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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 Barista Express Espresso Machine
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. Plus, digital temperature control delivers water at the right temperature, ensuring optimal espresso extraction. The machine allows you to grind the beans right before extraction for full flavor, 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!
Best Budget: Mr. Coffee Café Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
This sleek, inexpensive semi-automatic machine delivers on both flavor and ease of use. Simply choose whether you want a single or double shot, select your grounds, fill the milk reservoir, and press a button.
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. At 11.2 x 8.9 x 12.6 inches, the modern-looking machine is compact enough for most kitchens.
One con: To properly care for your Mr. Coffee machine, you’ll have to clean it thoroughly after each use. Still, it’s a great buy that’ll deliver on consistently tasty drinks.
Best Fully Automated: Jura Z8 Fully Automatic Espresso & Coffee Machine
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.
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. The machine has a large footprint, so it’s best for big kitchens and big budgets.
Related: The Best Coffee Grinders in 2021
Best for Beginners: Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine
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. Brew expert espresso with the included commercial single and double shot baskets or opt for pods with the pressurized basket.
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.
Best Single-Serve: Nespresso Vertuo and Milk Frother
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 makes this machine simple to use and to clean, but it also makes excellent espresso. With just one touch, you can make multiple single-serve cups of espresso, double espresso, or Lungo without having to refill the 40-ounce tank. Bonus: It’s energy-efficient, too.
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.
Related: The Best Coffee Makers in 2021
Best Built-In: Miele CVA 6401 Built-In Non-Plumbed Coffee System
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, 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. For all this automation and top-notch espresso, it’ll cost a pretty penny.
Best Stovetop: Bialetti Express Moka Pot
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.
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. 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.
Related: The Best Travel Coffee Mugs in 2021
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.
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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.