The 7 Best Espresso Machines in 2021

Turn your home into a coffeehouse with these picks

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Espresso Machines

Simply Recipes / Chloe Jeong

The Rundown
Digital temperature control delivers water at the right temperature, ensuring optimal espresso extraction.
This sleek, inexpensive semi-automatic machine delivers on both flavor and ease of use.
Powerful and easy to use, it's one of the best entry-level semi-automatic espresso machines on the market.
The capsule system not only makes this machine simple to use and to clean, but it also makes excellent espresso.
It prepares delicious coffee, espresso, lattes, and Americanos—all from a high-res touchscreen interface.
This stovetop classic brews espresso by passing boiling water pressurized by steam through ground coffee.
Program it to make your first coffee in the morning and to automatically switch off in the evenings.

What’s better than sipping a velvety shot of espresso or a frothy cappuccino without having to leave the comfort of your kitchen? For so many, an espresso machine is an appliance that makes a whole lot of sense. If you’re ready to take the (delicious) plunge and buy an espresso machine, you’ve come to the right place.

A home espresso maker can be a hefty investment—and for good reason. For a high-quality, consistent espresso, a machine must maintain both exact temperature and stable pressure. This requires serious engineering, which is why you can easily shell out $500, or even $5,000 or more. The ideal machine makes excellent tasting espresso every time and is relatively easy to set up and use. A bonus is a well-integrated steamer for frothy milk for cappuccinos, lattes, and macchiatos.

Our picks run the gamut from old-school stovetop coffee makers to sleek machines where your dream drink awaits at the press of a button, with zero barista skills required. Here’s our list of the best espresso machines to fit your budget, your space, and your caffeine needs.

Best Overall: Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine

breville-the-barista-express-espresso-maker

What We Like: No guesswork measurements, built-in burr grinder, flavorful espresso, easy to clean

What We Don't Like: Takes some practicing, bulky

If you’re not an espresso nerd yet, the Breville Barista Express just might convert you.

It comes equipped with a pressure gauge that allows you to assess the quality of the coffee as you make it, just like on a professional espresso machine. A low-pressure pre-infusion soaks the grinds allowing water to pass evenly through the coffee during the high-pressure extraction process, resulting in a flavorful espresso. Plus, digital temperature control delivers water at the right temperature, ensuring optimal espresso extraction. The integrated conical burr grinder allows you to grind the beans right before extraction for full flavor, dispenses the right dose of 19 to 22 grams, and the steam wand lets you texture foamed milk for the perfect café drink. Try your hand at latte art if you’re feeling creative.

It can take some time to master the Breville Barista Express, as you’ll have to finesse the right settings and balance the right grind coarseness and amount, water temperature, tamp pressure, and extraction time to produce the perfect shot. If that doesn’t sound like any fun, consider investing in an automatic machine. Otherwise, get practicing!

Also, don't worry about wet espresso grinds all over after. The machine forms it into a puck that's easy to remove, while everything else just needs a wipe down with a wet cloth. The Breville is relatively affordable based on its high quality, with a polished, pretty look, and most importantly delivers consistently balanced espresso topped with rich crema. 

Dimensions: 12.8  x 12.2  x 13.1 inches | Hopper Capacity: 0.5 pound | Reservoir Capacity: 67 ounces

"It's actually pretty easy to use once you get the hang of it and makes you feel like a professional barista! I love (attempting) to make latte art with the steam wand." — Rachel Lee, Editorial Commerce Producer

Best Budget: Mr. Coffee Café Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker

mr-coffee-cafe-barista-coffee-espresso-machine

What We Like: Good for beginners, easy to clean reservoir, affordable. 

What We Don't Like: Frother can over aerate, plastic exterior, cleaning internal parts post-espresso

This sleek, inexpensive semi-automatic machine delivers on both flavor and ease of use and is a smart choice for an entry-level machine that makes quality shots. Simply choose whether you want a single or double shot, select your grounds, fill the milk reservoir, and press a button. This machine makes espresso beverages with the touch of a single button, which is impressive and useful, especially considering the price. 

The Café Barista espresso coffee maker brews espresso with a 15-bar pump system and automatically froths milk into cappuccino and latte selections. Some reviewers thought the milk texture was a little off, but many others were happy. Compared to the similarly affordable DeLonghi EC155M Manual Espresso Machine, the Mr. Coffee Café Barista wins for ease of use.

One con: To properly care for your Mr. Coffee machine, you’ll have to clean it thoroughly after each use. The water reservoir is removable at least, but all the internal parts need to be flushed a few times. Still, it’s a great buy that’ll deliver on consistently tasty drinks.

Dimensions: 11.2 x 8.9 x 12.6 inches | Reservoir Capacity: 55 ounces

Best for Beginners: Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine

Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine

What We Like: Stylish, affordable, quick brewing 

What We Don't Like: Known to break quickly

The Gaggia Classic debuted in 1991, and hasn’t substantially changed much since then. Designed and made in Italy, this machine excels at bringing out the brightness and acidity of coffee. This update of the Gaggia Classic has an improved steam wand, rocker switches, temperature-ready lights, and a streamlined stainless-steel frame that will look nice on your countertop. It’s even available in different colors, like red and cream. Brew expert espresso with the included commercial single and double shot baskets or opt for pods with the pressurized basket. 

Its three-way solenoid valve releases pressure from the brew head after pulling the shot, one of the features that help make next-level delicious espresso. 

The Gaggia Classic Pro is powerful, easy to use, and one of the best entry-level semi-automatic espresso machines on the market. Just note that some reviewers felt the steamer didn’t produce great, light froth.  Others thought it worked great while it was going strong, but it was relatively quick to break down after consistent use. 

Dimensions: 9.5 x 8 x 14.2 inches | Reservoir Capacity: 47 ounces

Related: The Best Coffee Makers

Best Single-Serve: Nespresso Vertuo and Milk Frother

What We Like: Compact, consistent results

What We Don't Like: Separate frother, have to use Nespresso capsules

Nespresso’s capsule system delivers high-quality espresso in hermetically sealed and recyclable aluminum capsules. If grinding coffee is not your jam, this one’s for you—although it means you’ll have to stay stocked with Nespresso capsules.

Capsules not only make this compact machine simple to use and to clean, but it also makes consistently excellent espresso. With just one touch and less than thirty seconds, you can make multiple single-serve cups of espresso, double espresso, or lungo without having to refill the 40-ounce tank. The tray is adjustable so you can use everything from a small demitasse cup to your travel mug. Bonus: It’s energy-efficient, too. Its smart energy-saving mode automatically switches off the machine after nine minutes.

This bundle comes with Nespresso's own milk frother, the Aeroccino, which is perfect for when you feel like having a cappuccino or latte. You can also buy just the machine and pick up the Aeroccino separately.

Dimensions: 12 x 8.25 x 9 inches | Reservoir Capacity: 40 ounces

Related: The Best Nespresso Machines

Best Fully Automated: Jura Z8 Fully Automatic Espresso & Coffee Machine

jura-z8-fully-automated-espresso-machine

What We Like: Fully automated, touchscreen control, easy to maintain, sleek design

What We Don't Like: Pricey, large footprint

Swiss Jura espresso makers are famous for their slick look—and their no-joke price tags. If you want perfection at the push of a button, this machine prepares delicious coffee, espresso, lattes, and one-touch Americanos—two at a time. The easy high-resolution touchscreen interface boasts snazzy graphics that sync with your smartphone. Download the JURA app for your personalized online portal with videos, tips, and more.

There are 21 preset drink options, or you can program your own custom favorites. Its AromaG3 grinder preserves the complex aromas from the coffee beans, and the fine foam technology frother creates the perfect milky layer. Patented pulse extraction technology ensures that all the flavor and aroma of the coffee is optimally extracted. The Z8 has dual heating systems—two thermoblocks and pumps—which sets it apart from the (also excellent, also pricey but slightly less so) Z6 model.

Once it's done brewing, the cleanup is also automated, with integrated rinsing programs. The machine does have a large footprint, so it’s best for big kitchens and big budgets.

Dimensions: 17.7 x 12.6 x 15 inches | Hopper Capacity: 9.9 ounces, 20 servings of coffee grounds | Reservoir Capacity: 81.3 ounces

Related: The Best Coffee Grinders

Best Stovetop: Bialetti Express Moka Pot

Bialetti Express Moka Pot, 6 -Cup, Aluminum Silver

What We Like: Classic, easy to clean, easy to use, easy to store

What We Don't Like: Not technically espresso, need a stove

Named after the Yemeni city of Mocha, the Moka Pot is a stovetop classic that brews espresso by passing boiling water pressurized by steam through ground coffee. Invented by Italian engineer Alfonso Bialetti in 1933, Bialetti Moka is beloved for classic design elegance and technological simplicity. You’ll see these in kitchens all over Italy, and you can create a rich, satisfying brew without fuss in minutes.

There are other moka pots on the market, but this classic one is sought out for good reason. The distinctive eight-sided aluminum pot allows heat to diffuse evenly, enhancing the coffee’s aroma. It’s available in three sizes, from 3 to 12 cups, so you can make espresso for the whole family or just yourself.  It’s also environmentally friendly, as it can be cleaned only with water and produces only completely biodegradable waste (coffee grounds). 

Cleanup is easy thanks to the compartment design; just unscrew it, wash it out, and enjoy the rest of your day. Strictly speaking, Moka coffee is not exactly espresso—espresso needs about five times more pressure than a Moka Pot offers. But you will get a bold, full-bodied, and satisfying brew for a relative bargain.

Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.5 x 4.8 inches | Reservoir Capacity: 10 ounces

"The first time I used this moka pot was while studying abroad in Italy. When I returned home, I had to get one for myself, and it's served me well for years. I love breaking it out for a morning latte and the occasional after-dinner espresso." Taysha Murtaugh, Commerce Editorial Director

Related: The Best Milk Frothers

Best Built-In: Miele CVA 6401 Built-In Non-Plumbed Coffee System

miele-CVA-6401-built-in-espresso-system

What We Like: Customizable, prepares two at a time, excellent espresso every time

What We Don't Like: Expensive, requires installation

For serious coffee lovers who are considering a kitchen remodel or simply have some extra cabinet space, a built-in espresso machine might just be an incredible addition. 

The Miele fully automatic built-in espresso machine can be programmed to make your first coffee in the morning (set up to ten drinks), in sync with your alarm, and switch off automatically in the evenings. It can make two hot drinks simultaneously, so you’ll never have to wait for your own latte while preparing your partner’s macchiato, and it cleans itself, too.

The milk system clicks into place and is easy to remove. Its carefully calibrated grinding system is designed to extract the maximum flavor and aroma from your beans. Eco-mode saves energy, heating up just before preparing your beverage. 

Its CupSensor recognizes the height of the cup and alters the position of the central spout accordingly, so there won’t be any awkward splashing and the drink will be at the perfect temperature. 

Dimensions: 23.4 x 19 x 17.9 inches | Hopper Capacity: 17.64 grams | Reservoir Capacity: 77.7 ounces

Related: The Best Travel Coffee Mugs

Final Verdict

Selecting the best espresso machine is really all about your priorities. The Breville Barista Express (view at Amazon) is a wonderful middle ground, pleasing nearly all espresso lovers. If you want to make a worthy espresso without shelling out big bucks, Mr. Coffee Café Barista (view at Amazon) is your best bet.

What to Look for When Buying an Espresso Machine 

Size 

In my New York City apartment, every square inch of counter space is precious. Consider the machine’s height as well: make sure you have cabinet clearance for your espresso machine (most non-plumbed machines have top-filling reservoirs) or your grinder (hoppers fill from the top, too). 

Types

The fully manual espresso machine, also called a Piston espresso maker, is a classic piece of equipment oozing with old-world charm. It requires a barista to manually pull down a lever to generate pressure and pull the shot. These look very cool, but they’re not too common since they require precision and effort (and a strong barista arm). 

Semi-automatic machines use an electric pump instead of a manual lever. All you need to do is press a button to pull yourself a shot. These are way more common, making churning out espresso drinks way less of a feat of strength. Since it’s only semi-automatic, you still have to grind the coffee, load the portafilter, tamp, and press a button to kick off the process.

Automatic espresso machines are not all that different. Despite the name, users still must grind the coffee, tamp the coffee, and press a button. But the big difference is that the machine uses an internal timer to cut off the shot after a certain amount of time, so you don’t have to figure out the perfect timing. 

Super-automatic machines do it all— grind and tamp your beans for you, as well as pull and time the shot. They often come with programmable options which give you some control over the brew, but semi-automatic aficionados love the skill and finesse it takes to pull the perfect shot themselves. 

Features

When it comes to fancy features, there are quite a lot of possibilities. A built-in grinder lets you brew a drink from freshly ground, flavorful beans, always ground to the perfect size.

A built-in milk frother is a great addition for latte and cappuccino lovers, letting you froth milk and even experiment with latte art, although you can always purchase a separate automatic or handheld milk frother.  

Smart espresso makers deliver your drink of choice at the touch of a button, the swipe of an app, or a voice command, like the swanky Jura Z8 Aluminum Automatic Espresso & Cappuccino Machine

Why Trust Simply Recipes?

Hannah Howard has been writing about food and beverages for over a decade, including the memoirs “Feast and “Plenty.” She lives in Brooklyn and spends a lot of time scoping out and savoring the best lattes around, wherever she happens to be in the world.

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