Machine: Nespresso Essenza Mini by Breville Espresso Machine

View at Amazon ($170)

Also available at Target and Walmart.

Who it's for: People who want espresso at the touch of a button.

Who it's not for: People who want to make specialty drinks with frothed milk, or people worried about plastic use. 

This no-frills capsule espresso machine takes up minimal counter space and requires almost no effort. It takes about 25 seconds to heat up the water to the correct temperature and pour out one or two shots of espresso. After nine minutes, the machine will automatically turn off to save energy

The machine is designed to be used with single-use Nespresso plastic pods, but there are reusable options available if you're seeking a more eco-friendly solution. Just know that the machine itself is also made from plastic components, which may be more likely to break down over time. 

Product Details:

  • Type: Pod/capsule 
  • Materials: Plastic
  • Dimensions: 8 x 3.3 x 12.9 inches 
  • Weight: 5.1 pounds
  • Water Tank Capacity: 20.3 ounces

RELATED: The 7 Best Single-Serve Coffee Makers for a Fresh Cup Every Time

Best Espresso Machines
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Best Espresso Machine for Beginners: De'Longhi Dedica Deluxe Espresso Machine

View at Amazon ($350)

Also available at Williams Sonoma, Sur la Table, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Wayfair

Who it's for: Newbies who are ready to start making espresso at home. 

Who it's not for: People who don't want to grind and tamp their own coffee grounds. 

If you're just dipping your toe into the world of homemade espresso, go for a compact, easy-to-use machine like this one. It's about six inches wide, so it's a good pick for small spaces. The water tank holds 35 ounces of water at once, and takes about 40 seconds to heat it to the correct temperature. The adjustable frother lets you play around with different milk textures and temperatures, too. The machine makes single or double shots of espresso, and you can remove or adjust the filter tray to make room for a bigger cup if that's your preference. 

There's some level of effort involved with this espresso machine—you need to grind, add, and tamp your own coffee grounds, then press a button to initiate brewing. The machine is a mix between automatic and manual, which can help you gauge how much you enjoy crafting espresso. 

Product Details:

  • Type: Semi-automatic 
  • Materials: Stainless steel
  • Dimensions: 13 x 5.9 x 12 inches
  • Weight: 9.3 pounds
  • Water Tank Capacity: 35 ounces

RELATED: The 13 Best Coffee Subscriptions That Offer Must-Try Blends Every Month

Best Espresso Machines
Credit: Amazon.com

Best Espresso Machine With Grinder: De'Longhi La Specialista Maestro Espresso Machine

View at Amazon ($1,300)

Also available at Williams Sonoma.

Who it's for: People excited to hone their at-home espresso skills with a machine that should last forever. 

Who it's not for: People not in a position to spend a lot on an espresso machine. 

This is a luxury machine, and the price tag reflects it. This manual espresso machine has all the bells and whistles included for truly custom drinks—there are eight different options for grinding coffee beans, two different ways to steam milk, six specialty drink selections, and five "infusion profile" settings that you can change depending on what type of coffee beans you're using. 

The removable water tank holds 67.6 ounces at once, and the coffee bean hopper has a capacity of 8.8 ounces. At over 32 pounds and 16.5 inches wide, it's a permanent fixture that might be the centerpiece of your kitchen counter. 

Product Details:

  • Type: Semi-automatic
  • Materials: Stainless steel
  • Dimensions: 14 x 16.5 x 18.5 inches
  • Weight: 35.3 pounds
  • Water Tank Capacity: 67.6 ounces

RELATED: The 6 Best Coffee Makers With Grinders, According to Our Tests

Best Espresso Machines
Credit: Amazon.com

Best Stovetop Espresso Machine: Alessi 9090 Espresso Maker

View at Amazon (From $250)

Also available at Alessi, Wayfair, and Neiman Marcus

Who it's for: People seeking a simple espresso machine that doesn't take up any counter space. 

Who it's not for: People who want all the bells and whistles of a specialty machine. 

If you just want a simple espresso, there's no need to use a machine at all. Stovetop makers like this one are great for people low on space who don't need anything fussy. Just add ground coffee and water, apply heat, stir, and pour. This stovetop espresso machine has a magnetic steel bottom, so you can use it on an induction cooktop or gas stove. The enlarged base helps maximize heat for quick results, and the anti-drip spout helps you avoid annoying spills. 

The stainless steel parts of this stovetop espresso are dishwasher-safe, but any black or rubber parts need to be hand-washed with either plain hot water, or hot water with a little dish soap. The manufacturer notes that harsh detergents might damage the smooth surface finish.  

Product Details:

  • Type: Steam
  • Materials: Stainless steel
  • Dimensions: Varies depending on brew size
  • Weight: Varies depending on brew size
  • Water Tank Capacity: 2.4/5.1/10.1/16.9 ounces

RELATED: The 7 Best French Presses for Quick and Easy Coffee at Home

Final Verdict

The Breville Bambino Plus is our best overall pick because it's fast and easy to use, particularly for people new to making espresso, and has a very small footprint, so it can easily fit on your countertop. Plus, it's available in several different color options to match your existing kitchen decor. For a more budget-friendly pick, the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista is a fuss-free espresso machine that can also make lattes and cappuccinos.  

How to Shop for an Espresso Machine Like a Pro

Type

There are several iterations of espresso machines to choose from. Some are better suited for learning to make espresso, while others allow you to brew your beverage with the touch of a button. Here's a quick primer to the different types of espresso machines: 

Manual Espresso Machines: Manual espresso machines can be tricky to master—after all, they feature no automation whatsoever. Not only does this mean you prepare the coffee grounds yourself, but you also heat the water and create the pressure by force, using a pull-lever. While this does give you complete control over your brew, it also means there's more room for error. Manual machines are harder to come by, given the conveniences of semi- and super-automatic espresso machines.

Steam Espresso Machines: Steam-driven espresso machines heat water until the evaporation creates pressure. Although these are some of the most affordable and easy-to-clean espresso machines out there, they operate at lower pressures, which creates espresso that lacks depth and flavor when compared to that of other espresso machines. One common type of steam espresso machine is a stovetop espresso machine, or Moka pot. The stove heats the water causing steam to flow up through the grounds, which eventually drops back down and infuses the water. 

Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines: This is the most common type of espresso machine for both at-home and professional use. Semi-automatic espresso machines usually don't come with a built-in grinder, so you'll need to grind and prepare the beans yourself. The machine then automatically moves water through the brewing chamber at the right pressure, but you have control over when to start and stop dispensing your brew. If you're really wanting to learn how to make espresso, this is the best option, because it gives you full control over how much water you dispense to create your perfect espresso shot. 

Super-Automatic Espresso Machines: By far the most expensive of the bunch, super-automatic espresso machines work with the touch of a button. These machines grind and tamp coffee beans, pull steam, and pour your drink for you, requiring you to do little more than select your chosen espresso beverage by pressing a button. Many have self-cleaning functions, too. However, they offer little room for customization, and are not the best fit if you're interested in learning how to make espresso for yourself. 

Pod/Capsule Espresso Machines: Though not technically "real" espresso machines, these machines use coffee pods to mimic espresso. Like super-automatic machines, they don't leave room for experimentation and prioritize convenience over customization.

Skill Level

Eisenstat says that espresso is a "precision beverage—as much science as it is art." Making your own espresso at home is nowhere near as simple as easy as plugging in a drip coffee machine—there are multiple steps involved, and potential for things to go a little bit haywire while you're learning wrong. If you're fascinated by all things espresso and ready to pick up a new skill, or if you're an experienced home barista, a semi-automatic espresso machine will be a great addition to your home. But if you'd rather just push a button and have a latte waiting for you, a pod or super-automatic espresso machine will be the better option. 

Price

Pricing on espresso machines really runs the gamut, and Eisenstat says that, for the most part, you get what you pay for. A cheaper machine may not last very long, but it might be better for beginners who aren't sure they want to commit to a pricier model. 

Maintenance

High-end home espresso machines will last decades if you take good care of them, so think about how much time you're willing to spend on cleaning and maintenance. If the answer is "not much," definitely consider a super-automatic machine or a stovetop machine that requires low-effort cleanup. 

Questions You Might Ask

How do espresso machines work?

"Espresso machines force pressurized water close to boiling point through ground coffee," says Han. "There are many different models and designs of espresso machines, designed for commercial or home use, but most espresso machines will have a grouphead, a portafilter, and a steam wand." A grouphead disperses boiling water into the coffee grounds, a portafilter is a spoon-shaped container where the coffee grounds live during the brewing process, and a steam wand is used to heat or froth milk

What are the benefits of an espresso machine?

Other than impressing guests with your fancy coffee drinks, Eisenstat says that the "speed, unique flavors, and characteristics of espresso" are well worth the effort. Plus, learning how to make specialty drinks at home can save you the time and money you might spend picking up a latte a few times a week. 

How do you clean an espresso machine?

Han stresses that it's very important to clean your espresso machine after each use. "You need to wash your grouphead every day, and your portafilter every day, as coffee oils will get stuck in it," she says. Han uses Cafiza powder to clean her equipment. 

Eisenstat recommends cleaning and drying the portafilter each time you make a new drink. Plus, "the steam wand should be wiped with a clean, damp cloth and purged to prevent suction of milk into the steam boiler, where the milk proteins will cook onto the surface of the boiler and leave a bad burnt milk smell," he says. 

To clean the innermost parts of the machine, Eisenstat recommends weekly "backflushing" to "clean out all the internal boilers that can't be reached by hand." Since every machine is slightly different, follow your machine's specific care instructions on how to clean the insides. 

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Nina Bahadur, a writer with over 10 years of home and lifestyle experience. She spent hours researching the best coffee makers to fit different needs, considering factors like type, brew size, and ease of use. She also asked experts Jiyoon Han, co-owner of Bean & Bean Coffee and a Coffee Quality Institute-certified Q grader, and Charlie Eisenstat, Head Roaster at Edda Coffee, to weigh in.