The best way to start your morning is with a piping hot espresso. It wakes you up, gets your mental wheels turning, and prepares you for the day ahead. Skip the line at the local café and enjoy fresh, steaming espresso each and every day at home by purchasing your own espresso machine. You should be prepared to make an investment, but if you shop smart you don’t need to break the bank.
The Top Espresso Machines
You could easily spend several thousand dollars on an espresso machine, and it would certainly be worth it. Pulling a perfect shot of espresso requires precision in everything from temperature to pressure and that requires some complex machinery. That’s why pricey coffee shops charge such lofty prices for such a little cup of coffee.
The good news is you can enjoy a delicious cup of espresso at home without spending thousands of dollars. You just have to decide what features are most important to you.
Though you may not get the perfection you’d expect from a street side Italian café in your own kitchen, an at-home espresso machine gives you the ability to prepare cappuccino, lattes, and smooth espresso shots whenever you want them. We’re here to help you find the perfect one.
Here are the best espresso machines on the market:
Award: Best Overall
Enjoy the perfect cup of espresso with dose-controlled grinding and digital temperature control to ensure optimal espresso extraction each and every time.
When you want the perfect cup of espresso catered specifically to your tastes, the Breville Barista Express is the machine you need. This espresso machine features dose control grinding, utilizing an integrated conical burr grinder to deliver the right amount of freshly ground beans right into the portafilter. With digital temperature control, you’re ensured precise espresso extraction so each and every cup tastes the way you would expect it to.
The Breville Barista Express includes a steam wand so you can create latte art or simply top your espresso with a beautiful layer of micro foam. The controls are simple and intuitive, so you’ll get the hang of it after a few uses. This model may be a little pricier than some, but you get complete control over your morning espresso and the ability to make a wide variety of beverages.
- Includes conical burr grinder and sealed bean hopper
- Steaming wand for frothing milk, frothing pitcher
- Unbeatable taste, many different options
- Takes time to learn how to use it
- May be slower to brew than some models
- Price: $560
- Bean Capacity: ½ pound
- Water Capacity: 67 ounces
- Settings: Single or double shot, adjustable grind, manual override
- Milk Frother: Yes
Award: Best Basic
When all you want is a simple cup of espresso, you don’t need a fancy machine that takes up your entire kitchen counter. This model provides a hot, fresh cup without all the hassle.
Brew like a pro with the De’Longhi Dedica espresso machine to enjoy a hot, steaming cup of espresso right in your own kitchen. With 15-bar professional pressure, this machine enables you to brew a single or double shot of espresso with adjustable controls for your personal preference. You don’t have to deal with he hassle of complicated controls and the Automatic Flow Stop feature dispenses just the right amount of espresso every time.
The De’Longhi Dedica includes a manual milk frothing wand so you can customize your beverage as desired. This model features a sleek stainless-steel finish that is easy to clean and the narrow design takes up half the space of a typical manual espresso machine.
- Much more compact than many models, takes up little space
- Sleek stainless-steel finish, easy to clean
- Adjustable for preferences but simple to setup and use
- Doesn’t include a grinder, must grind beans first
- Limited capacity, makes up to two shots at once
- Price: $264
- Bean Capacity: Two shots
- Water Capacity: 1 liter
- Settings: Adjustable control
- Milk Frother: Yes (manual)
Award: Best Automatic
This espresso machine takes the work out of making a perfect cup of espresso thanks to a active temperature control, a dual heating system, and sensor grinding technology.
Sit back and relax while the De’Longhi La Specialista prepares the perfect cup of espresso automatically. This espresso machine features sensor grinding technology to deliver a precise and consistent grind with the optimal dose for a delicious cup of espresso. You’ll also enjoy active temperature control with a dual heating system for optimal coffee extraction as well as milk texturing. Choose from several styles of froth as well with the advanced latte system.
The De’Longhi La Specialista features a 1-second quick start so you can start brewing immediately. Plus, with a separate water spout, you can enjoy an authentic Americano or a cup of hot tea without the lingering taste of coffee. This espresso machine does it all.
- Advanced latte system, choose your foam style
- Dual heating system for quick startup and temperature stability
- Handcrafted precision and sensor grinding technology
- Takes some time to learn the controls
- Large machine, takes up a significant amount of space
- Price: $640
- Bean Capacity: ½ pound
- Water Capacity: 2 liters
- Settings: Automatic
- Milk Frother: Yes
Award: Best for Beginners
Take the guesswork out of brewing a cup of espresso with this beginner-friendly espresso machine. It utilizes single-serve pods to brew freshly brewed coffee and steaming espresso.
When you want a perfect cup of espresso, but you don’t want to spend the time making adjustments to your machine, the Nespresso by De’Longhi VertuoPlus Coffee and Espresso Maker is the ideal solution. This machine uses single-serve pods to make single-serve coffee or espresso drinks, utilizing Nespresso’s technology that reads the barcode on the pod to create the perfect beverage. All you have to do is load the pod, close the lid, and let it brew.
The Nespresso by De’Longhi VertuoPlus Coffee and Espresso Maker is perfectly sized for the countertop and affordably priced under $150. This espresso maker comes with a 60-ounce water tank and can brew different beverages including espresso, double espresso, coffee, and alto.
- Uses single-serve Nespresso coffee and espresso pods
- Simple operation, just insert the pod and let it brew
- Choose from different beverage sizes
- Doesn’t make more than one serving at a time
- Limited options for customization
- Price: $135
- Bean Capacity: None (pods)
- Water Capacity: 60 ounces
- Settings: Automatic
- Milk Frother: No
Award: Best Value
With adjustable 15-bar professional pressure, this espresso maker brews single or double espresso, cappuccino, and lattes with ease.
Choose from brewing with single-serve pods or ground coffee to create single and double shots of espresso as well as cappuccino and lattes with the De’Longhi EC702 15-Bar Pump Espresso Maker. This machine features a sleek stainless-steel design with a 44-ounce water tank and an automatic self-priming feature for your convenience. Brew every cup to your liking and add foam however you like it.
With the Rapid Cappuccino System, this espresso machine maintains the ideal temperature so you can brew one cup right after the other. The convenient water tank is simple to remove and refill, plus the water level is easily visible so you know when to fill it. With this espresso machine, you can brew like a pro and enjoy a steaming cup of espresso whenever you like.
- Use pods or freshly ground coffee for convenience
- Brew single or double espresso, cappuccino, and latte
- Adjustable 15-bar professional pressure for personal taste
- May not last as long as more expensive models
- Milk frother has limited adjustability for cup sizes
- Price: $175
- Bean Capacity: None (brews ground or pods)
- Water Capacity: 35 ounces
- Settings: Single or double, cappuccino, latte
- Milk Frother: Yes
Is an Espresso Machine Worth the Money?
The average American between 25 and 34 years old spends over $2,000 per year at coffee shops. In fact, many millennials admit to spending more on coffee than they invest in their retirement accounts. The harsh truth for many people is that coffee is not a luxury – it is a necessity.
If you find yourself struggling to function without your first cup of coffee each day, buying an espresso machine may well be worth the money. You could easily spend several thousand dollars on a professional model, but there are plenty of high-quality options designed for in-home use priced well below $1,000. If you’re going to spend that much on coffee throughout the year anyway, why not make it an upfront investment and end up saving money in the long run?
Though buying your own espresso machine gives you a certain degree of convenience and will almost certainly save you money over the long term, you have to ask yourself whether you’re willing to do the work to keep the machine clean and maintained. In the end, it comes down to balancing how much time and money you’re willing to spend versus how much you have to gain with an espresso machine.
Tips for Choosing an Espresso Machine
Buying an espresso machine may well be worth the investment for some, but it doesn’t mean you should go out and buy the first one you come across. All espresso machines are not created equal and there are some that simply won’t give you a good return on your investment.
Here are some things to look for when shopping for an espresso machine:
- Decide how much effort you want to put into your morning brew – choose from a semi-automatic model or a fully automatic model that does it all for you.
- Consider whether you want a machine that grinds the beans for you or one that uses ground beans – you’ll definitely pay more for an integrated grinder.
- Think about how much espresso you plan to brew at a time and whether you want to brew other beverages – some machines only brew one shot at a time.
- How much space on your counter do you have for an espresso machine? Some models can fit into a standard cupboard while others simply don’t.
- What are your preferences for frothed milk? Some machines give you the ability to customize your froth while others are more standard.
- Consider the amount you’re willing to spend and think about shopping at the higher end of your budget – cheap espresso machines are rarely worth the money.
- Think about espresso machines that use single-serve pods if you tend to drink straight espresso and no more than a single or double shot at a time.
- Factor in additional features like self-priming features, adjustable grind, and other things that might make your experience better or worse.
The good news is there are plenty of options to choose from. Unfortunately, that can also make your task a little bit more difficult. Take what you’ve learned here and consider our recommendations when you start shopping around for an espresso machine.
The Bottom Line
If you simply can’t start your day without a hot cup of coffee, it may well be worth the cost to invest in your own espresso machine. An espresso machine brews a delicious, fresh cup of coffee in just minutes and saves you money over time. You have the freedom to choose what type of coffee you buy and, depending on the model you choose, you may be able to brew other specialty beverages as well.
An espresso machine certainly isn’t an essential kitchen appliance for every household, but coffee lovers may disagree. With your own espresso machine in the kitchen you never have to go far for a cup of fresh brew and that alone is priceless.