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Best Espresso Machines for 2020 – Reviews and Buyer’s Guide

Contents

There’s something special about having a latte or cappuccino made for you at a coffee shop. While these special treats are a delight each morning, spending $4 or $5 every day adds up fast. Bring the warmth and caffeine of a coffee shop into your home with the best espresso machines available!

Shopping for home espresso machines can be overwhelming, though. You want a good espresso machine, but which one suits your budget and space? There are so many to choose from!

Let’s take a look at your options!

At a Glance:

home espresso machine

Best Espresso Machines of 2020 [Top 14 Reviews]

Here are 14 of the best espresso machines on the market right now (chosen from each category).

Breville BES870XL
  • Built-in conical burr grinder
  • Customizable controls
  • Filtered water reservoir
View on Amazon
Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine
  • Commercial-grade 58mm portafilter and steam wand
  • Can accommodate espresso pods
  • Large 12 oz boiler
View on Amazon
Breville BES840XL/A the Infuser Espresso Machine
  • Pre-infusion features
  • Manual and programmable controls
  • Stainless steel coil heating system
View on Amazon
Breville BES500BSS Bambino Plus Espresso Machine
  • Thermojet heating system
  • 54mm portafilter
  • Auto-purge features
View on Amazon
DeLonghi EC155 15 BAR Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
  • Self-priming features
  • Rapid cappuccino technology
  • Accommodates coffee pods
View on Amazon
Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista
  • Removable milk and water reservoirs
  • Automatic and manual controls
  • One-touch control panel
View on Amazon
DeLonghi ECP3420 Bar Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Machine
  • 3-in-1 portafilter
  • Self-priming function
  • 37oz water reservoir
View on Amazon
DeLonghi EC702 15-Bar-Pump Espresso Maker
  • Pressurized portafilter
  • Accommodates coffee pods
  • Removable water reservoir
View on Amazon
Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine
  • Commercial-quality features
  • Quiet brewing technology
  • Compatible with ESE pods
View on Amazon
DeLonghi ESAM3300 Super Automatic
  • Built-in grinder
  • Rapid cappuccino technology
  • Brew strength controls
View on Amazon
Gaggia Brera Super Automatic Espresso Machine
  • Pannarello steam wand
  • Built-in grinder
  • Removable brew group
View on Amazon
Wacaco Minipresso GR
  • No batteries/power required
  • Simple brew method
  • Brews up to 50 ml of espresso on the go
View on Amazon
La Pavoni PB-16 Professional
  • 38oz boiler capacity
  • Capable of brewing 16 2oz shots of espresso in a row
  • Interchangeable steam wands
View on Amazon
Breville BEC120RED1AUC1 Inissia
  • Accommodates Nespresso pods
  • Simple controls
  • Brews either espresso or lungo beverage sizes
View on Amazon

Let's delve into the espresso machine reviews one by one.

Best Espresso Machines Under $1,000: The Best of the Best!

These are our premium espresso machine picks that comes at a price (worth every penny).

Offering equal amounts of power and precision, the Breville Barista Express will deliver beautiful espressos for a fraction of the cost of other brands.

Breville the Barista Express Espresso Machine, BES870XL

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 12 x 11 x 13.5 inches
  • Bean Hopper Capacity: 1/2 lb
  • Weight: 23 pounds
  • Water Tank Capacity: 67 oz
  • Semi-automatic

After reviewing the Breville Barista Express, it’s not hard to see why it’s among the top espresso machines for coffee connoisseurs and enthusiasts. 

This semi-automatic espresso machine features a conical burr grinder, a 67oz water reservoir, and a manual override for total control over your shots. Best of all, the Breville Barista Express comes with everything you need to pull an excellent shot of espresso. There’s no need to purchase a grinder, tamper, and milk jug in addition to your espresso machine.

With the swivel steam wand, you’re able to produce beautiful microfoam milk for perfect lattes and cappuccinos.

The very best thing about the Breville Barista Express, however, is that it won't break the bank. You can enjoy amazing coffee drinks every single morning without watching your dollars drip out like your espresso shots. Now that's value!

Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned barista, the Breville Barista Express is among the best home espresso machines money can buy.

THE GOOD

  • Customizable features
  • Filtered water reservoir
  • Built-in grinder
  • Manual functions for espresso pros

THE BAD

  • Not meant for high volume production
  • Requires regular cleaning

What's the Bottom Line?

If you only buy one espresso machine, make it the Breville Barista Express. It provides the best value for the money by combining speed, power and functionality in a single convenient package.


Strong and steady, the Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine will deliver results in a variety of residential and commercial environments.

Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine with Iron Frame and Stainless Steel Side Panels, 11.4 by 13.4-Inch

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 9.2 x 11.4 x 13.3 inches
  • Ergonomic porta filter
  • Item Weight: 30.8 pounds
  • Semi-automatic

The Rancilio Group has been a staple in the specialty coffee and espresso industry for nearly a century with its high-quality machines seen in coffee shops across the globe. The Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine brings that craftsmanship into your home through the commercial-grade 58mm group head and large 12 oz boiler for superior quality and convenience. It’s fair to say Rancilio built the Silvia model with baristas in mind.

While the machine does offer a pod/capsule adapter, the beauty of this machine is its likeness to coffee shop-level equipment. Home baristas will love the ability to tinker with this semi-automatic espresso maker over and over again.

For those who prefer a latte in the morning, the commercially designed steam wand and knob are a plus. 

THE GOOD

  • Coffee shop quality features
  • Sleek design and slim dimensions
  • Pod adapter, if desired

THE BAD

  • Not ideal for those with little to no espresso experience
  • No built-in grinder

What's the Bottom Line?

The Rancilio Silvia comes with almost everything you need for making espresso, including a coffee scoop, tamper, single and double baskets, and a 12-month warranty.


When precision technology meets simple functionality, the result is the Breville Infuser.

Breville BES840XL/A the Infuser Espresso Machine

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 12.5 x 12.5 x 13.2 inches
  • 54mm stainless steel portafilter
  • Item Weight: 17 pounds
  • Water Tank Capacity: 61 ounce
  • Semi-automatic

New home baristas looking to start on the right foot will love the simplicity and customization available with the Breville Infuser Espresso Machine

Most notably, the exclusive pre-infuser feature landed the Breville BES840XL/A on our list of top espresso machines. This low-pressure process works to evenly distribute and expand the grinds at the start of the brewing process for maximum flavor and extraction.

The volumetric controls on the 15 bar semi-automatic espresso machine give you free rein of the brewing process, while also offering pre-set features for those not quite confident in their espresso-making skills. Manual overrides and programmable controls are available once you get the hang of things and want to play around with your espresso recipes!

The Breville Infuser machine comes with single and double filter baskets, a coffee scoop, a stainless steel milk pitcher, cleaning tools, a 54mm tamper, and a water filter. In comparison to the Breville Barista Express, you will need to purchase a separate grinder or pre-ground coffee as the Breville BES840XL/A does not include one.

THE GOOD

  • Exclusive pre-infusion technology
  • Pre-set and manual controls
  • Swivel steam wand

THE BAD

  • Grinder not included
  • Cannot pull a shot and steam milk simultaneously

What's the Bottom Line?

The Breville Infuser is an espresso maker that will grow with you. If you don't believe us, check out some of the glowing customer testimonials on Amazon.


At first glance, the Breville BES500BSS Bambino Plus Espresso Machine may not look like it can produce cafe-quality drinks. But think again!

Breville BES500BSS Bambino Plus Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 12.5 x 7.6 x 12.2 inches
  • Faster heat up time - 3 seconds
  • Item Weight: 3.15 pounds
  • Automatic Micro-Foam Milk Texturing

This tiny home espresso machine packs a punch with features including pre-infusion technology, a 54mm portafilter, and an automatic steam wand.

The 600W ThermoJet heating system allows the Bambino Plus to heat up in three quick seconds. The auto-purge function lets the machine reset to optimal espresso brewing temperature after using the steam wand.

While Breville is known for machines that can produce tasty espresso, their milk frothing features are nothing to gloss over.

“Perhaps most impressive, the Bambino can generate silky milk froth that will rival the best drinks made by your favorite barista, whether you use its super quick auto-froth setting or manually steam the milk.” - The Wirecutter

THE GOOD

  • Compact size
  • Automatic milk frothing settings
  • 3-second heat up
  • Pre-infusion features

THE BAD

  • Lack of customization options
  • No built-in grinder

Budget-Friendly Espresso Machines

You don’t need to drain your savings to enjoy great espresso at home!

The De'Longhi EC155 is an all-in-one product that will meet diverse espresso needs in a simple and affordable package.

De'Longhi EC155 15 Bar Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Maker

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 12.2 x 19.3 x 15 inches
  • Stainless steel boiler
  • Item Weight: 6.68 pounds
  • Space saving design

Clocking in at just under $100, the DeLonghi EC155 Espresso and Cappuccino Maker is a highly recommended home espresso machine. On top of affordability, this little brewer packs a punch with Rapid Cappuccino technology for minimal wait time between cups, a manual milk frother, and the choice to use coffee pods if desired.

The DeLonghi EC155 is perfect for home espresso drinkers who don’t have time to fuss around with variables but still want a classic espresso taste.

THE GOOD

  • Self-priming machine
  • Accommodates coffee grounds and pods
  • Swivel milk frother

THE BAD

  • The drip tray cannot be lowered, restricting cup size

What's the Bottom Line?

If you're looking for a good all-in-one-product, it doesn't get much better than the De'Longhi EC155. It might not be the biggest or "smartest" item on the market, but it provides options, and that's what an espresso lover like yourself needs most of all.


Best Espresso Machines Under $200

Perfect for both amateur baristas and experienced coffee gourmets, the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista will suit a wide variety of needs, settings and lifestyles.

Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker, Red - BVMC-ECMP1106

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 11.2 x 8.9 x 12.6 inches
  • Automatically froths milk
  • Item Weight: 10.37 pounds
  • Semi-automatic

For the ultimate cappuccino and espresso convenience, you can’t go wrong with the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista Espresso and Cappuccino Maker. A single push of a button creates frothy cappuccinos, lattes, cafe mochas—whatever espresso beverage you desire.

“For a reasonable $200, the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista will tackle much of this tricky process and with tasty results.” - CNET

One of the top sellers in super-automatic espresso machines (under $200), the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista is easy to use and even easier to clean. It's the kind of product that will simplify a chaotic kitchen or busy break room.

With removable milk and water reservoirs, you can keep your machine in top shape or only add liquid as needed. Best of all, the machine offers automatic and manual modes. Customize your drink as you’d like or let Mr. Coffee take the wheel.

If that isn't enough convenience for you, you'll also receive a tamper, measuring scoop and single- and double-shot filters with your order. The company will even throw in free coffee recipes at no extra charge. With the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista, everything that you need to get started will be right there in the box.

THE GOOD

  • Simple functionality for those without barista experience
  • Single or double shot selection
  • Adjust milk to desired froth level

THE BAD

  • Cannot adjust the drip tray level
  • Machine is loud

What's the Bottom Line?

Suitable for coffee junkies of all types and tastes, the Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista will make an excellent addition to a wide variety of kitchens.


De'Longhi ECP3630 15 Bar Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Machine, Stainless Steel (ECP3630)

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 9.6 x 7.2 x 11.9 inches
  • 15-bar pressure
  • Item Weight: 10.55 pounds
  • 37 ounce water reservoir

Half of the fun of making a cappuccino is the process, right? With the DeLonghi ECP3420 Bar Pump Espresso and Cappuccino Machine, you can brew like a pro using the manual milk frother, Rapid Cappuccino technology, and adjustable espresso filters. Whether you prefer espresso grounds or pods, the DeLonghi ECP3420’s three-in-one filter holder can accommodate it all as you learn to dial in your shots.

The removable drip tray allows you to brew into any cup size, from a single shot of espresso to a large latte for those cozy mornings. Featuring 15 bars of pressure and a sleek design, the DeLonghi ECP3420 is a simple and affordable espresso machine for the home.

THE GOOD

  • Simple controls
  • Adjustable drink height
  • Manual milk frother

THE BAD

  • Lack of drink customization for experienced coffee enthusiasts

Popular Espresso Machines Under $300

DeLonghi EC702 15-Bar-Pump Espresso Maker, Stainless, Metal

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 11 x 9.1 x 11.6 inches
  • Pump driver (15 bars pressure)
  • Item Weight: 11.5 pounds
  • 44 oz water reservoir (1.3 litre removable)

The DeLonghi EC702 Espresso Maker offers limited functionality for failproof espresso, but enough customization for coffee enthusiasts to test out new recipes. The pressurized portafilter provides wiggle room for coffee drinkers who want excellent espresso but don’t have a coffee grinder at home.

Convenient features on the DeLonghi EC702 include a cup warmer, removable drip tray, self-priming function, and compatibility with ESE pods. DeLonghi’s patented Rapid Cappuccino technology is also featured in the EC702, enabling coffee drinkers to prepare espresso and jump right into steaming milk or vice versa without a drastic temperature drop or spike.

THE GOOD

  • Rapid cappuccino technology
  • Cup warmer
  • Swivel milk frother

THE BAD

  • Pressure can falter if not maintained properly

The Best Espresso Machines Under $500

Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine, Solid, Brushed Stainless Steel

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 9.5 x 8 x 14.2 inches
  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Item Weight: 20 pounds
  • 2 and 1 liter capacity water tank

Achille Gaggia patented the first espresso machine in Italy in 1938 [4]. Today, the Gaggia name is synonymous with espresso and coffee royalty. Home baristas that want a taste of something truly special will find the Gaggia RI9380/46 Classic Pro Espresso Machine far exceeds expectations.

While the Gaggia RI9380 was built for the home, the entire machine features commercial-grade quality from the 58mm portafilters to the steam wand design. The semi-automatic espresso machine also boasts simple switches, a stainless steel design, and quiet brewing technology. And, the 72oz water reservoir lets you brew several shots of espresso before needing to refill.

THE GOOD

  • Quiet brewing technology
  • Commercial grade brewing and steaming features
  • ESE pod compatible

THE BAD

  • Requires a learning curve to pull perfect shots

Automatic Espresso Machines: Our Top Picks

For those who value convenience, an automatic espresso machine is a perfect addition to your kitchen. With the push of a button, you’ll have a strong cup of espresso or a frothy cappuccino in seconds.

10. DeLonghi ESAM3300 Super Automatic - Dual Purpose Espresso & Coffee Maker

If you like your coffee "just so," the De'Longhi Magnifica ESAM3300 can be easily adjusted and customized to suit everyone in the family.

De'Longhi ESAM3300 Super Automatic Espresso/Coffee Machine

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 15.2 x 11 x 14.4 inches
  • Beans container capacity: 8.8 ounces
  • Item Weight: 23.1 pounds
  • 60 oz water reservoir

The DeLonghi ESAM 3300 Super Automatic Espresso Machine brings every aspect of the coffee shop into your home. The built-in conical burr grinder lets you grind your beans fresh into the portafilter while the Rapid Cappuccino heats the double boiler system swiftly for no downtime between pulling a shot and frothing your milk. Adjust the settings for your espresso strength and cup size with the turn of a dial and you’re ready to brew.

The rotary dial and push-style buttons make this machine extremely user-friendly—perfect for those groggy mornings when you need your caffeine fast! The DeLonghi ESAM 3300 also features handy reminders for decalcification and an energy-saving auto-off function.

Last but certainly not least, the De'Longhi Magnifica ESAM3300 is a compact machine.

Despite its extensive performance capabilities, it will fit on most countertops without crowding or cramming. It's hard to ask for more from a personal espresso maker.

THE GOOD

  • Rapid cappuccino technology
  • Coffee strength settings
  • Built-in grinder

THE BAD

  • On the pricey side
  • The decalcification process can be time-consuming

What's the Bottom Line?

Suitable for homes and small offices, the De'Longhi Magnifica ESAM3300 will keep everyone happy despite their different coffee preferences. 


Gaggia Brera Super Automatic Espresso Machine in Silver. Pannarello Wand Frothing for Latte and Cappuccino Drinks. Espresso from Pre-Ground or Whole Bean Coffee.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 10 x 15.5 x 11.5 inches
  • Coffee bean capacity: 250 gm
  • Item Weight: 18 pounds
  • Cup Height: 3.25” to 4.5”

Featuring an LED screen and knob dials, the Gaggia Brera Super Automatic Espresso Machine boasts an easy user interface for total control. Best of all, once you’ve figured out your ideal settings, the Gaggia Brera will remember it!

The built-in ceramic burr grinder lets you grind beans fresh or opt to use pre-ground coffee. Among the best features of the Gaggia Brera Super Automatic Espresso Machine is the removable brew group for easy cleaning. 

The 40oz water reservoir, however, is smaller than most other automatic espresso machines on the market.

THE GOOD

  • Simple controls
  • Built-in grinder
  • Brew strength options
  • Pannarello steam wand

THE BAD

  • Smaller water reservoir

Small Espresso Machines: Espresso On the Go!

We all have our moments where we NEED espresso. Fortunately, with our recommended small espresso machines, you can have a delicious shot (or two… or three…) of espresso whenever you want without needing to be in your home!

12. Wacaco Minipresso GR - Best Travel Espresso Maker

Wacaco Minipresso GR, Portable Espresso Machine, Compatible Ground Coffee, Hand Coffee Maker, Travel Gadgets, Manually Operated, Perfect for Camping, Hiking

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 2.8 x 2.4 x 6.9 inches
  • Manually operated (No battery/electricity need)
  • Item Weight: 1 pounds
  • 2.35 oz water tank (suitable for travel)

Have you ever been stuck in an airport with no good coffee options to choose from? It’s the worst. Small travel espresso and coffee makers like the Wacaco Minipresso GR offer convenience without sacrificing taste.

The Wacaco Minipresso GR is 100% manual, meaning you won’t have to worry about bringing along batteries or finding a wall outlet. All you need is ground coffee and boiling water! Add the coffee to the filter basket and tamp before pouring hot water into the tank. Unlock the piston from the travel position, flip the Minipresso, and pump to apply pressure. The result is a delicious espresso with eye-popping crema.

THE GOOD

  • Simple controls
  • Built-in grinder
  • Brew strength options
  • Pannarello steam wand

THE BAD

  • Smaller water reservoir

Manual Espresso Machines: Our Top Choice

The machines on our list so far have all been semi-automatic or automatic, meaning they require a push of a button or two to brew. With the top manual espresso machines, you’re completely in control of the entire process.

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 14.1 x 9.5 x 16.2 inches
  • Professional style (made in Italy)
  • Item Weight: 13.9 pounds
  • 38 oz boiler capacity

Although the La Pavoni PB-16 Professional is the most expensive home espresso machine on our list, it’s also the most fun to use! The manual espresso machine has a 38 oz boiler capacity capable of producing up to 16 double shot espressos at a time and is available in a variety of finishes.

The solid copper boiler produces excellent pressure, as evident on the external gauge. For those who love their cappuccinos, the La Pavoni PB-16 Professional also features a manual steam wand or interchangeable semi-automatic frothing wand for barista-quality microfoam.

The main benefit of the lever-controlled, manual home espresso machines is the ability to vary the pressure and speed at which water is pushed through the puck.

THE GOOD

  • Luxurious design
  • Manual lever leads to superior espresso flavor and body
  • Interchangeable steam wand functions

THE BAD

  • Expensive
  • Smaller water reservoirs than other semi-automatic or automatic machines
  • Requires espresso know-how

Pod Espresso Machines: The Ultimate Coffee Convenience 

Breville BEC120RED1AUC1 Inissia Espresso Machine, 100, Red

Specifications:

  • Dimensions: 13.5 x 7.5 x 13 inches
  • Item Weight: 6 pounds
  • Water tank capacity: 24 oz
  • High pressure pump (upto 19 bars pressure)

Though compact and stylish, the Breville Inissia Espresso Machine doesn’t skimp out on quality. Choose your favorite Nespresso pods, select espresso or lungo, and let the machine work its magic. The machine delivers up to 19 bars of pressure for beautiful crema and top extraction. 

The Breville Inissia also accommodates a wide range of cup sizes with the removable drip tray, uses a 24 oz water reservoir, and features an energy-saving function. This simple pod espresso machine is great for homes looking for a quick, hassle-free cup of espresso.

THE GOOD

  • Easy controls
  • Uses Nespresso pods
  • Accommodates various cup sizes

THE BAD

  • Only produces espresso
  • Smaller 24 oz water reservoir

What's the bottom line?

With replaceable coffee capsules and an easy-to-use brewing system, the Breville Inissia is an investment that will pay you back time and time again. As a bonus, it won't cost that much as an investment in the first place! 


Ultimate Espresso Machine Buying Guide [2020 Update]

With so many products on the market, it can be difficult to determine which is the right espresso maker for you. Here are just a few tips for narrowing down your options and finding the machine that will wake you up the right way on cold mornings!

espresso machine buying guide

Types of Espresso Machines: Semi-Automatic, Automatic, and Manual 

Before you purchase one of the best espresso machines, you need to know what type suits your needs. There are three main types of espresso machines:

Automatic Espresso Machines: Espresso at the Touch of a Button

Automatic espresso machines, also referred to as super-automatic espresso machines, require little to no effort to brew. These machines produce everything from perfect espresso to beautifully frothed milk with the push of a button. 

Convenience and consistency are the main advantages of these espresso machines. Those who don’t have much experience with espresso machines or are short on time will find automatic espresso machines are the right choice. 

Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines: Custom Espresso Drinks at Home

Semi-automatic espresso machines require users to manually grind, tamp, and insert grounds into the portafilter, start the brewing process, and stop it when the beverage has reached its optimal volume. You are responsible for customizing the different espresso variables including volume and time.

This option is ideal for those who understand espresso theory or want to learn how to brew a delicious shot of espresso from scratch.

Manual Espresso Machines: It’s All Up to You!

The name says it all. Introduced to the world at the 1906 World’s Fair [5] by Luigi Bezzerra and Desiderio Pavoni, the manual espresso machine appeals to espresso traditionalists. Using a piston system, these machines require manual work to apply pressure and force water through the grounds.

Since you control every part of the brewing process, manual espresso enthusiasts argue this type of machine produces the best espresso possible.

5 of the Most Popular Espresso Machine Brands

With so many brands to choose from, it’s hard to know which are right for your home. These brands are leading the way with some of the best espresso machines on the market.

Breville

Breville touts impressive home espresso machines like ultra-popular Barista Express, the Oracle, and the Dual Boiler. The company was founded in 1932 in Sydney, Australia [6] and also sells a variety of kitchen appliances. 

DeLonghi

Although DeLonghi did not join the specialty coffee market until the launch of their “Bar Line” in 1990 [7], they’ve certainly secured their place in the industry. The kitchen appliance company now boasts top fully-automatic and semi-automatic espresso machines including the EC702 and ESAM3300.

Nespresso 

Although Nespresso is known for its coffee pods, the company also produces a series of fully-automatic espresso machines that are compatible with their pod products. These machines are ideal for the home brewer interested in convenience over customization.

Also Read: The best Nespresso machines of 2020

Gaggia 

Gaggia has been a coffee house staple since the company’s first patent in 1938. In 1977, they launched their line of home espresso machines, starting with the Duo and Baby Gaggia. Ever since, the company has brought commercial-grade, fully-automatic and semi-automatic espresso machines into the home with top models like the Gaggia Classic and Brera.

Mr. Coffee

Mr. Coffee has been a prominent figure in the coffee equipment industry since 1970 [8]. The company is so popular among coffee drinkers that the brand name is used interchangeably when talking about “drip brewers.” The company also offers several automatic espresso machines including the Cafe Barista.

Espresso Machine Features & Terminology: What You Need to Know

Between the mix of Italian phrases and industry lingo, espresso machine terms can seem like gibberish. Let’s demystify some of this common verbiage.

espresso machine parts

Single Shot and Double Shot

These terms refer to the amount, in volume, of espresso prepared. 

Bar Pressure

Bar refers to the standard of atmospheric pressure. While most espresso machines are capable of reaching up to 15 bars of pressure to produce an espresso shot, traditional espressos use anywhere from seven to nine bars of pressure to brew.

Portafilter

The portafilter locks the espresso grounds and filter basket into the espresso machine. Portafilter sizes range from 35-58mm, depending on the machine.

Filter Basket

The filter basket holds the espresso grounds in place. You can choose different basket sizes to accommodate the size and strength of your desired espresso shot. Many espresso machines use removable filter baskets to also utilize espresso pods.

Tamping

Tamping refers to the practice of compacting the grounds before being placed into the espresso machine. This is necessary for the water to be uniformly pushed through the grounds when brewing.

Boiler

Some espresso machines use boiler systems to heat water to the optimal brewing temperature while others use a coil system. Machines with a single boiler system use one boiler for both brewing espresso and the steam wand. This requires temperature adjustment between each process. Double boiler espresso machines have individual boilers for each function, allowing users to brew espresso and steam milk simultaneously.

Steam Wand

The steam wand is used to heat up and froth the milk for espresso drinks like lattes and cappuccinos.

Drip Tray

The drip tray catches any excess espresso dripped from the portafilter after brewing. Many machines feature removable drip trays, letting you brew into different sized mugs and glasses.

Water Reservoir

A water reservoir stores the water necessary for brewing espresso and steaming milk. 

Cup Warmer

The top of some espresso machine models feature a space for warming up cups before brewing. 

Some Frequently Asked Questions

If you're still sitting on the fence, here are some questions and answers to make your job easier.

1. My espresso tastes watery. Why is this?

A. Variables such as grind, weight, pressure, temperature, time, and volume all work together to make a delicious espresso shot. To remedy watery espresso, consider making your grind finer, brewing for a shorter period of time, and double-checking the pressure on your machine.

2. What grind size should I use for espresso?

A. Espresso requires coffee beans to be finely ground. Experiment with different grind sizes in this range to find what works best for your machine and palate.

3. How many grams of coffee should I use?

A. Refer to your machine’s instruction manual for how many grams of coffee the portafilter and filter baskets can accommodate. Typically, home espresso machines can brew with anywhere from 7 to 19 grams of grounds, depending on the portafilter and filter basket size. 

4. How long does it take for an espresso machine to heat up?

A. The answer depends on the machine you purchase. Some brands recommend turning on the machine 15 minutes before brewing while others only need 3-5 minutes to reach the optimal temperature. Not waiting long enough can result in room temperature espresso that may taste sour.

5. What kind of beans should I use?

A. Contrary to popular belief, there is no specific type of bean or roast to brew espresso. Espresso is a type of coffee beverage. Therefore, you can use whatever type of coffee bean you prefer! Traditionally, however, medium and dark roasted coffees taste best for making espresso. 

Which of the Best Espresso Machines Suits Your Needs?

Choosing the right espresso machine for your home takes time. But once you find that perfect machine, you can wake up each morning knowing a bold shot of espresso or frothy cappuccino is just a few steps away.



References:

  1. Breville's Barista Express is the best all-in-one, semi-automatic espresso machine you'll find — here's everything you need to know,  Business Insider https://www.businessinsider.com/breville-barista-express-review#how-does-it-measure-up-12 
  2. The Best Espresso Machine for Beginners, WireCutter https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-espresso-machine-grinder-and-accessories-for-beginners/
  3. Mr. Coffee Cafe Barista review: An automatic espresso machine that makes lattes almost robotically, CNET https://www.cnet.com/reviews/mr-coffee-cafe-barista-review/ 
  4. Gaggia Legacy https://www.gaggia.com/legacy/
  5. The Long History of the Espresso Machine, Smithsonian Mag https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/the-long-history-of-the-espresso-machine-126012814/ 
  6. Breville About Us https://www.breville.com/us/en/learn-more/about-us.html
  7. History of DeLonghi Coffee Makers https://www.delonghi.com/en-us/products/coffee-and-espresso/delonghi-coffee/coffee-makers-history 
  8. About Mr. Coffee https://www.mrcoffee.com/experience-the-taste.html 

Anne Mercer is a coffee aficionado with a focus on the specialty coffee market. After years of tinkering with recipes and different coffees in her kitchen, Anne took her skills to a coffee roaster in New England where she received hands-on training in everything from espresso theory to sensory analysis and beyond.

1 thought on “Best Espresso Machines for 2020 – Reviews and Buyer’s Guide”

  1. I have a delonghi ECAM 45 but cannot get the temperature to the equivalent of a push percolator. Have it on the maximum but it is still not hot enough for my taste. Are there machines that do this better?

    Reply

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