You’re here for one thing and one thing only: to get your hands on the best espresso machine for home use.
But what kind of espresso machine are you after? We’ll help you answer that question a little bit later on, but for now, we’ll tell you our choice for best espresso machine in the following five categories: manual, semi-automatic, automatic, super-automatic, and capsule.
Say it with us now, it’s “espresso” not “expresso.” But you already know that because you’re a connoisseur of fine coffee culture, headed to the coffee shop daily for a fresh cup of jolt juice.
And that daily habit can get expensive. Looking to save some money on your daily vice? Interested in honing your skills as a home barista?
If you’re in the market for the best espresso machine, you’ve clicked the right link. This article tells you what you need to know about espresso, the different kinds of espresso machines, and why a home espresso machine really is worth the investment.
The Espresso Machines We RAVE About
In the category best semi-automatic espresso, we chose the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista, a 3-in-1 espresso maker, cappuccino maker, and latte maker with a 15 bar pump system (more on that later!) and one touch control panel for customized drink selection. For the best automatic espresso machine, our research led us to the DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica, mixing the plug-and-play functionality of an automatic machine with plenty of customization to get your drink just the way you like it.
That brings us to super-automatic espresso machines. Topping this list is the Miele CM6310 Countertop Coffee System, boasting a direct sensor control panel with the ability to make two drinks at once simply with the touch of a button. If a capsule machine is what you’re after, we have answers for you here as well: the Nespresso by De’Longhi, with a one-touch operation and extraction system. This machine is sleek and portable.
And for a fully manual espresso machine, just like the baristas use, RAVE recommends the De’Longhi La Specialista with its sensor grinding technology, smart tamping station, and active temperature control.
Pick up an espresso machine for home use and you, too, can make the best espresso.
Are Espresso Machines Expensive?
In the opening section of this article, we called espresso machines an investment. You can get stovetop espresso makers for as little as $30 and single-cup pod-style espresso machines for between $40 and $150. But many of the most popular brands of espresso machines cost upwards of $300 dollars, and that’s on the low end. Some manual or lever espresso machines cost thousands.
So, yes, espresso machines aren’t cheap. But they’re still worth it, because over time the money you’d otherwise spend on a daily trip to the coffee shop adds up. This article will tell you the best espresso machines under $500 along with plenty of top-of-the-line models, so don’t worry, there’s something here for every budget.
Before getting into any of that, though, a hunt for a new espresso machine should begin with an understanding of the different kinds of espresso machines as well as what makes espresso espresso—as opposed to just a regular ol’ cup of joe.
We’ll begin there.
What’s the Difference Between Coffee and Espresso?
To best understand the difference between coffee and espresso, start with how the drinks are made.
Regular coffee is made by running water heated to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit through medium-ground coffee beans. Experts say for maximum flavor it takes at least six minutes to brew a cup of coffee.
Although espresso is made similarly, there’s less water used in the process, with finer grounds, and at least nine bars of pressure, according to experts. Bars of pressure refers to the force with which the water is pushed through the coffee grounds. Nine bars of pressure, then, means nine times the atmospheric pressure at sea level. This makes a thicker, creamier, and stronger-tasting brew than standard coffee.
Espresso also has more caffeine per fluid ounce than regular drip coffee, ranging between 375 mg and 520 mg per 7.6-ounce dose of espresso. A regular cup of coffee, by contrast, has between 95 mg and 165 mg per 7.6-ounce cup.
This extra caffeine creates that extra “good morning!” feeling that only comes from a quality cup of espresso.
We’re going to let you in on a little secret, one some of you may already know: You don’t need an espresso machine to make espresso. You can make cheap and easy espresso right on your stovetop.
But according to espresso experts (espress-perts?), real-deal espresso can’t be made on a stovetop because there just isn’t enough pressure.
So although there are quality stovetop options out there, our ranking stays away from the stovetop variety, of which there are many different kinds.
Here are some examples of real espresso makers as well as some pointers to help you decide which kind of espresso maker is the best choice for you.
What Are the Different Kinds of Espresso Machines?
Manual espresso machines are the kind you’re likely familiar with from your favorite coffee shop, and they’re perhaps the most difficult kind of espresso machine to learn to use.
With manual machines, finely ground beans are scooped and tamped down into a portafilter that is then attached to the brew head before a lever is used to pull water through the grounds, making highly customizable espresso and coffee drinks.
- More control
- Have that real coffeeshop look
- Durable machines
- Steep learning curve
- Recommended for experienced baristas
As far as preparation, semi-automatic espresso machines are very similar to manual machines. The primary difference is they operate with a button or dial that automates the flow of water. That’s opposed to manual espresso machines, which use a lever. With semi-automatic machines the size of the drink may also be controlled.
- Bit easier to use than manual machines
- Still lots of control over the process
- As high quality as manual espresso machines
- A bit spendy but more affordable than manual machines
- There’s still a learning curve
Like semi-automatic espresso machines, automatic machines also use a button to brew rather than a lever, and the size of the drink is both programmable and automated. Automatic machines are known for a more consistent brew than manual or semi-automatic espresso machines.
- Easy to use
- More electronics, more parts to break
- Higher-end models just as expensive as manual and semi-automatic
- Less control over flavor
One step up from the automatic espresso machine is the super-automatic machines. Features of super-automatic espresso machines include automated and programmable coffee sizes as well as the option to measure, grind, and tamp your own beans.
- Easy to use
- Special features like built-in grinders and programmable settings.
- An all-in-one system
- Almost no control over end product
- Some models can be spendy, though many are affordable
The last kind of espresso machine in our ranking is the capsule machine, which makes espresso and other coffee drinks with capsules or pods filled with pre-measured coffee. They are also known for offering the most consistency among all the different kinds of espresso makers.
So far we’ve explained the difference between espresso and regular coffee drinks, and covered the different kinds of espresso machines. We’re now ready to talk about the best espresso machines for home use in every category, so let’s get started.
In this ranking, we wanted to present the best espresso machine in every category:
But don’t just take our word for it. We first consulted with expert espresso connoisseurs and bloggers. We wanted to know the machines they prefer for daily use.
We also conducted our own research as well as filtering through numerous similar rankings and loads of consumer reviews. We evaluated each machine on the following:
- Bars of pressure
- Programmable functions
- Frothing wand, tamping station, etc.
- Customer support
- Cleaning and maintenance
We feel all this combined brought us a thorough and comprehensive list of the best espresso machines for home use. Let’s get started.
Best Manual Lever Espresso Machines
De’Longhi La Specialista
Manual espresso machines bring the coffee shop espresso experience right into your own home, and our choice for the best manual espresso machine is the De’Longhi La Specialista. What RAVE Reviews loved about this espresso machine is the sensor grinding technology, exclusive to this model, delivering consistent grinding of your coffee beans and a just-right dose for espresso every single time.
There’s also a smart tamping station. By simply pulling a lever, optimal pressure is applied to the beans, and maybe the best feature of all is that there’s no need to remove the portafilter, minimizing mess. There’s also an advanced latte system, for your choice of froth ranging from micro-foam frothing to the kind of rich froth common in cappuccinos.
Also notable are the one-second quickstart function as well as separate hot water spout, and the two-year warranty (you can get an additional year with registration). The machine also comes with a milk pitcher, descaling solution, and cleaning brush.
- Smart tamping station
- Quick-start function
- Separate hot water spout
La Pavoni EPC-8 Europiccola
In the second spot in our ranking of the best manual lever espresso machines is the La Pavoni EPC-8 Europiccola. With sturdy all-steel construction and beautiful heavy chrome plating, this machine comes complete with tamper, screen, screen holder, measuring ladle, and cappuccino attachment. There’s also a how-to video for the beginning barista.
Steam pressure and piston operated, the unit features internal thermostats that continuously monitor pressure with reset fuses. You can make up to two cups of espresso at a time—great for company—and it includes an automatic milk foamer, measuring spoon, and two stainless steel filter baskets.
There’s also a removable drip tray, making cleanup easy and convenient, and a removable water tank with a 20-ounce capacity. Last, the traditional steam wand allows for thick, rich foam and heated milk if your preferences run toward lattes and cappuccinos, giving this unit high marks for versatility.
The unit measures L: 11” inches, W: 7 inches, H: 12 inches with a one-year warranty.
- All-steel construction
- Instructional video
- Steam-pressure piston operated
- Manual push lever, no springs
- Pressure valve durability issues
Rocket Espresso Appartamento Espresso Machine
Third in this list of best manual espresso machines is the Rocket Espresso Appartamento Espresso Machine. There’s also an integrated dual pre-infusion system. a heat exchange boiler, and a temperature stable E61 group head, a hallmark of professional espresso machines.
Related to consistent heating, the group head receives the removable portafilter, or grouphandle — a tamped puck of coffee grounds in a basket.
Also setting this unit apart is the large 1.8-liter reservoir, making this a great choice for brunch lattes at home. There’s also powerful steam pressure and a 1200-watt heating element. But maybe best of all is the dual pre-infusion system. In it, there’s a static pre-infusion chamber and a mechanical element that has a progressively working piston.
Working in tandem, these features produce all the aroma and crema-rich extractions expected from the best espresso. The unit also features automatic shut down to prevent a dry boil.
- Heat exchange boiler
- 1.8-liter reservoir
- Dual pre-infusion system
- Bit pricey
- Looks not for everyone, some say
- Learning curve
Nuova Simonelli Pour Over Espresso Machine
What earned the Nuova Simonelli Pour Over Espresso Machine fourth in this rundown of top lever espresso machines is the programmable push-button display, linking the old-world of espresso to the digital age.
There’s also an easy to use reservoir tank, as well as manual and volumetric dosing. The unit comes complete with one steam wand for the foaminess you desire in your espresso drink, and it operates at 110V.
The unit comes in one color: classic silver, just like you see in coffee shops, but that could be a limitation if you’re looking to change up your color scheme. The unit boasts great steam pressure to froth your milk just as you like it and a cup warmer large enough to hold up to nine shot glasses.
The unit measures L: 13 inches, W: 16 inches, H: 17 inches.
- Programmable push-button display
- Manual volumetric dosing
- Steam wand
- Only one color
- Requires 110 volts
- Pour over, can’t be plumbed
Breville The Barista Express
Taking the last spot in our ranking of the best manual espresso machines is The Barista Express from Breville. Like the very best espresso machines, this unit boasts dose control with integrated conical burr grinder, which combined delivers a just-right amount of fresh ground coffee into the portafilter.
You also get precise espresso extraction with the Barista Express, including digital temperature control. There’s also micro-foam milk texturing for latte art and a grind size dial to customize the grinding.
The Barista Express can handle both single and double shots, and it’s all backed up by manual override. The unit weighs 23 pounds, and measures L: 12 inches, W: 11 inches, H: 13.5 inches.
- Conical burr grinder
- Digital temperature control
- Micro-foam milk texturing
- Some plastic parts
- Customer support issues
- Learning curve
Best Super-Automatic Espresso Machines
Our number-one pick among all super-automatic espresso machines is the Miele CM6310. This unit comes recommended by Tiffany Lopez from the website Barista Extraordinaire.
“It does everything all the other machines can do but more efficiently and with better looks,” Lopez says.
After conducting our own independent research on the appliance, we agree. The features we liked include the ability to make two drinks at once with the touch of a single button, and the appliance is versatile enough to handle espresso, coffee, cappuccino, and lattes.
There’s also a cup warmer, four user profiles, and a direct sensor control. The appliance weighs 20 pounds and measures L: 20 inches, W: 15 inches, H: 20 inches.
- Cup warmer
- Four user profiles
- Can’t connect to water supply
Next up in the category of best super-automatic espresso machines is the De’Longhi ESAM3300.
What earned this unit its spot in our estimation is the easy-to-use rotary and push-button control panel, and the patented “Direct-to-Brew” system, grinding beans instantly with less visible oil. But one drawback, though, could be that for best grinder performance medium roast is recommended.
Other positives about this appliance include two stainless-steel boilers, providing unparalleled distribution of heat, and don’t miss the convenient instant reheat function, keeping the machine at the perfect temperature to dose yourself with espresso all day long.
Above all, the ESAM3300 is versatile enough to handle cappuccinos and lattes as well as just regular old black coffee. The unit comes with one manual steam wand, and measures L: 11 inches, W: 15.3 inches, H: 14.4 inches.
- “Direct-to-Brew” system
- Instant reheat function
- Best with medium roast
- Stuck beans in grinder
Gaggia Brera Espresso Machine
Following the ESAM3300 is the Gaggia Brera Espresso Machine, earning the third spot in our ranking for both affordability and the Pannarello wand. A versatile feature, this wand doubles as both a hot water dispenser and perfect tool for frothing cappuccinos and lattes.
The appliance also boasts rapid steam technology for rapid heat as well as strong and reliable brewing and steaming functionality. We also liked the LED display and push-button controls complete with illuminated icons for ease of use.
As far as maintenance and cleaning, the Gaggia Brera also scored well with the dreg drawer, drip tray, and water tank all easily accessible. The unit measures L: 12.4 inches, W: 10 inches, H: 17.5 inches. And it has five grind settings.
- Pannarello wand
- Rapid heat
- Push-button controls
- Grinder durability issues
- Warranty repairs? You’ll pay shipping
Breville Oracle Touch
Fourth in our ranking is the Breville Oracle Touch. What caught our attention about this Breville model is the Oracle Touch digital water temperature control technology, ensuring your water stays within the optimum range for brewing espresso
Also notable is the Over Pressure Valve, or OPV, limiting the maximum pressure applied to the grounds throughout extraction, which cuts down on bitter flavors. There’s also a steam wand powered by a dedicated steam boiler for automatically textured milk that you can customize to your preference.
In addition, we liked the triple heat system with dedicated steam boiler and touchscreen operation. The unit comes with five preprogrammed settings as well as automatic grinding and temperature, and you can save up to eight of your customized settings as well.
The unit weighs 37.3 pounds, and measures L: 14.7 inches, W: 14.5 inches, H: 17.6 inches.
- Over Pressure Valve
- Oracle Touch temp control
- Triple heat system
- Filter replacement issues
- Reports of jammed grinder
- Tall and won’t fit under cabinets
The last unit in this list of best super-automatic espresso machine’s is the E8 from Jura. Unique to the E8 is the Aroma G3 grinder that provides consistent aromatic results achieved twice as fast as conventional grinders.
There’s also the Pulse Extraction Process, optimizing the coffee bean extraction time, which is perfect for specialty coffees such as ristretto and espresso. It also features an intelligent water system with automatic filter detection.
In terms of ease of use, the E8 offers convenience by way of an easy-to-read color display with assigned buttons for cappuccino, coffee, espresso, and milk foam.
The unit weighs 27.1 pounds and measures L: 20 inches, W: 16.55 inches, H: 12.25 inches.
- Aroma G3 grinder
- Pulse Extraction Process
- Intelligent water system
- High maintenance
- Milk heat inadequate for some
- Spendy option
Best Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine
Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista
The top pick for best semi-automatic espresso machine comes from Shabbir Nooruddin of the coffee-themed website Coffee In My Veins.
“It was my first espresso machine, and it’s still going strong after all these years,” Nooruddin tells RAVE Reviews. “This machine is inexpensive but still brews a really good espresso with thick crema,” he says.
What RAVE Reviews loved about this semi-automatic espresso machine is its versatility. It’s 3-in-1, for espresso, cappuccinos, and lattes, and boasts a 15-bar pump system for espresso. There’s also an automatic milk frother and a one-touch control panel to easily select among the different drinks functions.
There are also easy-to-fill removable water and milk reservoirs. The unit is small and compact, making it ideal for apartments and condos, weighing only 10.37 pounds and measuring L: 11.22 inches, W: 8.86 inches, H: 12.6 inches. It’s also very affordable.
- 3-in-1 machine
- 15-bar pump system
- Automatic milk frother
- Inadequate milk froth for some
Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine
Coming in second among semi-automatic espresso machines is the Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine. With an iron frame and stainless steel side panels, this unit offers the convenience of an automatic machine with a just-right amount of customization.
This appliance earned high marks with RAVE for the ergonomic 58-millimeter portafilter that provides excellent extraction as well as the class-leading single boiler, with the largest capacity among machines of this kind.
The Rancilio Silvia’s articulating stainless steel steam wand is also worth mentioning. Controlled by a commercially designed steam knob, the wand permits the range of motion necessary for latte-quality steamed milk.
We love the accessories that are included with purchase, including a 7-gram coffee scoop, plastic tamper, and two filter baskets, both single and double. The unit is also somewhat small and compact, measuring L: 9.2 inches, W: 11.4 inches H: 13.3 inches, and weighs 30.8 pounds.
- 58-millimeter portafilter
- Class-leading single boiler
- Stainless steel steam wand
- Steam wand pressure issues
- Durability issues
Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine
Next up in our ranking is the Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine, a great entry-level espresso machine. This appliance earned its spot with a newly improved commercial-grade steam wand for the kind of foam you love.
There’s also a commercial-style 58-millimeter portafilter, including commercial single and double shot baskets. And another nice feature of this machine is that you can use pre-ground or ESE pods with the pressurized basket. Convenient!
Other things that caught our attention include the improved pump mounts for quieter brewing, fast heat-up with dual heating elements, and updated controls for power, brewing, and steaming. There’s also a commercial-style 3-Way Solenoid Valve to relieve pressure off the coffee.
The unit is light, at 20 pounds, and measures L: 9.5 inches, W: 8 inches, H: 14.2 inches.
- Single and double shot baskets
- Dual heating elements
- Pre-ground or ESE pods
- Steam valve replacement issues
- Reports of faulty wiring
Breville the Barista Express Espresso Machine
Fourth in our ranked list of best semi-automatic espresso machines is the Barista Express from Breville. Setting this unit apart is its dose-control grinding with an integrated conical burr grinder that delivers fresh ground coffee to taste into the portafilter.
Speaking of grind, the grind-size dial is simple to use, providing complete control over the grounds. There’s also digital temperature control, delivering water at the right temperature for optimal espresso extraction.
In addition, the micro-foam milk texturing comes from a steam wand allowing for coffee shop-style espresso art and a unique grinding cradle to grind directly into the espresso portafilter. The unit is versatile enough to handle both single and double shots with adjustable grind amount and manual override.
At 23 pounds, the unit is a bit heavy for semi-automatic units, and it measures L: 12 inches, W: 11 inches, H: 13.5 inches.
- Conical burr grinder
- Digital temperature control
- Grind-size dial
- Bit heavy
- Breville customer service issues
- Pressure issues reported
Aicok Espresso Machine
The Aicok Espresso Machine takes up the last position in our rundown of top semi-automatic espresso machines. This is a 2-in-1 espresso machine made from stainless steel with an
advanced cappuccino system.
The machine offers a 15-bar high-power Italian pump, maintaining water temperature at 90°C in the boiler, making coffee at 84°C, with the ability to make two cups at the same time for brunch parties.
There’s also a large capacity 1.5-liter water tank with a removable collection tray, and all the removable parts can be simply and conveniently washed in the dishwasher. Also notable is the patented water heater that uses two independent thermostats to control the water and steam temperature.
The appliance weighs in at 12.1 pounds, and measures L: 11 inches, W: 8, H: 11.5 inches, and it comes backed by a two-year warranty.
- 1.5-liter water tank
- 15-bar pressure
- Leaking issues reported
- Durability issues
- Shipping issues
Best Automatic Espresso Machines
DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica
First up in the best automatic category is the DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica. The appliance came recommended to RAVE by Shabbir Nooruddin of Coffee In My Veins, and after our own research we stand by the product with confidence.
What sets the Magnifica apart is the patented “Cappuccino System” frother that mixes steam and milk for a flavorful and creamy froth. We also appreciate the easy-to-use rotary and push-button control panel with customizable menu settings.
Also notable is the patented “Direct-to-Brew” system, grinding beans instantly in a compact and easy-to-clean system. For best performance, however, it’s best to use less oily beans, like a medium roast.
Other ways the Magnifica excels in the area of maintenance is that it requires about half the cleaning time of other brands—all without chemical cleaning tablets. There’s also an exclusive cup tray to keep your cup warm before use, and a 60-ounce removable water tank.
Other features that caught RAVE Reviews’ attention include the convenient water-level indicator, the 7-ounce bean container, an electronic steam and coffee thermostat, rinse and decalcification auto programs, and a removable drip tray making cleanup extra easy.
- “Cappuccino System” frother
- “Direct-to-Brew” system
- Removable drip tray
- Leaky steam wand
Philips 2200 Fully Automatic Espresso Machine
Second in our ranking of the best automatic espresso machines is the Philips 2200. This unit boasts everything we expect from an automatic espresso machine, like an intuitive touch display. This machine is versatile enough to make espresso, coffee, or just hot water for tea.
If the quality of the grind is important to you, and it should be, the 2200 has a lot to offer here as well with its 12-step grinder adjustment ranging from coarse to fine, and three temperature settings. What’s more, RAVE noticed the 100% ceramic grinder, for hard and precise grinding up to an estimated 20,000 cups.
There’s an AquaClean filter, meaning you can go up to 5,000 cups without needing descaling, but when the time comes, automatic descaling makes the process quick and convenient. The brew group is also removable for easy cleaning.
Otherwise, there’s a classic milk frother, with three aroma settings. Dimensions are 20.1 by 20.1 by 12.6 inches, and it weighs just a bit over 20 lbs.
- 100% ceramic grinder
- AquaClean filter
- 12-step grinder adjustment
- Slow to heat up, takes a minute to turn on
- Buttons not very reactive
- Not very quiet
Saeco HD8645/47 Vapore Automatic Espresso Machine
Next up is the Saeco Vapore Automatic Espresso Machine. This machine features an easy-to-remove brewing unit that cleans with a simple rinse under the tap, keeping maintenance simple.
There’s also an adjustable five-setting ceramic burr grinder that’s remarkably quiet, with settings ranging from coarse to fine. Also worth mentioning is the energy-saving mode, putting the unit in standby mode after just one hour.
With a classic milk frother, the appliance features volumetric controls for simple push-button programming of brew volume. The grinder has five settings ranging from coarse to fine and a quick-heat boiler for fast brewing as well as automatic circuit cleaning every time the unit is switched on or off.
Setting the Vapore apart more than anything perhaps is the memo function, allowing you to save your preferences with the push of a button, replicating the perfect cup of coffee every time. Another nice feature of the Vapore, is that it has a small footprint and is quite affordable compared to other units in our ranking, measuring L: 15.16 inches, W: 16.73 inches, H: 15.35 inches, and weighing just a bit under 16 pounds.
- Volumetric controls
- Energy-saving mode
- Quick-heat boiler
- Small water tank
- Coffee drawer doesn’t “click” in
- Empty water sensor issues
EspressoWorks All-In-One Espresso Machine
Fourth in our ranking of best automatic espresso machines is the seven-piece All-In-One Espresso Machine from EspressoWorks. What RAVE likes about this appliance is the advanced Thermoblock fast-heating system reaching the right temperature and providing instant steam in as little as 45 seconds.
Other conveniences offered by the unit include the easy-view removable water tank with a 1.25-liter capacity and handle. There’s also a 15-pump pressure system and an easy-to-clean and detachable stainless steel milk frother and drip tray. The unit also includes a 120-volt plug-in electric bean grinder.
Also included with purchase is a measuring spoon and tamper, a 12.70ounce stainless steel milk frothing cup, and two 3.6-ounce high-quality espresso cups.
The product accommodates both single and double shots with two stainless steel portafilter baskets. Another plus includes its compact dimensions—L: 9.75 inches, W: 9 inches H: 11.5 inches—and weighing in at just under 10 pounds.
- 15-pump pressure system
- Two espresso cups included
- Two portafilter baskets
- Espresso watery for some
- Water tank durability issues
- Not for strong macchiatos
Espressione 8212S Fully Automatic Espresso Machine
With 19-bar pressure technology and a great-looking LED panel with one-touch keys, the Espressione 8212S fully automatic espresso machine is next in our ranking.
This appliance provides everything you need in an espresso machine, from a frothing mechanism in the form of an adjustable steam nozzle for frothy foam and milk for cappuccinos and macchiatos. There’s also a boiler/thermo block delivering exactly the right water temperature time after time.
Also notable is its five-setting, stainless steel and extremely quiet built-in coffee grinder. Anyone looking for a unit for a condo or apartment, or a compact appliance for any office space, should also consider the compact 8212S, measuring L: 7 inches, W: 15.6 inches, H: 12.4 inches.
The unit is a bit heavy for its size, weighing in at 20.6 pounds.
- 19-bar pressure technology
- Compact measurements
- Five-setting coffee grinder
- Beans only
- Requires weekly drying/cleaning
- Grinder jamming issues
Best Capsule Espresso Machines
Nespresso by De’Longhi
Turning now to the best capsule espresso machine category, our number-one pick is the Nespresso by De’Longhi. What we liked in particular about the Nespresso machine is that even though the appliance is small, compact, and affordable, it’s also powerful. It has 19-bars of pressure like many other top models and styles of espresso machines.
Furthermore, water reaches ideal temperature in just 30 seconds with the Nespresso, and there’s also an energy-saving mode with a removable water tank, switching the unit off after nine minutes for safety and to conserve electricity.
Other features on the Nespresso include two programmable cup sizes: espresso at 1.35 ounces and a 5-ounce lungo. Also capturing RAVE’s attention is the welcome kit included with purchase. It offers a range of capsules with a broad selection of aroma profiles, so there is something for everyone.
Water tank capacity on the Nespresso is 20.3 ounces, and the container capacity holds five to six used capsules. Like many capsule machines, the Nespresso is especially light and compact, measuring L: 15.1 inches, W: 5.5 inches H: 12.2 inches, and weighing just a bit over 5 pounds, making it perfect for a small kitchen or office.
- 19 bars of pressure
- Heats in 30 seconds
- Two cup sizes: espresso and lungo
- Some prefer older model
NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto Esperta 2 Coffee Machine
The next capsule espresso machine in our list is the Dolce Gusto Esperta 2 Coffee Machine. Something in particular that sets the Dolce Gusto apart is a simple user interface, with a seven-level LED display allowing for exacting control over the size and intensity of your brew with a coffee bar system. Simply match the LED bars to the bars on your Esperta 2 capsule and you’re ready to go.
Like the best espresso machines, the appliance works on a pressure-based system—this time with 17 bars of pressure—and there’s an eco-mode that switches the unit off after just five minutes for safety and to conserve energy. Also notable are specially designed smart capsules, offering consistently fresh ground beans as well as versatility, whether your tastes lean toward lattes or macchiatos or cappuccinos.
The machine’s dimensions are compact, at L: 10.1 inches, W: 9.4 inches, H: 13.3 inches, right in line with other capsule machines, and weighing just 5.4 pounds.
- Seven-level LED display
- Five-minute eco-mode
- Specially designed smart capsule
- Water tank removal difficult
- Pods not widely available
- Drop tray difficult to move
Lavazza BLUE Espresso Coffee Machine
Third in our ranking of the best capsule espresso machines is the Lavazza Blue. Working with Lavazza Blue capsules, the machine offers simple touch controls and two coffee selections: one programmable free dose while the other is pre-set, which is a nice mix of customization and pre-programmed ease of use.
RAVE also appreciated the visual indicator that lets you quickly check levels in the 0.2 gallon water tank and know when the capsule drawer is full—maximum drawer capacity is five exhausted capsules. The 110-volt appliance can also accommodate a wide range of cups for days when you don’t feel like espresso but a big mug of coffee instead. It runs on 110 volts and warms up quickly in under 30 seconds.
Many capsule espresso machines are small and compact, and nowhere is this more true than with Lavazza, weighing only 7.7 pounds and measuring L: 5.3 inches W: 13 inches, H: 10.2 inches.
- Very nice crema
- Small footprint
- Lots of different pod flavors
- Pods not widely available
- Must clear spent grounds
- No pods included with purchase
Mixpresso Espresso Machine
For a wide range of compatible pods, consider the next espresso machine in our ranking from Mixpresso. Compatible with Nespresso capsules, this machine boasts a fast heat-up system that reaches the ideal temperature in anywhere from 25 to 30 seconds. Use the pre-programmed buttons for espresso or lungo.
Cleanup is also fast and easy with the Mixpresso, with an easily removable 0.8 liter water tank and folding cup tray. The Mixpresso also earns high marks for energy efficiency, with an energy-saving function that turns off the machine after 15 minutes of inactivity. But unlike a lot of other capsule machines, this function is customizable, and able to be extended up to 30 minutes.
Other features include 19 bars of pressure, extracting results on par with other automatic espresso machines, and it’s all protected by a nice one-year warranty. Weighing only 6.47 pounds, the dimensions of the machine are H: 13.1 inches, W: 10.2 inches, H: 6.3 inches.
- Machine heats up quickly
- Good value for money
- Noisier than Nespresso
- Too small for average mugs
- Tray vibrates
Wacaco Minipresso Portable Espresso Machine
Last in our ranking of the best capsule is the manually operated Wacaco Minipresso portable espresso machine—perfect for travel, hiking, or camping.
If nothing else, this is the most space-age looking espresso machine in our ranking. A handheld espresso machine compatible with Nespresso capsules, the Minipresso lets you pump just the right amount of pressure for espresso with just the right amount of crema.
Weighing only 360 grams, the Minipresso uses a semi-automatic piston for the brewing process, pushing small amounts of water into the coffee adapter, creating up to eight bars of pressure.
The Wacaco is very light and convenient to use, especially while traveling. It measures L: 6.89 inches, W: 2.75 inches, H: 2.36 inches, and weighs only 0.8 pounds. It’s water capacity is 2.35 ounces.
Furthermore, there are great accessories available for the Minipresso, like an extra-large water tank, a kit with filter basket and caps, a protective case, and barista towel pack.
- Good for single espresso shot
- Works for “tiny living”
- Makes good crema
- Only one shot at a time
- Thorough cleaning difficult
- Confusing to use at first
Espresso Machine FAQs
Seeking further information about the world of espresso? Need more information before making your decision? We are here to help.
What Kind of Drinks Can You Make With An Espresso Machine?
Here’s something you may or not already know: You may be a fan of espresso and not even know it. That’s because in addition to drinking espresso straight (as a shot or as a double shot) espresso is mixed in a lot of other popular coffee drinks.
Here are the most common examples:
Macchiato is the first kind of coffee drink commonly made with espresso. A macchiato is just a shot of espresso with a little steamed milk on top, adding some foaminess while cutting the strong flavor of espresso. (This is NOT the same thing as a “caramel macchiato”!)
Next, the traditional Italian cappuccino, which is probably the most popular way to drink espresso and very easy to make if you have an espresso machine at home. A cappuccino is similar to a macchiato with more milk and foam.
Lattes are also very similar to cappuccinos but with even a bit more milk to cut the strong flavor of espresso, and it is capped off with a thin layer of foam.
The latte (or originally, caffè e latte) was actually born in Berkeley, CA, at the Caffe Mediterraneum, a now-closed coffee shop formerly owned by the Italian Leno Menoirin. While the Caffe Med might be more famous as the birthplace of some of Allen Ginsberg’s poetry, an organizing site for ’60s radicals, and for a scene in The Graduate, it also gave us the latte.
Americans, unused to strong Italian espresso, would ask for more milk in their cappuccinos, so Menoirin would tell baristas to add more “latte” (Italian for “milk”) into the cappuccinos. Eventually, he turned that into a menu item, and the caffè latte was born. But of course, the drink finally became famous when a green lady from Seattle took it mainstream.
And last, there’s the mocha. It’s like a cappuccino for chocoholics: just espresso, milk, foam and chocolate. How can you go wrong with that combination?
These of course, are just the basics. There are other espresso drinks like the cortado, Americano, and breve. And there are about as many ways to customize these drinks as there are fans of espresso. You know that old joke about people ordering a “half-caf skinny soy milk mocha with organically sourced chocolate”? When it comes to differing opinions about how to make each one of these drinks, that’s not too far from the truth.
Nor is it so far off from all the additional stuff people like to add to their espresso drinks. If you’re looking to change up your routine, try these additional toppings:
- Whipped cream
- Flavors (like hazelnut, caramel, or peppermint)
- Milk alternatives
Above all, perhaps the biggest advantage to buying an espresso machine for home use is the freedom to experiment. Feel free to invent an espresso drink of your very own.
How Much Caffeine Is in a Shot of Espresso?
Concerned about your daily caffeine intake? There are a lot of misconceptions about caffeine and espresso—the first of which is about the average amount of caffeine in one shot of espresso. One shot has about 64 milligrams of caffeine per 1 fluid ounce, while a 2 ounce double espresso shot has roughly 80 milligrams of caffeine. And while that may sound like a lot, it isn’t much when compared to the average 12-ounce brewed coffee, which has about 120 milligrams of caffeine.
This shows that standard coffee does in fact have more caffeine than a shot of espresso. How much caffeine is too much? According to the Mayo Clinic, the average healthy adult can handle about 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. That’s about five double shots of espresso, 10 cans of cola, two energy drinks, or right around three or four cups of coffee.
Negative effects of caffeine include the following:
- Digestive Issues
- Muscle Issues
- High Blood Pressure
- Rapid Heart Rate
If you’re concerned about the negative health effects of caffeine, decaf espresso does exist, with all the flavor of espresso at 1/40 the level of caffeine. Amazon sells an assortment of decaf espresso grounds for you to try at home with your new espresso machine.
What Is the Best Espresso Machine?
We broke espresso machines down into the following five categories for the purpose of our ranking: manual, semi-automatic, automatic, super-automatic, and capsule machines. Our goal was to present to you the best option in each style of espresso machine. Our findings include our own research coupled with the input of coffee experts from all across the internet.
Our pick for best semi-automatic espresso machine, the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista comes from Shabbir Nooruddin of the coffee site Coffee In My Veins. After doing our own research, we wholeheartedly agree.
The best automatic espresso machine, the DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica, also comes from Nooruddin, with the backing of RAVE Reviews independent research. At a competitive price point, the ESAM3300 mixes plug-in-play ease of use with lots of customization.
As far as super-automatic espresso machines, the Miele CM6310 Countertop Coffee System is recommended by Tiffany Lopez of the website Barista Extraordinaire. And for a capsule machine, we say head straight for the Nespresso by De’Longhi. As far as a fully manual experience, just like a professional barista, you won’t go wrong with the De’Longhi La Specialista.
For more information about any of these machines, see our complete list of best espresso machines. Choose any one of these options and you, too, can make espresso just like you get at your favorite coffee shop, all from the comfort of your very own kitchen.
In addition to the best espresso machine, these items will complete your home barista setup.
- Adorever Milk Frothing Pitcher: This milk frother jug is versatile. Use it to froth or steam milk, measure liquids, serve milk or cream. Comes complete with a latte pen to practice your latte art, just like a real barista.
- Tru Blu Steel Stainless Steel Espresso Cups: This set of two double-walled 5.5-ounce coffee cups will last a lifetime, and they have no metallic aftertaste.
- Aozita Espresso Cups and Saucers with Espresso Spoons: This product comes complete with six porcelain stackable espresso mugs, six saucers, and six 4-inch espresso spoons, all in a stainless steel stand rack.
- KT THERMO Instand Read 2-Inch Dial Thermometer: This adjustable thermometer accurately measures the temperature of your coffee drink and foam to avoid any unpleasant and painful surprises.
- Breville Espresso Machine Cleaning Tablets and Filters : Keep your new machine clean and your espresso tasting great with these espresso cleaner tablets.