Precise temperature control
The Best Home Espresso Machine in 2023: From Breville to DeLonghi
Even the nerdiest coffee geeks can struggle to choose the best home espresso machine. I’ve put dozens of espresso machines through their paces to find the best in each category. This guide gives you an overview of brands, models and types available, so you can decide which one is best for your needs.
Flair Classic Espresso Maker
Breville Barista Express
Solis Grind and Infuse Perfetta
Breville Barista Touch Impress
DeLonghi La Specialista Maestro
DeLonghi La Specialista
Breville Oracle Touch
Breville Barista Express Impress
Breville Dual Boiler
Breville Barista Pro
Breville Duo Temp Pro
Time and patience required!
Affordable espresso machine
Can produce exceptional results
Steep learning curve
Lots of small parts
A solid step in your espresso journey.
Tons of adjustable settings
Grinder is rather limiting
Not much steam pressure
An awesome entry-level hybrid
Sleek and stylish design
Intuitive user interface
Zero Static grinder
No dedicated hot water outlet
Breville has done it again!
Intuitive touchscreen interface
Limited adjustable settings
A solid upgrade!
Steam wand with plenty of power
Heats up quickly
Requires constant cleaning due to splashes when making espresso
It doesn’t get much better than this!
Heat exchanger boiler
Might seem intimidating
Small drip tray
An exceptional machine
Sleek, minimalist design
Steep learning curve
Wakes you up to the art of good espresso — but makes you work for it.
High-quality, super automatic and espresso-machine combo
Intuitive setting options and functions
Fuss-free, fantastic milk froth
A lot of work to fine-tune settings
The best hybrid espresso machine one the market!
Suitable for espresso newbies
Automatic or manual milk frothing
Very high price
Even better than the original!
Intuitive user interface
Stainless steel conical burr grinder
Limited steam power
Digital PID temperature control
Tons of customizable settings
Supply chain issues have affected the price
A flawed diamond!
30 grinder adjustments
Intuitive digital display
Precise temperature control
No dosing funnel
Great if you already own a grinder!
Stainless steel housing
Simple user interface
No built-in grinder
Better value for money elsewhere
Small, consistent, simple!
Simple, intuitive user interface
Few customization options
Auto shutdown works too quickly
If you’re searching for the best home espresso machine, you’ve come to the right place. I’m excited to share all I’ve learned from dozens of reviews.
In the past, espresso machines had an image problem; consumers saw something labor-intensive and hard to operate. So, they often said: “Thanks but no thanks.” That’s why super automatic espresso machines exploded in popularity – they deliver similar results with far less hassle.
However, as more folks get excited about specialty coffee, the popularity of home espresso machines is on the rise. With that in mind, I decided to update this guide with the latest information. Here’s a rundown on what we’ll explore together:
- How to choose the best home espresso machine for your needs
- Which features contribute to producing the perfect espresso
- How to get enjoyable espresso out of an espresso machine
- Whether you want a super-automatic or a home espresso machine
Before I give you all the details on my favorites, here’s a bit of background to my approach: much like with my super automatic reviews, if a unit doesn’t make sense for end consumers, I don’t review it.
The very best espresso machines can easily set you back $10,000. Who can afford that in this day and age? In light of such, I’ve set $3,000 as the upper price limit for the average end user. Anything priced north of that isn’t getting a second look.
Table of Contents
- Top 10
- How to ChooseBudgetType of MachineDesign/BuildEspresso QualityMilk Frothing SystemFeatures
- Top 10 in DetailBest Entry-LevelBest Budget BuyBest PerformingBest OverallBest Single-BoilerBest ValueBest HybridBest Entry-Level HybridBest Manual-LeverBest Prosumer
- Brand Overview
- Home Espresso Machine vs Super Automatics
- How an Espresso Machine Works
- Espresso Preparation Tips
- Dual-Wall Filter Baskets
- Cleaning and Descaling
Our Top 10 Best Home Espresso Machine Quick Picks
Whether you’re ready to spend some serious money, or you’re on a tight budget, you’re likely to be wary of jumping into a purchase. I mean, what if you make the wrong decision? Don’t worry, I’ll explain everything you need to know before committing later in this guide. Heck, I’ll even give you a checklist to help you figure out whether it’s an espresso machine you actually want. In the meantime, here’s a top 10 list of my favorite home espresso machines:
Breville Bambino Plus
Compact design Easy to operate Automatic milk frother
DeLonghi Dedica Deluxe
Compact and affordable Straightforward operation Versatile steam wand
Ascaso Steel Duo
Impressive build quality Packed with great features Heats quickly
Beautiful design Heat exchanger boiler Commercial-grade components
Powerful steam wand Sturdy and durable Compact and minimalist design
Gaggia Classic Pro
Breville Oracle Touch
Automatic or manual milk frothing Makes excellent espresso Touchscreen display
Solis Grind and Infuse Perfetta
Sleek and stylish design Zero Static grinder Reasonable asking price
La Pavoni Professional
Nuova Simonelli Musica
High-quality build Gorgeous design Volumetric programming
How to Choose the Right Home Espresso Machine for You
The world has changed. It’s the dawning of a new age for home espresso machines. Manufacturers are constantly launching new prosumer, consumer and entry-level espresso machines into the market. The mid-range price segment is also buzzing with activity. More and more folks are obsessing over the ideal combination of coffee beans, grind size and pressure. And, they’ve realized the hard truth: even with the best will in the world, a super-automatic machine just isn’t up to perfection. Enter the hybrid machine. This relatively new category of espresso maker aims to fill the gap between super-automatic machines and professional portafilters. As for the genuine article, there are tons of different options at a range of price points. What about the perfect all-rounder? The bottom line is there’s no such thing. The myriad of different machines operate on different principles and meet different needs. It’s much like buying a car. A soccer mom, for example, is more apt to benefit from an SUV than a pickup truck. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a few things to consider when trying to find the best home espresso machine to fit your needs.
It’s likely that your budget will be at the forefront of your mind as you search for the best home espresso machine. Of course, there are those lucky enough to consider money as no object. But, I imagine most folks will have a limit as to what they can spend. How much you can or should spend will also be determined by how much use your espresso maker will get. I like to think about it in terms of how much you’re dropping at the local cafe each morning. Seriously, that morning cappuccino probably costs around $5, which adds up quickly across the span of a month. It could be that a good espresso machine will pay for itself within a year! Of course, you’ll be spending money on milk and coffee beans. Plus, you’ll likely need to invest in a good coffee grinder unless you’re buying a hybrid espresso machine. Ultimately, though, a home espresso machine can be a great investment that’ll save you money in the long run.
Type of Machine
Deciding on which type of home espresso machine to buy comes down to a number of factors including budget, convenience and skill level. There’s also the question of how much time and effort you’re willing to put in. For example, you might love the idea of a manual-lever machine, but it takes a lot of trial and error to get good results from something like the Flair Classic Espresso Maker. Traditional single boiler machines like the Rancilio Silvia take a long time to heat up and can be difficult to handle. However, once you’ve mastered this machine you’ll get exceptional results. Dual boiler machines offer much more flexibility and are easier to use. Still, you’ll most likely have to spend more money for the convenience. If you’re willing to spend a little more and want an authentic barista experience, a heat exchanger espresso machine like the Rocket Appartamento or the Nuova Simonelli Oscar II could be the way to go. This type of prosumer espresso machine uses commercial-grade components and will deliver the goods. Of course, you can always consider a hybrid machine. These things have been gaining a lot of ground recently and for good reason. After all, the best hybrids will hold your hand if you want, or let you take over and get your barista on. While I’ll always advocate for an espresso machine and a separate grinder, hybrids offer an ideal compromise for a lot of people.
We all know how beautiful an espresso machine can be. Let’s face it, the Italians just can’t help but create stylish and attractive things, even when they’re just meant to be functional. Anyway, there’s no shortage of home espresso machines that’ll steal the show in your kitchen. With that said, many of the more budget-friendly options are more utilitarian in appearance. Regular Coffeeness readers will know that I always prefer a coffee maker with plenty of stainless steel in its construction. Still, if you’re on a tight budget, you’ll likely have to settle for more plastic than metal. One of the most important aspects to keep in mind is the size of the machine you’re interested in. Don’t forget to take measurements before purchasing. Remember, overhead cabinets could impede your ability to easily remove the water tank. Plus, you will need adequate space beside the machine so you can steam milk comfortably.
At this point, I should mention that just because you own a $3,000 machine doesn’t mean you’ll get great espresso. There are tons of factors involved in good espresso extraction, including grind size consistency, coffee bean quality and skill level. Most budget espresso machines will only take you so far due to their inherent limitations. A machine with a pre-infusion function is always preferable. Plus, the more temperature stability the machine can manage, the better. As for filter baskets, there’s a lot of debate about whether bigger is better, but I’d say opting for single-wall baskets is more important. I’ll tell you why a little later.
Milk Frothing System
Making milk froth with a steam wand is no cakewalk, which is why I dedicated an entire section to the subject in my article on milk foam. There, you’ll find all the basic pointers on how to perform the decidedly tricky wand procedure to create a pourable microfoam at just the right temperature. Despite all the milk frothing finesse I’ve learned over the years, I have to admit that the automatic milk wands on many inexpensive espresso machines and hybrids are amazing! Okay, so they do nothing for developing your skill set. And not every automatic wand produces results that a latte artist would be proud of. But producing froth like the DeLonghi La Specialista is no mean feat! Which is to say that professional-style milk wands are a hallmark of very premium espresso machines. Mastering the techniques for using one gives you a lot of status among the barista elite. If the thought of having to froth milk this way is one of the reasons a home espresso maker gives you the heebie-jeebies, fear not. The new generation of consumer machines will come to your rescue. And, they’ll do it more hygienically than the integrated system on a super-automatic machine.
I already touched on the importance of pre-infusion when it comes to extracting espresso. That initial dampening of the coffee grounds really helps develop aroma and complexity. Depending on the machine, you’ll be able to control the duration of the pre-infusion, which will only give you more control. Another feature to look out for is PID temperature control. This is starting to show up on even the most affordable espresso machines and ensures temperature stability. Speaking of temperature, achieving the correct temperature for brewing can take quite a long time, which is why a thermoblock can be an attractive feature. Machines with thermoblock heating will usually be ready to roll in under a minute. As for the user interface, some of the best espresso machines have little more than a pressure gauge. With that said, I’ve been really impressed by the touchscreen user interfaces on some hybrid machines. These usually offer programmable volumetric control, adjustable brewing temperature, one-touch specialty drinks and much more. Personally, a gauge that indicates the pressure at the group head is what I always look for. I find this to be the most valuable tool in helping identify issues with espresso extraction.
Our Top 10 Best Home Espresso Machine Picks in Detail
Now that you have a clearer idea of what you’re actually looking for, it’s time to take a closer look at what each machine can do. Oh, and feel free to skip ahead to the model that interests you!
Unlock professional performance at home with Breville. Like a professional machine, ours use the 4 Keys Formula to deliver delicious third wave specialty coffee.
Third wave specialty coffee sees coffee as an artisanal food, produced to achieve the ultimate taste experience. When it comes to replicating third wave specialty coffee at home, there’s no cutting corners. That’s why Breville created a range of automatic and manual espresso machines that honor tradition and techniques that define the very fundamentals required for third wave specialty coffee experience.
Breville Espresso Coffee Makers
Every Breville espresso machine, from the Breville Barista Express to the Breville Barista Pro to the Bambino® Plus, uses the 4 Keys formula, optimizing each aspect from grind to extraction and micro-foam milk texture. Our espresso machines are designed to use the right dose of freshly ground coffee beans, ensure precise temperature control, optimal water pressure and create true micro-foam milk to deliver a harmonious blend of golden espresso and velvety textured milk.
Our next generation automatic machines allow you to simply swipe and select your café favorites on the touchscreen, while our manual machines give you the hands on control of a barista, like a pro. Whether you’re brewing espresso for a latte macchiato or a regular latte, you’ll always have the perfect, delicious espresso every time.
Taste the Breville difference today. Once you’ve found the perfect coffee machine, let us help you find the right coffee beans with our Beanz.com coffee subscription! Looking for espresso maker replacement parts? Keep brewing delicious extractions with Breville espresso maker product-specific parts for your automatic espresso machine.