How espresso is made, has been changing through the years from simple home-spun extraction methods to the more modern barista machines found in your local coffee shop.
Whether you are a weekend Barista at home, an “on the go” coffee drinker that wants ‘’one-touch” coffee drinks or somewhere in between; there is an espresso machine for you.
This list is made up of my personal favorites as I have tested machines through the years. It’s not exhaustive but I’ve collected the ones I think are worth a look by the home barista.
Each espresso machine comes with it’s own advantages and special features. There isn’t “one” machine that suits everyone, but we wanted to share this list as a starting point to narrow the field for those looking to invest in a home brewing system.
Best Espresso Machine: Fully Automatic Choices
While all of these machines are considered super-automatic or fully automatic espresso machines, for our purposes we are limiting this list to machines that have or support a milk carafe.
For those who don’t have a need for milk, We’ve listed in the brief description if there is a sister model that has a steam wand rather than a milk carafe.
1. Saeco PicoBaristo Super Automatic Espresso Machine
- Easily select one of 15 delicious drinks, or customize it to your taste with coffee equalizer and save it to one of...
- Our patented AquaClean water filter eliminates the need to descale for up to 5,000 cups
- Get superior taste for 20,000 cups with our durable ceramic grinders
- The hygiesteam function cleans the whole milk circuit with steam, from the spout to the milk tubes
First on our list is the Saeco PicoBaristo Super Automatic, this is a great starting point to look for a fully automated machine that also has a ceramic grinder and milk carafe. The Pico Baristo does this at a lower price point than its competitors.
Some of the stand out features of this machine are the patented AquatClean system which extends the number of cups you can produce before de-scaling to 5000 cups.
The milk carafe is convenient and allows you to run a clean cycle to flush out the nozzles, then simple put the unused milk in the refrigerator until your ready to use it again.
The most important feature of this machine is we think it makes a really good espresso.
2. Miele CM 5310 Silence Automatic Coffee Maker & Espresso Machine Combo
- MIELE QUALITY & TASTE, SIMPLY BETTER: Exclusive slanted conical grinder drops powder directly into brew unit,...
- 50% QUIETER GRINDING: Silence Feature provides 50% quieter grinding compared to previous Miele coffee maker and...
- PACKED WITH AUTOMATIC FEATURES: 10 specialty drinks including coffee pot function, and programmable beverage...
- ONE TOUCH FOR TWO: Prepare your favorite beverage for one person or for two at the touch of a button
Second on our list is a relatively new kid on the block. Miele has always made great espresso and coffee, but it tended to be a little more expensive. With this new model its seems to compare well with its competitors.
One of the things we really liked about this machine had nothing to do with how it made coffee, it is currently available in several colors. Unfortunately not all the colors are available in all the models but it is an option that allows you to coordinate it with your current décor.
Like all of the models on our fully automated list this machine has a carafe and tube that feeds milk to the machine to make that perfect latte, cappuccino, or other milk beverage.
The other feature that is new on this model is quieter operation. While no espresso machine is completely silent, Miele has managed to reduce the decibels by up to 50%.
Espresso produced by the Meile machines we tested consistently rate in the top tier of espresso’s we’ve produced when it comes to flavor and texture.
3. Gaggia Cadorna Prestige Super-Automatic Espresso Machine
- 14 Pre-Programmed Beverages|Build your home barista menu with 14 pre-programmed beverages including a ristretto,...
- Integrated Milk Carafe|An integrated milk carafe creates the perfect temperature and texture of milk foam to make a...
- 4 User Profiles|Create up to 4 user profiles on the Cadorna Plus and save your favorite drinks for everyday...
- Intuitive User Interface|A full color TFT display allows you to scroll through 14 specialty beverages with backlit...
This espresso machine is a little more expensive than the first two listed but our general impression of the machine it should be on the final cut list for most people before deciding.
In addition to the sleek styling we like how easy the programming was to follow on this machine. Some machines can get a little tricky in figuring out what your options are and how to program them.
The Cardorna also changes the order of the milk and espresso based on what drinks you have selected just like a barista would do. It should be noted that if you are on that likes to froth your own milk there is another version of Cadorna, the named Cadorna Barista Plus . You’ll find this option with the Barista quality wand will allow you to customize the foam to just the right texture.
4. Jura 15070 E6 Automatic Coffee Center
- BUNDLE INCLUDES: Jura E6 Automatic Coffee Center, Glass Milk Container, Frothing Pitcher, two Cups and Saucers, 1lb...
- INTUITIVE USE: Buttons on the front of the machine and a modern TFT display make operation truly intuitive and...
- FAST AND EASY: Dual coffee and milk spouts make it possible to prepare a cappuccino without moving the cup. The E6...
- PULSE EXTRACTION PROCESS: The secret of exceptional coffee lies in the preparation. Jura has 100% perfected the...
With Jura machines its really all about the coffee. With this model you get the milk carafe support to accompany great tasting coffee.
Key features with Jura are the pulse technology which enhances the extraction process giving you an espresso with great taste and texture.
The smart design of this machine incorporates dual coffee and milk spouts that allow you to make a cappuccino without having to move your cup. The intuitive color TFT display also supports the ease of use design.
5. De’Longhi ECAM35075SI Dinamica with LatteCrema Fully Automatic Espresso
- From beans to latte, in a single touch. Espresso Made Right
- 18 espresso and specialty coffee recipes, with a simple touch of a button, including latte, cappuccino, macchiato,...
- Built-in conical burr grinder with 13 settings for always freshly ground coffee, for any beans of your choice
- Automatic and adjustable milk frothing from the proprietary LatteCrema System for perfectly textured lattes and...
The Dinamica espresso machines offer a comfortable footprint that fits most counter tops. Dimension: 16.9 x 9.3 x 13.7 inches
Comes with a built in conical burr grinder to give you a consistent grind. If you prefer your own grind or have some pre-ground coffee there is a by pass feature to accommodate pre-ground coffee.
This machine comes with 18 drink recipes including Delonghi’s TrueBrew over ice drink which brews with a higher dose at a lower temperature.
DeLonghi Dinamica Fully Automatic Coffee and Espresso Machine, with Adjustable Frother
The Dinamica Fully Automatic Coffee and Espresso Machine, with Adjustable Frothier . is Delonghi’s model with all of the Dinamica features, but has an adjustable wand rather than a milk carafe to create the occasional milk drink.
Semi-Automatic/Super-Automatic Choices With Coffee Bean Grinder
We’ve created this list for those that want to be a little more vested in the process, but still want the convenience of an integrated grinder.
1. Gaggia Brera Super Automatic Espresso Machine in Silver
- FROTHING FOR MILK BEVERAGES: Pannarello wand frothing for cappuccinos & lattes. Wand doubles as a hot water...
- EASY ACCESS: The dregs drawer, drip tray, and water tank are all within reach and accessible from the front of the...
- USER-FRIENDLY DISPLAY: Push-button controls and an LED display with illuminated icons make for an easy and...
- RAPID STEAM TECHNOLOGY: Quick heat up times and robust brewing and steaming operations. Coffee bean capacity : 250...
The Brera model offers easy access to the discarded coffee pucks, water, and drip tray for easy cleanup and maintenance.
Supporting a cup height of 3.25″ to 4.5″ you can fit a variety of cups under the spout. The bean capacity is 250 grams and the footprint is a reasonable 12.4″H x 10″W x 17.5″D.
Read our full review on this compact super-automatic espresso machine to get all the details.
2. De’Longhi La Specialista Espresso Machine with Sensor Grinder
- Sensor grinding technology: Exclusive segsing technology delivers precise, consistent grinding and the optimal dose...
- The smart tamping station: Simply pull the lever to tamp the ground coffee with the right pressure for perfect...
- Active temperature control with dual heating system: The best temperature stability for optimal coffee extraction...
- Advanced latte system: Micro-foam frothing for Latte Art or rich froth for cappuccino. Just place your cup under...
The La Specialista is a semi-automatic machine but offers some convenience features to make it a little easier to use than other semi-automatics.
The tamper allows you to tamp the grind without making a mess. We really liked the way you just pull the handle down to tamp and your done with no mess. The other convenient feature we liked was how the water spout was right next to the espresso dispenser so that you can make americano’s or other drinks that require water without having to move your cup.
Find out all the details on this machine in our full review of the La Specialista with advanced latte system.
3. Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine
- The Breville Barista Express delivers third wave specialty coffee at home using the 4 keys formula and is part of...
- DOSE CONTROL GRINDING: Integrated precision conical burr grinder grinds on demand to deliver the right amount of...
- OPTIMAL WATER PRESSURE: Low pressure pre-infusion gradually increases pressure at the start and helps ensure all...
- PRECISE ESPRESSO EXTRACTION: Digital temperature control (PID) delivers water at precisely the right temperature,...
The Barista Express has a clean look with its brushed stainless steel finish and is consistently one of the top selling machines.
Equipped with a conical burr grinder you get get the specific grind you are looking for to get a perfect pull of expresso.
The steam wand on this machine allows you to customize the texture of your milk. This is an advantage over some of the other wands on the market that are designed to froth for you.
You can the all the specifics on this model by reading our Barista Express Espresso Machine Review.
Semi-Automatic without Coffee Bean Grinder
|Breville BES500BSS Bambino Plus Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel||$499.95||View on Amazon|
|De'Longhi EC680M Espresso, Stainless Steel, Metallic||$454.95 $291.55||View on Amazon|
These machines are ideal for campers, small kitchens, and even college dorms. They have a small footprint for the counter and can fit most budgets.
1. Breville BES500BSS Bambino Plus Espresso Machine
- The Breville Bambino Plus delivers third wave specialty coffee at home using the 4 keys formula and is part of the...
- DOSE CONTROL GRINDING: Achieve a consistent and balanced espresso using the right amount of ground coffee; The 54mm...
- OPTIMAL WATER PRESSURE: Low pressure pre-infusion gradually increases pressure at the start and helps ensure all...
- FASTER HEAT UP TIME: Innovative ThermoJet heating system achieves the optimum extraction temperature in 3 seconds
For baseball fans the name Bambino conjures up images of the great bambino, however here we are referring to an espresso machine.
Don’t let the small size fool you, the Bambino performs big with its ThermoJet heating system that can achieve the optimum extraction temperature in 3 seconds
With pre-infusion the Bambino is able to allow the coffee to soak as the pressure builds improving extraction.
Find out all of the details on the Breville Bambino Plus in our full review.
2. De’Longhi EC680M Espresso, Stainless Steel
- EVERY CUP TO YOUR LIKING: 15-bar professional pressure assures quality results every time, and adjustable controls...
- EASY TO CLEAN: Removable water tank and drip tray make for easy cleanup, and the parts are dishwasher safe.
- BREW LIKE A PRO: Whatever your preference – single or double espresso, cappuccino or latte – the machine brews...
- YOUR FOAM, YOUR WAY: A manual frother mixes steam and milk to create a rich, creamy froth for evenly textured...
The Dedica is a great little manual machine with a narrow footprint.
One of the nice advantages of this machine is its ability to support taller cups by adjusting the bottom tray removing it to fit taller cups
The steam wand of this machine also makes it easy for the novice to create foam all you need to so is insert the wand and let it do the work.
Espresso Machine Buying Guide and other considerations
Espresso machines are not extremely expensive but they aren’t either that simple coffee maker appliance you buy for 200 bucks. A great compact model can cost up to $1000 so you are on your right to be restrict and ruthless when choosing the best deal for your pocket and taste. Some features and skills in a great espresso machine must be matched to make it really worth.
- Customizable Brew: Doesn’t matter the kind of espresso machine you are using, is important that you have as much options as possible of customization for the brewing of the beverage, that means, the more options you have between steam and hot water, the better. When a machine has this wide array, you can prepare many different kinds of espresso to suit many different recipes and tastes according not only to the people that will enjoy the coffee, but to suit the needs of a specific grain. Not all coffee grounds need water or steam in X or Y temperature, you must have many options so your machine can prepare many different variants of top quality grounds.
- Stainless steel: Avoid machines that are half plastic and steel, with too much fluffy details and decor. You don’t want your barista machine to be an exotic post-modern piece of art on your kitchen, they must be as functional as possible and paint covers and materials that are not resilient are not welcome here. Most barista espresso machines are made on stainless steel with strategic handles and parts on plastic for obvious reasons, protections against heat, burning accidents. Otherwise, it must be as shiny as possible on steel. These machines operate with high temperatures and steam most of the time, after some years any kind of decorative, cute cover starts to get ruined. Follow the traditions here and don’t loose track of the stainless steel. This makes the machine also quite easy to clean.
- Automatized Work: if you don’t have a degree on barista tasks, don’t try to work like one even on your house. There are many traditional barista machines made with manual pump levers. They are quite vintage and classic, most Italian coffee house still use them because they provide some special, traditional espresso that is more than just the machine but the operator. Manual levers are hard to deal with, so opt for the most automatized as possible you can get. These machines will not provide you the freedom of a pupil or alchemist, but they have all you need when it comes to the right recipe for a decent, outstanding espresso. You have to worry just about the grounds selection and the operation of the machine, and that’s what you get with a great compact espresso. Anything else, you better get your degree before you adventure yourself with manual baristas.
- Stainless steel tanks and baskets: While it is included in our previous tip, don’t forget about the tanks and grounds baskets. They better be made on a material like this. You will not once again want plastics involved in such high temperature or to store the grounds. The taste can be ruined depending on the ground.
Types Of Espresso Machines
To clear up your mind a bit more about espresso machines when you are purchasing your own, bear in mind the following basic types of machines:
- Stovetop: This is the most basic, is that classic Moka coffee pot that is still available in the market these days. A espresso machine like this works only by the forces of basic physics: heat expansion, steam and condensation. You can’t make espressos out of grounds with these, only with the powder of grains already grinded, so it is a limiting but compact, reliable source of espressos for the good coffee powders.
- Lever Pumps: These models are the ones responsible for the modern classic espresso and they must be operated by professionals quite skilled. They are not easy, require lots of experience and skills, as well as strength. You will be handling the steam flow and is not easy to do that when you are a novice.
- Simple Pump or Electronic Pump: Technology made possible to mimic the human workforce and save the barista some struggle and let the machine do the pressure itself. Electronic pumps are quite simple to operate as well as they have lots of adjustments that are made by an electronic system. The barista must understand the machine system mostly, and that’s all.
- Automatic Pump: These are the do it all of the espresso machines. Very few models of the previous types of machines do grind the grounds of coffee, so if you are not lucky you need an extra machine just for that task. The automatic pumps do it for you, they can be adjusted to grind with specific strength, amount and later they will also know all they have to do to brew the coffee. Once again, you just have to know how to operate the electronic system of settings.
Our best espresso machine list focus much more on espresso machines that you can handle on your own home to prepare your own espresso, and while it is for sure a great aid to know well how the espresso preparation works, these machines are “educated” to do it for you with patented recipes, highly automated systems and intuitive controls.
As a matter of priority, you must be quite sure what you need of your espresso machine. Pick the most complicated ones if you intend to adventure yourself on achieving some day a professional skill on preparation, otherwise you can save money and get a robust but most straight-forward espresso maker and you will be just as fine.