The Ultimate Guide to the Best Espresso Machines

If the daily morning routine of waiting in a long line to get a shot or two of your favorite cup of espresso has lost its appeal, don’t worry, many other espresso lovers have felt the same way. 

Not only has the daily morning routine of stopping by your favorite coffee shop run its practical course, you might now have a suspicion you can brew a better espresso drink yourself. It’s true, you can. But a lot of this is going to depend on what machine you get for your home.

 As a coffee connoisseur, you know exactly what kind of flavor you want percolating from an espresso machine. The question is which machine delivers your ultimate flavor profile?

This guide answers a few of the most frequently asked questions. We also present information on how to enhance the espresso brewing process by adding a few accessories. Most important, this guide goes into detail describing our top picks for 2020.

Consider 5 Factors When Buying a Home Espresso Machine

Yes, buying a home espresso machine can run you several hundred, if not a couple of thousands of dollars. No, price should not be the primary factor when you review our list.

As a coffee lover, you want to shop for a home espresso machine by considering the following five important buying factors:

  • Brewing Capability
  • Milk Frothing
  • Ease of Cleaning
  • Design Quality
  • Customer Reviews

How do you buy the right espresso machine for your home? As a coffee connoisseur, you know exactly what kind of flavor you want percolating from an espresso machine. The question is which of the many different types of espresso machines delivers your ultimate flavor profile?

This guide answers a few of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to owning a home espresso machine. We also present information on how to enhance the espresso brewing process by adding a few accessories. Most important, this guide goes into detail describing the eight best espresso machines for 2020.

Consider 5 Factors When Buying a Home Espresso Machine

Yes, buying the best home espresso machine can run you several hundred, if not a couple of thousands of dollars. No, price should not be the primary factor when you review our list of the eight best home espresso machines.

As a coffee lover, you want to shop for a home espresso machine by considering the following five important buying factors:

  • Brewing Capability
  • Milk Frothing
  • Ease of Cleaning
  • Design Quality
  • Customer Reviews

Milk Frothing

Old school machines automatically came with a frother to create delicious lattes, macchiatos, and cappuccinos. Most modern espresso machines include a frother, but now the option you have to decide on involves selecting a high performance frother. Frothing pressurized milk is considered a skill that takes time to develop. A high grade frother takes some of the guesswork out of deciding when pressurized milk has reached its foam peak. 

Some less expensive ones come with lower quality frothers. Therefore, you have to figure out how many of the espresso-based drinks coming out of your new machine will require frothed milk.

Ease of Cleaning

One of the reasons why customers flock to coffee shops to order espressos is because the machines have earned the reputations for being difficult to clean. Regularly cleaning an espresso machine, as in cleaning it after every use, goes a long way towards extending the lifespan of the machine. 

First, you need to know how easy it is to disassemble and reassemble an espresso machine. This means discovering how easy it is to remove the parts that require soaking and/or washing under the right type of cleaning solution. You need to have access to the water tank, as well as be able to get deep inside the frother. The cups used to brew espresso should not be placed in a dishwashing machine. You need to account for the time it takes to clean each espresso cup.

Design Quality

Brass or stainless steel, that is the question when it comes for the material used.

Brass resists corrosion, as well as the deep abrasions that impact the appearance of other kitchen accessories. Let’s face it: The kitchen is the most active room in your home. From preventing heat damage to limiting the impacts of forceful objects, brass should deliver years of rugged durability.

On the other hand, stainless steel matches the rugged durability of brass and in addition, the material is the most common material found in commercial kitchens. Stainless steel ensures a highly effective removal of bacteria and other harmful residues. The material does not require a top coating, which can split or crack when hit by a heavy object. With a structure devoid of any pores, stainless steel prevents the absorption of moisture. 

Design quality should be one of, it not the most important factor in determining the best option to buy for home use. Getting the most starts by making sure it can handle the punishment inflicted inside of most residential kitchens for years to come. You also want one that comes with several features that makes brewing an easy daily task to accomplish 

Customer Reviews

Word of mouth advertising remains one of the most effective factors to help consumers make purchase decisions. In the digital era, many word of mouth suggestions do not come from friends and family members, but instead, from customers that post online reviews. The key is to read customer reviews posted on different sites. 

For example, just reading the customer reviews posted by the manufacturer might skew the results towards the more positive end of the spectrum. Although reviews written by hospitality industry pundits can make a difference in how you make a decision to purchase an espresso machine, reviews from the people that use the machine frequently are just as, if not more influential than the reviews left by experts.

For the customer reviews section, we present a summary that lists the most frequently cited positive attributes of each machine. Every espresso machine on our list has received dozens of online reviews.

FAQs

The questions we asked in the previous section are more about trivia than relevant knowledge. Now, let’s dive into the most frequently asked questions concerning espresso machines.

What are the Primary Types?

How do you know which types of espresso maker is right for you? It starts by learning about each of the main types of espresso makers.

  • Manual Espresso
  • Semi-Automatic 
  • Automatic Espresso
  • Super Automatic Espresso
  • Commercial Espresso

How Much do they Cost?

As we mentioned, price should not be the most important factor that contributes to your buying decision. In fact, it does not rank in our top five most important factors to consider for purchasing an espresso maker. Nonetheless, you will have to establish a budget for buying an espresso machine. The low end of the price scale is $100, with the highest end brands running into the thousands of dollars.

Do You Need A Grease Trap?

Commercial grade espresso machines require grease traps because café, bakery, and restaurant operators frequently use the machines on a daily basis. A coffee shop runs an espresso machine from open to close. At home, adding a grease trap depends on how often you plan to use your new espresso machine. Most home espresso machines do not require a grease trap.

Fixed Brew Unit vs. Removable Brew Unit

A removable brew unit is easy to remove for you to rinse it off with warm water. You can rebuild, repair, and replace a removable brew unit. However, improperly removing the brew unit can lead to performance issues.

Fixed brew units prevent misalignment and all you need to do for maintenance is to drop specially formulated cleaning tablets. The cost of servicing a fixed brew unit is higher than the cost of servicing a removable brew unit.

The slight edge goes to a fixed brew unit because it is a bit more dependable.

The Top 8 Finest Espresso Machines

If you want to transition from waiting in a car or in the back of a line to get your daily dose of espresso, searching for one of the top eight choices for espresso machines is a good place to start. However, as an avid espresso drinker, you might want to look at it more like a necessary luxury.

For our ratings, will weight each factor on a scale of one to five. Then, we total the points and divide by five to get our rating for each of the right espresso machines. 

Let’s review that five factors that define the top eight choices for espresso machines:

  • Brewing Capability
  • Milk Frothing
  • Ease of Cleaning   
  • Design Quality
  • Customer Reviews

Do you remember how some of our teachers gave extra credit to reward students that did more work than was expected of them? We have added a sixth category conveniently titled “Extra Credit” to emphasize a sixth factor that an espresso machine does especially well. The extra credit factors that we use for each maker are not the same. In fact, each extra credit mentioned is different.

Let’s take a look at the first one, which consistently appears in the rankings presented by a wide variety of hospitality industry publications.

Breville Barista Express BES870XL

Breville

As an upgrade to the previous BES860XL model, the Breville Barista Express BES870XL includes several new features that separate the machine from the rest of the machines listed in our ranking.

  • Adjustable grind size
  • Half-pound bean hopper
  • Integrated conical burr hopper
  • Tamper measuring 54 millimeters
  • Water tank holds 67 fluid ounces
  • Espresso monitor
  • Thermocoil heating
  • Swivel action steam wand

Here are the ratings for each of the five factors:

Brewing Capability-5

Milk Frothing-5

Ease of Cleaning-4  

Design Quality-5

Customer Reviews-5+

Score-4.8

Extra credit: Incredibly fast brew times of fewer than 60 seconds.

Brewing Capability

Espresso aficionados should marvel at the silky smooth brewing quality delivered by the Breville Barista Express. The genuine flavor extracted from every types of coffee bean comes from four filter baskets that include pressurized and non-pressurized versions to meet all brewing needs. You also get to use single and double filter baskets. The baskets deliver one or two shots of espresso, with two shots being enough to craft a delicious cappuccino.

Pressurized baskets eliminate the need to adjust grind settings and the amount of coffee delivered into the basket. This cuts down on brewing time, which can be a huge factor for people that need to brew a coffee on the run. If you have the time to use a non-pressurized basket, the accurate hand-controlled dispenser should enhance the flavor profile of the coffee.

Milk Frothing

The Breville Barista Express would be at home in busy upscale dining venues where bartenders turn into professional baristas by brewing cappuccinos that are covered in perfectly frothed milk. Use the 360-degree moving steam wand to target areas of a milk pitcher for optimal frothing. Instead of moving the pitcher, you manipulate the steam wand to build the layer of foam needed to finish a cappuccino. You might have to practice a few times to get the swivel steam wand down, but eventually, your cappuccinos will rival what fine dining restaurants serve.

Ease of Cleaning

Users of the Breville Barista Express love the one twist bean hopper and the easy to remove steel burrs. The removable water tank and water filter gets the machine back up and running within a short time. However, the Breville Barista Express loses a point for ease of cleaning because it comes with a large number of features that require separate cleaning. The machine does have a built-in “Clean Me” light to remind users when the time has come to give the machine a thorough cleaning.

Customer Reviews

Customers praise the frother for its accuracy and consistency for developing the correct rise in foam. The Clean Me light is often mentioned as a helpful reminder that ensures the machine receive regularly scheduled cleanings. Many customers marvel at the sleek appearance of the stainless steel harness, as well as the outstanding performance of the separate burr grinder. The Barista Express pressure gauge is considered an invaluable tool for making the best tasting espressos.

The Breville Barista Express has received the highest percentage of five-star ratings than any other espresso machine on our list.

Design Quality

Designed with Italian constructed parts, the Breville Barista Express contains brushed stainless steel casings that cover plastic internal parts. This prevents the plastic internal parts from diminishing in quality because of prolonged exposure to extremely hot water. With a one-year limited warranty, the espresso maker comes with a brand new operating mode designed exclusively for newcomers.

The bean hopper fills the high-quality burr grinder directly, which can save you around $300 on the purchase of a separate espresso grinder. Breville invariably ranks high for the company’s ability to produce superior grinders, and the 16-setting Barista Express carries on the Breville high-quality grinder tradition. The flawless filter baskets allow you to use the non-pressurized setting to give you complete control of dialing your espresso shots. You can also decide to simply place the portafilter into the grinding basket and hit a button to grind the correct amount of coffee beans into one of the filter baskets.

Gaggia Babila RI9700/64

Gaggia

Gaggia has earned the reputation for creating stylish designs for the company’s extensive line of espresso machines. As one of the most compact machines on the market, the Gaggia Babila provides espresso lovers the ultimate in placement flexibility.

The Babila is known for offering the following features:

  • Programmable recipes
  • Automatic milk frother
  • 1.5-liter water tank

Brewing Capability

It is essential to discover the right balance that appeals to your taste buds, which means you might have to adjust a couple of settings before discovering the optimal flavor profile. Start by setting the coffee strength to a three out of five, and then adjust your flavor profile from there.

The time spend adjusting the settings is well worth it, as the Gaggia Babila delivers a rich shot of coffee that nails the right temperature of 65 degrees centigrade. After the coffee dispenses, you should notice a malt-colored crema that bubbles down faster than the bubbles created by other types of espresso machines. The Babila produces a shot or two of espresso quickly, and the quality of the flavor profile is remarkable because of the lack of bitterness that you experience when you drink espresso from other makers.

Milk Frothing

Even the most skilled baristas working in coffee shops can have difficulty trying to froth milk properly. The Gaggia Babila takes the guesswork out of milk frothing by automatically steaming and pouring milk. The result is a consistent froth that maintains its structure longer than the froth generated by the average frother. For tall cups of cappuccino, you can remove the dispensing spout to give the frother more room to work its magic. Consistently frothed milk makes it much easier for relative newcomers to make cappuccinos.

Ease of Cleaning

The Babila comes with two drip trays that require daily cleaning. There is one located at the front of the machine and a second tray inside. For the inside tray, you have to swing the front panels outward, and then slowly remove the drip tray to avoid spilling the remnants of a day’s worth of drinks. This can be a hassle, if you move the inside tray out too quickly and spill dark brown liquid over the stainless steel exterior. The Babila alerts you when the time comes to empty the inside holder that stores the used coffee pucks. Replacing the water filter is a no fuss job, and descaling the machine is a process that is described in detail within the operation manual.

Customer Reviews

The fully customizable features of the Gaggia receive praise from a large percentage of the customers that have left reviews on neutral, third-party sites. Customers emphasize the importance of having control of the temperature, the coffee strength, and the amount of liquid literally at your fingertips. Users program their favorite drinks either by accessing the menu or by using the memory button that starts the brewing process. The adjustable brewing head receives considerable praise from customers, as does the bean grinder that operates in silence.

Design Quality

They come in a wide variety of sizes, but most machines can be a burden to move around the kitchen or the dining room. That is not the case for the Gaggia Babila. At 245mm by 420mm by 360mm, the Babila represents one of the smallest espresso machines on the market. The sleek design of the machine blends in well with other stainless steel kitchen appliances, as well as deep-stained wood dressers located in a dining room.

Gaggia designers placed the water tank under a flap on the left side of the Babila, which gives the espresso machine an attractive symmetrical appearance. All you have to do is pull the tank out to fill it. At the front of the machine sit the quick-release buttons that help you make the most common espresso and cappuccino drinks.

DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM 3000

Magnifica

If you want one the captures the quality of espresso made by professional baristas, then look no further than the stylish DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM 3000. The advanced technology used to design and construct the ESAM 3000 allows you to make virtually every type of coffee drink, from a double shot of espresso with a Sambuca side to a mocha latte chalk full of chocolate chips. You can also use the machine for slightly adjusting the volume of the coffee bean grinds, as well as the heat of the water filtering through one of the spouts.

The Delonghi Magnifica ESAM 3000 offers the following popular features

  • Two grinding options
  • Quick frothing system
  • Easy to customize
  • Memory functions
  • Cup warmer
  • Brew unit that adjusts automatically

Here are the ratings for each of the five factors:

Brewing Capability-5

Milk Frothing-5

Ease of Cleaning-4  

Design Quality-4

Customer Reviews-5

Score-4.6

Extra credit: Advanced technology functions for accomplished baristas.

Brewing Capability

Although a semi-automatic espresso machine is no match for the high-end talent possessed by a master barista who operates a manual machine, a machine like the ESAM 3000 is as good as it gets for automatically producing high quality coffee drinks. You have to dial in the machine every time you change the type of beans you use to brew lattes, espressos, and cappuccinos.

The volume dial covers a range from one half of an ounce to six ounces, which is a larger range for grinding coffee beans that you will find on other types of semi-automatic espresso machines.

One of the most effective tools to maximize the flavor profiles of your coffee drinks is the button you can press to stop the brewing process.

Mastering the button requires plenty of hands-on experience to ensure you draw the right amount of coffee into a cup. However, by controlling the strength of every pull, you can create a wide variety of drinks from a tart ristretto to a long black cup of espresso.

Milk Frothing

Time is of the essence for baristas, but with the DeLonghi Magnifica sitting at home, you do not have to worry about pumping out a series of cappuccinos in a short period. However, the quick frothing system makes it easy for home baristas to serve a large party of guests their favorite cappuccinos quickly.

The frother automatically adjusts position to account for the development of milk foam. It does all the work, which means you can relax and watch the machine create cappuccino masterpiece after masterpiece.

Ease of Cleaning

With a removable brew chamber, the ESAM 3000 sits apart from the competition in terms of easy cleaning. In fact, the machine’s multiple removable parts allow you to wash each part individually, and then place the parts to the side for fast drying. The removable drip tray allows you to get in tight to wipe away stubborn coffee stains.

A warning light on the front alerts you when the time comes to clean out all the used coffee pucks sitting in the drawer. The one downside of cleaning the ESAM 3000 is that the exterior requires a special solution to bring it back to a mint condition-like appearance.

Design Quality

Considered an entry level semi-automatic espresso machine for serious baristas, the ESAM 3000 is covered by an all-plastic exterior, which does not present the elegant appeal of stainless steel.

Appearance aside, the DeLonghi Magnifica ESAM 3000 makes up for the lack of stylish panache by coming with a large number of design features that start with the cup warmer located on the top of the machine. The automatic shut off feature ranges from 15 minutes to three hours. Weighing in at a little over 22 pounds, the compact semi-automatic espresso machine fits within some of the smallest spaces in your kitchen.

The 60 fluid ounces water tank towers over the water tank capacity of every other espresso machine on this list. With a bright indicator light on the front of the front access water tank, you will know when it is time to refill the reservoir. Two stainless steel thermo block boilers include a brew side and a steam side to produce more drinks in a shorter period than most semi-automatic espresso machines.

Customer Reviews

According to several customer reviews, the compact, attractive design style of the ESAM 3000 makes the espresso machine ideal for placement in an industrial-themed kitchen.

Many customers applaud the convenient design, which makes the machine easy to clean and descale. The number of ways you can balance the grounds to water issues is seemingly “infinite,” as users control both coffee-making variables by turning two independently controlled knobs.

The relatively quiet operating mode is a hit among customers that want to entertain in a more subdued environment, or enjoy a quieter coffee prep in the morning.

Rancilio Silvia M

Rancilio Machine

Upgraded to improve energy efficiency, as well as place less pressure on the arms, the Rancilio Silvia M represents the most recent espresso machine offered by Rancilio. An insulated brass boiler contains no lead to deliver optimal heat retention, which on average decreases energy use by nearly 10 percent.

Known for its status as one of the best entry level espresso machines, the Silvia M includes the following features:

  • Ergonomically friendly portafilter
  • Boiler with 12 fluid ounces of capacity
  • Easy to fill water tank
  • Commercial level group head
  • Commercial grade steaming knob
  • Rotating milk frother

Here are the ratings for each of the five factors:

Brewing Capability-5

Milk Frothing-5+

Ease of Cleaning-4  

Design Quality-4

Customer Reviews-5

Score-4.6

Extra credit: I know we said extra credit is for a sixth rating factor, but the frother is so incredibly good that it deserves another mention.

Brewing Capability

The first and perhaps most important attribute of the Silvia M is the machine’s capability for brewing the same quality of full flavored coffee drinks that you get by using more expensive models. A 15-bar heavy duty pump extracts every last bit of flavor out of the filter to produce espressos that come close to matching the incredible flavor profiles delivered by renowned coffee houses. A thorough cleaning after every use ensures the quality of freshly brewed espresso remains high. Just remember to monitor the temperature to maintain the incredible level of flavor quality.

Milk Frothing

As the best feature of the Silvia M, the milk frother’s steam wand does an amazing job of quickly frothing milk. The powerful steam wand releases a tremendous amount of pressure in one potent blast to send refrigerated milk into a deep froth. Be careful not to leave the wand in a milk pitcher too long.

You can overheat the milk in a matter of a few seconds. The first few cappuccinos you make might not turn out like you want them to turn out. However, a little practice goes along way towards making you a master barista that froths with the best of them. The rotating frother increases movement flexibility to allow for targeted shots of steam in the middle of a pool of cold milk.

Ease of Cleaning

As we mentioned, cleaning the Rancilo Silvia M is the key to producing commercial grade coffee. As a semi-automatic, you can expect to do virtually all of the cleaning manually. This means taking more time and exerting more effort to return the Silvia M to mint condition.

You will have to perform descaling periodically, as well as make sure the drip tray remains clear of debris. The steam wand needs a daily cleaning to keep it operating at peak efficiency. At least one time per week, you should backflush the filtering system to remove impurities. You might have to do this more than once a week, especially if you use the Silvia M frequently throughout every day.

Design Quality

Designed to project a sleek industrial appearance, the stainless steel body of the Silvia M blends in perfectly with other stainless steel appliances located in the kitchen. With a highly polished look, the espresso machine can be the décor focal point in the kitchen or in the dining room. As we have learned, solid stainless steel construction delivers unsurpassed durability to make the Silvia M a machine that should brew quality coffee drinks for years to come.

The larger than average machine makes it difficult to move for accommodating design changes in the kitchen or in the dining room. It almost measures the same size as an espresso machine that you see your favorite upscale restaurant. Make sure to find a permanent spot for the Silvia M to avoid trying to carry the heavy machine to a new spot.

An old school PID retrofit creates a classic look that should capture the interest of the guests that you invite into your home. Lacking a brew thermostat, the Silvia M requires users to estimate when a shot of espresso has reached the right temperature. A cup warming tray helps new owners of the espresso machine achieve the optimal temperature for pulling shots.

Customer Reviews

Virtually every positive customer review we came across for the Silvia M mentioned the rugged durability of the machine. The espresso machine moves from one home to the next home like a champ. By regularly cleaning and rinsing the group head, as well as conducting consistent deep descaling sessions, users should get more than a decade of high performance use out of the Silvia M.

Nespresso Inissia

Machine Brew

As a budget model, the Nespresso Inissia performs as well as many of the more expensive machines available for home use. Over and over–every time we update this guide–our editors have determined the Inissia to be the best budget espresso machine for the home market. Compact and lightweight, the Nespresso Inissia offers the following attributes.

  • Super-fast heating of water tank
  • Pressure: 19 bars
  • Energy efficient
  • Automatic shut down
  • Large drip tray
  • Different cup sizes

Here are the ratings for each of the five factors:

Brewing Capability-5

Milk Frothing-4

Ease of Cleaning-5+  

Design Quality-4

Customer Reviews-4

Score-4.4

Extra credit-First rate crema developed by the machine.

Brewing Capability

As a fully automatic machine, all you have to do with the Inissia is put in a coffee capsule and then select your preferred cup size. The machine does all the rest by brewing consistently robust lattes, espressos, and cappuccinos.

Quicker than most that serve single cups, the Inissia heats to the optimal brewing temperature in only 25 seconds. This means you can serve multiple cups of espresso within a short period. Flow control permits users to choose between a lungo or a standard espresso. Nineteen bars of pressure extract every last bit of flavor from every coffee capsule inserted into the filter.  

Milk Frothing

The frother heats milk up rapidly. However, the super-hot steam requires you to pay close attention to the milk rising in the pitcher. The frother can heat milk too fast, which can cause you to start over with the preparation of a cappuccino.

With the Aeroccino frother, you should be able to create consistent foam after working with the frother a few times. We recommend practicing steaming milk several times, before topping off cappuccinos with your newfound foam perfection. The foam produced by this frother rises higher than the foams developed by other types of home espresso machines.

Ease of Cleaning

One of the most appealing attributes of the Nespresso Inissia is the lack of cleaning required to ensure the machine operates at peak performance. Follow the instructions in the manual that describes the cleaning and descaling regimen.

Since coffee capsules are automatically placed in the filter, you do not have to worry about cleaning out coffee grounds and other types of residue. Descaling the Inissia should take you no longer than 15 minutes. The only issue for descaling is finding a container that is the right size to store the descaling solution.

Design Quality

The first attribute you should notice when you remove the Nespresso Inissia front the padded box is the compact construction of the machine. You can fit the Inissia virtually anywhere you want in your home.

Lightweight design makes it highly portable, which allows you to move the machine from the kitchen into the living room to serve coffee drinks after a big dinner. At just 4.7 by 9 by 12.6 inches, the minimalist design of the Inissia makes it more about functionality than appearance.

You can store up to 11 pods inside the easy to access internal bin. Although the machine is relatively small, the water tank measures around the average size for a single station espresso machine. If you forget to turn the machine off, it automatically shuts down after a programmed period.

Setting up the Nespresso Inissia should not you longer than 15 minutes. All you have to do for inserting a coffee capsule is rotate the front bar backward.

Customer Reviews

With a large variety of flavors, the Inissia appeals to customers that love to experiment with latte, espresso, and cappuccino recipes. The compact size is often mention, as the espresso takes up little kitchen counter space.

Coffee temperature typically hits the correct level, and the coffee heats very quickly. The only downside mention by users of the Nespresso Inissia is the cost of replacing pods. However, every customer than mentions costs stated the money spent on pods is well worth the convenience of operating the espresso machine.

Breville Infuser BES840XL

Breville

Are you looking for a machine that produces barista style quality espressos, yet is simple enough for a novice to operate after a couple of pulls? The Breville Infuser BES840XL gives you the best of both worlds. You should love the pre-infusion function, which slowly builds pressure to press the grinds gently. The result is an extraction that maximizes the robust flavors of your favorite coffee beans.

The Infuser offers the following features that make the espresso machine about as efficient and powerful as its sister machine, the Breville Barista Express BES870XL.

  • Thermocoil technology
  • Auto purge
  • Fifteen-bar pump
  • Removable water tank
  • Programmed settings for brewing accuracy
  • Hot water outlet
  • Removable drip tray
  • Cup warmer
  • Clean me light
  • Storage drawer

Here are the ratings for each of the five factors:

Brewing Capability-5

Milk Frothing-5

Ease of Cleaning-5  

Design Quality-4

Customer Reviews-4

Score-4.6

Extra credit-Professional grade pulls for the price of a home espresso machine.

Brewing Capability

Professional grade coffee drinks put the Infuser near the top of our list of the best eight home espresso machines. The 1,600-watt stainless steel thermocoil generates an incredible level of heat quickly and just as important, the thermocoil delivers the heat evenly. Breville’s auto purge feature allows you adjust the temperature easily to adapt to different brewing requirements. For example, you can change the temperature from a coffee brewing setting to a milk frothing setting.

With 15 bars of pressure, the pump produces the richest flavor possible to give you coffee house quality drinks. Choose either the manual or the programmed setting of your choice. Unlike many other types of home espresso machines, the Breville Infuser come with a hot water outlet that gives you the flexibility to change an espresso setting into a setting that creates a delicious Americano. You can even use the Infuser to make fresh hot chocolate from cocoa beans. A 61-ounce water tank is one of the largest water tanks connected to any home espresso machine.

Milk Frothing

A steam wand means you do not have to deal with a messy milk tank, which is a feature on many styles of home espresso machines. You swivel the steam wand 360 degrees to ensure full coverage of steam over milk sitting in a heat resistant milk pitcher.

The Infuser provides users with an effortless way to top off a cappuccino, with elevated foam that maintains its structure for at least three minutes after removing the steam wand. Users customize the temperature, the type of foam, and the amount of foam to take full control over the cappuccino making process. The easy to set circular dial goes from cold milk to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. A magnetized disk that spins is the tool that produces symmetrically structured milk foam.

Ease of Cleaning

Starting with the Clean Me button, the Infuser makes cleaning the machine about as easy and stress-free as any other home espresso model. Remove the water tank to clean it away from the main part of the machine. While the water tank sits in a cleaning solution, you can remove the steam wand and soak it in a specially formulated cleaning agent.

The steam wand does require frequent cleaning, unless you dedicate a few minutes at the end of every use to wiping the steam wand down.

The stainless steel milk jug, which makes frothing both accurate and easy to do, is also a removable part of the Breville Infuser. Simply place the milk jug in a dishwasher with other common kitchen items and run the standard cycle to clean the jug. For the stainless steel body, a quick wipe of a damp cloth should remove any splatter. Users should clean the filter regularly to avoid clogging up the brewing process.

Design Quality

So far, we have established rating scores of five for the first three categories. However, the design quality of the Breville Infuser records the first rating score of four. All the buttons and controls added to Infuser detract from the sleek appearance of the stainless steel hardware. The buttons and controls sit at the front of the machine, as does the milk frother.

There is a lot of design clutter up front, which makes the machine look like a futuristic kitchen appliance, not a kitchen appliance that seamlessly blends in with most kitchen decors.

All the buttons and controls located at the front of the Breville Infuser make the machine more susceptible to damage. The kitchen is an active place, and exposing the espresso machine to the impacts that often occur in the kitchen can cause dents and scratches on the stainless steel hardware. You also have to contend with the potential damage caused by steam. A milk frother located at the side of the machine would reduce the risk of hot steam causing the stainless steel to warp.

Customer Reviews

The design quality issue comes up in several online reviews posted by customers. Customers that uploaded design quality concerns in reviews suggest placing the Breville Infuser in an area of a home that does not have as much foot traffic as the foot traffic that moves through a typical kitchen. Once you get past the design quality issue, customers leave glowing reviews of the Breville Infuser espresso machine.

Different coarseness settings give users a tool to extract more flavor from different types of beans. Many customer reviews confirm the frothing power and efficiency of the steam wand, as well as the ability to move the steam wand 360 degrees to create an even distribution of foam.

The water dispenser receives positive feedback, as well as the removable water tank that not only makes cleaning the machine easy, it also reduces the size of the Infuser for easier storage.

DeLonghi EC155

Double Brewer

As the second DeLonghi espresso machine to make our list, the EC155 sells for just under $100. This makes the espresso machine one of the most affordable home espresso machines. It is not just the price that makes the EC155 a hit among many home baristas. The budget-friendly espresso machine comes with several helpful features.

  • Ground coffee and coffee pod modes
  • Attachable water tank
  • Fifteen-bar pump
  • Proprietary cappuccino technology

Here are the ratings for each of the five factors:

Brewing Capability-5

Milk Frothing-3

Ease of Cleaning-5  

Design Quality-4

Customer Reviews-5

Score-4.4

Extra credit-Excellent return on your investment

Brewing Capability

A pump that produces 15 bars of pressure is one of the most important brewing features of the Delonghi EC155. Stronger than many pumps built into costlier models, the 15-bar pump extracts maximum flavor out of every coffee pod and filter of grinded coffee beans.

You have the option of using ground coffee or inserting a coffee pod into the machine for optimal convenience. Like other DeLonghi espresso machines, the EC155 includes proprietary cappuccino technology that maintains the same hot temperature during brewing cycles.

The stainless steel boiler, which comes with an integrated thermostat, does a great job of retaining heat as well. DeLonghi tweaked the design of a couple of more expensive models to encourage novices to experiment with creating delicious espressos, Americanos, and cappuccinos. You can change the settings on the machine to customize the brewing processes.

Milk Frothing

DeLonghi went with a manual milk frother for the EC155, which can be an issue for newcomers to the espresso making game. Manual frothers require the deft touch of an experienced barista, whether the experience is gained at a coffee house or in a home kitchen. You have to know how to build broth within a certain period to prevent milk froth from collapsing in a pitcher. You also have to possess the skill to move the frother around to reach the entire surface of a pitcher of milk.

The swivel jet design of the frother makes it easier for novices to master frothing, but newcomers can expect to go through a prolonged period of trial and error. You have to measure the right amount of milk to froth, as well as ensure the steam temperature is at the point when the frother can quickly turn liquid milk into visually appealing rising foam

Ease of Cleaning

As with the flawless brewing process, cleaning the EC155 is a no sweat job. No milk tank means no messy spills. A cleaning light comes on not just to alert you when the time has come to clean the machine, but to descale it was well. Although descaling the DeLonghi EC155 is a manual process, it is a manual process that does not require much elbow grease. Remove the drip tray and water tank, and place both parts into a cleaning solution to remove the toughest stains.

The double function filter holder also makes cleaning the EC155 easier than cleaning standard espresso machines. Maintaining a clean portafilter surface goes along way towards developing pure pulls of espresso. Soak the tamper in the same cleaning solution used for cleaning the drip tray and water tank. Simply place the steam wand in hot water to remove stains and debris.

Design Quality

When you shop for a preowned Honda Civic, you cannot expect to find a model that looks like a new Rolls Royce. That is how you should look at the design of the DeLonghi EC155. DeLonghi operates on the principle of more is not the merrier when it comes to design elements. The stainless steel body delivers uncompromising durability, but the compact size of the EC155 prevents it from maximizing the visual appeal of a stainless steel espresso machine.

A plastic tamper attached to the brewing mechanism looks kind of awkward, like the awkward you see when a bottle opener is attached to a soda machine. Then, we have the aesthetic issue of a plastic anything diminishing the design of an espresso machine. The upside to the design of the DeLonghi EC155 is the easy to insert and remove water tank, which makes filling and cleaning the tank a cinch.

Customer Reviews

Although the attached plastic tamper diminishes the design quality of the EC155, many users appreciate the availability of the accessory. This makes sense for novice baristas that might not know which espresso machine accessories to purchase, along with the purchase of a brand new DeLonghi EC155.

Plenty of customer reviews emphasize the ease of cleaning, particularly when it comes to descaling the EC155. The built-in portafilter basket also receives praise, as does the different basket size options that allow for the pulling of one shot and a stronger double dose of coffee beans. Customers almost universally highlight the value delivered by this option.

Mr. Coffee Café Barista

Machine

We change it up a bit with our eighth and final selection as one of the eight top choices for espresso machines. As one of the most affordable machines on our list, the super automatic Mr. Coffee Café Barista espresso machine makes the perfect gift for someone that is planning to take more of an interest in making and drinking espresso and cappuccino drinks

This also a great machine for using as a second machine in your home. You can place the primary machine in the dining room, and use the Mr. Coffee Café Barista as the secondary machine in the kitchen or master bedroom.

Here are the ratings for each of the five factors:

Brewing Capability-4

Milk Frothing-4

Ease of Cleaning-4  

Design Quality-5

Customer Reviews-4

Score-4.2

Extra credit-Ideal teaching tool for novice espresso lovers

Brewing Capability

The latest rendition of the Mr. Coffee Café Barista delivers the highest quality of espresso and cappuccino that have ever percolated out of the bargain home espresso machine. The key for the Café Barista is producing consistently delicious drinks, which is something most other types of inexpensive home espresso machine fail to accomplish.

Flavor and brew temperature consistency will help novices build the type of confidence that eventually moves them on to more elaborate and hence, more expensive home espresso machines.

Fifteen bars of pressure generate plenty of force to extract the best flavors from espresso beans. Two different size filter baskets that produce single and double shots of espresso self-regulate when it comes to measuring the right amount of water. However, you have to calibrate the amount of beans to grind manually. We recommend working with darker roasted beans to produce robust flavors from this machine.

Milk Frothing

The budget espresso machine market is full of machines that do not come with milk frothers. The Mr. Coffee Café Barista is the exception to the milk frother rules, and the frother does a great job of steaming and frothing whole milk.

The automatic frother ensures frothing accuracy by timing out to the second how long cappuccino milk should steam. Since the milk tank does not have any volume measurements, you will need to use a measuring cup to make sure you froth the correct amount of milk. It is relatively easy to monitor the frothing process.

Easy of Cleaning

Because of the embedded automatic milk tank, cleaning the Mr. Coffee Café Barista can be a somewhat difficult chore. The good news is the simple design of the home espresso machine makes cleaning the rest of the machine easy to do.

Remove the water tank for cleaning and while the tank dries, run some hot water through the empty portafilter to clean out dried coffee grinds. Mr. Coffee encourages users to clean out the portafilter every 90 days, as well as descale the machine after 40 to 80 brew cycles.

Design Quality

Mr. Coffee manufactures functional machines that provide users with consistent espressos and cappuccinos. The Café Barista is not considered an aesthetically appealing machine, but it is constructed to withstand frequent use. The plastic tamper does as good of job as compressing ground coffee beans as the job done by a stainless steel tamper. User-friendly buttons and easy to read indicator lights help newbies to the espresso game master the art of brewing first rate drinks.

Customer Reviews

For a budget espresso machine, the Mr. Coffee Café Barista impresses customers because of the dark and rich coffee that produces a nice crema on the top of each espresso. Having the option to use a single or a double filter is an important feature of the Café Barista. Many customers recommend knowing the correct grind for each type of coffee bean. The lightweight design is popular among customers.

Must-Have Espresso Machine Accessories

1. Tamper

Tamper

You can make this plural, as in tampers, to ensure you have a backup in case the original loses its tamping power. A tamper compacts grinded coffee to extract the richest flavor from high-quality coffee beans. It also makes sure the grinded coffee beans distribute evenly in the espresso machine brewing arm.

2. Tamper Mat

Lid

Tamping requires the delivery of a substantial amount of force, which means you need a soft surface to do all your tamping. A tamper mat is the ideal soft tamping surface.

3. Knock Box

Basket

After pulling a shot of espresso, you will be left with grounds you can no longer use. You need to dispose of the unused portafilter grounds into a knock box, which contains a sturdy bar that knocks the unused grounds from the portafilter.

4. Backup Frother

Single Serving

Although each one on our list comes with a high performance frother, the day might come when a frother has lost its steam producing capability. Having a backup frother prevents any brewing delays for making tasty and well-frothed cappuccinos.

5. Backup Pitchers

Milk Pour

Designed to look like regular pitchers, milk-frothing pitchers are actually much more durable because of the need to handle a high amount of heat. However, just as with a frother, a pitcher at the receiving end of constant blasts of hot steam might some day lose its ability to retain heat. This means you should stock two backup pitchers.

6. Espresso Glasses

Shot Glass

Referred to as demitasses in the coffee house and restaurant industries, espresso glasses should hold between 60 and 90 milliliters of espresso. You should have at least 10 espresso glasses to ensure you have enough glasses for entertaining small groups of guests.

Interesting Facts about Espresso Machines

Do You Know When and Where the First Espresso Machine was Built?

The first was not designed in a café, a bakery, or a restaurant. A man by the last name of Bezzera designed and constructed the first espresso machine in Milan, Italy back in 1905. Bezzera owned a manufacturing business and to increase the productivity of his employees, he decided to develop a quicker coffee making process. Eventually, Bezzera sold his idea because he could not remove the bitter aftertaste from the freshly grinded coffee.

Espresso lovers take their beans seriously, which means you probably possess vast knowledge about espresso and the machine that brews delectable concoctions. This section should test your extensive knowledge of espresso by asking a simple question that starts with “Do you know.”

Do You Know the Percentage of Americans that Used an Espresso Machine the Previous Day?

Statista started asking this question in 2011, when home espresso machines had not yet made an impact on coffee equipment sales. In 2019, 12 percent of respondents stated they used one at home the previous day, which was much higher than the one percent of respondents that said they used an espresso machine the previous day back in 2011.

Do You Know Espresso Machines are Out of This World?

We do not mean out of this world outstanding, because you already know that. What we mean is a few have found their way into outer space. For the first time in 2015, the International Space Station included one that brewed fresh espresso for the astronauts on board.

Do You Know How Much Sales Have Increased Since 2010?

In 2019, retail sales of espresso makers in the United States sat at a little more than $220 million. Statista analyzed American retail sales for espresso machines since 2010, and it found the 2019 sales total almost tripled the 2010 sales total.