Espresso machines are among some of the most heralded home appliances on the market today. They provide convenient, delicious, and invigorating cafe-style caffeine in the comfort of our homes. Many of the best espresso machines contain a plethora of bells and whistles that might be a bit overwhelming when deciding which model is right for you. We’ve poured through countless espresso machine reviews online and condensed the available options to a short list. Below you’ll find a brief overview of our search for the best espresso machine and also a list of our favorites.
Espresso Machines vs. Coffee Makers
Before we start let’s be clear about what is considered an espresso machine. These types of appliances are designed to produce highly concentrated forms of coffee that deliver much more potent doses of caffeine. There are many optional features of these devices such as foam wands, double boilers, bean hoppers, and many more. There are also many different types of espresso machines such as manual press, automatic press, and super automatic. Knowing the differences between these types of espresso machines can help one better understand the available options. For example, manual press espresso machines are regarded by many as the superior form of producing delicious espresso. However, this type of machine often requires the most manual work and isn’t the ideal pick for those looking for convenience. As a whole, espresso machines will require a bit more maintenance than just simple coffee makers. For those with an affinity for cafe quality caffeine—the extra work is well worth it!
Types of Espresso Machines
It’s worth making a brief mention of the major differences between types of espresso machines on the market. Some are designed for slower, more flavorful roasts while others are designed with speed and convenience in mind. Knowing the differences between types can help assure you pick the one best-suited for the needs of your household. Espresso machines have been around since the 1800’s when they emerged from Italy and over the course of their history have evolved through many different designs. Below you’ll find a brief overview of the major types of espresso machines.
These are the types of espresso machines that closely resemble the first inventions from 19th century Italy. They have evolved to make use of the latest available materials but ultimately still revolve around manually pulling a lever to force the hot water through your grind. Notable manual press espresso machines can be found from brands such as Pavoni which embody the spirit of artisan espresso. These machines are expensive but regarded as the best espresso machines my many. Other notable brands include Olympia and Elecktra.
Defining what ‘automatic’ means as it relates to espresso machines gets a bit tricky. There are lots of modernized features like auto-grinding, programmability, and automatic cleaning features that can push the boundaries here. For our review, we’ve confined semi-automatic espresso machines to be those which offer automated water heating and can typically be operated by the pressing of a single button. These machines sometimes are only a step above manual versions and sometimes closer to artificial intelligence that one might expect in a home appliance. Nevertheless, Semi-Automatic espresso machines are still going to require some ongoing attention to ensure proper usage.
These espresso machines are in a class devoted to autonomous operations which push the boundaries of current technology. This includes programmable brew times, digital temperature controls, pressurized portables and often double boilers for complete temperature control. One hallmark often seen among these designs are automatic grinders which are able to prepare coffee grounds for brewing. Many prefer this function to be separate, but for those wishing to have all features in one device, it can be an amazing feature. Super-Automatic espresso machines will still vary from model to model but their ultimate goal is to provide the best espresso with the least amount of manual involvement.
Commercial Espresso Machines
As a general rule, these types of espresso machines are designed with the sole purpose of providing high-volume output. They contain scaled-up versions of many home appliance versions in order to accommodate the large volumes that cafes and restaurants often produce. These machines will be much more expensive than those designed for use in the home. This price is often mostly to cover the inclusion of larger capacity features and doesn’t necessarily mean better tasting espresso. If you have a very large family or perhaps a small business these types of machines might be the desired choice for you. Otherwise, the only buyers that would generally find these models to be advantageous are cafe owners.
The Best Espresso Machines
Knowing the different types of choices available can help to better understand which models will provide the best quality espresso for your needs. Generally speaking, most people find that super-automatic models offer the most desired usability. These are designed to accommodate the widest range of uses, often include such features as auto-frothing and steam wands, and can even brew multiple cups at a time. We’ve searched high and low to find the espresso machines that we feel represent the best options currently available. Much of our criteria is drawn from personal experience and the quality of other products produce by certain brands. These are not the best espresso machines under $100—our list focuses on overall quality and features.
Breville Bes870Xl Barista Express
The Breville Barista Express is an espresso machine that is designed for the connoisseur in mind but also keeps things affordable. This is often regarded as a watered-down version of their incredible Oracle Espresso Machine. This smaller version features integrated temperatures controls, automated dosing, removable drip pan for easy cleaning, and a rotating steam wand to create the most amazing milk texturing you’ll ever experience with a home espresso machine. All these features are found within the sleek and modern stainless steel design that is available in red or black as well.
Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine
The Rancilio Silvia is among the best espresso machines on the market for its astute attention to finer details like brass boilers, commercial-grade steam wands, and convenient push-button operation. Rancilio has spent their history developing some of the most robust espresso machine parts designed for high volume use within the commercial coffee house settings one might be accustomed to seeing them. The Silvia features the same quality of design through its parts have been scaled down to fit within its sharp and modernized looking stainless steel casing. This espresso machine offers a cafe quality roast time and time again.
De’Longhi Magnifica Espresso Machine
This espresso machine deserves special mention and should be carefully considered by anyone looking for a truly versatile espresso maker for their home. Designed by a company located in the heart of where espresso machines were first invented, the De’Longhi Magnifica delivers true cafe quality espresso with ease. Its features are eerily reminiscent of those seen among commercial espresso makers though designed for home enthusiasts. If your inner Batista has grown tired and weary of sub-par homebrews, or if your local coffee house has a seat with your name engraved on it—this espresso maker is for you.
Those having hopped aboard the espresso express would argue quality espresso machines are more important than quality microwaves. These magical appliances can transform a mundane morning routine into an energized and savory time of the day. Not all espresso machines are created equally though; the ones on this list are among the best espresso machines in the world and will deliver high-quality latte, cappuccino and espresso time and time again. We can’t tell you what the best espresso maker for you might be but we’d wager a guess it can probably be found on this list!
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The Home Refinery Review Team puts together buyer's guides, reviews, and company profiles to help readers find the best products on the market for their needs and budgets.